Sunday, 4 March 2012

There must be a better way

On Saturday, I decided to tackle a job I'd been putting off for some time, that of removing layers of paint from one of the big beams supporting the living room ceiling. First, here's a quick look back to what the living room looked like in April 2011.

Things have changed a little. Walls removed, dry lining removed, wall plaster removed, ceiling plaster removed, cracked beam replaced, beams and stone sand blasted... you get the idea. But that beam, see in the photo above, was untouched throughout all of that.

I tried removing the paint with my Makita brush sander, but the nylon brushes, so effective on raw wood, just polished the paint. I tied with the sand blaster, but by the time the paint was removed, the wood had taken on a driftwood look, with soft fibres stripped away. Not so nice for the oak. On Saturday, I decided to give it a go with a braided wire brush attachment on an angle grinder.

Weapons of choice.
  Definitely tougher work than I imagined, and it took the guts of 5 hours to do the beam. Care had to be taken not to gouge into the wood, or leave the brush in one spot too long, as it could leave friction burn marks.
Removing layers of paint revealed plaster-filled cracks in the timber.
 In the end, the results were just ok. Paint remains in the small cracks in the wood, and although testing with the brush and belt sanders, this stuff is not going to come out.

Fissures still filled with paint.
The living room, March 2012. Click for full effect.
So, is there a better way? I have another one just like this to do in the bedroom. I have a heat gun, but I'm not confident in the effectiveness on a mix of paint types (certainly emulsion and oil-based). I'm considering solvent-based paint remover, but don't relish the gooey messiness of that either.

Still, it's looking better. The new beam we inserted a few weeks ago has now been bedded in with bricks and mortar, so the supporting struts can come away next week.


  1. Hi Barry!
    I'm jealous of the incredible Makita nylon brushes!! We want tried sandblasting wooden elements, but our are not so thickly painted Which colour want you used on the wood?

  2. Hi Mirek!

    That brush sander is really great for cleaning the wood beams, and I have used it on all of the beams in the upper attic, and will use it to make a nicer finish on all the beams I sand blasted. It was a bit expensive, but I've had literally days and days of continuous use of it so far, and I think it was worth it. I keep telling myself that! :)

    I plan on using some sort of oil on the wood, so we have a natural finish (well, something to bring out the grain and nice, warm colours). I haven't decided what oil yet. Linseed oil is usually mentioned, but I believe it gets darker over time. Tung Oil sounds great, but it looks expensive, and needs many thin coats. So, I'm still researching. We have a lot of wood to look after!

    Do you plan on painting yours or also oiling or waxing them? I'm definitely looking for good tips! :D

    1. Hi Barry!
      Yes, yes we know Makita brush sander is really expensive device. Unfortunately, no one is selling this used on ebay. Also, no one has to borrow. (We buy used or borrow this!).
      Tried to clean the wood beams with an angle grinder with sandpaper discs. Unfortunately, this does not give satisfactory results. You can see traces of the blade on the wood. As for sanding, we found a company that has an affordable price will be blasting in our house. Do we also sanded wood beams - we'll see after the first trials.
      Beams and wooden ceilings are planning to paint with turpentine stain and then waxed. One piece painted (door compartment left in the room next door on the ground floor) already showed you on my blog. How would you like to send you additional photos for email. It came out very nicely.
      We plan Window sills and floors bleached by means of Flügger company. It's a little water coloring paint the wood in white color but transparent. The walls also painted in watercolor Flügger company. Shall not apply lime paint and finishing clay. This is a very expensive method.

      We are also looking for good advice!

    2. Sorry for the late reply...
      Sounds interesting. I'd love to see some photos of that finish. My mail address is mentioned in the "About Me" box at the top of this page :)
      I'll also be interested in seeing the "bleached look" for your sills and floors. What type of wood is it?