Steel Beam Clad with Wood | Tips and Tricks

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Clad steel beam with oak

Many people want to give their steel beams an oak look, it’s a recurring issue for us in both residential and commercial projects. Here we discuss three effective methods to cover steel beams with old wood to look like attractive oak beams. Discover the pros and cons of each method and get helpful tips and tricks for perfect results.

Method A
Resaw a beam and glue the sawn boards around the beam

This method involves cutting a solid beam into planks, which are then glued around the steel beam, or having a cove made first. The boards should be at least 3 cm thick for stability, especially when using oak. For example, choose an old oak beam or wind-dried oak beam to have re-sawn at our sawmill.


> Long lengths: Ideal for long spans
> Uniform look: Wood from the same oak beam creates a homogeneous look
> High-quality finish: Aesthetically pleasing solution.


> More expensive than loose boards because a solid beam is required.
> Woodworking: May result in small cracks.


> Make sure the background is black for a neat finish.
> Fill an H-beam first with pieces of wood for easy assembly.
> Glue the wood within 2 days of cutting to minimize operation.

Method B
Picking out loose boards at the lumber yard

In this method, loose old oak planks are selected at the lumber yard and used to cover the steel beam.


> Many choices
> Cost-saving
> Thinner boards of 1 or 2 cm thickness possible


> Less homogeneous appearance: Wood does not come from one beam, so variation in color and texture.


> Choose planks that match well in color and texture.
> Preparation: Paint the steel beam and any wooden pieces black before attaching the boards so that the background will not show if there are cracks in the beam.

Method C
Hollowing out oak beams

In this method, a solid beam is hollowed out so that it can be slid over the steel beam.


> No saw cuts: No visible saw cuts for a beautiful end result.
> Aesthetically beautiful: Neat and professional workmanship.


> We cannot take care of the hollowing out.
> Labor-intensive
> Risk of breakage: Old oak beams can become fragile when hollowed out.


> Consider a specialized service provider for hollowing out.
> Make sure the oak beams chosen are sturdy enough to withstand hollowing out.
> Take accurate measurements so that the hollowed-out beam fits exactly.


Each method has unique advantages and disadvantages. The choice between re-sawing a beam, using loose boards or hollowing out a beam depends on the desired aesthetic result, budget and available resources.

With these tips and tricks, you can cover a steel beam with oak in a beautiful and durable way.