As with most wood products that live outside, exterior trusses, porches, and ‘trimber’ will require a little maintenance every few years to keep them looking great. When we first install exterior (or interior) timber it is coated with an oil based finish. Over time, exposure to the elements, air pollution, natural pollens, dust, and more wear the oil away and tints the wood a grey or pale beige tone. In some locations this can take five years; in others, two years; still in others a year or less. In our case we went a little over four years before cleaning and re-finishing the timber frame porches that are the main entrances to our Farmington, New York office.
A few of our timber framers, Andy, Matt, and Marc, set about cleaning and refinishing our office porch bents and trusses last week. Their supplies: a couple of ladders, a few drop cloths, a little cleaner, two gallons of oil based finish, and a bit of elbow grease.
Their first step was to clear both porches of debris and water down the timbers. Hosing helps remove loose dirt and miscellaneous unwanted filth (thanks to the birds that have a special preference for our timbers). Following this, each timber/post was hand scrubbed with a bleach and water mixture to clean and kill any mold or other growth on the wood.
The porches were left to dry in the sunshine before being re-coated with a linseed oil based finish. We like oil for its eco-friendly nature and its ability to absorb into the wood, creating further resistance to rot and fungus. The oil we used included a light stain which brought some of the original natural patina back to the reclaimed timbers and posts.