We can all agree that oak is similar to fine wine – it just gets better with age. As the wood ages, it acquires a more distinctive sheen and nuance, and this is why a lot of people who are fortunate enough to have old oak beams or furniture choose to restore them rather than do away with them. As a result, old oak pieces – be it beams or furniture – can prove to be an integral part of your home, serving as an heirloom that you can pass down from one generation to the next. But if the oak elements in your property are already showing signs of damage and may need to be restored, here are some of the best tips you should remember when restoring old oak beams, furniture, and more.
Before you begin with your restoration project, remember that there may be some issues you may no longer be able to repair. These often have to do with structural aspects of the wood itself, which only an expert can handle. The good news is that there are also some issues, such as cosmetic issues, which you can address on your own with just wood filler and stain and a new finish. There are even cases where all the wood needs are some cleaning and a fresh finish to restore it.
- Clean the wax and dirt
The very first step you need to do before applying anything is clean the wood, as a respected beam restoration expert like Bespokebeams.co.uk would recommend. It’s a standard first step, and you can deal with it by using simple water and a mild soap mixture to wash off the scuff marks, grime, and dirt. You can use a sponge for this and then dry off the oak with a clean rag or piece of cloth. You can then check the wood’s wax as you run your fingernail across it – if your fingernail becomes waxy, you can address this by rubbing the wax from the wood using naphtha or mineral spirits. Removing the wax is crucial if you are planning to sand and apply a new finish to the wood because the extra/old wax can stick to the sandpaper and affect the adhesion of the finish to the wood.
- Pay attention to the finish
If the oak’s finish is cracking or peeling, you may need to strip it using a paint stripper. You have the option to use a soy-based stripper or a methylene chloride one, but if you are uncertain, it’s best to ask a restoration specialist. When you apply the stripper, spread it well using a paintbrush, then scrape the finish off using steel wool and a scraper (again, you may want to consult with a restoration expert if you feel that the wood needs extra care). When you perform this process, make sure you are wearing protective gear like goggles and gloves.
- Fix and repair the wood
If the oak beams or furniture need repair, the best time to do this would be after you have already defused the stripper using water and once the wood is dry. Sanding the oak beam or furniture is the next step, and it’s best to do this with fine sandpaper; make sure the sandpaper is not too coarse to not affect the finished appearance.