The Top Steps to Restoring and Renovating Older Oak Beams

by | Oct 1, 2021 | DIY Tips

Plenty of older and historic properties in the UK feature oak elements of various kinds, from beams to furniture to flooring and more.  Oak beams, in particular, are most commonly seen in older structures, and one reason for this is because they are very durable indeed. Oak beams can last for generations, and many properties boast such elements – but some may have already gone through plenty of wear and tear through the years. It’s no worry, though – you can still find a way to restore your older oak beams, and it needn’t be all that difficult as long as you have the proper materials and know-how. Here, then, are the top steps to restoring and renovating older oak beams.

The materials

You would need a few materials for your project, such as sandpaper, an orbital or belt sander, wax or oil stain, and a safety kit.

For sanding

For renovating oak beams, your foremost step would be to do away with the old beam finish, regardless if it has a wax finish or a top coating. The procedure is the same for both. With a good orbital or belt sander, start sanding but make sure you are parallel to the wood grain. Once you have sanded away the wood’s outer colouring, you will see the brighter amber colour beneath. You can use a belt sander for the topmost layer, and it works quickly, but it can be tricky to handle. If you don’t have enough space, you may want to use an orbital sander. The sander won’t give you an entirely smooth finish, and if your oak beam is more exposed, you can sand it manually using sandpaper (make sure it’s the finest).

For staining

Many older oak beams will have oil stain finishing, and the oil protects the wood from inside. Oil can also replace the wood’s natural oil, so it remains supple and nice. Spray your preferred oil on the oak beam using a sprayer or a sponge/cloth. Make sure your coverage is even, and leave the wood to dry for a few minutes. Once the wood soaks up the oil, wipe off the excess using a rag, but if you want a darker-coloured finish, do the process again. Make sure that the oil soaks well into the wood before wiping it off again.

For topcoat application

In the past, oak beams were finished using shellac or varnish. These products were fine, but today, lacquer is preferred. It has more benefits; it dries more quickly, you can easily apply it, and is more budget-friendly and reliable. You can also choose from different levels of shine.

Before you start, make sure the oil stain has dried for a minimum of four days, and then choose your lacquer. Ready your spray gun and wear your respirator and overalls. Spread a thin coating on the oak beam. Your strokes should be as steady as possible and parallel to the wood grain. Move the gun constantly, so you don’t drip onto the timber. When one layer is completely dry, give the beam one more sanding using sandpaper. After sanding, spray one more coat and then leave the beam to dry.

If you are not quite sure of doing the job or are faced with more beam damage, you can always turn to restoration experts. 

Read through our useful guide for more information

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