The Top Tips You should Remember when Cleaning and Finishing Old Oak Beams
Beautiful oak beams bring character to any building, especially if they have been well-preserved. But what if you have oak beams in your home or property and they don’t look as good as they should – if they have been poorly-painted or whitewashed, if they show signs of rotting or blackening, or if they simply don’t appear healthy – it may be time to have your oak beams cleaned and treated so you can restore them to their former splendor and glory. But there are particular ways of cleaning, treating, and restoring old oak beams, and there are some things you should avoid as well. Here are the top tips when cleaning and finishing oak beams, especially old ones.
Use the right brush
First of all, if your aim is simply to clean and dust old oak beams, you can do so with a brush. But don’t use just any brush; make sure the brush has soft bristles rather than wire ones. If you use a wire brush, this can easily scratch the surface and make it rough, allowing dirt to build up more quickly in the future.
If you want a natural cleaner, you can use two parts water mixed with one part vinegar; just dip a cloth into the mixture or spray the cloth with the mixture and rub it gently onto the wood.
Be careful with chemical stripping for old paint
While some people would say chemical stripping is the best solution if you want to strip off old paint, you have to be careful with this. Old paint – especially from the 1970s and before – contained lead and other harmful substances and chemicals. The lead and other chemicals can produce toxic and dangerous fumes if heated, so avoid using heat guns or blowtorches. You should also stay away from sanding as this can create toxic and hazardous dust. If you have to use chemical stripping to remove old paint, make sure to use the proper safety gear and equipment, and ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.
Proper sanding for oak beams
It isn’t recommended to sand off the old paint on oak beams, as already mentioned, but once the old paint is properly removed, you can then sand the wood so you can remove all traces of the old finish. You can use an electric sanding machine along with fine-grade sandpaper to produce a smooth and even look without causing any damage to the beam’s surface.
The right way to remove black stains or patches
If your oak beams have black stains or patches, this is often caused by mildew and mould. You can use a special mildew and mould remover for this; do not use bleaching chemicals or products as they can damage the wooden beams as well.
Finishing your oak beams
According to beam restoration experts, the best finish for oak beams inside a property is varnish or wax, but the color will depend on your own preference. You should avoid the use of linseed oil as finishing for your oak beams because the wood cannot fully absorb it, and it will often leave a sticky film or residue on the wood’s surface.
If you want a natural wax, you can use beeswax polish, which is usually applied thinly on the surface and polished until it shines.