Transforming a Porch Ceiling

Synthetic building materials create a new porch ceiling with rustic woodgrain beams.

Contractor Steve Roth wanted to give new life to an old porch, so he turned to innovative urethane products. To transform a decaying oriented strand board ceiling, Roth first added Fypon polyurethane board panels to cover the entire ceiling and then faux beams and straps to create a lodge-style look.

“Working with the Fypon products in the past I’ve found they’re a creative solution to easily creating unique looks on the home,” says Roth. “These high-density urethane products don’t have the problems inherent with wood products, like shrinking, splintering, rotting and swelling, so they’re a joy to work with and provide lasting results.”

The home Roth worked on was originally built in the Civil War era in Hillsdale, Michigan. To renovate an 8-ft. wide by 19-ft. long front porch area he used stainable woodgrain urethane pieces from the Fypon Stone and Timber Collection. Roth selected the urethane pieces due to their durability, low-maintenance appeal and style—all of which were important considerations for the rehab that will now be used as a rental property.


Step 1
Roth ordered six Shutter 5-Board Panels (SH5P30x144S), five decorative faux beams in mesa style (BMM6x8x144s) and 10 decorative beam straps with four bolts (BMSTRPM6x8) plus premium millwork adhesive for the project. Once they arrived, he painted the pre-primed pieces prior to installation.

The faux timber beam from Fypon is made from high-density urethane, which resists shrinking, splintering, rotting and swelling.

Step 2
From the ceiling dimensions, Roth first laid out how the seams of the board panels would relate to the urethane beams, making sure that any seams would be covered by the overlay of the beams.

Step 3
The panels were cut with a circular saw to fit the ceiling areas, then applied with PL Premium Construction adhesive on the back side of the panel and attached with non-corrosive screws to the existing ceiling.

Chalk lines guide the layout to ensure square installation along the porch roof.

Step 4
Once the panels covered the existing ceiling (which took approximately four hours), Roth laid out the dimensions of the beam locations so that they would cover the ceiling panel seams. He chalked the layout lines for the beam locations and then cut and installed 2×4 blocking to the ceiling.

Steve Roth installs nailing blocks that slip inside the hollow beams.

Step 5
With the blocking in place, Roth measured and cut the beams to length with a handsaw. He positioned each beam in place with its hollow core on top of the blocking and then fastened the beams securely with screws to the wood blocking.

The beams fit over the blocking and fasten in place with a combination of screws and polyurethane construction adhesive.

Step 6
The beam straps were attached at both ends of the beams creating a tight fit to the porch ceiling area. Polyurethane adhesive was used to secure the straps on the beams, and then non-corrosive screws were added. The addition of the beams and straps took approximately two hours.

The beam straps were installed as a finishing touch.

Step 7
Roth went back to all areas and added lightweight exterior spackling in the screw and nail-head areas and then applied touch-up paint afterwards. For the entire project he used latex flat sheen paint to complement the natural wood siding color of the home exterior.

Tips from the Pro

According to Roth, this easy one-person project simply requires a drywall lift to position and hold the ceiling panels in position. Without a lift the project could be done with two people placing the panels.

“The challenge for this project was visualizing the use of common products in a unique application,” says Roth. “Using shutters as a ceiling cover was different, but I knew these lightweight products would be ideal for this ceiling and complement the overall look I was trying to achieve.”

Roth offers these tips for contractors and DIY’ers tackling a similar project:

• Pre-finish your materials before application. The Fypon products come factory-primed, and it’s much easier to paint the products for the ceiling application before they’re installed and then to go back and do light touch-up work afterwards.

• Use non-corrosive fasteners so your fastener heads do not rust.

• Be creative and take time with the Fypon catalog. There are so many components to select from that you can create a very custom project by using stock items in unique ways.

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