We put in the steel beam in the basement over two-and-a-half years ago. Our friend Mike, who got us the steel and helped us put it in, told us at the time that when the weather got warm we should paint it. We didn’t get around to doing that until now. For the record, I don’t recommend that.

Steel needs to be primed at a minimum to keep it from rusting and our basement is especially humid. Hopefully our new weeping system will help improve that but the beam developed some surface rust since we put it in. Since we’re planning to move into the basement and leave the concrete floor bare (stained and sealed) it makes sense to do any painting we can before the new floor goes in. Maybe not as much sense as painting it right away or anytime before we started the dig out, but more than waiting any longer.

I started with a thorough cleaning, using the air compressor nozzle, the shop vac, and a wet rag to get the accumulated dust and rust off. With that done I put on a coat of rust-inhibiting metal primer. I have a sprayer but with all the nooks and crannies between the joists I just used a brush. Cleaning actually took longer than priming, and as soon as it was done I wondered why I hadn’t done it a couple years ago.

Once that was done I should have put the top coat on right away. Instead I did all the masonry on the windows which involved making a bunch of dust with the angle grinder, so when I circled back several weeks later to finally do it, I had to wipe it down all over again. I brushed on two coats of high-gloss white metal paint and now my neck is sore, but the beam looks good. The plan is to paint the ceiling joists next and we will use the sprayer for that. I’m giving the paint a couple days to dry before I vacuum out the joist bays and throw a bunch more dust around; I don’t want it to stick to the beam.

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