In addition to looking amazing when used in the construction of a building, another benefit of using oak as a building material is its incredible longevity. Generally speaking, cracks and splits are nothing to worry about if they appear in your oak beams and trusses in the home.
Splits and cracks are usually formed when the wood dries out and shrinks marginally. The grading system that is used when forming oak beams means that when cracks open up, the damage to a beam they can do is limited. It is very rare that a crack will open right through a piece of oak. Similarly, any good designer will account for shrinkage, making sure that over time, your oak beams will be strong and characterful.
Maintenance of external oak
An external oak roof truss will generally need very little in the way of maintenance. Oak is naturally weather resistant and will fade to a silver shade over about 12 months. Different shades can be retained by using a wood treatment. This, however, will need to be repeated over time as the weather erodes your protective coat from the wood. It is recommended that you test the colour on a spare piece of oak, rather than directly to your oak roof truss, in order to get the finish you like.
Other treatments include cleaning with oxalic acid if water spots occur during construction. This must only be attempted if the structure is weather-tight. Sun bleaching can be avoided by using liquid wax with included UV protection.
Internal oak maintenance
The hard-wearing nature of oak means that very little maintenance is needed for internal oak beams, save for a dusting every now and then. As sunlight fades the oak over time, its colour will mellow, looking better each year.
With external oak, if you would like a different colour finish, there are a range of varnishes and stains available. Again, as with the outside, checking the colour on an offcut is vital, as is checking the colour at different points within the room to see how both natural and electric light will affect the shade.
Oak is a highly robust building material that is incredibly low-maintenance. Cracks and splits are generally nothing to worry about, but if any do become concerning, it is wise to seek professional assistance.