Cedar is an excellent choice for decorative beams. It won’t rot, it’s repulsive to bugs and remains stable for years. When it does start to break down, the culprit may be ultraviolet rays, which deteriorate exterior cedar, or other factors such as birds or severe weather. Decorative cedar beams can be made two ways: by trimming the outside of a hollow core with thinner strips of cedar, or by milling a solid piece of cedar into a beam. Hollow-core beams have a rough exterior similar to siding. Solid beams have a smooth exterior. Both can be repaired.
Insert the tip of a screwdriver into a corner of the beam. Work it under the cedar overlay and pry up to loosen nails. As the cedar overlay begins to lift, move the screwdriver up or down a few inches and continue prying.
Insert the tip of a flat prybar under the cedar when you have enough room. Continue prying along the length of the cedar overlay until it lifts off completely. Repeat inserting the screwdriver and prybar on all of the other pieces of overlay and prying them off one at a time until all of them are removed.
Pull all of the nails from the core and the cedar strips using diagonal pliers. Turn all of the cedar overlay strips upside down. Use an air compressor with an air nozzle to thoroughly clean all debris, dust and loose fibers from the cedar.
Check the cedar strips for cracks or splits or damage of any kind. If you find any, purchase new pieces and cut them to size on a table saw.
Install all of the overlay pieces on the beam with the backside facing out. If you’ve added new pieces, use the best side. Use a finish nailer with 1 1/4-inch finish nails to nail them on with nails spaced 8 inches apart, 1 inch from the edge. Place each orignal piece back on the beam in the same place they were removed from.
Solid Wood Beams
Mix the resin glue with water according to manufacturer’s directions. Apply glue to any cracks, splits, gouges or rough areas using a putty knife. Fill all defects completely. If the glue begins to drip out of the defect or crack, wait 10 minutes, or until the glue reaches the consistency of soft putty, and reapply it.
Place masking tape over the crack or defect if the glue still won’t remain in the defect. Wipe any excess glue from the beam with a damp cloth. Wait overnight for the glue to dry.
Remove the tape. Use a glue scraper to scrape off any dried glue. If the glue protrudes out of the hole or defect, scrape it off flush with the surface of the cedar. You can sand the beam with 100-grit sandpaper if you like, but it’s not necessary.