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How to Correctly Clean Old Oak Beams: General Cleaning and Restoration from Insect Damage

Clean Old Oak Beams

One of the most popular wood types used through the ages is oak, and we can all agree that oak has a distinct character and appearance that differentiates it from other kinds of wood. Oak is a hardy wood, and its strength and integrity have made it a premium choice for furniture, beams, decorative elements, and more. But oak beams are unique in their own right, with numerous historical structures boasting beams in various rooms and areas. If you have some of your oak beams in your property, you’re lucky indeed – but if those beams are not as great as they once looked, it may be time for some general cleaning or even restoration. But how can you do it right? Here’s how to correctly clean old oak beams: general cleaning and restoration from insect damage.

  1. Tips for general cleaning

The thing about oak beams is that they can be some of the toughest and strongest wooden beams imaginable, but they can still suffer from dirt and grime accumulation, particularly if they have existed for decades. But if you notice dirt and grime buildup on your old oak beams, you can clean these just by using a soft brush. Stay away from harsh brushes with wires – the wires can roughen the surface of the beams, plus damage their appearance and overall look.

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You can also choose to do some soda blasting or blasting without chemicals, and it can be particularly handy for removing smoke stains. If the beams have blackened due to dampness or fungi, you can use soda blasting as well. Oak beam restoration professionals have other gentle cleaning methods and processes that you can benefit from, and they can help restore beams that are too grimy, dirty, discoloured, or even extensively damaged.

You must avoid other methods such as sandblasting, as this method can impact the wood’s appearance and make the surface too rough. It can also negatively affect the finish. If you want, you can use the age-old vinegar and water mixture: mix two parts of water with one part vinegar. Put this into a spray bottle, spray it on the surface, and then wipe the surface with a soft cloth to disinfect the beam.

  1. Tips for dealing with insect and fungal damage

Another common problem with old oak beams is damage due to insect infestation and fungus, and the damage causes tiny holes on the surface of the beams. Woodworm is the enemy of oak beams, but woodworms are only there to lay eggs, and they do this only when the oak is fresh. They will shortly leave once the wood gets older, leaving holes on the surface. If you want to treat these, you can make use of beeswax to fill the holes. But if you would like to paint your old oak beams, you can use wood filler first, then sand the area before painting to conceal and cover up the tiny holes.

For treating fungus, the first step is to look for the source of the damp. Fungus results from dampness, after all. If the wood hasn’t rotted yet, allow it to naturally dry. But if you are dealing with too much rot, replacing the beam may be your best option. You can have your beams replaced by a professional restorer who will make sure the job is done right.

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