What Are The Best Colors To Paint Ceiling Beams?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Different beams or rafters along your ceiling can stand out or be utterly unnoticeable, all depending on how they’re finished. How you choose to paint your ceiling beams will depend on the decor of your home. Use this as a guide to select the best color for your ceiling beams.

You can paint ceiling beams in various colors, all with different results depending on the style of your home. The most common colors to paint ceiling beams are white, off-white, and grey. However, for some, leaving ceiling beams unpainted is the way to go, selecting from many available natural wood stains.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Paint Color for Your Ceiling Beams

Ceiling beams can transform the look of your home, and many designers advise leaving them in place. Often, ceiling beams can provide a layer of character and something unique to a property.

Before choosing a color to paint your ceiling beams, there are a few things you should consider.

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Height of Ceiling

High ceilings are often thought of as an added benefit to any home. However, if they’re too high, they can make the room feel cold. If your ceilings are too high, consider painting the beams a color that makes the ceiling feel and look lower.

Dark colors typically make a room feel smaller and more comfortable. Painting beams black can make the ceiling appear lower than it actually is. If black beams aren’t your preference, you can be bold and paint the ceiling black, instead.

Size of the Room

Consider the size of the room when painting your ceiling beams. Use contrasting colors on the ceiling and beams in order to make the beams feel further away.

Aesthetic You’re Trying to Achieve

When painting any part of your home, you want the paint to enhance the space. If you have a more sophisticated feel, you want to highlight that with a complementary paint color. You want the paint to accentuate the architecture and design of the beams so that the look is cohesive.

Paint Finish

Choose the finish wisely when painting your ceiling beams. If you choose a bright color, remember that a high-gloss finish will reflect light. If you choose a darker color, a flat finish will show marks.

Paint Quality

When purchasing paint for your ceiling beams, it should be high quality. This will save you time and give you better results. You want to make sure the paint is durable, washable, and fade-resistant.

Popular Ceiling Beam Colors

In most homes, the ceiling is usually ignored or simply painted white. However, ceilings have a lot of potential to bring character and decoration to a room. Adding ceiling beams to your space can be a great way to enhance a room.

Here are several ways to take your ceiling beams from simple to exciting.

Contrasting Colors

Whether your ceiling is painted or a natural wood finish, painting the ceiling beams a contrasting color draws attention to them. This can enhance the theme of your room and draw attention to the beams.

If you like a light and airy look, paint the ceiling and walls a light grey color. You can paint your ceiling beams white for a classic look or navy for a more nautical look. You can also use a favorite decor piece and paint your ceiling beams the same color, tying the room together.

When you have tall ceilings, don’t be afraid to try something different. If you prefer a more bohemian look, paint the ceiling a deep mauve and paint the beams a pastel color. This combination is not for everyone, but it can make a room feel exotic.

Outdoor Neutrals

Outdoor neutrals are another great option when painting your ceiling beams. If your ceiling is white, try to incorporate neutral colors by painting the beams beige, tan, or even blue.

If you want to bring the outside in even more, deep greens break the mold of typical beams. Plus, this color selection can also give your room more character.

Just because a color is neutral doesn’t mean it has to be boring. There are several ways to pull away from the usual neutral colors and try something exciting and different instead.

Faux Finish

If you’ve purchased a house with beams that are already painted, or you’re looking for a change, a faux finish can work. Trying to strip paint can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. A faux-finished beam can give you the look of natural wood without the hassle of removing the previous paint.

Before beginning the project, pick the base wood color you prefer. You have many options for this, light-colored, dark-colored, aged, or a weathered look. Mix the top wood color with a glaze, brush it on the beam, then comb through it with a wood-graining tool.

If you want to add faux wood knots, use a wood grain rocker tool in the same manner. You simply rock the tool back and forth across the beams.

Natural Wood Stain

Stained or natural wood beams are popular against a white ceiling, creating a classic and cozy feel in the home. Common stains are maple and walnut over natural wood. If you want to try something different, try a gray, blue, or green stain and let the wood grain peek through.


A trend that is not as common is stenciling on ceiling beams. This is done by painting your ceiling beams the color you prefer, then stenciling on the beam. You can pick inspirational phrases, quotes, or designs unique to you and stencil them onto the beams.

This is a unique and unexpected element to enhance your ceiling beams and the look of the space.

Other Ways to Enhance the Look of Ceiling Beams

If painted ceiling beams aren’t the look you’re going for, there are several other ways to enhance them.

Wood Veneer Sheets

If you don’t like the look of your ceiling beams, you have options. Wood veneer sheets are an easy way to enhance your ceiling beams. These sheets are perforated and come with construction adhesive and finishing nails.

Wood veneer panels and sheets are available in a variety of styles like pine, fine-grain spice, cherry wood, and more. If you want a more antique look, you can purchase weathered wood veneer sheets. Make sure to secure heavier veneer to beams with the proper adhesive and nails.


Wallpaper comes in so many different patterns, textures, and styles, and it’s no longer just for walls. Use wallpaper to cover wooden or dry-wall ceiling beams. The designs are endless and can take your space to the next level.

If you don’t want to wallpaper the ceiling beams, wallpaper the space in between them, instead! This can create an exciting contrast between the beams and the ceiling.

Gallery or Display

Using your ceiling beams as a gallery wall or a way to display items is a unique way to add character to your space. You can be creative in what you choose to display and how you arrange your items. Some things that you can display are photos, vintage hats, copper pots, or any other item you collect.

Make sure to use U-shaped nails, wire, or adhesive caulking to prevent anything from falling.

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Related Questions

What is the average cost to install ceiling beams?

Ultimately, the cost to install ceiling beams in your home will depend on the location and size of the job. On average, installing decorative beams costs $7.49 per linear foot. The price can range from $6.72 to $8.26. The average price for labor and materials per linear foot is $18.13 ranges from $15.12 to $21.14. A typical 100 linear foot project costs about $1,812.87. This project has a price range of $1,511.77 to $2,113.98. 

How do you clean ceiling beams?

When you’re ready to start spring cleaning, don’t forget about your ceiling beams, too. Always have someone near when you’re cleaning your beams as you will have to use a ladder. Use a cleaning solution of warm water and wood soap. Use a dry lamb’s wool cover over a paint roller and dip it into a cleaning solution. Use the paint roller to roll over the ceiling beams in the direction of the wood grain. Mix two parts water with one part vinegar for a more natural cleaning solution and wipe the beam’s surface.

Do my ceiling beams have to match my floor?

When updating an element of a room in your home, there must be harmony with the rest of the space. This applies to the ceiling and floor, as well. However, if you have exposed ceiling beams, your floors do not necessarily have to match precisely. While the ceiling and beams do not have to match, they need to work well together. In certain situations, matching ceiling beams and floors can actually impact the room negatively. If you have dark beams and dark floors, the room can become too oppressive. Furthermore, if your ceiling beams and floors don’t go together at all, the room can feel and look awkward. Keep in mind the visual impact when planning the color of your ceiling beams and your floors. The undertones should contrast but not clash.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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