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TOPIC: Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood

Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood 01 Sep 2011 07:16 #1860

I am working on a project where the client wants a reclaimed floor with a surface that has the patina and wear you might see on a 100 year old barn. So I found a number of places I could purchase that kind of product. This stuff is very rustic. The face of the wood is completlly untouched by any new milling or cutting. They have left every bit of the original saw marks from the mill and all the patina it gained through time. So here is my question. What finish system will I use to accentuate this old look and protect the wood properly?
I will tell my thoughts and wait for a response.

I thought using a OBS sander to very lightly sand would be the way to go, but what grit should I use. I was thinking 220 grit so I don't sand off to much of the character. This stuff is almost fuzzy. It kind of looks like the rough sawn cypress used for exterior house trim, so there has to be some sanding to knock off the loose stuff and prepare it for finish. What are your thoughts on that?

As far as the finish, I was leaning toward a polymerized tung oil. One of the manufacturer mentioned a tung oil manufactured by Sutherland Wells Ltd. It just seems like as little sanding as I want to do on this wood in order to keep the patina, it will just keep on drinking up the oil. I don't want to have to come back for 5 or 6 coats.

I even thought about using a oil based universal sealer ( so as to create as little grain raise as possible ) then use Bona's Naturale. I just want an untreated look ( ultra matte finish ). I'm not sure that a finish system that just builds layers on the surface will work very well because this floor will be anything but flat, I'm worried the high points on the uneven floor will wear off much too quickly.

By the way, I have samples of oak, pine and maple all of which have the character I have mentioned that I'm wanting to make finished samples for this customer. Not sure if the different species would play a role in what kind of finish to use. I'm anxious to make the samples but not sure what product to put on them and I only really get one shot, can't sand it back down to raw wood and start over.

I know that was a mouthful. This is my first time posting on this forum, although I read it regularly. Any info would be greatly appreciated.- Jon

Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood 01 Sep 2011 09:04 #1862

Such wood has a lot of deteriorated wood fibers on the substrate and will typically not support a conventional film building finishing system well (the high points would wear very quickly).
We would only recommend a penetrating oil finish up to the point that the wood will not absorb anything anymore. This is the tricky thing because the roughness will also not allow easy removel of excess oil.
"Easing" the roughness is a good idea to create some smoothness and it allows also to simulate wear areas (smoother compared to what the substrate is now) in the floor where the walking patterns are. This would result in lighter areas since the weathering will be highlighted (greyish/darker colored) when treated with oil.
This is realistic though as normal walking over such floor will smooth out rough substrates, you could even overdo some areas in a controlled matter like in higher traffic areas (doorways for example) to intensify the effect. Some people like this some won't.

A mockup area on a sheet of plywood would be a good idea to try this out so the homeowner can approve the effect.

Talk with a Tech. rep. of the manufacturer you are going with so you can follow their guidelines on rough floors which is challenging to deal with when oiling. Maintenance is easier than with conventional finishes since reoiling does not require abrasion (just cleaning, which may be challenging too if the floor is very rough).


Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood 01 Sep 2011 12:34 #1863

I dismantled a barn across the field since the landowner was just going to bulldoze it into a pile for burning. The siding boards were 14" red oak with the gray weathered effect you are working with. I installed them in a powder room in my home and used the old tin for wainscotting. I also wrestled with what finish to use because all my familiar finishes made it too dark of a grey. I finally settled with Duraseal paste wax. I know it isn't ideal for a splashy area, but it has held up well for 4yrs. I periodically scrub it with a nylon bristle brush to clean the recessed soft wood and the just apply the wax. It stays dark for a good day, but then comes back to the original color. This is probably not very practical on a whole house worth, but there is my $.02.

Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood 01 Sep 2011 12:48 #1864

Thank you for the respone. The idea of wax out of the nooks and crannies makes me a little uneasy, but I've tried new techniques before and had good results. Can you drop any tips on how you applied it (what did you use to work it into the wood and what did you use to remove any excess)?
To Johannes, any suggestions on what kind of grit I should use to ease the rough wood, and any name brand tung oil you've had good luck with?
Thanks for the help. Jon

Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood 01 Sep 2011 12:59 #1865

I always put the wax on when it had been in the hot van. It was ragged on and spread with my nylon brush. That helped to get it in the recesses and take most of the excess off. I would not have considered doing such a thing had it not been only 30sqft. The brush also seemed to knock the fuzzies down as it went without taking the gray off.

Finishing rough sawn reclaimed barn wood 01 Sep 2011 13:46 #1866

We do quite a bit of reclaimed flooring. We screen w/ 220 grit to just knock down any burred edges/rough spots. You are not going to sand per say this floor or yes, you will use all of the mother nature look. Water base finishes do not do well with this type of floor-it drastically changes the looik-lightens it up significantly. We use poly urethane on these floors-it brings out all of the patina for these floors. If you re using stain, we use duraseal stain-works great. If you want more info-you can call me or email me with your phone number and I will call you back.
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