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Thread: Natural Color Change of Aging Pine

  1. #1

    Natural Color Change of Aging Pine

    I'm planning to finish the ceiling and trim of my rustic cabin with pine (t&g for the ceiling, 1x4's for the trim). New, unfinished pine is too light for my liking. I know that it yellows/darkens over time, but I'm having trouble finding examples of how much, and how long it takes. Does anybody have photos or experience they can share?


    Additionally, I'll likely topcoat the trim with oil-based poly for protection but would prefer to avoid this step for the ceiling as it won't get the same traffic. Does the poly significantly change the color/rate of change. Will they end up looking the same in the long run?


    Attached is a photo I found which accurately represents my ideal color (not my photo). Should I just stain it up front rather than let it age? If so, will it become even darker over time?


    Thank you for your help. I've been lurking here for a while and this forum has been a great resource!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    When I had to do a little trim work on an older pine secretary I used new pine and stained it with iodine to match. so the color i yellow/orange mix.
    Bil lD

  3. #3
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    What kind of Pine are you talking about? That ceiling looks like it has something besides age on it.

    It does get darker, even if stained to start with.

  4. #4
    Yes, the ceiling in that photo was stained (though the exact stain wasn't stated), but if my end result of "waiting it out" will result in something similar, I'm happy to just let nature run it's course.

    The exact species of pine I'll be using is TBD - still getting quotes from lumber yards.

  5. #5
    Oil based poly tends to add an amber shade to wood, so your trim will look different. Water based poly adds no coloring.

    Pine exposed to the sun here in Arizona takes time to darken but I really don’t know how long it would take to get where you want it. I think being on the ceiling inside will take a long time to darken.

    It might be better if you stain everything to the shade you want now and use water based poly on the trim.

  6. #6
    I did a stint with an specialty architectural cladding firm that did quite a bit of pine for interior design. I can tell you that it basically will not color-age at all in your ceiling condition. We used Rubio Monocoat products extensively and were very happy with them: https://www.rubiomonocoatusa.com/en/...ior?country=us

    Erik
    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  7. #7
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    A lot of the old pine paneling in homes had a couple coats of shellac put on it to seal it. Shellac will get really dark with age, much darker than just natural pine. Coating the boards before putting it up would be a pretty easy task. Spray gun or wool pad would make short work of it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Don't know if this is the effect you're looking for, but I bookmarked a PopWood article that talks about reproducing an aged pine look:

    https://www.popularwoodworking.com/w...n-pine-finish/

  9. #9
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    I used an oil modified water based polyurethane from Minwax on pine.

    It doesn’t have the crystal clear look of water based poly, it has more of an amber hue.... Rod

  10. #10
    Thanks for the feedback! I hadn't considered that a lot of the "dark old cabin" look you see may have been due to shellac. I'm leaning toward staining the color I want, and using a water-based clear coat for the trim, as Mark suggested.

  11. #11
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    Staining pine is an exercise in frustration, unless you like the blotchy look. You will get a more uniform color, without blotching, if you spray on a dye. Actually, you could spray on a spray/no-wipe stain, too. In any case, regular wipe-off stain is something to avoid on pine.

    Pine on the ceiling will age, or maybe I should say the finish will age. My parents house has yellow pine wainscoting on the ceiling of their kitchen, since 1927. It is a beautiful deep amber now. It was finished with oil based varnish, and it's just as dark as the door trim.

    John

  12. #12
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    I'm waiting on a picture to come to the computer from my phone. We have a YP ceiling in part of our house, that has 40 years of age on it, and nothing else. I think most of the spec houses I built here, over 33 years, have such a cathedral ceiling in them. I've never heard one person say that they wish that the ceilings had some sort of finish on them. They are all high enough that no one could get a hand on them.

    I'll post a picture, when it shows up on the computer. I don't know about other kinds of Pine, other than Southern Yellow Pine, but I have a Lot of experience with that, from growing it, to building stuff with it.

    edited to add: I forgot about our doors. Our interior doors are about exactly 100 years old, and have never had any kind of finish on them. I'll get a picture of one of those too, but will wait until tomorrow, to get a natural light one. They are a lot darker than the ceiling, but the same type of wood.

    edited to add again: I forgot altogether about the old houses I work on. Around here, even the big plantation houses had mostly unpainted woodwork inside. I can show you what 200 years, and older age on Pine looks like too, but that's a different kind of Pine that's almost impossible to get sawn new these days-Southern Longleaf.

    edited to add: Picture of Yellow Pine with nothing but 40 years of age on it. It absolutely does darken with age, but it's a slow process. Please forgive spider webs. House cleaning crew hasn't been here since before Christmas, for obvious reasons.
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    Last edited by Tom M King; 04-21-2020 at 7:42 AM.

  13. #13
    That's the kind of reference photo I was looking for, thank you Tom! I look forward to seeing the picture of the doors.

    John, I have lots of experience staining pine. IMO, a good wood conditioner goes a long way to uniform application, but it's still a step I'd prefer not to do for ~600 sq ft. of ceiling and trim.

    Now you guys have me leaning back towards unfinished and letting nature take its course, haha. I've had this test board sitting in the sun at the cabin for three weeks to get an idea, but I'm ready to move on this project soon and don't have 40 years to wait, so your experience and photos have been invaluable.

    IMG_5695.jpg
    Last edited by Andrew Pow; 04-21-2020 at 11:06 AM.

  14. #14
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    Here's one of the doors. It's really overcast today, so this is by electric lighting, best I could find from bathroom lights that my Wife chose. The color looks pretty close, on my computer.

    This is the oldest YP I have at hand. These doors have never had any finish on them. That house was lived in for 50 years before I salvaged parts out of it, and we've lived with them for 40 years, and the house was vacant for about 10 years, so right at 100 years of age.

    I've never seen any finish that looks better than nothing but age, on Pine.
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  15. #15
    Different species of softwood will change color differently. Some will darken more than others. The difficulty is that they all often all get generically called "pine" and can often be mixed together. Eastern White Pine will usually develop that pumpkin pine look, while some spruces may only yellow a bit.

    Shellac can darken some, but it often was tinted darker to start with, or may have been orange or garnet rather than blonde. The dark old cabin look is usually from asphaltum (basically road tar) stain that was popular around the early 1900s through about 1940. Mission furniture often used it rather than fuming, as it is cheaper and safer.

    Light exposure will also affect color change, as will the amount of UV in the light.

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