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Basement beam - do you know what kind of wood this is and how to stain it?

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Basement beam - do you know what kind of wood this is and how to stain it?

Old 05-13-2018, 08:33 AM
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Default Basement beam - do you know what kind of wood this is and how to stain it?


I am re-finishing my basement and I found a really nice looking beam which I decided to expose. The beam is one solid piece of wood which runs the entire length of the house; it measures 8.5" x 6". The pictures show the beam before and after a quick sanding with 60-grit sand paper. The house was built in 1971.

I have two questions:

- Do you know what kind of wood this is as I need to purchase some lumber to match it as close as possible to enclose my Lally column. Since the beam is almost 50 years old I know it will be tough to get a good match, but I am trying to get as close as possible. I plan on staining everything in the end so hopefully that would help even things out a little bit too.

- I am going with a gray scheme in the basement with LifeProof Sterling Oak luxury vinyl planks from Home Depot and light gray walls. If at all possible I would like to stain the beam gray to match, without hiding the grain, but I am not sure how to go about it or if it even possible. The natural color of the beam before sanding was red-ish and now it is chestnut-like. I don't have much experience with this, but I am thinking that I would probably have to use some kind of semi-transparent stain to turn it gray, but I am afraid that it might come out too dark or that I will hide too much of the grain.
The same beam runs through my laundry room also, so I have a small area of exposed beam which I can sand and use as a "test area" to try out a few different stains, but I would like to narrow down my options to 2 or 3 different products/colors. I am hoping that the THT wisdom can steer me in the right direction.

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Old 05-13-2018, 08:41 AM
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It's probably "hem-fir". You can find 2x stock with that designation at a lumber yard. Fir would be available in 1x stock.
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:43 AM
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I’m definitely no expert but it looks like pine to me? I’d look at reclaimed lumber to get a match.

And one coat of a semi transparent gray will leave plenty of grain visible IMO. I agree it needs a touch of gray to go along with the walls etc.
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:48 AM
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Hard to tell from a small pic but my guess is southern pine. It will be hard to get a close match because it’s been exposed to air for a very long time.

staining both the beam and any new wood for a better match is defitely the way to go.
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:53 AM
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I'm going to go with hem-fir too. the brownish/red coloring points that way to me and it was a popular building material thru the 60's-70's.
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Old 05-13-2018, 08:57 AM
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It is Douglas fir. Not as easy to find these days but HD sometimes has it. It is a common framing lumber and very strong for a softwood species.
Stain it with whatever you want and then coat it with a satin poly. Keep in mind it will darken over time so go lighter than you want. My fir beams are stained with minwax Early American. I will try to post a pic.

Early American is reddish brown, so not what you want. A semi-transparent stain will not hide the grain, it will enhance it.
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Old 05-13-2018, 09:15 AM
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Hem fir maybe doug fir? The reddishness is typical hem-fir - usually hemlock but not pine or spruce. Now everyone uses composite beams and spruce and pine but it is plentiful in New England lumber yards. I specified doug fir and got mostly this hem- fir - tighter grain heavier and stronger than pine.

Here is a pic of mine.
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Old 05-13-2018, 09:32 AM
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- I am going with agrayscheme in the basement with LifeProof Sterling Oak luxury vinyl planks from Home Depot and light graywalls. If at all possible I would like to stain the beam gray to match, without hiding the grain,
A little heavy on the Gray. no?
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:00 AM
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For what it is worth- I am in the Hem-Fir camp. It was a very strong building material back in the day. They would never use pine as a carrying member.
I would give it a 25% chance of douglas fir.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:17 AM
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I agree a solid beam that size would definitely not be pine. We use a shitload of doug fir these days but a lot of lumber selection is regional. As far as matching the grain and color, I'd avoid the headache and wrap the beam in a veneer.
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Old 05-14-2018, 01:33 PM
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Thank you, guys. I think Douglas fir is spot on (based on google images).
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