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Old 29 March 2007, 09:44   #1
Scoobychick
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Question What's the best way to strip old paint & varnish from exposed oak beams?

Our exposed beams have all been dark varnished or painted matt black and we want to strip them back to the natural wood. The majority of the beams are in the oldest part of the cottage so could be up to 250 years old but look pretty solid, the rest may be more recent but all have had some woodworm in the past.

I've looked into the various methods of doing it and using solvents and elbow grease seems to be the way to go but I'd like to know who'd had some experience of this and what the results were like. The largest area of exposed beams is 17ft x 14ft which is going to take a long time to strip so I want to be sure I'm using the best method before I start

Cheers

Sal
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Old 29 March 2007, 22:26   #2
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Did this in our cottage some years ago--- hard work !!!!!!!!

If the beams are relatively smooth then I found that a jell paint stripper (lots of ) and a variety of scrapers worked quite well, but slow and smelly - ventilate well.

If the varnish/paint is in crevices/cracks then it is virtually impossible to remove.

Have fun !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brian
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Old 29 March 2007, 22:31   #3
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NitroMors.. works pretty well on alloys if you wanna refurb them , too
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Old 30 March 2007, 07:45   #4
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Get them blasted with an appropriate medium if you can put up with the mess.

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Old 30 March 2007, 09:08   #5
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Thanks chaps Brian, what stripper did you use?

Having them blasted would be the easiest option for me but I'm too concerned about it damaging the wood, especially in the areas that have been eaten by woodworm. Our ceiling in the kitchen (the largest room) is very low so any damage would be very noticable. I'm also worried that the beams would end up looking like driftwood
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Old 30 March 2007, 09:33   #6
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Different mediums are used, eg. crushed walnut shells for delicate surfaces.

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Old 30 March 2007, 09:51   #7
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Crushed walnut shells?? Mog, have you used this method? If it'll get good results, not damage the timber and save me the hassle of being knee deep in stripper for weeks then I'm all for it but I'd like to speak to people who've used it successfully first
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Old 30 March 2007, 11:56   #8
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Sorry Scoobychick, it was a good while ago now ! and the old grey matter aint what it used to be so I can't remember the name but it was a good thick jell and didn't run.

But if you can get it blasted (gently !) then that might be the best option and then give it a gentle rub down with sandpaper before applying the new varnish or oil or whatever.

Try asking here Diy Fix It home improvement advice guides and tips : help and repairs

or

DIY - DIY and home improvement - Guides and information

Lots in a google search.

Cheers

Brian
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Old 30 March 2007, 18:20   #9
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I hired an industrial sand blasting machine and used a very fine silica sand to clean up some oak beams when renovating an old cottage.

It brought them up luvvily but be warned, its very messy

and you must use suitable PPE!


Don't use paint stripper as it will cause further staining to the oak.

You could try a heat gun and scraper, but it won't remove 100%, for that you need them blasting.


Bob
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Old 30 March 2007, 23:04   #10
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I agree. A very fine blasting is best to remove all paint and varnish.
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Old 02 April 2007, 14:15   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobychick View Post
Crushed walnut shells?? Mog, have you used this method? If it'll get good results, not damage the timber and save me the hassle of being knee deep in stripper for weeks then I'm all for it but I'd like to speak to people who've used it successfully first
I've no personal expo but just from talking to people.

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Old 03 April 2007, 15:55   #12
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I was talking to a carpenter joiner friend of mine at the weekend who advised me to use peel off gel which although hugely expensive is excellent for use in confined spaces like my low ceilinged kitchen. He said it's superb stuff and is used where minimal damage/mess/smell is required so at the moment it's looking like I'll go down this route
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Old 03 April 2007, 20:38   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hectic View Post
NitroMors.. works pretty well on alloys if you wanna refurb them , too
that all i use it for aswell, just stripped my bike down aswell, burns like **** it it drips on you
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Old 03 April 2007, 20:46   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrxcraig View Post
that all i use it for aswell, just stripped my bike down aswell, burns like **** it it drips on you
got a few splashes on my arms off that stuff... does 'tingle' a bit
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Old 09 April 2007, 07:58   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobychick View Post
Crushed walnut shells?? Mog, have you used this method? If it'll get good results, not damage the timber and save me the hassle of being knee deep in stripper for weeks then I'm all for it but I'd like to speak to people who've used it successfully first
Crushed walnut shells are ideal for what you are wanting to do Don't worry about damaging the older beams, if they are oak they will be as hard as iron.
Besides, it's not the blasting medium that generally causes the damage when doing this sort of thing, it's setting the air pressure to high that does it

Be warned though, this is not a method I would attempt unless you can completely seal off the room in question, the dust gets everywhere

Oh yeah, and PPE isn't advisable, it's essential


Good luck with whichever method you choose
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Old 09 April 2007, 08:02   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hectic View Post
got a few splashes on my arms off that stuff... does 'tingle' a bit
It never tingles straight away though I learned the hard way that you shouldn't really be brushing it onto fiddly car parts in shorts and bare feet
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Old 09 April 2007, 08:02
 
 
 
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beams, cleaning, easiest, equipment, expose, exposed, hire, matt, oak, paint, remove, strip, stripping, varnish, varnished


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