Oak beam cleaning, paint removal and stripping

Who else wants lovely clean beams? This is for Cleaning and stripping fragile surfaces, such as….
Oak beams cleaning, cleaning oak and timber frames or stripping black paint from wooden beams
Great for cleaning and renovating old timber and cleaning wooden beams in barns. It's not just Oak and timber beams. It's also for rarer ones such as Pine beams, elm beams and chestnut beams.

It’s used to clean and restore structural beams in listed buildings (it beats sandblasting old black Elizabethan beams).
It's sometimes called "dust free or dustless sandblasting" but is much more gentle. There's no need to sandblast timbers when you've got this system. You can strip varnish off oak doors, skirtings and floors.
It’s also great for stripping matt black paint off oak and pine beams or rafters. Take a look at the Oak beam, cleaning and stripping photographs below .

 Take a look at all the cracking oak beam
cleaning, stripping and paint removal
photographs (and VIDEO) below...
Oak Beam Cleaning & Stripping ― Gentle Restoration of Old, Black, wooden beams
What has HMS Victory got to do with
your oak beams looking fantastic?

Well, ......when the Royal Navy had to safely remove a ¾"(2cm) thick layer of red lead paint from it's decks, to reveal the original wood underneath. They used our system.

If it's safe enough for the Victory, then surely, it's safe, thorough and risk free enough for your beams? Wouldn't you want to safely strip all the black paint from your oak beams? So here's a question...

Why do people hide away their gorgeous
oak beams beneath thick paint?

It doesn't make sense. Underneath, there's nearly always a beautiful wood grain just waiting to see the light of day. Why hide them away?

Just remember, many moons ago ― craftsmen spent hundreds of hours, lovingly fashioning (by hand) ― each unique beam.

There were no steel fabrications in those days. You had to look long and hard for the right piece of wood — the right tree, growing in just the right shape...

The carpenter would select a certain tree, just to get the right curve to fit the building. Each piece was completely different to the rest.

Why let that skill go to waste? Why not showcase it?

Here's another question...

Have you ever proudly looked around your home and thought...

"..We've almost got this house how we want it now. Actually, it's great but it's still quite dark in here.

Wouldn't it be more welcoming if all these black beams were their natural warm colour? It would be the final piece in the jigsaw and really make it feel like our dream home.."

Well, the remedy is simple.

Just like HMS Victory, you'll have all this paint removed without even scratching the wood. Take a look at the before and after pictures below. you'll see the vast difference.

Imagine how your own oak beams will be restored back to how the master carpenter shaped them, all those years before?

Gentle, tender cleaning and restoration of black
Elizabethan oak beams (typical example of antique
wooden beams that had been painted black).
Here's some oak beams before treatment. As usual, they're covered in thick, dowdy, matt black paint. Here's the wooden beams after treatment ? revealing all the warmth, texture and vibrant beauty of the wood. Aren't they beautiful?

Now, here's a secret.... Painted beams are actually the best ones to have.


You see, almost every time, the oak beams are preserved like new under the paint . They're just waiting to be discovered and restored, back to their original condition. Our low pressure cleaning system often...

reveals tool marks, carpenters' marks, and even
original graffiti carved by the builders

 These are often destroyed by high pressure blasting. Maybe you have some of these features hidden under your paint. That would be something to tell your friends about, wouldn't it?

You can also...

Choose Your favourite finish..

Once they have been stripped back, you can choose your favourite finish. You can wax, varnish or stain them, or maybe, just leave them natural. Can you see how special your oak beams will look? Each one with it's unique grain and colour?

Is it fair to hide them away? Let's be honest, it's also a great way to show off your house!

Can you picture yourself ? stood there grinning from ear to ear ?while friends and relatives (green with envy) admire your "new" timber beams?

Here's some more before, during and after photographs...

How to remove paint from oak beams. The safe way.
Here's some more oak beams before treatment. This time, they're covered in gloss black paint. Here's the wooden beams immediately after paint removal - Ready for final finishing / waxing

And here's some more beam cleaning photographs. These are before and during the timber beam cleaning process.

How to remove paint from oak beams. The safe way (pt 2).
More oak beams before treatment. The gloss paint was really slapped onto these beams. Here's the wooden beams about 80% through the paint removal process ― and in great condition under the paint.

In the above photo, you can see some oak beams (before cleaning) that have been plastered with black gloss paint.

In the second photo, you can see the same timber beam, with most of the paint stripped off.

Can you see how the timber beam is really well preserved underneath - a feature common in painted beams?

As I said earlier, when old timber beams have had paint slopped all over them, they tend to be really well preserved underneath (just like the joists above).

You may well have some real treasure hidden away under that thick paint.


Now, you are probably forming some questions in your mind about what we do and how fantastic your own beams might look. Here are the two that I get asked the most often...

1/ Just how gentle is this oak beam stripping process?

2/ Will there be much mess?

Here's the answers...

1/ How gentle is this oak beam stripping process?

What they really mean is.... "Will you wreck my house in the process?"

I was shocked and saddened recently by some horror stories about blast cleaning. Some people have literally had homes wrecked by cowboys with high pressure sandblasting equipment. Unfortunately, it does happen.

Now I'm not talking about legitimate firms. There are lots of us and we all cop flak for the cowboys who don't give a monkey's.

No, I'm talking about the chancers who see a quick buck in "restoration". They trot off to the hire shop and half an hour later they are "experts", looking for victims...

Then, they attack your delicate oak beams with sandblasting equipment designed for shot blasting the rust off cast iron railway bridges!

No wonder they cause irreparable damage. No wonder people have horror stories. No wonder they talk about permanent scaring and graining (not to mention having the whole house covered in sand).

Their machinery is often used at pressures of more than 1000(thousand)+ PSI (pounds per square inch). Great for shifting rust but deadly for your beams.

So, how gentle are our machines?

Very. Of course it helps when the machines are specifically designed for this work. Our problem is that the machinery looks very similar to high pressure sandblasting equipment ? so people get confused and apprehensive.

Unlike the high pressure systems, we normally operate ours at about 28 PSI only (that's right, just twenty eight psi), for cleaning oak beams. Honestly, that's all it needs.

This, combined with hot water vapour (a gentle mist) does the job beautifully and suppresses any dust that may occur. You don't need any more pressure.

That's gentle enough to use for cleaning gooey paint and varnish from oak beams in listed buildings.

You will not believe how many checks have to be carried out before permission is granted by planning officers for working on listed buildings. No planning officer worth their salt would ever let a cowboy loose on one of those.

Remember I said this system was used on HMS Victory? Can you imagine how many stages were involved there? The job had to be done right, first time.

Anyone messing that up would have been thrown in the Tower of London!

This method takes the paint / varnish off the wooden beams layer by layer, bit by bit, a flake at a time.

Sometimes the paint is thicker in some places than others, so you have to do several passes. Here's a couple of pictures of an oak staircase that we had to remove thick paint from...

How to remove paint from timber beams. Gently, layer by layer.
This oak beamed staircase has paint slapped on unevenly. Some areas require more work than others.
By taking off one layer at time we can control the removal process exactly to avoid damaging the wood.
Taking off the paint layer by layer, means we concentrate only on the areas that require extra work.

See how some thick deposits are left after the first pass? These are gently removed on subsequent passes.

You sometimes need to do several passes to get the paint out of deeper cracks in the wood. That's far better than blasting it off in one go, right?

Here's some more photo's showing work we've done in listed buildings.
Which brings us on nicely to question 2 ...

2/ Will there be much mess?

Most people don't know what to expect. Understandably, they're wary.

Most think there will be great clouds of dust engulfing their home. They've got visions of sand in every nook, cranny and orifice. They're frightened that great chunks will be blasted out of their beams. In some cases (like with the cowboys above) they're right. Not with our system.

Here's how we keep mess to a bare minimum.

Firstly, we use the right equipment. This uses low pressure and water vapour which captures any dust (see photo's below).

Secondly, we isolate the working area to minimise disruption. This means covering up anything that is not being worked on. It's almost like having one of those (plastic) hospital isolation tents, to keep the dust and dirt controlled.

The photo's below show us preparing a listed building prior to cleaning.

Removing paint from beams in a listed building. Minimising mess.
Here's a kitchen in a listed building. See how the work units, cooker etc have been have been sealed behind polythene to stop them getting dirty?
Here's the same room from a different angle. See how we've built a polythene isolation curtain to separate the work from the rest of the house?

Now here is a photograph of the work being carried out in that house..

How to clean paint from beams in a listed
building... protecting your home.

Here's the work actually being carried out in the same room (not a posed picture after the work has been finished!).

Take a look at this photograph (the photograph is called a "thumbnail". If you left click on it, a larger more detailed photo will emerge. When you've finished make sure you press the "Back" "ç" button to get back to here).

This genuine photo has not been re-touched or "fiddled"

1/ Although it looks like high pressure sand blasting, it's not. See the fine mist? Can you see there's no clouds of dust floating around (the mist keeps everything under control).

2/ Look at the walls. They are protected by polythene (see the yellow tape?). The floor is also covered up. Why take any chances? This adds a lot of time to the job but keeps everywhere outside the work area spotless.

3/ See how little paint is removed each pass? This shows how gentle layer by layer removal allows finer control over the process (that's much kinder to your beams).

4/ Look at the photo carefully. Look at the technician's gloves, hood, suit and ear defenders. Look at the cleaning tool. See the almost complete lack of dust (the mist has grabbed it). This is a "work in process" photograph. It hasn't been staged, with the machine turned off. This shows it actually being used.

Now here's the same room when the paint / varnish has been removed from the oak beams ? wow, what a difference. Remember what it was like before.

How to remove paint from beams in a listed
building (the finished product)
Natural looking, exposed beams that look fantastic. Contrast this to how they looked before (above). See how much lighter the room looks (and in this case it has not been re decorated yet).

Here's the listed building after the paint has been removed and shows the restored beams, in all their former glory. The room is so much brighter now that the black paint has been removed from those ancient wooden beams.

OK, so are you wondering how well your wooden beams will clean up? Wondering how your own unique grain will look? Well, why not try our Oak, Pine and Timber Beam Cleaning service? Why not give me a call or E-mail some photo's across.

Buttons will be added here

Do you have any renovating Interior wood, skirtings, panelling, stone or fireplace questions? Click here for these.


Hi, I hope you found what you were looking for.

Maybe you need further information?

We've found that most people have many individual queries or specific questions they would like to ask. If you have, please feel free to either...

Telephone us on...

(mobile 07972 549924) or
E- mail your personal question (click here)...

Customer Questions - click HERE
I promise I will respond as soon as I possibly can.

It will really help us if you send me some photo's ; it will give me a better idea of what we are dealing with.

Kind regards,  Richard Hobbs.

Protinus ,
Head Office: 6, York Street,
Stourport-On Severn,
DY13 9EQ

(Just around the corner from the new marina).
What else do we do? Click here to go back to our oak, black, timber, wooden beam cleaning and stripping home page for stone, brick, antifouling cleaning and much more
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