How to clean paint off 16thC internal timbers without damage?

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Valhalla

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Hi,

I'm buying a B&W property and I want to (subject to permissions) remove all the black paint on the internal timber surfaces.
I'm guessing this will take 'kin' ages, but I think the end result will be worth it.
I was thinking of using some sort of blasting machine that is as gentle as possible whilst getting the job done.
Does anyone have any experience/advice on carrying out this task? What is the best medium for removing paint from ancient timbers?
I'm thinking of just covering the exposed timber in beeswax.

Cheers
 

Kittyhawk

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Soda blasting could be worth a look. It is low pressure and used for cleaning paint and other contaminants from timber without damaging the substrate, often used internally on floors, exposed beams etc. Never used it myself and so have no idea as to what sort of a mess needs cleaning up afterwards.
 

mrpercysnodgrass

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Like you I have a 1650's Herefordshire Black and White cottage. There should never have been black paint on any of the beams inside or out. I stand to be corrected but I'm fairly sure you do not need permission to strip the paint off. If you are not living in the property then I would definitely blast the stuff off, not something you would want to do if you have already moved in, the mess is indescribable. I can recommend this guy......
If blasting is not an option then you are left with poultice stripping or using a 'proper' stripper and lots of elbow grease with a wire brush.
You can buy a sample pack of PeelAway which would be a good place to start if you are going down the hand stripping route......
 

woodieallen

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I also sandblasted the beams although soda blasting is the preferred route these days. If you do go down the sandblasting route then do it before you move in. When I did mine, since the property was gutted, it didn't really matter. Just as well as that sand gets in everywhere.

Couple of useful sites


Home Their best practice papers are well worth getting.

And in case you aren't aware of them Timber Merchants & Stove Centre | Good Brothers Ltd for your new oak.

EDIT: No idea what the forum s/w has done to my post!
 

Valhalla

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If you are not living in the property then I would definitely blast the stuff off, not something you would want to do if you have already moved in, the mess is indescribable.
I can imagine the mess. I might not have the luxury of doing it whilst the house is empty so I might end up doing it room by room and see if I can seal each room as I go. I think you can buy zip screens these days. I will need to use the least aggressive blasting method of paint removal. Stick and Peel I can imagine taking a loooong time and paint stripper even longer.
 

flying haggis

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Somewhere in the deep recesses of what resembles my brain I seem to recall seeing a dirt etc removal system using dry ice. Would/could that work?

And now there is laser cleaning
 

woodieallen

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If that is the case why did the timbers end up black?
Fashion of the day

...... see if I can seal each room as I go. ....

Not a chance. That stuff comes out under incredibly high pressure. We had our cellar blasted. We though the rest of the house would be fine. It wasn't. It will find its way through every nook and cranny, and will be coming out of them for months after.
 

Valhalla

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Fashion of the day



Not a chance. That stuff comes out under incredibly high pressure. We had our cellar blasted. We though the rest of the house would be fine. It wasn't. It will find its way through every nook and cranny, and will be coming out of them for months after.
oh pipper......I saw a figure of 20psi on one of the sites and compared to 120psi I thought it wouldn't be too bad......
 

Jacob

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Sand blasting is the worst option as if the timber has any age it's likely to be a mess with bodged repairs, filler, rot and all sorts. Even if the timber is untouched it may lose its patina and end up looking like suede leather
I'd leave well alone, or seek expert local advice, or try a tiny little patch with industrial paint stripper like Langlows.
 

Adam W.

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Cleaning paint off timber is not really my thing, but I did go to a seminar where there was a guy who claimed to be able to clean timber to reveal its original polychrome decoration. I'm trying to remember who it was and I'll ask some colleagues if they can remember.

There is a brief article on the subject here Paint Removal from Historic Timbers but it's quite vague and doesn't recommend any companies who can do it.
 

mikej460

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We had old oak beams sandblasted in our last house and it created an unholy mess throughout. It stripped all the patina from the beams and left all the old woodworm holes like pumice. I'd never do it again.

We are now faced with black painted beams that we'd like stripping and I am contemplating soda blasting or chemical stripper. I know that car renovators get their chassis ice blasted to remove rust and grime prior to anti-rust undersealing which is what I plan to have done to the truck in my avatar.
 

woodieallen

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Sand blasting is the worst option as if the timber has any age it's likely to be a mess with bodged repairs, filler, rot and all sorts. Even if the timber is untouched it may lose its patina and end up looking like suede leather
I'd leave well alone, or seek expert local advice, or try a tiny little patch with industrial paint stripper like Langlows.
True but at least he will know what he's dealing with and can proceed accordingly. I don't think your suggestion of paint stripper is a sensible one because trying to get it out of all the nooks, crevices and rot that you refer to will be nigh on impossible. Or take months and months.
 

Jacob

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True but at least he will know what he's dealing with and can proceed accordingly. I don't think your suggestion of paint stripper is a sensible one because trying to get it out of all the nooks, crevices and rot that you refer to will be nigh on impossible. Or take months and months.
That's the idea. If it doesn't work easily then it's not worth the bother. That's why I suggested just trying a small area.
What condition can actually be "restored"? From the moment it was cut the timber has been changing colour, had materials added, been under attack from rot or worm, weathered, painted....etc etc. A new "restoration" is just the application of a new colour scheme, notionally more like "the original" but which may never have been extant for long in the first place and now irretrievable.
 
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Valhalla

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It seems that my choices are:
1) dry ice cleaning - this seems by far the least messy, but probably the most expensive method
2) soda blasting - very messy
3) laser cleaning - I will probably need another mortgage for that
4) paint stripper - I don't have enough years left to clean up the mess afterwards.
5) sand blasting - not even going there.....

@Adam W. I read that article and it makes sense. Is it actually possible to clean off an individual layer of paint without damaging the one underneath?

Thanks to everyone for all the input
 

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