Tarting Up Ceiling Beams

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aforjeh

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Calderdale
Hi All

Our house is a converted barn with exposed beams throughout all the rooms upstairs. Due to the layout of the ceiling, much of the room is angled ceiling with beams, so if they aren't at eye-level you are most likely about to crack your head on them.... so they are quite in-your-face, rather than 'up and out of the way'.

Over the years the beams have seen some abuse, possibly some previous efforts at renovation, and many leaks creating watermarks everywhere. The leaks have recently been fixed, and I'm wondering what can be done to improve the appearance of the beams.

Things I'd like to improve:
- Consistency of appearance i.e. colour - The other half would not 'mind' if they ended up a bit lighter, I don't mind so them as they are but would like to avoid just blanket making them a lot darker
- Reducing the appearance of water marks/stains left over from the leaks
- Getting rid of some of the paint 'overspray' and half-gone finishes

I'm not averse to spending some time on it, but would rather not sand them into oblivion (due to the amount of dust it would create, and also because I suspect the 'rough' nature of the surface (cracks & splits, grain, general 'non straightforward' bits and old ironwork etc) might mean it would take a lot of sanding to get decent results. I'm open to being persuaded though.

I'm not bothered about correcting any splits/cracks/misalignment etc, more 'cosmetic' improvements as noted above.

Some photos... probably 15% of the beams shown here, just to give you a flavour...

#1 - Beam on the right is quite dark/maroon sort of colour, then as you go left they are a lot paler, and there are watermarks everywhere

IMG_5897.jpeg


#2 - more watermarks (note I have fixed the plaster ceiling section, stain blocked + painted over so that's done at least!)

IMG_5891.jpeg


#3 - there are the vague remnants of some sort of finish almost entirely peeled off and gone with the wind... and some paint speckles (not mine, your honour)

IMG_5892.jpeg


#4 - Several years of ingrained paint

IMG_5894.jpeg


#5 - not sure what this is. Some sort of Christmas themed white 'rot' but it's solid...

IMG_5896.jpeg


Any thoughts/advice appreciated!

Thanks
Aaron
 
A quick pass with an electric plane or sander seems the obvious quick remedy. Oxalic acid can help reduce water marks, it also bleaches the wood slightly. It's sometimes sold as wood bleach. For areas this big I'd suggest buying it in crystal form and mixing with water to the desired strength.
 
ur photo's stayed blank for me........
we had a 17th century water mill in France and the treatment there was a wax polish like shoe wax...
U put it on the same as for shoes and buff it of with a clean brush...
it's available in diff colours so we used a darker one to raise the faded colour patches a bit.....
it all worked out well.....
I did add a few new'ish beams and unless u pointed them out nobody would know once finished....
loose stuff, in the end I used a new hand wire brush...the rotay kind does too much damage, even with brass wires....
u say some paint in the cracks....pick out the worst, colour whats left with felt tip pen etc and then wax.....
Sorry for the wife but this it wont make them any lighter.....
guess I was lucky mine as they were not messed about with by the sucsessive lazy Frenchies that owned it before me....
in the second photo the main beam is brand new.....I cut and trimmed a tree form own my property...
and the lumpy bit on the end is what left of a branch.....seemed a shame to remove it along with a couple of others....
good luck...
DSCN1696.JPG


DSCN1691.JPG
 
Scrub them down with soapy water or even better - sugar soap. Messy job - polythene and dust sheets perhaps.
When dry apply raw linseed oil. Won't make them look any lighter but will look good.
 
scrape them with a radiused plane iron held on something like this.



All that is is scrap wood in a two-hander with a lag bolt through the center to hold an iron. It works fabulously and sharpening it is nothing more than installing about a 45 degree bevel and honing with 80 grit on a board every several minutes.

you can double side tape (not with real carpet tape, but something weak) 1/8th ply or you guys would probably call it 3mm next to it so that you don't scrape the ceiling.

It'll also give you an idea of where it's just punky vs. discolored. You can come back after the punky areas with a wire brush if you want them to look a little more rustic.
 
You could get a firm in to sandblast them. It is messy but they would protect 'most' areas for dust. downside wold mean you'd need to decorate around them again. This would lighten them.

Just another option to add to the previous.
 
You could get a firm in to sandblast them. It is messy but they would protect 'most' areas for dust. downside wold mean you'd need to decorate around them again. This would lighten them.

Just another option to add to the previous.
Sand blasting can be a disaster with old wood. Ends up like drift wood with a suede leather surface effect.
 
Sand blasting can be a disaster with old wood. Ends up like drift wood with a suede leather surface effect.
If using the wrong method, yes. A reputable company will remove a micro layer leaving the timber very much intact. Wouldn't recommend a diy job on this. The photographs from the op shows the timber in a solid condition so I see no issues.
 
Perhaps put some faux beams over them?
Less mess, in any case.
 
Perhaps put some faux beams over them?
Less mess, in any case.

Perhaps veneer to limit how much extra material is added? Can't imagine losing ~1mm of headroom will be very noticeable.
 
A friend of mine moved into a late 1600's timber frame house. The timberwork looked terrible and would have taken an eternity to get back to a state where waxing would have been possible.
His other half had the property sprayed for worm when she moved in a year earlier. Once all was dry she used a sponge to apply filler to damaged areas, gave a light brush down and then egg-shelled everything the same colour as the emulsion ceiling. The difference is amazing.

Colin
 
I stripped the paint off loads of trusses in my place going for the natural wood look, took me hours, they do look good but fashions have changed and I probably wouldn't bother if I was doing it now.

I tried several different methods and what worked best for me was a Festool Rotex sander and Bahco scraper. The sander ate through the the top layer in Rotary mode then I switched it to random orbit for a finer finish. The sander has a bump guard so you don't damage the walls which was handy. Makita etc make equivalent now but when I got mine I think Festool was the only option. The scraper sorted out the corners that the sander couldn't get in to, you can remove a lot with these scrapers and just one of these might even do your job. There are similar scrapers available cheaper but the Bahco worked well for me.

https://www.axminstertools.com/bahc...utm_content=1792&tagrid=55114141&glCountry=GB
It's always a difficult balance making beams look clean and tidy without losing the character and ending up with them looking brand new.
 
I spent several weeks stripping off paint and filler off of wondeful old beams in a house. The owner had listened to his sister and had them painted in a fashionable Green shade, in the French style, he decided he didn't like it. One of the worst gutsy jobs I ever carried out but the result was great. The decorators were very thorough with lots of filler which I had to winkle out. I agree with the use of oxalic acid to reduce water staining, I would use water stains to lightly colour the beams my favourite was always Van Dyke water stain this is in crystal form derived from walnuts, I would then use wax polish.
I also once refurbished a very early church door, (St. Peter's Henfield, West Sussex), which had been through many centuries of abuse/ repair, culminating in filling and graining to look like oak in the Victorian period( the perpetrators had carved their intials and date). I used a shot blasting friend to skim all of these "improvements" ( I stood behind him suitably protected, so that he would not get carried away). I was then able to splice in solid oak for the repairs and blend it all together. I shall have to make a pilgramage back to the Church to see how it is doing!
In short NO to heavy sanding or planeing but mild shotblasting is definitely possible.
 
Instead of sanding, how about using a softish brass wire hand brush? Yes; lots of dust; but it will leave the grain, and even and lighten things up.

Hard work though; and mostly overhead . . . . .
 
i worked on an old property in the Cotswolds , many years ago. The interior designer, whose property it was , asked us to paint all the beams. The ceilings were all an off-white, and the beams were a slightly darker greyish colour, to differentiate them from the ceiling itself.
When we moved into our present property , I adopted a similar method, using clay paint. It makes a real difference to the feel of the place.
 
Depends how far you want to go and what you want in the way of looks. They are not nice looking beams as a bit square but what about cladding them in some old second hand timber that you can apply the finish before attaching.
 
Depends how far you want to go and what you want in the way of looks. They are not nice looking beams as a bit square but what about cladding them in some old second hand timber that you can apply the finish before attaching.
Look like pitch pine rather than oak?
 
Like spanner48's concept - brush work will remove a lot of the water marks and residual gunk, but wonder if a wire brush in a drill or on a grinder wouldn't be easier and give slightly more penetration.
 
3M Bristle Discs on a grinder give a similar result to a wire brush but are bigger and faster than the drill mounted sort and slightly slower but way lighter than a 4" brush sander. They come in 3 grits so you can get a reasonable finish with a P120 after hogging off the cruft with a lower grit.
 
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