Timber or wood beams can certainly add an appealing look and character to any structure, and if the beams have existed for centuries, they can take on an even deeper and more striking appeal. The fact is, old wood beams such as oak beams can have a more distinct appearance when they age, but you should also be careful about treating and cleaning them since they can be damaged with the use of improper products or cleaning methods. If you have old oak beams or furniture and are planning to restore them or have them restored or renovated by an expert, it pays to know what you should do – and what you should avoid. There are some questions that are more common than most, so here are your old wood beam FAQs: your top questions about oak beams answered.
1. What is the traditional and classic method in terms of polishing and refining oak beams?
Traditionally speaking, timber is usually coated with limewash, which allows it to have a conventional, natural-looking polish and shine. But if the beam needs to be replaced or repaired, you may not have to stain any new wood or timber that is added to an existing element. Once oak ages, it will take on a darker look and appearance, and its colouring will change. You don’t have to go through the entire process of staining new oak timber because it will eventually change in appearance as well.
2. How can I effectively lighten the appearance of darker oak beams?
When oak beams, particularly old ones, look darker and you would like to lighten their finish, you can apply liming wax to the beams. But if you would like a finish that is more solid and darker, you can make use of paint that is casein-based.
3. Is it advisable to apply linseed oil to oak beams and timber?
The thing with linseed oil is that it can make the beam sticky. When the beam is sticky, this can easily attract dust and dirt. Also, linseed oil may fade eventually. Older oak beams will not necessarily require treatment with linseed oil, but you may be able to use beeswax polish so you can enhance their appearance, as confirmed by beam restoration experts.
4. What causes decay in old beams, and how can I handle it?
In some cases, old oak beams can decay and get damaged, and one major cause of decay is dampness. Dampness can cause the rotting of the wood, and it can also result in insect infestation, particularly from beetles. This can be particularly devastating for support beams. You should first determine the reason for the decay and dampness so you can address the problem, and some potential causes may be leaking pipework, gutters that are clogged, or the beams or timber having direct contact with moisture. Once the timber or beam dries out, the insect infestation will diminish as well.
5. Do I have to use chemical treatment?
The use of chemicals such as sprays is often expensive, and they are unpleasant as well. But if there is an active infestation of woodworm within the timber or beam, you may have to treat the affected area with insecticides. Again, this is best delegated to the experts, so you should consult one if you have an active infestation.
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