Exposed beams advice needed
July 17, 2014
I have exposed the Douglas fir ceiling beams during renovation...some are stained too dark, all have staple holes etc. I want very much to have the wood a natural tone. My contractor is discouraging me, every beam will have to be heavily sanded, possibly planed. He thinks I should paint.
Any advice? I understand there are wood bleaches but am not sure what to do. I know I can always paint them, but it's like painting brick, once it's done, you can't go back

The picture is what I dream of
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I remeber when a contractor told me that my hallway which was linoleum squares on top of wood floors counld not be saved. I scraped them myself on my hands for three days and brought them back to life. It is just a matter of time and cost to have it done. Sand sand and plane away otherwise you will always be unhappy with painting them.
3 Likes    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:35PM
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My vote is NO PAINT! I agree with the previous poster, you will always regret painting them.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:45PM
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Cancork Floor Inc.
pbibbo is correct. Cost and time are determining factors. If you can handle the cost AND the contractor has the TIME (they often don't have a lot to spare...which is why he may want to go with the easier way out) then you are welcome to ask for the service.

You might want to be aware that if the contractor REALLY doesn't want to do it, s/he will most likely double the price so you DON'T ask them to do it (they intentionally bid themselves too high because they don't want the job).

If s/he prices seems VERY HIGH it might be their way of saying, "Please don't ask me to do this." At that point, you may want to get another bid...just to compare.
    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:48PM
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Rhonda Bovine
Grrrr, I totally agree with Cancork Floor. My contractor always said it was ridiculously expensive if he didn't want to incur the labor (or didn't know how to do it! ). Hmmm, get someone else to do just the beams if it is really what you want done. I wouldn't paint them either.
    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Is there some magic potion?
I was thinking about how furniture is refinished. You brush on some stripper, wipe it that an option?
Wood bleach?
Or do I just start sanding?

Then....wax? Oil? Or polyurethane? I really don't want them shiny...can I leave them raw?

There are probably 30 beams, 15' wide. I guess I'll just start on one with an electric sander and see how it goes.
If anyone has an idea, I'd love to hear it
    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:45PM
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Post some pictures of your beams. Some close up.
    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:05PM
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Thank you. I will. It may be a few days
    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:11PM
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Barbour Spangle Design Group
We recently ran into a similar situation. It took some time to warm up to the idea but eventually the homeowner took our advice: we had the beams patched and faux finished to look exactly like the gray-wash, distressed columns she was looking for. That way we were not depending upon the wood to take a particular stain (or bleach), we could patch any damage done to the beams, etc.... What your contractor feels may be too expensive may be worth it to you to have what you want. Every remodeling project is a process and it's one where you have to make decisions regarding what is a value to you. Price doesn't always determine the value but certainly has to be factored in. Long story short - our client LOVES their family room now and is THRILLED with the end result! Good luck on your project!
    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:19AM
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Barbour Spangle Design Group
Please be sure to follow us for more inspiration!
    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:28AM
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design styles architecture
They look great just the way they are, if keeping them is an option, that't what I would recommend.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:04AM
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Here are some pics of the beams as is...
The first two are from the master
The third pic is from the kitchen
The last pic is from the living room, these are the darkest, stained, they were already exposed

Advice? Suggestions? Miracle cure?
    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 3:49PM
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ArchitecTor, PC
I agree with "Design Styles Architecture +" that the beams look great the way they are full of character and charm. They might be more "rustic" than the beams in your "dream room". I recommend looking into having them sandblasted. That will take the old darker stain right off and leave them natural looking like in the picture.
    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:17PM
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That's an interesting idea
    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Your beams are not so bad! With everything torn up, NOW is definitely the time to get up there and make them beautiful. It's not brain surgery, it's not structural....we're just talking surface treatments. It's fine to experiment with sanding or beadblasting or scraping or planing. Worst case you have to give up and paint with a weathered wood look; best case you have a wonderful natural wood feature that really make the space sing. Your dream space is gorgeous and is well within reach IMO.

Your contractor sounds like a go-get-'em, bang up the drywall, slap on the paint type man of action as so many GCs are (and often have to be). They are only comfortable undertaking tasks that have very clear methods with predictable outcomes. But with stains, aging, different wood species, grain, density of wood, oxidation etc., nothing is completely straightforward. For sensitive treatment of wood surfaces, I prefer a wood specialist, such as a refinisher, cabinet maker, or certain experienced and meticulous house painters. They have the skills, but more importantly, the mindset and the orientation to respect the surface and try different processes to bring out its best appearance.
3 Likes    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:30PM
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ArchitecTor, PC
Glad you like the idea!
    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:30PM
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Michelle Scott for Ethan Allen - Laguna Niguel, CA
I had a beach cottage that when the ex and I purchased it, had painted open beam ceilings throughout. Before moving in, we had the ceilings sandblasted to remove the paint (probably 4 layers) and the result was a really great rustic beam, where all the character of the knots and the grain of the wood were highlighted. We left them as they were - no waxing, staining, or other finishing were needed. There were some holes, nails. and other things left from the previous owners, but I just chalked that up as character.

If you aren't sure that is the right look for you, see if you can get a hunk of similar wood, and take it somewhere they do sandblasting, and ask for a sample.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:38PM
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