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Finish/Protecting Pine Paneling

I have unfinished tongue & groove pine paneling on a ceiling of 1 room; and on the walls of another. It is only a few years old but appears no finish was applied. I'm not interested in staining - I'd like to keep the natural color - but it needs protection. Any comments on the pros/cons of using tung oil (or some other oil/wax) versus poly? Any suggestions for the actual product? And anything I should consider about the actual technique of applying one or the other?


Re: Finish/Protecting Pine Paneling


Being that the pine has been up for several years, it probably has already oxidized from its original light color to a somewhat darker, reddish color. If you like the color, no further staining is neccessary.

Obviously, a ceiling is not subjected to the same wear as furniture or woodwork. No one is going to set a water glass down upon it :) You certainly could put tung oil on it to give it some luster. However, if several years from now you would want to wash that ceiling, you would be much better off with a protective finish. I would lean toward a low sheen urethane varnish. Many urethanes are self sealing, requiring at east two coats of the varnish itself.

Many woodworkers feel that shellac as a sealer brings out the depth of the wood better than urethane, avoiding that somewhat plastic look. If you use shellac as a sealer under the urethane, make sure you use "de-waxed" shellac, as the regular shellac is not compatible with urethanes. Zinsser's "Seal Coat" is one such de-waxed sealer.

Shellac is very fast drying. You can re-coat in about an hour. It has a strong odor, but it is of alcohol and will rapidly dissipate.

If you have access to an HVLP sprayer, you can rapidly give your paneling a furniture like finish with no brushing marks. Otherwise, rolling and back brushing will give good results.

Re: Finish/Protecting Pine Paneling

Since it is a ceiling and not subject to any wear I think an oil might be appropriate. A varnish or polyurethane could be too shiny and plastic looking, although a satin finish might lessen the effect.
I'm partial to oiled wood and find boiled linseed oil looks good, although it smells for awhile, not that that's a bad thing. Everyone doesn't appreciate it.
Tung oils are good too. Some are shinier than others. Shellac might look good too. It tends to be less shiny than varnish and water shouldn't be a problem on a ceiling. I have never oiled or varnished a wood ceiling before.
Be aware that all finishes will change the color of the wood. Testing may not be easy unless you have some scrap to play with. Oils especially can darken light wood more than you expect.

Re: Finish/Protecting Pine Paneling


To visualize how an oil or varnish finish might alter the look of your wood, simply wet it in a corner. The darkened look will approximate the color and some sheen. A little surface water will not damage the wood.

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