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How to Clean Oak Beams

Updated February 21, 2017

Wooden structures tend to give homes a classical look and beauty. One of the strongest and long-lasting wood types is oak. If you put a little time into it, you can clean moulded, muddy and water-stained oak beams. Cleaning your oak beams will restore their beauty and brighten the atmosphere. While it is easiest to clean oak beams before installation, with a little more effort, you can clean installed oak beams as well.

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  1. Use a pressure washer to clean uninstalled oak wood beams. Follow pressure-washing instructions carefully.

  2. Add sugar soap to warm water according to the directions on the soap container and use this solution and a scrub brush to wash installed or uninstalled beams. Then use a toothbrush and a wood scraper to remove all stubborn grime.

  3. Use a steam cleaner to open up the wood grain where there are stubborn stains. Scrub the wood again with the scrub brush or toothbrush and warm soapy water.

  4. Use a scraper to peel off any stubborn dirt and stains that come to the surface after steam cleaning and scrubbing the oak. Rinse the wood. Wait for the wood to dry completely. Repeat the process of steaming, scrubbing and scraping until you are satisfied with the cleanliness of your oak beams.

  5. Use sandpaper all over the oak beams once they are dry to get rid of any splinters, broken shards and light stains.

  6. Tip

    A steam wallpaper remover will work fine for the process of steaming an oak wood beam. Wood takes time to dry. During this time, it will change colours. Wait for it to dry completely before you repeat the process of steaming and washing it down. So that your job goes as quickly as possible, ensure that you keep your wood scraper sharp. You can use an electric sander to save time and energy. Remember that a certain amount of discolouration on oak beams is a natural look.


    Hammer a three-inch long nail into each oak beam to test the condition of the wood. If the nail goes in easily, the wood is weak from within. If you have to struggle a bit to get the nail in, then the wood is in good condition. Do not use a pressure washer on weak oak. You should not use such wood for construction either.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pressure washer
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood scraper
  • Steam cleaner
  • Warm water
  • Sugar soap or another wood soap
  • Scrub brush
  • Toothbrush

About the Author

Norah Faith was born and raised in Texas and from there she has traveled nationally and internationally. After acquiring her teaching license from New Mexico State University, she found herself teaching ESL around the world. She continues to teach today and finds satisfaction writing for Demand Studios and other sites.

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