Decorating & design

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by Home User, Jun 14, 2012

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Q: What colour should I paint my ceiling beams?

I am renovating an old cottage and the lounge has a relatively low painted wooden ceiling with large wooden beams painted black, and running across the whole length of the ceiling. They are approximately 1.5' apart.

There is an ingelnook fireplace which has a long wooden beam, the same black color as the ceiling beams.

As the room and ceiling need repainting I was considering painting the wooden ceiling beams as well - I thought of a pale beige color for the walls, so would it look nice to paint the ceiling beams in a paler beige or off-white colour, to "raise" the look of the ceiling?

What would you recommend colour wise? And if the ceiling beams are painted... should the black support beam be left black?

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by Gordon Whistance, Jun 15, 2012

A: Many years ago, beams were charred on the outside to prevent bugs getting into them and painting them black is a relatively new thing which stems from Victorian fashions. In fact, beams are at their best when they have no covering and can breath.

There are companies who specialise in removing paint and restoring wood to it's former glory, cleanly and without upheaval:, and are just two of them, but you should be able to find someone local to you.

The benefit to the room is exactly what you say - the ceiling doesn't feel so low and oppressive and the light levels are dramatically improved - a real consideration for old properties with small windows.

If you feel that getting this kind of work done is too much for you and you want a colour, then use a lime based paint which allows the wood to breath.

I'd choose a shade slightly darker than the walls for the best effect, so as not to lose the beauty of the beams entirely.

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