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Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

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  • Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

    We are installing 3/4" knotty pine T&G boards on our vaulted ceiling in our cabin. Cabin is heated with wood stove, used only occasionally. We have had advice that we do not need to finish the pine ceiling. What are the downsides if we do not? What is easiest finish that is long lasting?

  • #2

    Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

    Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

    finishing wood helps to seal it, which protects the wood, helps it to last longer, and reduces wood movement.

    Those are all great benefits. Given all the money and time you're putting into installing the ceiling, it seems to me there would have to be some pretty sweet benefits to not finishing it in order to outweigh all the benefits of finishing it.

    so, what are the benefits of not finishing it?

    um...

    hmmm....

    ehhh....


    oh! I know! You get to save a bit of time and labour!


    your millage may vary, but in my world, that's just not worth it.

    Do yourself a favour, finish the sucker. years from now you'll never regret finishing it, but you could very well regret not finishing it.

    furthermore, thanks to the invention of wipe-on poly, finishing it will be exceedingly easy and take very little time.

    wipe on poly is sold commercially by all the major manufacturers, e.g. minwax, and is applied simply by dampening a cloth in the stuff and wiping it onto the wood just like you were wiping off the counter with a wet cloth after making dinner. It's just that easy. For a ceiling, you could get away with just a few coats without even sanding in between. This will add like half an hour to the job if the wood is not yet installed, or like an hour if it is. Really, you've basically got nothing to lose.

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    • #3

      Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

      Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

      My vote would be to not finish, which is what we did (or rather didn't).
      I am of the belief that all sides should be treated the same, so unless you have a lot of time and space on your hands, it's simply easier to install it without having to pre-finish it.
      Yours is a cabin, I think rustic when I think cabin. That means simple finishes and you can't get any simpler than none.
      FWIW, my vaulted ceiling is in my home and it is unfinished.
      Donna,
      Self Imposed Queen of Design Opportunities

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      • #4

        Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

        Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

        Callee, I was obviously formulating my response while you were typing. I doubt that years from now I will be regretting not finishing my ceiling. I also don't regret not having to use Minwax or some other noxious smelling product on a surface that will never be touched by anything other than fly feet. As to saving a little time and labour, Kenmac doesn't say how large his ceiling is, but even 1000 lineal feet on both sides, all ends and the tonges and grooves seems like a lot or work for minimal return. A few coats, wiped on in a half hour?? I'd like some of what you are on!!!
        Donna,
        Self Imposed Queen of Design Opportunities

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        • #5

          Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

          Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

          Originally posted by callee View Post
          it seems to me there would have to be some pretty sweet benefits to not finishing it in order to outweigh all the benefits of finishing it.

          so, what are the benefits of not finishing it?
          Given the location and temp fluctuations as well as the temp/moisture differential between both sides of the wood, I'd say the major benefit of not finishing (unless you do both sides of every board) is that it won't crack, warp, twist or buckle over time. Pretty big benefit I'd say, unless you have a boat load of spare time and like to redo your work on a regular basis.
          Our cottage has an unfinished pine ceiling and after 20 yrs it looks great and I don't have to get up there and futz around with repairing/refinishing it..........and I have all the gear as I do this sort of stuff for a living!!!

          Paul
          Last edited by Paul O in Paris; 02-20-2010, 08:12 PM.

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          • #6

            Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

            Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

            Originally posted by Donna H View Post
            Callee, I was obviously formulating my response while you were typing. I doubt that years from now I will be regretting not finishing my ceiling. I also don't regret not having to use Minwax or some other noxious smelling product on a surface that will never be touched by anything other than fly feet. As to saving a little time and labour, Kenmac doesn't say how large his ceiling is, but even 1000 lineal feet on both sides, all ends and the tonges and grooves seems like a lot or work for minimal return. A few coats, wiped on in a half hour?? I'd like some of what you are on!!!
            well, hey, clearly we disagree, and that's fine. An awful lot of water vapour rises up, especially near the kitchen or bathroom. That would make me want it sealed up with a few coats of poly. Not to mention those flies tend not to wipe their feet, so who knows what other bio-hazzards they'd traipse all over it!

            As for time, perhaps half an hour is an exageration for a few coats, but not by much; I could certainly wipe down the ceiling with one coat in that time. I mean, wipe on poly really is that quick and easy. How long does it take you to mop your floor? applying wipe-on poly to the cieling wouldn't be that different (esp if, as I have on occassion, you used a sponge mop to apply it).

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            • #7

              Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

              Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

              Originally posted by Paul O in Paris View Post
              Given the location and temp fluctuations as well as the temp/moisture differential between both sides of the wood, I'd say the major benefit of not finishing (unless you do both sides of every board) is that it won't crack, warp, twist or buckle over time. Pretty big benefit I'd say, unless you have a boat load of spare time and like to redo your work on a regular basis.
              Our cottage has an unfinished pine ceiling and after 20 yrs it looks great and I don't have to get up there and futz around with repairing/refinishing it..........and I have all the gear as I do this sort of stuff for a living!!!


              Paul
              obviously, again, we disagree. Look down: do you have hardwood? It's finished on the top, right? but, strangely, not the bottom. Hope you don't trip on all the cracks, warps, twists and buckles!

              wait, what's that you say, your floor isn't cracked, warped, twisted or buckled? But how could that be, when only one side is sealed and finished? hmmmmm..... [/sarcasm]

              ETA

              all the same, if the ceiling isn't yet installed, wiping both sides with wipe-on poly would not add much at all to the job. It's easily doable.
              Last edited by callee; 02-20-2010, 08:23 PM.

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              • #8

                Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                fwiw, I found this other forum posting on the subject, where the OP asks your exact same question.

                anecdotal, yes, and the plural of anecdotes is not data, but still a telling testimonial comes in one of the responses:

                MHO you should finish with something, probably poly. My house has all
                ceilings and exterior wall of T&G pine. I built the house 20 years ago and did
                not finish the pine. I wish I had. The wood has all oxidized, picked up
                stains from water and kitchen vapors. They are hard to clean because they just
                absorb all the soapy water. I started to finish the walls recently (better
                late than never) with shellac under water based poly (no vapors) and am happy
                with the results. I've had to sand everything before finishing. A real PIA.

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                • #9

                  Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                  Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                  In a cookhouse out at rec property, we did the ceiling with pine, and finished it on the surface only with polyurethane and it has held up fine without issue for over 10 years now.

                  We have also done a few cedar ceilings for customers where they were left unfinished, and they too look great after many years.

                  Our cabin has a big ol' wood stove in there, this is the main reason we finished the ceiling, otherwise we might have just left it.
                  JIM
                  Calgary, AB

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                  • #10

                    Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                    Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                    Hmmm how did everyone miss "knotty pine"?

                    Do I smell shellac here?

                    Nap.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                      Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                      Pine will darken over time, and you may prefer that.

                      I have the same boards through the entire house, and they have been there for ten+ years. The finish was intended to slow the darkening process but leave the wood as light as possible.

                      The finish is very light, (i.e thin) and I did not relish the idea of putting it on the ceiling, so all boards were finished (two coats) before they went up. There has been no maintenance required. I would do the same thing again.

                      BTW I have the same boards under the soffits and deck roof with an exterior finish and the soffits have required refinishing, teh deck ceiling does not .
                      In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity. - Thomas Sowell

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                      • #12

                        Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                        Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                        We had the indoor swimming pool at my dad's house done in Western Red cedar...unfinished, walls and ceiling, and they still look great after 25 years.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                          Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                          Save yourself the aggro and do not apply anything.
                          First of all.....its a cottage!
                          Secondy...it'll been fine as many have noted (same in my cottage)
                          Thirdly....unless you do a really proper of finishing it, it will look and wear worse than just plain wood.....I know this because my father in law is guilty of shoddy work on the walls and ceiling on one room (30 odd years ago) and its looked like hell for 20...and no I am not sanding it all down and starting again but it annoys e every time I see it.
                          Grrr!


                          Julian

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                          • #14

                            Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                            Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                            I finished mine with varnish 20 years ago and it still looks great, I'm glad I did it.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                              Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

                              I don't know which way to go on this.....every ounce of me wants to say "pre-finish before install", but on the other hand......I did some restoration work in the Wright brother's (yes, the airplane guys ) cottage, and the ceilings are all unfinished....and have been for 100 years.....they still look great.
                              I dream of a better world, one where chickens can cross roads without having their motives questioned.

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