Beams & Walls & Sheathing…Oh My!

Whenever you’re doing any major renovation on an old home, it’s important to salvage what you can.  With our addition, there was a lot to save including the large structural wood beams and sheathing from walls.

It would be a shame to see all of this wood go into the scrap pile because the old woods can be turned into a lot of beautiful elements in your home.  Here’s what I did with most of our salvaged wood.

The Mantel

We installed a new gas fireplace in our great room, and I wanted to use one of the old beams as a mantel.   Since I planned on doing a lot of sanding, I decided to purchase an orbital sander.

The advantage of an orbital sander is they won’t leave marks on the wood.  Plus, it was very easy to use, allowing me to get around the curves of the wood, and round any newly cut edges.

I chose this lovely hunk of pine. Doesn’t look too pretty now right? But hey, she’s been holding up a part of this house for over 180 years, so I say she looks pretty good, don’t you?!

I had one of the construction crew cut this to the right size.  I pulled out a few nails (always be careful of the old nails in salvaged wood). Next, I sanded, being careful not to remove some of the original saw marks.  I wanted the age and history of the wood to show.

Note: Always wear a mask so you’re not breathing in all the dust!

Next, I wiped it down with acetone.

I had to do some patching as there were some holes that were a little large.  I used a wood filler and then colored it in to match the area.  I used furniture markers to match the variety of colors in the wood.

Finally I used tung oil finish, wiping it on with a soft lint-free cloth (you can also use a paintbrush), allowing it to dry between coats.  With tung oil, the more coats you apply, the more of a sheen it will get. I wanted the mantel to have more of a smooth satin furniture finish, so I did 4 coats.

The tung oil is much easier (and cheaper) to work with than polyurethane, and gives a lovely warmth to the wood.  It also acts like a moisturizer since it is absorbs into the wood versus just sitting on the surface.    

Next, the install! I love having a little piece of history visible.  The carpenter built shelving on both sides of the fireplace and matched the shaker style molding to the kitchen cabinets.

The Structural Beams

We had a TON of the old house sheathing–really wide planks of pine, many in very long lengths.  I sanded these down, enough to remove the top gray layer. 

Next, I applied tung oil.  Since these were going to be installed on the ceiling, I only did 2 coats, as I wanted them to have a more raw, rustic look (not quite as polished as the mantel).

These were used to wrap the steel support beams that ran in the area where walls were removed.  Since our ceilings are just under 8′ on the first floor, these steel beams were going to be exposed, so the solution was to wrap them in wood rather than just drywall over them.

The wood adds so much character without the cost of the custom wraps I’ve seen elsewhere.

We ended up wrapping an original support beam going down the wall.  At one time the house ended here and this was the original framing for the doorway.

The Mud Room Wall

Once all of the beams were wrapped, I still had some leftover sheathing, so we decided to do a little feature wall in the mud room.  Did the same process here.  Sanding, then tung oil.

These projects are great to do while you have your crew working on the house.  The crew had all their equipment on sight, so we save big on labor.  Plus re-using these materials saved on the overall budget.  

How’s THAT for a little DIY fun? 

Source Book

Sanding Disks

Tung Oil

Orbital Sander

Furniture Markers

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