Oak beams undoubtedly have their charm, and this is one main reason why oak is the material of choice for beams and internal fixtures, especially in centuries past. As oak ages, it becomes even more attractive and appealing, and the wood takes on an even more distinctive finish that adds to the beauty of any room or dwelling. But just like other types of wood, oak wood can also be subject to wear and tear, especially over time, and as oak beams get older, they can be privy to rot, infestation, and damage wrought by exposure to sunlight, among other things. If you have old oak beams and are wondering how you can effectively clean and maintain them, here’s what you should know.
Why should you clean and treat them?
For many property owners, there are various reasons why cleaning and treating their oak beams is a priority. The most common reason is, of course, for cosmetic improvement, but another reason would be renovation or restoration. While oak is usually prized for how rustic it looks, this wasn’t always the case, particularly in the 70s when a lot of property owners decided to paint their oak beams in different colours, perhaps to match with their walls or décor. But the paints used by these property owners at the time, particularly those produced prior to 1978, contained lead, which can often be released as the paint decays – and lead, as we all know, is toxic, so this is another reason why painted oak beams should be restored and refinished.
Other reasons why you should clean and treat your oak beams might include damp or infestation. These conditions should be addressed as soon as possible, although they are easy to fix once you have resolved to remedy them. Oak beams can also become discoloured due to smoke or soot, and previous treatments for the colouring of oak beams, like linseed oil, can also leave unpleasant, sticky, and cumbersome deposits on the wood where dirt and dust can become trapped. If your oak beams have been exposed to too much damp or moisture, they can also blacken. Whatever issues your old oak beams have, cleaning, treating, and renovating them should be relatively easy, provided you rely on a good beam restoration specialist who knows what they’re doing and who can give your oak beams a gentle, straightforward treatment.
Cleaning and restoring oak beams
Methods of cleaning
To clean your oak beams, you can simply brush them down with a soft brush so you can remove dirt and dust. Avoid using wire brushes as this can damage the timber’s appearance. If your oak beams are stained or blackened, you can make use of chemical-free blasting or soda blasting, but be careful of the chemicals used to treat the wood. This is where the knowledge and complete expertise of a specialist in beam restoration comes in as well.
Fungal and insect damage
Old oak beams can become infested by woodworm, and the signs of such an infestation are often manifested as small holes in the wood. If you want, you can have beeswax applied to your oak beams so they can fill the holes left by the woodworm, and if your oak beams are to be painted, you can apply wood filler first and sand it prior to painting the wood.