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Ceiling Beam Painting--a Faux Finish Technique

After 4 days and 4 tubs of wood filler, I am spraying a diluted white latex paint onto the largest part of the 13 1/2 ft.  beamed ceiling. The walls and floor were completely covered with plastic sheeting. I hope to achieve a white-washed rustic look that brightens the room. It was a long, hot, messy 10 hour job. My goggles were useless, as they immediately were covered in paint specks.  My body,  eyes, ears, etc were covered in paint by the end of the day. I recommend that you pay a painter anything he charges to do this if you want an Italian Venetian style painted beamed ceiling.

Looking back--for a technique like this, make damn sure that your wood is REALLY kiln dried, if at all possible. Our salesman assured us that we wee getting dry and aged wood--we did NOT. All this work, and the wood shrunk an incredible amount in the first winter w/ heated interior space. The seams opened up all over. With this sheer whitewashed finish, there is no way that I can re-fill these cracks at this point without rethinking and redoing the entire paint job. Forget that !!


Spray painting the ceiling in the DAC-ART vacation house.

 Spraying the ceiling in the dac art small vacation house

These photos were taken early in the day, before the build-up of over-spray all over me. At least my hair was protected by the painter's hood I picked up at Lowes. Should have also bought the overalls but it was about 115 degrees F inside--NO exhadurattion ! It became really obvious to me why people have always said that many painters become alcoholics. I had tried to get the painters down here to give me a price to do this overhead seam-filling and  spraying buy they wouldn't even consider it. There is just too much easy work, slapping white paint on rental beach condo walls for them to want to branch out into the creative side of wall finishes. So I had no choice--had to do it myself.

Spray painted ceiling in the 13 foot room.

We have attempted to create the look of a Venetian closely spaced beamed ceiling. Italian ceilings are usually dark, but we wanted more light. I am happy with the effect, but I want to go back and do a bit of graining with full strength white paint.

Whitewashed beamed ceiling.


Hand painted beamed ceiling in our Dac Art vacation home
I have now added a white-on-white design to the bottom of the beams. Lots of hours on scaffolding , looking up.....
I used a chunky foam stamp, basic white semi gloss latex paint and a paper plate to stamp the alternating leaf type scroll design on the beams. I then came back w/ a soupy mix of water and raw umber tinted (smokey grey looking) paint to add the shadows with an artists brush. You pick a spot in the room that you imagine all the light comes from and so all the shadows are going to be on the opposite side of the leafy-scroll. Keep a wiping cloth and some clean water handy, as occasionally you are gonna screw up and need to wipe the paint off quickly. In a room full of windows, if you have Southern windows (ones facing south, not the ones whistling Dixie)--then that would be your natural light source, so paint all your shadows on the north and (choose one & stick w/ it): east or west), based on your windows. Since I have no windows on my east wall in this room and the huge French doors are on the east wall, of course my light source was South-East.

By adding this subtle painted flourish to the bottom of the beams, I hope to enhance the overall look of the rustic ceiling by distracting the eye from the 8,000 unfilled nail holes. My theory is that just as an individual is oblivious to all troubles of life while dancing, the eye will follow the dance of the design rather than focusing on the defects. Seems to work! People love the ceiling. Most casual observers think that the beams have a 3-D moulding applied to them. It is just paint. Personally, I don't think they see too well--it looks like paint to me. BUT--I like it, it is bright, happy and casual The effect is not anywhere near the level of perfection you'd actually see in a Medici palace. I have seen painted ceilings in Italy that really did cause me to have to look long and hard to figure out if it was paint or 3-D decoration.

I get really sick of the term "faux finish", but it is necessary to put it here in bold copy for the search engine spiders to read, so they know what this page is about. In fact, I will just mention faux finished walls a couple more times ...please ignore...faux finished ceiling.

Italian styled ceiling beams faux finish venice italy italian

I find that to do a paint job like this on the ceiling I need CD's by The Gipsy Kings  to help me imagine myself as an itinerant Italian Gypsy ceiling painter, scaffolding and plenty of Ibuprofen.

As a side note, if you have ever wondered about the origins of the Gypsies or have ever wanted to know more about them and the Gypsy language, read the fascinating book "Bury Me Standing : The Gypsies and Their Journey" by Isabel Fonseca. Amazon has it--click here."Bury Me Standing : The Gypsies and Their Journey" by Isabel Fonseca.

Jan Yoors' The Gypsies became an instant classic upon its original publication.This extroaordinary work available again.

Sorry but have to put the term "faux finish", again for the search engine spiders to read, so they know what this page is about, or they will think it is about Gypsies. In fact, I will just mention faux finished walls a couple more times ...please ignore...faux finished wood ceiling beams.

To see the kitchen ceiling beams with a totally different faux finish look, go here

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