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By PattyMac
I've had two 6m (12" square) oak beams put in my house in France - they have come from an old barn, are extremely rustic (if that's the word! - cracks in them - holes and knots which is what I wanted) but completely dry. Before I had them put in I hacked off the parts affected by woodworm etc, sanded and treated them. They are now back to their natural colour which is a golden/honey. I would like to keep them like that but would like a finish on them which enriches and brings out the colour. I thought of wax but would it be difficult to apply in all the largish holes/uneven surface?? Do you use a brush?? Sorry for the ignorance but it's a field I know nothing about but I don't want to mess them up! Could anyone recommend anything (else??).
By phil.p
Osmo PolyX , Fiddes Hardwax or similar I would think, or maybe a couple of coats of Danish Oil. Failing that a water based polyurethane would be easy and virtually odour free, which has its attractions.
By PattyMac
Thanks for that Phil - I have some off-cuts and I see you can buy 5ml samples which is really good. I don't return to the UK until mid-October so will have to wait until then. The Danish Oil appeals as well - mainly because I'm thinking it may be easier to apply in all the holes, nooks and crannies of the beams??
If anyone else has beams like this I would be interested to know what they did though - any info is very much appreciated - once it's done it's done and after all the trouble sourcing and installing them I don't want to make a complete mess of them.
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By custard
Danish Oil stinks. It's okay on most furniture because you wipe off all the excess so you're left with an extremely thin film which will dry in a few weeks. On a rough surface you slather it on and you struggle to remove the excess, so it'll stink your house out for a year or more.

Osmo's quite a bit better, less smell and faster drying, but it's still not totally odour free.

Water based poly finishes are pretty much odour free, but make sure you test carefully using the exact same method that you'll employ on a large scale, otherwise your beautiful honey beams might look like plastic encapsulated rubbish.

I'd be strongly tempted to either leave them natural or just rub them over with wax and a stiff brush. Whatever you use, don't get it on surrounding paintwork or overpainting in a few years time will become trickier and more expensive.

Good luck!
By PattyMac
Thanks Custard - definitely don't want a smell - just getting rid of the smell of the woodworm treatment (xylophene - awful) - your last suggestion may be a good one - I like the colour but just want to give them a "finish" to enrich the appearance.

On yet another note.... I've had an oak staircase put in - it's not as old as the beams! - probably around 1900's - it's open-tread (treads are only 3cms thick) and the spindles are "turned" (if that's the word??) - like you can buy now. However, the colour again needs bringing back - it's darker than the rest of the wood in the room (i.e. beams, door/window lintels and fireplace) but doesn't look odd. The treads have started to creak and someone has said I need to get something on them. Any suggestions??? Do I need a treatment and then something on the top or is there something that will do both?

Would appreciate any advice - it's completely new ground for me...
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By custard
PattyMac wrote:The treads have started to creak and someone has said I need to get something on them.

Funny how the mind works. An axle squeaks, so we oil it. A staircase oil that too! Unfortunately wood doesn't work that way, the treads squeak because of the fit of the joint, re-finishing won't make a blind bit of difference.

Sounds like you've got natural Oak woodwork, but an Oak staircase that's had a previous finish. You either have to remove all that previous finish (big job, especially with fussy turned components where you can't get a power sander on the workpiece), or stain the rest of the woodwork to approximately match (that'd be a mistake), or just learn to live with it!

Maybe there's a compromise, like just stripping back the bannister hand rail? You might be surprised how unifying it can be to a decor once just one single element is brought in line. The eye seems to alight on that and filter out the rest.

Good luck!
By PattyMac
Well, I'm learning! Also learning not to accept the first thing people tell me! By this I mean those over here!

I took a section of the balustrade home to the UK and tried several stain finishes - I actually got one didn't really affect the depth of colour (perhaps slightly darker - as when you've polished something) but made it look richer. It's totally different to the very old wood - on the side riser (that goes all the way up on the outside?) you can see the oak grain but it's a "smooth" finish - defintely no sanding needed on any of the staircase as it's very smooth - almost like a "modern one". I think with this I'll just have to accept it's a different colour/shade of oak to the rest - I couldn't wait any longer as I needed the staircase to get on with the room - think I would still be looking if I hadn't.
If I had the same house in the UK I would have invested in a nice oak one but unfortunately property over in France doesn't make anywhere the ridiculous price in the UK - it does make it more difficult as you have balance what you're putting in with cost etc.
By PattyMac
Just remembering something re the stair treads - it was also because horizontal splits were appearing in some of the treads and this person said they were "drying out"- if I apply a stain do you think this would help and solve two problems?
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By custard
PattyMac wrote:Just remembering something re the stair treads - it was also because horizontal splits were appearing in some of the treads and this person said they were "drying out"- if I apply a stain do you think this would help and solve two problems?

Quite possible they were drying out, if they'd been stored outdoors in a salvage yard for example then it's entirely likely. But that's just normal wood behaviour and virtually any kind of finish or stain that you're likely to apply won't really affect that process.

We're constantly being sold products that claim to "nourish" the wood, but the reality is that anything you apply won't penetrate deeper than about half a millimetre, so these advertising claims really are a bit of nonsense.
By PattyMac
Thanks again for the advice - it's all taken in especially the splitting etc.
Well.... I've also something to report re. the stairs - I took a piece of the balustrade home last year and I knew I'd tried 2 or 3 things on them but thought I'd left them there as I didn't think I'd be doing them this year). While I've been here I've noticed a full tin of something on the shelf and I couldn't remember what I'd bought it for (yes - it's like that here with so many things on the go!) - anyway, after I read your post I went into the barn and got yet another piece as I had sneaky feeling the tin was for the stairs. So, I've done it and it's come up a treat - it looks as though it's had a really good polish but with no false shiny look about it - it just looks as though it's been well-looked after. I've used Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain in Satin Natural Oak (it's rainproof and drys in 30 mins - not that I'll need that hopefully) - I have a feeling a man at B&Q recommended it. Really easy to apply.
Still not decided or done anytihng about the beams but it's looking as though I may opt to keep them natural but with a light "wax" finish on them - I'll keep you updated.
Once again a really big thank you for all your help - it really is appreciated.
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By custard
phil.p wrote:Good point about the D.O. being lagged on and thus stinking. :oops:

It's top of mind at the moment Phil.

A couple of weeks ago I loaded a chest of drawers into the back of the car, it was finished in Danish Oil to match a piece I'd made a few years ago. The piece had been drying in my workshop for at least three weeks, and as far as I could tell was fully dry. But after driving on a hot day for about half an hour I was nearly gagging from the DO smell! At the other end I left the car doors open for a minute to get rid of the smell, luckily it wasn't too bad carrying it in, or in the client's home, but in the enclosed space of an estate car it was overpowering. Thank goodness I always leave the interior of drawers unfinished or with just a light coat of shellac!
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By Moonsafari69
Osmo PolyX leaves a lovely finish on Oak, my favourite by a long way. On the size of beams you're talking about using Osmo would cost a few quid though. However I'm guessing these beams are on show so could well be worth it.
By Beau
Liberon finishing oil will do the job. I did all our exposed beams with it. It does smell for a few days but is quick drying and from the sounds of it give the colour you want. I would not use water based poly as it has rather pale milky colour which will detract from the oak IMO. Osmo OK but expensive.
By PattyMac
Moon Safari,
Not really that opthered re. price as the beams haven't exactly been cheap and I wouldn't want to mess them up. Is there only one shade/colour in the OsmoPoly?
Thanks for that - re. Liberon - again, any particular shade/colour? Would it leave them "natural" looking??