Oak beams are undoubtedly beautiful and can give your space a unique look and feel. But since oak beams are often old and have existed for decades, they may need treatment or restoration. People treat oak beams due to cosmetic reasons – especially if former owners made a decision to paint the beams in bright colours to match with their décor. Paint from the 1970s often contained lead, and this could certainly be toxic and harmful to those residing or working in your property. Another reason for beam restoration could be an insect infestation. Older structures which have been poorly-maintained could have issues with infestation or damp, and these would certainly affect the oak beams inside the structure, too. If you see the need for treatment and restoration for your old oak beams, here’s how you can properly clean and restore your oak beams to their former glory.
- Treating beams affected by fungal or insect damage
If your oak beams appear to have been infested by insects or show signs of a fungus buildup, there are specific ways to treat them. One way you can easily determine if your oak beams are infested is by looking for holes. Woodworms can leave holes in the wood, and for this, you can apply wood filler and sand the beams before applying paint or finish. Fungus on oak beams is a more difficult problem to fix because it means that there is damp. You would have to locate the source of the moisture or dampness and then dry it naturally. If the rotting of the beam is already too extensive, you may have to replace it.
- Cleaning your oak beams
If you simply want to clean your oak beams, you can brush them down and remove traces of loose dirt and dust. Avoid the use of wire brushes; go for a brush with soft bristles instead. If you use a brush with wires, it may damage the timber’s appearance and allow more dirt to stay on the surface, making the beams look worse in the future.
You can make use of methods such as chemical-free or soda blasting to remove smoke stains or blackened patches due to fungi or moisture. But beware of commercial chemicals, because they can damage the beam as well. Although some people would say sand-blasting works, this isn’t recommended by experts in beam restoration such as Bespokebeams.co.uk because it can make the wood’s surface rougher and damage the beam’s finish. You can use a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts lukewarm water and just spray the mixture onto a piece of cloth and then rub it onto the wood’s surface for natural cleaning and disinfecting.
If you want to remove old paint, you may be able to use a paint stripper – but again, you have to be extra careful. For the removal of whitewash or limewash, you can use a chemical poultice that can bind with the whitewash or limewash, allowing you to scrape it off. Here’s another thing to remember when removing paint: a lot of old paint contains lead, which gives off harmful fumes as it is heated, so avoid the use of heat guns or blowtorches when cleaning your oak beams. You should also avoid sanding because it produces dust, which can be toxic as well. If you want to do an efficient and thorough clean and want your beams to be treated in the best manner, you can always turn to the experts who know exactly how to treat your old oak beams.