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Filthy old post and beams ceiling

I recently bought an old house. The post and beams was claimed to be from a 1718 tavern, reconstructed into a great room. It looks dark and old. I tried cleaning a portion to see what the natural color of the wood is. I use water and detergent and started scrubbing with a brush. The wood is covered with thick black dirt. I let it dry and the wood now looks light (my friend said it's an oak wood). I am worried that I damaged the wood by scrubbing with water and detergent and probably stripped off the natural color. It looks raw wood unfinished. Can someone please tell me how to clean this effectively? It's impossible to do this manually, scrubbing by hand. We are thinking of using sandblasting. Would that damage the post and beams? I appreciate any advice.

Re: Filthy old post and beams ceiling

There are two types of dirt that you may be dealing with. Surface dirt that is relatively loose and the other type that has sunk in below the surface and stained the wood. If it was in a tavern, it may have been stained on purpose. Scrubbing it the way you did, removed the dirt/stain but if you want to keep it that color, you might want to scrub gently and not too much. It'll keep the color but make the surface clean.

Sandblasting will remove the top surface of the wood and will certainly give you the natural wood color when you're done. It'll also pit the wood slightly and could raise the grain where the annular rings are. Interesting surface but not what I'd do.

If it is indeed oak (red or white?) you could continue cleaning it the way you did or rent a pressure cleaner. Either way, you'll need to let it dry for a week or two in the room you're going to use it in. Make sure it's good and dry as raw wood and water aren't good for each other. Once dry, you can use a stain and stain it the color you want it to be, then varnish it with poly or whatever sealer you want to use.

Good Luck.

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