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Solid Beams and. Box Beams

Feb 2

Solid Beams and. Box Beams

If you intend to build a home from scratch, it is possible that you will be asked to choose between box beams and solid beams. Here are some factors to keep in mind as you make this decision.


Solid beams give you the option to choose between a traditional, rustic look or a modern, clean, transitional style. A solid beam can be used in spaces that need very long beams. You won't find a seam anywhere. When using box beams, a timber/beam maker or trim carpenter will need to piece together planks. These planks typically measure between 14' and 15'. Even though a very skilled carpenter/painter can carefully hide the seam by matching the grain or staining it, you will often see the seam if your close-up is taken. You should be able to hide the mitered edges seams if your carpenter or manufacturer is an expert.

Box beams work well with a transitional, clean-lined design. These beams can also be painted or stained if you prefer a less expensive wood species. There are usually no cost savings when choosing box beams instead of solid beams to get an antique, hand-hewn effect. When you are creating a custom-built home from scratch, those who want antique-looking beams tend to choose solid.


Remodels that require solid beams will not be possible due to the inability of the existing structure to bear the weight of the heavier timbers. Box beams can still be used in renovations. They are decorative only, and not structural. Solid beams, however, can be used for decorative or structural purposes. Douglas Fir, the strongest species of solid lumber, is well-known for being strong and structurally sound. Sometimes box beams will be used as wraps for structural components like a steel i-beam or Glulam. In such cases, box beams should be custom-machined to match the solid beams. This can be useful when pipes or wires need to be concealed within a beam.

If you live in a humid area like Houston (Texas), then box beams should be limited to interior use. Solid beams can, however, be used outdoors as well as indoors. Houston's humid climate and its temperature fluctuations can lead to expansion, cupping, separation, and even disintegration at the edges and ends.


For interior decorative beams, the most cost-effective option is to use painted box beams. If stained is your preference, you can still save money with box beams made by a skilled trim carpenter. However, make sure to speak with your custom-builder about their experience in mitering edges or masking seams. Solid timbers will achieve a rustic antiqued look.

If you are considering solid beams over box beams, it is a good idea to talk to your architect and interior designer. Your custom builder can help you determine the price and availability of solid timbers. Wrapped beam planking is also available. Trim carpenters may be able to achieve a solid look with a box-beam application. Your chosen custom-built should be your trusted advisor, advocate, as well as a resource.


Cedar Park Home Remodelers

Cedar Park, Tx

(737) 307 8281