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Beam refinishing advice

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: Apr 2 2003

Can anyone suggest a process for refinishing beams? We want to (re)paint them gloss white, but want to make sure we do our homework first. My plan is to take a belt sander to them to knock off the knots, old paint strokes and other sundry "stuff".

After that, do I use some kind of sealer, or go straight to primer? Brush? Roller? Sprayer?

Advice is welcome. In advance, thanks.

Joined: Apr 2 2003

Since no one has answered you yet, I'll jot down a couple of thoughts as I don't have time at the moment for a longer reply.

- you indicate you plan on gloss white. If you don't have a particular reason for choosing gloss, I'd personally suggest you use a low sheen instead. In my experience, gloss accents any imperfections in the surface and beams as old as this are bound to have plenty.

- the belt sanders I'm familiar with have enough weight that you're probably going to find working over your head very tiring. I've used a standard plane to take down the knotholes and a random orbital sander to prepare the surface. I'd suggest a primer before topcoat--something like Zinsser 1-2-3 is probably sufficient.

- you don't mention if you're ceilings are stained or painted. The join between the ceiling and the beams will be irregular. If both ceiling and beams are painted, the order is usually to paint the ceiling color down onto the beams by 1" or so, then apply the beam color drawing a straight line close to the ceiling (say 1/4" below) with the beam color--this fools the eye to think the join is straight.

Hope some of this useful. BTW, the "bones" of the eichler are part of its heritage/architectural design. So, its traditional that the beams and post contrast with the wall/siding color. Just a FYI in case it changes your color choices.


eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: Apr 26 2003

I just wanted to add to Jake's excellent suggestions, please remember to keep the beams the same color inside and out to "blur" the division between inside and out. This also helps make the house look larger.

Joined: Jan 29 2004

> After that, do I use some kind of sealer, or go straight to primer?

Use a water-based primer (easier cleanup) first, then apply two coats of paint with an airless sprayer (NOT a Wagner power painter). Jake's right about skipping the high gloss look. Satin (a step below semi-gloss) looks good on the beams.

Airless sprayers can be rented for about $50 / day and they yield a very professional look. Make sure everything but the beams is masked off.


Joined: Apr 2 2003


Thanks for the suggestions. In shopping for a belt sander recently, weight was one of the foremost considerations :)

I'll look into different sheens. We did our guest room in high-gloss and it came out *okay*. The ceilings are, sadly, painted. But we we did to mitigate it (to good effect, in my opinion) is paint the ceiling a taupe color of roughly the same color value that the original stained wood might have been. When contrasted against the white beams, it works pretty well.

Again, thanks for the recommendations...especially the product and sprayer thoughts.


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