6

We are about to move into a new house, that has some very nice coarse/rough beams on the interior (A lot of them). They have been painted though, and I'm looking for a method to remove the paint, and let the natural wood stand out instead. I'm looking for some inexpensive DIY methods that might I could do by myself. I read about using some of the following methods, but didn't find any information as to how it would work on a rough/coarse wood surface.

  • Methylene-chloride paint remover: Don't know how difficult that would be to remove the pain on the rough surface inside a house

  • Dry ice blasting: I know it's very expensive to rent and do, but is it worth it?

  • Sandblasting: Not too familiar with this method

  • Any other inexpensive methods?

I have attached a not so great picture but hopefully that gives the idea of what the beam looks like.

Example of Beam

  • Remember that if you employ a blasting method you will need a good respirator and protective clothing. Test the paint for lead before blasting and remember that lead can be absorbed through the skin as well as respiration. – Ashlar Mar 4 '16 at 1:09
  • 4
    This looks like it is stained, perhaps with a product intended for exterior use, rather than painted. – Ast Pace Mar 4 '16 at 2:07
  • That looks like a lot of cool blacksmithing work there! – bowlturner Mar 7 '16 at 15:38
6

They have been painted though and I'm looking for a method to remove the paint, and let the natural wood stand out instead.

I live in an apartment building that used to be a large furniture factory. The building is all exposed brick and heavy timber framing. If you look closely at the timbers, you can see evidence that they were painted at one point but have since been cleaned off. However, feeling the wood, you can also clearly tell that the timbers were sandblasted since the softer earlywood was eaten away much more than the denser latewood. It's hard to tell from your picture, but that looks like what's happening there.

I read about using some of the following methods, but didn't find any information as to how it would work on a rough/coarse wood surface.

  • Methylene-chloride paint remover: Dont know how difficult that would be to remove the pain on the rough surface inside a house

  • Dry ice blasting: I know its very expensive to rent and do, but is it worth it?

  • Sandblasting: Not too familiar with this method

  • Any other inexpensive methods?

I have no personal experience with the paint remover or dry ice blasting.

To me, using methylene-chlorine (a.k.a. dichloromethane) isn't particularly attractive since it can be absorbed into the body via inhalation and the skin, and the side effects don't give me the warm fuzzies. Also, you'd probably have to scrape the paint off the wood with a putty knife or something, which is both laborious and will likely ruin the look you're going for.

From what I've read, dry ice blasting is essentially the same as sand blasting, except that it uses dry ice as the blasting medium. This is nice because the dry ice sublimates and leaves no residue behind. I don't know how expensive it is, though.

If you're really looking to get that rustic coarse/rough look in your house's woodwork, I would bite the bullet and go with sand/dry ice blasting. You can get a sand blaster for fairly cheaply at Harbor Freight, which will need an air compressor and the blasting medium to work. This blaster is fairly light-duty, so it will probably take you a while. Otherwise, I would imaging that dry ice blasting is a bit beyond the consumer to do DIY.

Just be aware that if you end up blasting, you'll need to tent off the area pretty tightly to keep sand and detritus from getting into the rest of your house. I would imagine that professionals would do this as a manner of practice.

4

Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to removing paint from rough wood in situ.

Methylene-chloride paint remover: Dont know how difficult that would be to remove the pain on the rough surface inside a house

Chemical strippers are in many ways the ideal way to strip paint (and varnish) from woodworker because, as odd as it might seem, they actually pose the least risk to the wood in most cases.

However there are some significant caveats and when it comes to their use indoors the first and foremost is the fumes of course. The strong solvent-based strippers, including amongst other ingredients methylene chloride, are particularly effective (both quick to act and very good at softening a wide variety of paints) but are most definitely a health concern so in an enclosed space great care must be exercised.

There are of course various strippers of the "greener" variety and although many are very much slower they can sometimes be effective.

Regardless of the stripper used though when it comes to wood with a significant texture it can be very difficult to remove all traces from the low spots. It's quite normal to have to treat areas of stubborn paint two or more times with stripper to try to shift it (even with the strong stuff), but often people resort to using picks and other tools to scrape paint out from inside corners, divots etc. Hardly ideal for the woodwork throughout a house! Even with these negatives I hate to say it, stripping may possibly be your best bet.

Sandblasting: Not too familiar with this method

I don't think you'd want to mess with that indoors! The main issue is the horrendous amount of dust generated (remembering this is not just the blasting media but the paint, reduced to fine particles) and it would require extensive masking of all adjacent surfaces.

The abrasive media used in 'sand' blasting is often not sand or another mineral, it can be things like powdered walnut shells and even baking soda, and in the right circumstances it is an extremely good way to remove paint but it's not ideally suited to working outside of a controlled environment and it can do unwanted things to the surface of wood.

Any other inexpensive methods?

For wood with a highly textured surface I can't think of anything I'm afraid.

In general heat guns or blowtorches, used with scrapers of various kinds, can work excellently to get paint off wood but again the rough surface will greatly interfere with the removal and there's a strong risk of localised scorching of 'furry' bits on wood this rough.

You can strip some finishes quite effectively with ammonia as well as a strong caustic soda solution, but ammonia fumes are noxious and potentially harmful in high concentration and caustic soda solutions can cause serious chemical burns (with a particular risk of eye injury), so here too you'd have to be very careful of your personal safety. Also worth noting, as these are both strong alkalis they can have unwanted colouring effects on the wood itself.

In specific circumstances I know a lot of people would attempt to use a belt sander with very coarse paper (60 grit, or possible even lower) to do this but you'll lose a lot of the character of the wood this way, and on installed woodwork there are areas this type of sander can't reach so you'd need to use something else for part of it and blend in the results. Apart from not being a complete solution this would also consume many sanding belts so cost would not be insignificant. Note: even if the sander has a vacuum port and you have a vacuum cleaner attached and running the whole time a lot of dust might be generated.

Sorry if this is all sounding so negative, but it's a tough problem!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.