Cleaning the beam on my post and beam

I live in a 160 year old post and beam house. The beams are exposed in some rooms. This would be great, except it looks like someone in the past was sloppy with the paint. There is an annoying amount of white paint on the beams which kind of spoils it.
Is there any way to remove the paint without damaging the gray patina of the beam? It seems like anything I could try (sanding, etc.) would mess it up.
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The most over used words "Patina" - "Do you have any idea how much it is worth? and finally "I have no idea!! "God! do I ever hate the -- "antique's road show" and Regis Philbin - "That's my final answer! Mr. Putz, If there's paint on the beam then,.... I guess you don't have a patina do you ? The beam will not be the same tone,color,"patina" under the paint since it isn't and wasn't exposed to the same humidity,light,air and time. There are no set rules for removing paint, I would utilize whatever means in the shop, spoke shave, palm plane,exacto knife, sandpaper even small amounts of paint stripper on an artist brush and removed with steel wool. The only trick to paint removal is to stay as close as you can to the surface without marring or raising the grain. Every situation is different so use whatever works best for you. If this is a labor of love, then take your time and enjoy. To refinish : make years fly by add a "graying" effect or speed up time and "patina", Add a few table spoons of baking soda to a quart container of warm tap water. Brush on let dry,repeat until you reach a desired "patina".You will probably have to wait a few days to see results. If it were up to me, I would start in a less conspicuous are first to see if I would be satisfied with the results. goodluck dp

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It's a 160 year old house, and we don't know when the paint was applied. It could have been applied in recent years, in which case the OP's concerns about patina are quite valid.
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if the paint was applied a few years ago it would still be different

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If you hang a picture on a 160 year old beam for two months and then take it down, the color would change and the outline of the picture frame would be defined on the beam.

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I doubt that. The picture would merely be resting against the surface and there'd still be airflow around the back between the frame and the beam. Also, after 160 years, the patina would be pretty much developed and probably wouldn't change much over the course of another hundred years or so, much less two months.
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Your wood beam is a natural product, and variations in surface and color should not be considered a defect. If the paint bugs you, just scrape it off. yes, the wood under it will look different. It's wood. It's 160 years old. It SHOULD have blemishes.
--Goedjn
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