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“Limed” pine beams effect

I’ve completed a lot of work at the Trevear Farm luxury holiday development. The latest property is called Broadview, and I have done a “limed” pine beams effect on the upstairs rooms: here’s the method.

There are a number of ways to achieve this effect. I chose one I have used before which utilises water-based acrylic lacquer. The benefits are it is non-yellowing, fast drying, and leaves a hard-wearing surface that’s easy to dust.

The first and most important requirement is to start with a timber that is coarse grained or with an open texture; with an “interesting” grain pattern. Any smooth, planed wood will not be any good, because the effect depends on getting the white lacquer to sit in all the texture while you wipe off the top of the wood to create the contrast. An open grain could be achieved on planed softwood by sand-blasting, though this takes the job to a whole different level of process. Smaller pieces of furniture could have the grain made more pronounced by vigorous wire brushing.

On this particular example the contractors had installed a rough grainy pine (the name of which has escaped me) which has a knotty, deep grain which is perfect for the job.


However, the technique requires some wiping off from the surface of the wood. If it is rough and splintery on the surface, then any cloth or wiping tool will not wipe off very well. Using an orbital sander the top surface is thoroughly sanded smooth to something like 240 grit, leaving the deeper grain marks untouched.


Then the beams are stained with a Light Oak colour. I like to use a professional Naptha Stain by Fiddes. This is because it penetrates into the wood evenly and is slower drying, which allows me to work across large beams without getting “lap” marks. But the health and safety instructions for this product MUST be followed, and it can only be applied in a well ventilated area.


Next job when the stain is dry (8 hrs), is to seal it with a clear lacquer. I used a standard gloss acrylic varnish (or “quick dry” varnish) from Ronseal, and applied one fairly heavy coat.


I then had Dulux Decorator centre tint some Diamond Glaze floor varnish to white. It doesn’t have to be floor varnish (which is rather expensive), but it was the only one that could be tinted to a colour. This is painted onto the sealed beams and then wiped off the top of the grain, leaving the white varnish in the grain texture. It could be wiped with a cloth, but I’ve found that using a wide plastic spatula to scrape over the surface of the beams left more of the white in the grain. Just scrape the white varnish off the top surface and then clean the spatula on a cloth. Wearing rubber gloves is definitely a good idea. Just watch for any drips appearing on the vertical bits and scrape them off with the spatula as you go.

And that’s it. You can choose to give it another coat of clear varnish to make it easier to keep dust free.

Published by: Colin Taylor on: May 16th 2019

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