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

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Adam W.

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It was very common in the 16th century to have polychrome decoration to internal timber, so it might be worth doing a test piece on one of the central beams in the largest room of the house, or one near the fireplace.
 

Valhalla

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It was very common in the 16th century to have polychrome decoration to internal timber, so it might be worth doing a test piece on one of the central beams in the largest room of the house, or one near the fireplace.
Ok thanks - I'll bear that in mind once I take ownership. I'm looking forward to finding out the history of the property one step at a time.
 

woodieallen

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Could you not rent a place for a short while or move in with relations while you get it sandblasted ? Tent? Caravan?
 

Valhalla

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Could you not rent a place for a short while or move in with relations while you get it sandblasted ? Tent? Caravan?
I might be able to engineer a situation whereby I complete on the new house and complete on my current one a month later thereby giving me time to deal with the paintwork - assuming a month is enough time to do the job!!
 

Fergie 307

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No experience of doing it on wood, but from working with various metals can say that blast cleaning isn't necessarily a massively aggressive process. It can be done quite delicately all depends on the pressure used and the blasting media. I would have thought any company specialising in this sort of work would be able to show you examples of the finished appearance.
 

woodieallen

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Been mulling this over. Valhalla. Not wishing to rain on your parade but just wondering what the general state of repair is of the property? Has it been renovated ? Have you checked the sole plates ? Groundfloor....proper job, insulation etc or flagstones onto earth ? Have you been round the outside with a sharp screwdriver and really had a good look at the main timbers. And I mean a good look, with a ladder. Poking about ...seeing how much cement has been bunged in the inevitable rot holes.

Pity I no longer live in the area as I'd gladly have come round with you to have a prod. I've done a fair few of these in my time.
 

Adam W.

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No experience of doing it on wood, but from working with various metals can say that blast cleaning isn't necessarily a massively aggressive process. It can be done quite delicately all depends on the pressure used and the blasting media. I would have thought any company specialising in this sort of work would be able to show you examples of the finished appearance.


Yes, that's very true, but people have a tendency to go for the lowest quote and end up with a wreckage done by a chancer with no experience of building conservation.
 

ecokestove

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My understanding of beams in cottages is this, and I may be completely wrong.

The original occupants of a cottage would have been poor, and would not have been able to afford to paint them. What they would/might have done is limewash them to deter insect infestation. I believe it was the Victorians who started the fashion for painting them black.

As I said, I might be completely wrong, so if any one knows better I'd be interested to know.

Twenty odd years ago when I was a 'specialist decorator', sometimes known as an 'arty farty', I was asked to make a large black beam look like oak. I painted it white then applied a number of glazes to achieve the affect. It worked, but might not have been the right thing to cover the wood with a non breathable finish. Though the other side of the bean could still breath I suppose.

If you wanted an authentic look I suppose you could paint them with an off-white breathable matte paint.

I hate black beams! They suck the light out of a room.
 

Fergie 307

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Another idea might be to contact someone with experience of renovating listed buildings. They are sure to have had this issue and might be able to give you some good advice as to how it can be done with least harm, or English Heritage maybe?
 

Fergie 307

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Yes, that's very true, but people have a tendency to go for the lowest quote and end up with a wreckage done by a chancer with no experience of building conservation.
Indeed, I dread to think what effect some techniques would have on a wood substrate, you could easily ruin it permanently. I should think with something like this you definitely want to see some examples of their previous work, and chat to those who had it done. And you are so right, any clown can grab a grit gun and have a go, to get someone who really knows what they are doing is going to be very costly I should think. At least one advantage of a decent outfit is that they will hopefully clean up afterwards as well, and that will be no small undertaking in itself!
 

Keith 66

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Blast cleaning timber can do a lot of damage very quickly & choice of media is critical, crushed walnut shell media is often used for this sort of thing as its quite gentle, I know a guy who has used it on vintage boats with great sucess.
Soda blasting is another option. In the end if its listed which is likely, your first point of contact would be council building control & English heritage
 

Fergie 307

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Blast cleaning timber can do a lot of damage very quickly & choice of media is critical, crushed walnut shell media is often used for this sort of thing as its quite gentle, I know a guy who has used it on vintage boats with great sucess.
Soda blasting is another option. In the end if its listed which is likely, your first point of contact would be council building control & English heritage
Interesting the reference to walnut shell. This was always the media of choice for finishing cylinder head ports on tuned engines, and on alloy castings on bikes and similar stuff. I can certainly see how it would be a good choice for timber.
 

Valhalla

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Been mulling this over. Valhalla. Not wishing to rain on your parade but just wondering what the general state of repair is of the property? Has it been renovated ? Have you checked the sole plates ? Groundfloor....proper job, insulation etc or flagstones onto earth ? Have you been round the outside with a sharp screwdriver and really had a good look at the main timbers. And I mean a good look, with a ladder. Poking about ...seeing how much cement has been bunged in the inevitable rot holes.

Pity I no longer live in the area as I'd gladly have come round with you to have a prod. I've done a fair few of these in my time.

The current owners have lived there for 11 years and as far as I can tell they have not done a thing to maintain the building and precious little internally apart from some minor electrical work and some alterations.

I've had a level 3 survey done. Needs the roof stripping, new felt and batten and re-lay tiles and replace damaged ones plus the inevitable replacing of cement fillets with lead flashing, valleys etc. Oh - and the roof timbers will need treating.

There is a section of the sole plate that has wet rot.

The windows are in poor repair. The external timbers are in good order, but need a repaint and the infill panels need making good/sealing as there is evidence of water ingress.

As I don't yet own the house it would be a liberty to go round poking holes in someone elses house.
The survey picked up some damp in the tiled floors - but it could be background condensation (what with it being winter and all).

It's a project I know - until I get the planners, conservationists, listed building officers and god knows who else involved I won't know where I am.....

I intend to get the roof, sole plate and infill panels dealt with first and then the windows followed by the interior

"Pity I no longer live in the area" - shame - I could do with speaking with someone who has first-hand experience.

Other than that it's all good !!!
 

Valhalla

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Here's a couple of images
 

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