Beam cleaning and restoration

If you’re looking to remove black paint, white paint or varnish from oak or elm beams then you’re in good company.  The once popular ‘Victorian era’ look, where all of the beautiful oak beams in a character property are painted over, is now truly outdated.  Removing black paint from beams is often high up on the list of jobs when completing renovations, both in empty properties and occupied homes.

Our cleaning systems strip away the coatings that hide the natural hardwood that was originally intended to be on display.  If you’re lucky, it will expose original carpentry tool marks, beautiful patina in the wood, and often the one-off individuality of the specific tree used to make the beam.  Removing the black paint – or white paint – from beams, always makes a room feel lighter, fresher and less oppressive.

Soda Blasting Ltd offer a fully mobile service, covering England and Wales.  Generally speaking, beams are in-situe so cannot be bought into our Wolverhampton facility, so work is completed at your property.  We use both soda blasting and crushed glass blasting to uncover what’s hidden beneath that paint or varnish.  The system we ultimately use is at your discretion, but we’ve found glass gives the better finish as it draws out the grain (and therefore the character) of the wood more.  Please note that we offer a variety of solutions to reduce the dust created during our processes – you can find further information below.  We do not offer a ‘dustless blasting’ method – a system where water is used to dampen the dust for this type of work.  There are a few reasons for this, but primarily, we feel that water would compromise the integrity of the wood.

How to remove paint from beams

The first step toward removing the black paint from beams in your property, is to get in touch with us.  We ask for approximate numbers and sizes of beams that need work, plus photographs of the areas if at all possible.  Normally, this information gives us a good understanding of the level of work required to reach your goal.

Prior to work, we will visit your property to complete a test patch that will give you an idea of the finish we’re going to reach.  This can often be done first thing in a morning, with work continuing straight on afterward.  On occasion we may need to complete tests before we can provide timescales and prices for work.

As mentioned above, we generally find that crushed glass gives the best finish, but are happy to work with you and clean your beams using bicarbonate of soda if preferred.   This is because crushed glass blasting removes the coatings much more quickly and lifts the grain of the wood to give a beautiful finish.  With both systems, we turn the air pressure up or down as necessary to work on different types of wood with minimal risk of damage.

We follow the same approach when removing white paint from beams, removing varnish from beams, or for that matter, any coating from oak beams.

Deciding the best time to have beams cleaned is important.

If your property is currently uninhabited

We would advise having the beams cleaned as early in the restoration process as possible.  Bluntly put, the work is dusty and noisy.  We’ve often been asked to clean beams as the last part of renovation works – all of that beautifully finished plastering and painting, lovely clean walls and floors, unnecessarily covered in dust.  The dust is a fine, light coating – we clean away as much as physically possible, but this will settle after a day or two and need to be cleaned up (wiped down, vaccuumed away).  The surrounding areas can also be ‘caught’ by our machinery – so the painted areas immediately surrounding the beams may need to be re-painted (or re-plastered depending on the quality).

Cleaning the beams first means you can make an informed decision on the finished look too.  The majority of the time, exposed beams ooze character and look stunning, however sometimes that paint is actually hiding large areas of filler and holes.  Of course, this maybe a fantastic look to work with – or you may decide to cover it over with a more modern finish – such as natural varnish, to prevent further issues.

If you live in the property already

It is still possible to complete work.  Preperation for work takes longer, and we are not able to accept responsibility for any dust contaminating other rooms.  Dust generally goes straight through the ceiling into the room above, as a minimum.

Firstly, we would ask that the room we are working in is completely emptied of your valubles – this is for both peace of mind and practical reasons (we can’t get in with ladders and machinery if the settee is still taking up a large section of the room!).  If you have carpets, we can cover these over with a self adhesive covering.  Dust sheets and protective plastic can cover over items that you aren’t able to remove.  We then tape up doorways etc and run extractors through the property to an exit point.

Work then takes place as mentioned above.

There is the option of dustless blasting, which utilises a system where the dust is sucked straight into a bin, avoiding it going into the property.  This can be requested, but whether it is suitable needs to be evaluated on a job-by-job basis.  We find that the preparation work mentioned above is as effective as this system, at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re not sure whether our processes will be suitable for your property, please get in touch with one of the team now one 01902 256690.

What types of beams can be blast cleaned

The best results come from cleaning hardwood beams, so oak and elm.

Soft wood beams, such as pine, can be cleaned at low pressure.  With softwood, its more likely that the stain will have permanently discoloured the wood.  We can clean it off, but there is a chance that the wood will have some colouring afterwards.

example of media blasting - oak beams

Get in touch with us today to dicuss your property, on 01902 256690 – or email our team at

We don’t just remove paint from beams.  We’d be pleased to help with brickwork and stone cleaning – including paint removal, environmental dirt removal, and mould cleaning.  See our Building Restoration Section for more information.

If your property is suffering fire or smoke damage, see our section on how we can help – here.