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

  1. #1

    Default 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. #2
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    Default 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.

  3. #3

    Default 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

  4. #4

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

    Quote 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 at 08:12 PM.

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

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

    Quote 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 at 08:23 PM.

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    Default 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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    Default 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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    Default 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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    Default 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 .
    It ain't the things you don't know that get you in trouble. It's the things you know for sure that just ain't so.

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    Default 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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    Default 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

  14. #14

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

    Quote Originally Posted by callee View Post
    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]
    callee!

    Getting a little testy aren't we? It seems any time anyone posts something that doesn't agree with your opinion, you get bent out of shape.

    Maybe you should have read my post a little more carefully before your reply. The key words were "given the location and temperature fluctuations as well as the temperature/moisture differential between both sides of the wood".

    Hardwood floors usually sit between two climate controlled environments, one above, one below, so the chances of extreme temp fluctuations between top and bottom of the boards is low. Likewise, the variations in relative humidity will be low. So it doesn't matter if they're only finished on one side. Also, according to my neighbour who owns a hardwood floor business, the boards should be chosen for their grain orientation, then cut and milled to give the least amount of stress. That's why hardwood floor boards are narrow strips of wood. By contrast, the OP is asking about putting pine boards (one assumes wider than hardwood floor boards) in the vaulted ceiling of a vacation property. The heat differential in the summer will be extreme as the hot air rises to the top of the vaulted part, in the winter the cold will be extreme with the temp gradient going either way across the board depending on how good the roof insulation is. The wood stove will also add it's share of stress when operating. IMO this environment is nothing like a floor, so I'm not really sure where you're coming from.

    Around where I live, a lot of the older farmhouses are taking out their original growth, wide board white pine floorboards because they have cracked, split, warped and buckled.

    Your earlier reference to applying poly with a sponge mop, reminded me of a farm auction I attended soon after moving to the area. The auctioneer moved to a pile of particularly poor quality cherry, walnut, oak and ash boards against which were resting several white pine floor boards which all displayed severe runs of orange coloured material down the sides. As the auctioneer was about to start the bidding on the wood, a guy at the front picked up the worst of the boards and said to his buddy "You see! I told you the old #@%%&** was completely mad! Lookit, he mopped the kitchen floor with varnish instead of soap and water!" . It took several minutes for the guffaws and laughter to subside.

    Have a nice day............Paul

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul O in Paris View Post
    callee!

    Getting a little testy aren't we? It seems any time anyone posts something that doesn't agree with your opinion, you get bent out of shape.
    Have a nice day............Paul
    any time? any time someone disagrees with me I get bent out of shape?

    You know what does get me bent out of shape? When people make broad sweeping generalizations about what I do all the time!

    Back down for a second Paul, because we need to clear something up.

    You want to hear something funny? It took me a long loooong time to get used to your posts. Do you know why? Because for the longest time I always thought you were angry. I really did. I thought you were an angry, angry person who got angry at anyone who had any questions about finishing.

    And do you know why I thought that? This is the funny part: because you begin all your posts with an exclamation mark! Every post of yours I have seen began with the person's name followed by this big honking exclamation mark! Callee! Paul! John! George! Ringo!

    Now, you might say, what's wrong with an exclamation mark? Well, nothing really, except that for whatever reason - and I'm not 100% sure what it came from - in my world starting off like that just looked like anger. Probably because somewhere along the line I learned that an exclamation mark meant you were kinda shouting or something, and where I grew up a person only shouted if they were angry.

    Now, this is getting long and wordy (me? long and wordy? you're kidding! ) so I'll try to get to the point. What's the point?

    You're not even remotely angry when you write all these posts, are you? No, of course not. I eventually figured that out. It took me a while, but I did. The way I read it, it looked to me like you were angry, but obviously I was totally reading it wrong, right?

    And that's the point: just because something looks to read one way to you, does not mean that's the way it actually is. If there's one thing I see time and time again on this forum it's people assuming that a person meant something a certain way simply because that's the way it looked to them.

    Now, it looked to you like I was getting "bent out of shape." In fact, from the sounds of it, it has often looked to you like I was getting bent out of shape! Let me tell you then, nothing could be further from the truth.

    I don't mind when people disagree with me. I don't mind it at all, and I promise you, it happens all the time. (just ask mrs. callee! )

    And when people disagree with me, I promise you, I rarely get bent out of shape, or even mildly miffed.

    I may still disagree with you, and I might even argue my case forcefully (too many years of college debate team, I can't help it), but I promise you, I am not at all angry when I do it, and in fact, I'm most likely in a pretty good mood and will probably be making jokes when I do it.

    This is a good case in point.

    I said
    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]
    Now, to you that looked like I was getting bent out of shape, but again, I promise you, that's not it at all. I really do still disagree with you on this, but this was completely meant to be a friendly disagreement, a light-hearted cajoling, a bit of funny teasing even. The thing about you tripping on the warped and twisted floor - yes, that really was supposed to be funny, and I promise you, if you'd heard the voice I said it in when I spoke it in my head as I typed it, I think you would have laughed too! But things like that, voice tone and that, they're hard to get across on the internet, which is why I stuck one of those silly smiley faces on the end and put a [sarcasm] tag, just to make sure everyone could see that while I was seriously disagreeing with you, I was trying to do it in a non-serious and fun way.

    Ok, I promised this wouldn't be wordy, but instead it was super wordy!

    bottom line: give me the bennefit of the doubt, will you? Don't assume the worst interpretation of something I've posted just because, on first reading, it looks that way to you. In fact, that's pretty much really good advice for everyone here about everyone else. It's not often here that we find someone who is actually trying to be a jerk; in 99% of cases people were just being themselves and they got misunderstood.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

    I did a couple of cottages and I was asked to "wash" the ceiling with white.I did and also gave it a topcoat of WB poly and it was great . These cottages were a little small and dark so the white really helped out. I liked it so much I did it in my muskoka room in our old house in Barrie.
    Just one more thought for you.
    Mike

  19. #19

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

    Quote Originally Posted by callee View Post
    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.

    I agree with Callee on this one. If you are going to go to the trouble of putting wood on your ceiling..why would you not protect it with something.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Pine Ceiling - to finish or not to finish?

    I believe a "cabin" should be built and finished in the Canadian tradition ... without plans while consuming a minimum of 24 beer / weekend. Interior woodwork should only be finished with some kind of linseed oil concoction you made up yourself using Granddad's secret recipe if finished at all.

    Different rules apply to vacation homes and cottages

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