How to Make a Tray Ceiling a Beautiful Focal Point – Design to Build

Are you a fan of tray ceilings? I have to be honest, I am not. So, in the midst of this master bedroom makeover, I am currently knee deep in, I knew my number one goal was to make sure the tray ceiling blended in with the rest of the ceiling. The last thing I wanted to do was draw the eye to it. Kinda funny, because now it’s the focal point of this room. And I absolutely love it!!


Here’s a quick look at the before of the tray ceiling…

I started off by adding all of the carsiding to the ceiling. In case you’re wondering what carsiding is…it’s tongue and groove boards that easily click together. Installing carsiding is super easy.

How to Install Carsiding

First, you have a couple decisions to make…

***Which way do you want your carsiding boards to run? I chose for mine to run in the same direction as my flooring. I also knew I wanted my boards to run parallel with the longer length of the room. This makes the room feel bigger.

***What length of boards do you want to use? Choosing to make it seamless and therefore taking it the entire length of the ceiling is a great look, however, much easier if you have extra hands. Those boards are heavy and awkward. For my project, I knew I would be adding beams, so I wasn’t concerned with the seams.

But hold up, we’re not ready to attach the carsiding just yet. First find your studs, if you’re planning on adding beams. You won’t be able to find them once all of your carsiding is up, so now is the time to mark the studs using painter’s tape or a pencil on the WALL-not the ceiling! Remember, you’re covering that up. 🙂

Now you’re ready to actually attach the carsiding. You’ll want to find the center of the ceiling. Line up the first board and attach using a nailgun….

From here it’s easy…Just work your way across the ceiling, securing the tongue into the groove. I use a mallet to gently tap the boards together. This avoids damage to your carsiding. You’ll want to use a nail gun to fasten your boards to the ceiling.

Tip: Drive your nails in at an angle. This provides a firmer grip.

Now that you’ve gotten a few boards attached, chances are good that the last board will not fit perfectly. You can do one of two things: a.) measure the width of the board you need and rip it using a table saw, circular saw or jigsaw. OR b.) attach trim pieces (1×2 or 1×4) around the border of your ceiling. I took the easy route and went with option b. 🙂 So, when I came to the end of the ceiling, I moved over to the other side of my center board. And then worked my way to the other end of the ceiling….

You’ll notice my boards do not meet in the middle perfectly. Originally, I thought I would be adding a beam there, so it wouldn’t really matter. However, this plan changed halfway through the project, as is the case with most DIY ventures. So, I had to come up with a different plan for this spacing. I ended up using the same width of trim pieces I used for the perimeter of the tray ceiling and ran that trim piece down the center of the ceiling. It turned out very well and made this mistake go away. 🙂

Now you see it….

Now you don’t…

With the same color paint as the carsiding, this trim piece will blend right in and won’t stand out at all.

Now that the carsiding is finished, we’re ready for the beams. I struggled with the decision of 2 or 3 beams. Rule of thumb says to work in odd numbers, however, I felt like more than two beams would feel crowded. Therefore, I went with my gut and attached two beams.

How to Build and Attach Ceiling Beams

Again, as with the carsiding, you need to make a couple decisions first….

***Which way do you want your beams to run? I feel like perpendicular with the carsiding looks the best, but really nothing says you have to do it that way.

***How wide do you want your beams? I chose 8″ wide.

One more thing, if your tray ceiling is like mine, then you have trim all the way around where the rope lighting is. You can either get rid of this and put up new trim or keep it. I chose to get rid of mine and add trim that would match the new trim better. If you choose to get rid of the old trim, now is the time to do that.

Now you’re ready to attach your beams. First, you’re going to want to determine where you want your beams to go and mark that spot. Knowing the width of your beam, mark the center of where your beam will go. For example, my beams were 8 inches wide, so I marked on the wall where I wanted the center of the beam to line up. Now I know that the middle of my first board will be centered with that marking.

Let’s attach our first board. I used a 1x8x10, cut it to the length I needed, and attached it to the ceiling using my nail gun. To ensure that it will stay in place, I drove a nail every 6 inches along both edges of the board. Remember to line it up as instructed in the paragraph above. Then go ahead and attach your first board for your 2nd (and 3rd, if applicable) beam.

Next, we’re going to head outside and build our beams. Cut three 1×8 boards the same length you cut your board already attached above. Do this for each beam and then sand, if you’re planning on staining your beams. Sanding gets rid of the yellow pine naturally has, ensuring that your stain goes on the right color….

Now you’re ready to build two more sides of your beam. We’re not going to add the last board until we get the beam in place and attached on the ceiling. Using your nail gun, attach your two boards together like this….

Both of my beams are now ready to go up and look like this…

Attach your partially built beam to your first board already attached to ceiling, using your nail gun. I will say, this was a two man job…

Add your last board, using your nail gun, and you now have a beam!!

Pretty simple!!

At this point, I was ready to add my trim around the perimeter where the rope lighting trim was before.

With a new light, I was already in love!

I found it easiest to stain the beams first…

And then paint the carsiding. I chose Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black to match my carsiding ceiling in my master bathroom….

I’m so happy I went with black ceilings for this space. The Varathane Golden Oak beams really pop against the black. But, the best decision I made was changing my mind on tray ceilings. For a space that I wanted to do nothing but blend in, that did not happen! For this room, the tray ceiling is definitely the focal point!! And I love it!! (Affiliate Link Included)

Be sure to check back for more progress on the master bedroom. Still to come: new flooring, trim, wall treatment, sliding barn door, and a new bed build, just to name a few changes. 🙂


Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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