Stripping old oak beams


C

chudford

My Daughter has just bought an old house with oak beams that have been
coated in thick black paint/varnish.
Is there any way that they can be stripped back to the original wood
surface in situ without wrecking the surrounding ceiling?
 
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A

Andy Dingley

Is there any way that they can be stripped back to the original wood
surface in situ without wrecking the surrounding ceiling?
Start simple - try samples with Nitromors, or with heat stripping. You
might be lucky and it might just work.

Best thing I've used for this is a Makita brush sander (like a 6" wide
rotary drum brush, made of sandpaper). 500 quid, but yoiu can hire
them.

Much depends on what they're covered with. Bituminous stuff is
horrible and I'd think seriously about either leaving them alone, or
having a gritblaster come in and do them for me.
 
S

stuart noble

chudford said:
My Daughter has just bought an old house with oak beams that have been
coated in thick black paint/varnish.
Is there any way that they can be stripped back to the original wood
surface in situ without wrecking the surrounding ceiling?
Worth checking by hand sanding whether the coating goes to a powder or
gums up and sticks to the abrasive.

This kind of thing would be fast, and get you right to the edge, but
they do throw crap everywhere.
Chemical removers might work but getting them to stick to overhead
surfaces might be a problem. Caustic types are effective on oil or
spirit based coatings, but won't touch synthetic varnishes like
polyurethane. They also seriously darken oak, but this can be easily
reversed with peroxide.
 
T

The Medway Handyman

Normally done by some sort of sandblasting. Very laborious but
effective. It can be a diy job. The real work is cleaning up after.
Way to go. I've seen it done, great results, buy as Mike says its very
messy.... very!
 
T

The Natural Philosopher

chudford said:
My Daughter has just bought an old house with oak beams that have been
coated in thick black paint/varnish.
Is there any way that they can be stripped back to the original wood
surface in situ without wrecking the surrounding ceiling?
caeful sandblasting with calcium carbonate
Not sand.

And, if possible mask up the ceiling with something fairly tough.


They can blast down to about 2-3inches resolution, maybe better if they
take the time., so that's how far the damage will extend, and it tends
to be mild pitting not total destruction. Even if the masking gets
ripped, its better than nothing.
 
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S

Steve Firth

Normally done by some sort of sandblasting. Very laborious but
effective. It can be a diy job. The real work is cleaning up after.
Completely shags the beams, it's the chosen method of morons.
 
S

Steve Firth

chudford said:
My Daughter has just bought an old house with oak beams that have been
coated in thick black paint/varnish.
Is there any way that they can be stripped back to the original wood
surface in situ without wrecking the surrounding ceiling?
It depends.

Builders will insist in sand-blasting beams to remove the old paint.
This is fine if you want to ruin everything inside the house and to
ensure that one will be eating sand in every meal for the next thirty
years.

I've found that gently wire brushing by hand produces the best results
but it is tedious work and will take several weeks to do.

Any mechanical means will cause damage to the beams and that seems a
shame.
 
S

stuart noble

Steve said:
Completely shags the beams, it's the chosen method of morons.
As already pointed out, sand is not the only thing that can be blasted.
Nutshells can apparently create a baby's bum finish on woodwork.
Wire brushing by hand is the worst of both worlds- takes an age, and
looks crap when you've finished
 
S

stuart noble

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S

stuart noble

Mike said:
I was told that the finish will look sandblasted
As might be expected if you blast it with sand :)
However, there are many other types of blast media - baking soda, walnut
shells, corn cob, and a whole range of plastic beads.
How many of these are practical in your living room I'm not sure, but
blasting is not a method to be dismissed based on its traditional
association with sand.


and that the beams
 
S

Steve Firth

stuart noble said:
As might be expected if you blast it with sand :)
However, there are many other types of blast media - baking soda, walnut
shells, corn cob, and a whole range of plastic beads.
How many of these are practical in your living room I'm not sure, but
blasting is not a method to be dismissed based on its traditional
association with sand.
No, it's a method to be dismissed because it's shite. And produces a lot
of shite which hangs around your house forever. Every sandblasted finish
I have seen proudly touted by one builder after another has been
dreadful, no matter how they whittle on about walnut shells etc. The
method involves the least work for them, that's why they like it. It
ruins the appearance of the beams, and it's a great way to create a
house that rains grit on the occupants. Builders never, ever clean up
properly.

The wire brushing technique that I recommended is slower (just) but
produces a good finish provided that one uses a hand brush, not an angle
grinder.
 
P

Peter Scott

chudford said:
My Daughter has just bought an old house with oak beams that have been
coated in thick black paint/varnish.
Is there any way that they can be stripped back to the original wood
surface in situ without wrecking the surrounding ceiling?
Depends on how thick and hard the paint is. I had thick distemper, paper
adhesive and other paints on several large oak beams. I used a scraper.
The best one I found was a large wood chisel used as a scraper, held at
about 75 degrees to the surface and pulled so that the bevel was on the
trailing side. Yes, it was hard work but the finish showed good grain
and was slightly polished. You can apply pressure in the right places
and tilt the scraper to follow the surface where needed. I used an old
1.5" chisel, but a 1" would be OK.


Peter Scott
 
T

The Natural Philosopher

Steve said:
It depends.

Builders will insist in sand-blasting beams to remove the old paint.
This is fine if you want to ruin everything inside the house and to
ensure that one will be eating sand in every meal for the next thirty
years.
Dont exaggerate. It only took about 5 hoovers a week apart to get all
the calcium carbonate out of te riooms.

I've found that gently wire brushing by hand produces the best results
but it is tedious work and will take several weeks to do.

Any mechanical means
Including wire brushing

will cause damage to the beams and that seems a
Its an unavoidable fact. You cannot get all the stuff OUT of the grain
without ripping it off, and some wood always comes too. The post
carbonate blast here was pretty decent: Yes, it raised the grain, but a
light sand was all it took to get a reasonable finish back.
 
T

The Natural Philosopher

Steve said:
Completely shags the beams, it's the chosen method of morons.
As usual the only moron here is Firthfart.

Some of us of course have actually done, it and can speak from
experience rather than ignorance.
 
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T

The Natural Philosopher

Mike said:
I was told that the finish will look sandblasted and that the beams
rain sand for a long time after.
So dont use sand and mask the cracks to the ceiling void.
 
T

The Natural Philosopher

Steve said:
No, it's a method to be dismissed because it's shite. And produces a lot
of shite which hangs around your house forever. Every sandblasted finish
I have seen proudly touted by one builder after another has been
dreadful, no matter how they whittle on about walnut shells etc. The
method involves the least work for them, that's why they like it. It
ruins the appearance of the beams, and it's a great way to create a
house that rains grit on the occupants. Builders never, ever clean up
properly.
true, but my contract with the blasters never included the clean up, and
they said that there will be dust we miss. That was fine., because we
expected that, and vacuumed a few times to remove it.

No builder was involved
The wire brushing technique that I recommended is slower (just) but
produces a good finish provided that one uses a hand brush, not an angle
grinder.
Er no, I used that as well, and the finish was much rougher than the
carbonate blasting.
 
T

The Natural Philosopher

Peter said:
Depends on how thick and hard the paint is. I had thick distemper, paper
adhesive and other paints on several large oak beams. I used a scraper.
The best one I found was a large wood chisel used as a scraper, held at
about 75 degrees to the surface and pulled so that the bevel was on the
trailing side. Yes, it was hard work but the finish showed good grain
and was slightly polished. You can apply pressure in the right places
and tilt the scraper to follow the surface where needed. I used an old
1.5" chisel, but a 1" would be OK.
That works on planed timber, but its useless of really old stuff done
with e.g. an adze.

It isn't anywhere near smooth to start with, so there is nothing to
scrape down TO.
 
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