How to Maintain & Repair Old Timber Framed Garages

Buildings that are constructed with timber frames and internal timber beams are known for their beauty but if they are not maintained properly and repaired they can become very vulnerable to decay and damages. A list of common problems with timber framed garages is detailed below.

Repairing & Replacing Timber Joists

Repairing & Replacing Timber Joists. Image credit: DIY Doctor

Check for Decayed Timbers

Decay will happen because of moisture which in turn causes rot and beetle infestations. You will want to find the source of dampness and correct them. You can test timber by prodding it with a knife. Solid timber will resist. Find the source of moisture and fix it and deal directly with the cause of moisture rather than the symptoms.

Dealing with an Infestation

You will find symptoms of beetle damage in old timber and it is not always a big concern. Active beetle infestation is noticeable through fine dust where insects have vacated through exit holes. Exit holes that are dark and dirty are likely old whereas clean, light-coloured holes are a sign of recent damage. The look of fine dust can be a tell tale sign there is an active infestation.

Repairing Damaged Wood

When you are looking into repairs use caution and don’t assume the wood needs to be replaced. Some timber may need to be replaced from decay or infestation while others may still be able to support the load. Dampness can cause problems with timber so be aware of this. It is ideal to avoid replacing timber and to make repairs instead. An easy and cost-effective repair method is to use a metal strap. A strap can be crafted by a blacksmith and is designed to bolt decayed timber together.

When timber needs to be cut out and repaired a good carpenter will know how to do this and scarf new sections using traditional joint techniques. If there are problems caused by electricians or plumbers who ‘notch’ the top of joists for cable or pipe, you can strengthen the joist with metal straps or using additional joints.

Minimise Damage to Wooden Frames

When you have assessed damage to timber the simplest method for dealing with is drilling into the timber for accurate testing. Using chemical treatments will not remedy the underlying issues with damaged wooden frames. It is usually unnecessary if you have removed the source of moisture and the wood has dried out which will limit further damage.

Stripping Paint from Wooden Beams

Wooden beams are typically painted but you will want to be cautious while stripping them. It can be a destructive process and time consuming and may not even bring you the results you wish to achieve. Using abrasive techniques like wire brushes is not a good idea. When stripping paint you will want to protect surrounding areas, apply chemical paint removers, avoid digging into the wood, use peel away poultice systems to remove layers of paint. Some people may use hot air guns but be cautious of the risks associated with fires. Another thing you should never do is shot blast or sand beams because it will damage the surface of the wood. If your wood is dark you can use traditional casein distemper to remedy this issue.

Cleaning Timber Frames

You can improve the look of wood frames by removing dust with a damp cloth, soft brush or vacuum cleaner. You can also add a light sheen by applying a coating of beeswax polish. Something to avoid is using linseed oil because it stays sticky and will naturally attract dirt. Another option is to refrain from staining new timber and rather let it darken naturally.