How to finish wood

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Old 01-15-09, 09:12 AM
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How to finish wood

I'm finishing my basement in a rustic look with lots of wood t&g, log siding, and some logs. Full big round massive logs.

I'm staining all the wood, but I'm not sure how to go about finishing it.

The only finishing products I've ever used are polyurethane both in brush and spray forms, I've never used any of the other options.

My issues are this.

1. I have a lot of rounded surfaces to finish, including the aforementioned fully round logs, brushing on something and avoiding obvious runs and or overlaps seems like it'll be futile.

2. It is 0 degrees out, my only spot to do this work is my basement, which has poor ventilation, so anything sprayed is probably a bad idea.

I think something rubbed on would be best, I thought I'd use a rubbed on linseed oil, but then I read that that can promote mold, and this IS a basement.

Any advice would be appreciated.
 
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Old 01-15-09, 09:22 AM
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Wait until you have a 50+ degree day and do the work outdoors. Preserve the air quality in your home.

In regard to all the wood you want to install below grade in the basement, there are moisture issues. Make sure you use recommended vapor retarders. 3/4 tongue and groove hardwood is not recommended for flooring on concrete below grade. Engineered wood is more stable and can be installed below grade on concrete.

If finishing basement, there should be a building permit. All work must be permitted and required inspections made. When it comes time to sell, there can be hefty fines and the potential that it all has to be ripped out. You have to sign off on disclosure forms re: any improvements and whether or not they were permitted. The realtors or homeowners go request copies of the permits. If they are not there, then you are in trouble.

We have had posts here from both realtors and potential buyers about unpermitted work on homes for sale. Saw an episode on HGTV last night where this occurred. The homeowner signed off that all the new wiring, plumbing, and other improvements had been permitted. The realtor went to get copies of the permits. They were not there. The potential buyers walked. Viewers did not get to see the building inspector go after the homeowner.
 
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Old 01-15-09, 10:37 AM
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right, everything is well insulated with vapor barriers on all sides and underneath.

If I waited for enough 50 degree days to do all the staining I need to do outside it'll be 4 - 5 months, the project needs to be done by then.
 
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Old 01-15-09, 03:29 PM
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There is a book I rely on for lots of info, not sure if it still in print, check Amazon. "Understanding Wood Finishes", by Flexner. Very useful for a DIY, or a pro.
 
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Old 01-15-09, 04:11 PM
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You might could set up an exhaust fan to keep the air/fumes directed to the outside but you will need a heat source to keep up with all the warm air you send outside. Sealing off the door to the upstairs will help to minimize the fumes up there.
 
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Old 01-15-09, 04:50 PM
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finishing

Regarding finishing the logs you might use polyurethane and apply it with a rag as if it were a tung oil finish. I often rub on polyurethane on large surfaces. It may take several coats, but at least you won't have to be concerned with fumes.
 
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Old 01-16-09, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by drbob View Post
Regarding finishing the logs you might use polyurethane and apply it with a rag as if it were a tung oil finish. I often rub on polyurethane on large surfaces. It may take several coats, but at least you won't have to be concerned with fumes.
Rub on poly specifically? Or normal poly rubbed on?

What about actually using something like Tung oil or linseed oil?

The ideal look I'm going for is antique, so it is okay if it isn't perfectly glossy. I just don't want it to end up looking sloppy.
 
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Old 01-16-09, 10:09 AM
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You may buy "wipe-on" poly or you can buy regular poly and mix 50/50 with mineral spirits. Save some money.

That said, you don't need polyurethane unless for high traffic uses, such as kitchen tables or floors. You can get other non-poly varnishes, but probably not at the big box stores. Sherwin-Williams has a good varnish product and Pratt and Lambert #38 is available at most True Value and Ace hardware stores, I believe. These are easier to apply than poly (poly doesn't like to stick to anything, including itself. That's why you are asked to sand between coats.) P&L38 and Sherwin-Williams varnish won't have that problem. On small projects, dealing with poly isn't a big issue, but it looks like you have a lot of surface to cover. By the way, polyurethane is a varnish.

Beware products sold as tung oil (finish). Most are not real tung oil and some don't contain a drop of tung oil. Read the fine print or go online and look at the MSDS data.
 
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Old 01-17-09, 12:31 PM
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The overall look I'm going for is say an 18th century english pub. If you can picture it.

What about a shellac? Because it is quick drying it may be better on the logs? And yes, I do have a lot to cover.

3 full logs 8 feet. 800 board feet of 6 inch T&G wall/ceiling paneling, and 200 board feet of 6x2 T&G log siding.

So I guess my main concerns are...

1. easy and fast to apply
2. Requires less ventilation
3. able to be applied evenly over round or uneven surfaces.

A few trim boards I plan on using a pull knife on the edges to rustic them up a bit, so those, plus the logs, there is a lot of not-flat wood I will have to do.
 
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Old 01-17-09, 03:36 PM
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Shellac is an excellent choice. Low odor, fast drying, and amazingly tough. Zinsser makes several good products for this. One is there "Sealcoat." It is sold as a sanding sealer. In fact is a pure 2 lb. cut of dewaxed shellac.

You have to move along with this stuff since it dries so fast. You can keep going back and smoothing it out. But...all you need is denatured alcohol to fix any booboos. Also, you don't want to apply too much. After time, it will develop cracks if it is too thick.

One more thing...it is glossy...no choice. If you want to tone it down, you may have to rub it out a bit.
 
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Old 01-19-09, 06:28 AM
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the glossy is preferable, so it looks like shellac will be best. I've never applied it, but I'll give it a try.
 
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Old 02-22-09, 07:34 PM
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Well I went with the shellac, I went with the natural amber color, instead of the bleached clear color.

What a great product, obviously by the shelf space at the store it isn't very popular, but for my use, wow, great.

It is so easy to apply, to touch up, it dries in minutes, and there is almost no odor (and what there is just smells like whiskey).

I can clean up with alcohol instead of mineral spirits (Which stink up the house like crazy) I've been leaving a pail of alchohol and just leaving my brush in that overnight when not in use, keeps it going good. I could never just leave mineral spirits open. When I did once my wife did laundry and it ruined all our clothing (the dryer like bonded fumes to the clothes or something). Cleaning up polyurethane is such a PITA that I often just tossed brushes, so I save money by using the shellac.

I also don't need to worry about getting even coverage, subsequently layers blend in, full or partial, whereas with poly they sit on top as an obvious plateau if the coverage isn't full.

Also, my wife is pregnant, and I feel better about the far less fumes of the shellac in the house.

Finally, for the look I was going for, 15th century pub, it really works. It makes the wood look really old, and that is good.



The best part is, it has saved me time. Instead of doing one coat a day, I can do as many as needed. I can bring wood from unfinished to stained and coated and nailed up in one day.
 
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Old 02-23-09, 04:45 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. You have discovered two of the best kepts secrets in finishing wood!

1. Shellac is fantastic stuff. As you have found out, it's low odor, dries fast, no trouble recoating, easy cleanup, leaves a beautiful finish, and it is an amazingly tough finish. I believe most people just don't know much about shellac. They probably think that, since it's old technology,it just isn't very good stuff. It's a shame, really.

2. Polyurethane is probably not one of the best products to use on furniture...even table tops. Once applied, it holds up very well, but there are other varnish products that use resins other than poly which are more durable on furniture and much easier to apply...no sanding between coats is necessary.

Polyurethane does have its place. It is great for floors, for example, because the film finish is more flexible than some of the other varnishes. It's also great for rush seat bottoms for the same reason.

It's also just about the only varnish you can find in the big box stores...and it is much cheaper than other varnish products. Let's face it, if the big box store had a quart of Minwax Polyurethane on the shelf for $9.97 and a quart of Waterlox next to it for $27.95, which do you think the average consumer is going to buy?
 
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