Coffered Ceiling Framing Made Easy

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What You'll Need
Nail gun

A coffered ceiling certainly looks impressive in a room. It brings a sense of elegance and sophistication and can change the look of a house. Coffered ceilings are also inexpensive. Follow these tips to create a coffered ceiling frame in your home.

Step 1 - Planning

The secret to a good coffered ceiling is planning. Use some graph paper and lay out the dimensions of the ceiling. Bear in mind that all the recessed sections must be the exact same size. The width and height of each of the beams must be equal. The easiest way to install a coffered ceiling is to cover the entire ceiling, but you can also have a perimeter around the coffered ceiling area.

Step 2 - Creating the Beam

The beams used in a coffered ceiling are fake. Solid pieces of wood would be far too heavy. You need to construct a form like a box. Being hollow, it weighs a great deal less and makes the installation a great deal easier.

To create the beam, start by measuring out your grid on the ceiling. You can make the beams on the ground and then raise them but it will be much easier to perform the work directly on the ceiling.

Start by cutting 1x6-inch lumber to the length of your coffered ceiling box and nail it to the ceiling joists where you want it to sit. From here cut a pair of “cripple studs,” which are 1x1 vertical supports. Each will be the length of the side of the beam. Put them at each end of the beam.

If you're using 6-inch lumber for the sides, your cripple studs will need to be 5-inches long to allow for the top and bottom of the beams. You'll attach another 1x6-inch piece of lumber to these, making the bottom of the beam. Use high quality for the wood for this task. Add more cripple studs along the length of the beam to prevent the lower beam from sagging.

Now you’re ready to add the sides of the beam. The sides should be 1-inch deep and no more than 6-inches wide. Use high quality wood and nail it to the top and bottom of the beam. It needs to extend 1 1/8-inches beyond the lower part of the beam. The ends need to be mitered to 45 degrees. The beam that will be inside the box needs to be shorter on each end by the width of the wood, in this case 5 1/2-inches.

Completing the Box

Create another beam the same way, having it parallel to the first. To complete the box, have boards mitered to 45 degrees. Add a ceiling board as before and the cripples. Nail the boards in place and you'll have the first part of the coffered ceiling. After this, make the number of boxes needed.

Finishing the Beam

Once you have the basic beam constructed, you’ll need to finish it by adding a ¾-inch piece of wood centered the bottom of the beam. This will give the shadow effect typical of a coffered ceiling.

Having completed the framing for the coffered ceiling, you have the choice of staining or painting the wood. You can also finish with crown molding, which offers much more classic look.