Getting the paint off old beams

The beams in my cottage have been "painted" with a dark brown
substance that looks like something from those stop smoking adverts
twenty years ago. It's not quite gloss paint (though it is glossy) -
where the Neanderthal who applied it has gone over white lighting
flex, it looks a bit like thickly spread marmite.
I'd like to remove it and get the beams looking a little healthier.
What can I try ?
Reply to
Your best bet might be to try chemical paint remover (Nitromors or similar) and steel wool or a wire brush. Obviously you'll want to replace the lighting flex :-)
Reply to
Frank Erskine
Professional sand blasting company, or nothing.
If the beams were new and planed, then they wouldn't be painted. If they are old and pitted, nothing else gets the paint out of the grain.
Reply to
The Natural Philosopher
I'd ignore reccomendations for sand blasting or at least leave it as an absolute last resort. I've just finished cleaning the chestnut beams in my farmhouse and it has taken "quite a bit of time" to do a good job. However having seen the mess that sandblasting made of both the wood and the fabric of the house of a friend I was determined not to sand blast these beams.
I cleaned them by hand using wire brushes. I could do about one room a day which is as good as sandblasting can achieve. In fact better if one factors in the clean-up costs. You will be eating abrasive grit for years to come if you sand blast the beams, the grit gets in everywhere and it's impossible to vacuum it all away.
I suggest that you test a small area to see how well it takes to a wire brush. We also found scotch abrasive pads (not the pan cleaners, large pads impregnated with abrasive) and wirewool to be useful. However some finishes have a consistency like tar and wire brushes just smear it around. For these Nitromors is possible or even alkaline strippers. Your eyes are at particular risk if you try to use these methods on beams, so you will need full-face protection when using them.
Sand-blasting is IMO the refuge of an oaf and it will result in damage to the beams no matter what anyone tells you.
Reply to
Steve Firth
Use calcium carbonate next time. And a decent company.
Try three 30 sq meter rooms in one day.
And you would be nearer the truth.
We tried wire brushing. Iy looked like about 3 weeks work for all the beams.
You will be eating abrasive grit for
It gets everywhere and its simple, if time consuming, to vacuum it all away. BUT you need to clear the rooms first. Again doing that is usually not a problem if its a major refurb anyway. If it isn';t, you still run the risk of splashing any chemicals you may use everywhere, and havinga shitload of paint flakes in your sanwiches for sverel weeks.
So will any abrasive that is good enough to pull the paint off.
A good blasting company will try different abrasives to get the one that pulls the paint off with minimal damage to the wood. If you don;'t want to use abrasives, dismantle the house and get the beams soaked in caustic stripping tanks.
Or replace/cover with new wood.
Your choice.
Reply to
The Natural Philosopher
Steve Firth ( (Steve Firth)) gurgled happily, sounding much like they were saying:
I must admit, I _hate_ the look of sandblasted beams, often seen in pubs that have been "done up". That "throbbing vein" look of the grain standing proud, and the poor battered fibrous look. Eww. Makes me feel sorry for the wood.
Reply to
Dear Simon I wholly endorse the spirit of Steve's post if not the phraseology! Sand blasting is not reversible. You need to get rid of the YUK paint and if possible leave the patina of age just underneath That is the work of a careful picture restorer! So choices are chemical removal with care paint over the yuk paint
Assume the former Two generic types of paint remover - caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) or nitromors type (methelene trichor - as far as I rememember (open to correction - but basically organic chemical as opposed to inorganic) Hydroxides extract hemicelluloses out of the wood and are not good unless used with huge skill Trade examples are Peelaway etc Nitromors type are good (but smelly and messy) as they will remove in layers
Suggest you try mechanical scraping with chemical softening and just bite the bullet time wise
Any other solution will adversly affect the look of the final product
If you choose to paint consider a lime wash if the house is really old Chris
Reply to
I was incredibly sceptical, but Mum bought a can of "Home Strip" and left it at my place and I figured I might as well give it a try. I'm a complete convert and certainly would give it a try in this situation - slap it on, cover it with tin foil for an hour and then remove it and it takes all the paint with it. I've used it now on some pretty horrible surfaces (quite like the one the OP describes) and got back to lovely clean oak. The company only ever seems to describe the ways other products work and never how their own ones work, which opens up the path for understandable scepticism - however having used it I confirm it's worth a try.
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Reply to
Stephen Gower
Dear Selah I have looked at the site and like you would be sceptical as it does not say how it works but on your recommendation I will try some! and suggest to the first poster that it is worth a go! chris
Reply to
emulsion and distemper. I used a wide wood chisel as a scraper, holding it at about 75 degrees to the surface. Once you get the angle and pressure right it is surprisingly quick, though hard work. Probably not practicable if you have a many beams to do. The finish is smooth and natural and the mess is not dusty.
Peter Scott
Reply to
Peter Scott
A disc sander might be best to get the gunk off. They tend to throw the paint off before it has a chance to melt and gum up the abrasive
Reply to
Stuart Noble
Yup, exactly. Every would-be sand blaster rants on about how a good vacuum will get rid of all the abarasive. This is a lie. Even years after the event my friends house is still leaking grit from the joints between beams and it's impossible to vacuum them clean. The wire brush left the wood looking clean and didn't raise the grain at all. OK, it takes some effort, but that IMO is the trade off with DIY, a bit of extra work for the promise of a much better job than can be done by a "professional."
Reply to
Steve Firth
How odd. All mind had gibe withing a week after Id vacuumed a few times.
The grit blaster people went over all the beam cracks with 'dry' guns when they had finished to get the dust out ..
we just swept it all up first, then vacuumed, and did a couple more later on.
Reply to
The Natural Philosopher
There have been three suggestions as far as I can see
sand blasting, disk grinder and chemicals
I really really wouldnt choose either of the first two if you have nice old beams with a patina of age. Once the surface patina has gone then it is gone forever. Chemical stripping will keep the patina intact.
TNP: The situation in your house isnt comparable because your timbers are new, so there was no patina to lose
Reply to
Anna Kettle
I thoght the same and wondered whether C2H5OH was involved until I looked at the keyboard! :)
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