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Old 10-18-2013, 08:09 AM   #1
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


We have an unheated entryway that is small, about 6ft x 6ft. We finished installing knotty pine tongue and grove paneling, new trim around the windows and the doors, (2 doors, 2 windows), and a new crown molding and baseboard, last fall. We have left it as is since last fall, haven't even filled the finish nail holes. So the pine color has started to darken already.

I would like to get this finished before winter and I'm running out of time. I see we are about to reach 40F overnight early next week for one day then go back up into the high 40s the rest of the week, so I would really like to figure this out and get it done quickly, but I'm not experienced with stains and poly coatings, only some painting experience.

I have been reading how to finish knotty pine this week and I was not expecting the amount of work suggested. My understanding at this point, is that I should sand it, stain it, sand again, apply poly, sand again, apply poly, fill finish nail holes with a wax pencil filler that matches the finished color. That is way more work than I want to do. I also have concerns about toxic fumes, all that sawdust, and if it is not done exactly right, ending up with peeling and/or blistering at some point in the future requiring more work.

So I am exploring other options. I don't want to leave it unfinished although I don't see a lot of drawbacks to doing that, because I am not happy with the darkening orange tones of the bare pine. I'm considering white washing it without sanding with one coat of thinned down exterior paint with low VOCs and wiped off and that's it. Aside from filling the nail holes before doing that, and I still don't know what is the best product to do that with. I've read about problems with everything suggested. I'm also thinking about trying to find some milk paint and basically doing the same thing.

This is intended to be a casual effect. I want to see the grain and knot holes but I don't want the knots to bleed through whatever I use either. I plan on painting the door, the trim around the windows and door with exterior paint, but applying the same finish I end up with on the knotty pine, on the crown molding and baseboard.

I would really appreciate anyone's input about any potential problems with the information I've received or the preliminary plan I have to finish this small exterior entryway. My main goal is doing it right, but with the least amount of effort now and in the future.

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Old 10-18-2013, 09:18 AM   #2
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


Just clear it. Over time it will darken a little. Well its what i did.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:25 AM   #3
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Whether you stain or paint it will determine what to do. If you want to stain it, you could sand and put two coats of stain on and do the finish work later. It's a small area, a roller would be quick but I'd probably brush it on. Get a decent large brush and knock it out.

I would avoid breathing the poly but why not wait for next summer to apply it where it can be left open. Respirators are cheap. As far as sanding you could use a vacuum on a random orbital.
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:26 AM   #4
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Just clear it. Over time it will darken a little. Well its what i did.
What a mancave!
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Old 10-18-2013, 09:33 AM   #5
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My main goal is doing it right, but with the least amount of effort now and in the future.
That's an oxymoron. To do it right requires effort. You must have had a compelling reason to install the pine, like you like it's rustic character. If you want to preserve that character, you need to seal it against environmental contaminants like dust, dirt, soot, fingerprint oils, etc. That means sanding it lightly to smooth it out. Then the simplest treatment would be to use a water based acrylic sealer. It will dry fast and provide that protective surface that the wood needs. After the first coat (brushed or sprayed on), another light scuff sanding to knock down the raised grain a bit, then tack it off and apply the second coat.

If you have a sprayer, it's quick work. Even if you don't, brushing it isn't that difficult. And the water based acrylic will be low VOC. You can easily do this in 2 days time. Max.
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:16 AM   #6
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


Hi, Thanks for the quick responses.

747, nice job on your paneling. When you say ‘just clear it’ did you mean you left it unfinished?

Jasper, I was considering just painting the trim and the front door and leaving the rest for next spring.

LiveOak, I understand that if I wanted it done perfectly, I could go to great lengths to do that. Multiple coats of stain, multiple coats of poly with sanding in between. I was just wondering, if there is more than one way to ‘do it right’. I see that you suggest, dust, dirt, fingerprints, will mar the surface unless I cover it. So that is a good reason not to go with unfinished. But, at the same time, I have read accounts of people leaving knotty pine unfinished and being happy with it for the next 20 years. I also, thought, if it were left unfinished and had some light staining or dirt or finger prints on it, all it would take to fix that would be either a little cleaning or a little sanding. And no peeling or blistering finish to deal with later. Also using a white wash process instead, is a legitimate finish that lots of furniture makers use, so I thought why wouldn’t it work on the paneling. It sure would be easier, and it would cover it from dust, fingerprints etc. Just thinking it through. Not a lazy person, just need this to be an easy job without messing it up. Happy to get the input and you have made doing it w the stain and water based acrylic not so bad, if 2 days is all it would take.
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Old 10-18-2013, 03:54 PM   #7
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


Makes 0 since to me to leave it unfinished. In fact I would have prefinished it before it even went up.
Anyone one that suggest installing bare wood unfinished wood on walls or ceilings in some way and having no issues 20 years later is missing something.
Good luck trying to sand out 20 year old dirt, and oils.
So much easier to seal it from stains and just wipe it off.
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Old 10-19-2013, 04:45 AM   #8
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


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Originally Posted by lizne View Post
Hi, Thanks for the quick responses.

747, nice job on your paneling. When you say ‘just clear it’ did you mean you left it unfinished?

Jasper, I was considering just painting the trim and the front door and leaving the rest for next spring.

LiveOak, I understand that if I wanted it done perfectly, I could go to great lengths to do that. Multiple coats of stain, multiple coats of poly with sanding in between. I was just wondering, if there is more than one way to ‘do it right’. I see that you suggest, dust, dirt, fingerprints, will mar the surface unless I cover it. So that is a good reason not to go with unfinished. But, at the same time, I have read accounts of people leaving knotty pine unfinished and being happy with it for the next 20 years. I also, thought, if it were left unfinished and had some light staining or dirt or finger prints on it, all it would take to fix that would be either a little cleaning or a little sanding. And no peeling or blistering finish to deal with later. Also using a white wash process instead, is a legitimate finish that lots of furniture makers use, so I thought why wouldn’t it work on the paneling. It sure would be easier, and it would cover it from dust, fingerprints etc. Just thinking it through. Not a lazy person, just need this to be an easy job without messing it up. Happy to get the input and you have made doing it w the stain and water based acrylic not so bad, if 2 days is all it would take.
I just sanded lightly then hit it with some poly.
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:26 AM   #9
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


Joe, I would have preferred it was prefinished as well, sounds much easier. I am also thinking maybe I could have ordered it prefinished. But this is where I am at now. So in your experience it is easier in the long run to prep it properly and seal it. I take your word for it, that the wear and tear on unfinished wood over the years, will require a lot of work to restore it. Does that mean that if it is sealed, 20 years from now, the finish is going to be intact and not peeling or blistering? So if I want to redo it in 15-20 years, I would only have to sand it lightly and apply another product? Because that is what I’m trying to avoid is any peeling or blistering. I don’t know that it would do that, I just have experience with semi transparent stains that have peeled when they were said not to do that. I’m just asking if a clear topcoat has the potential of doing that.

Thanks 747, for clarifying. Again, very nice job you did with yours!

I’m looking at the weather this morning and it appears I may not have the opportunity to do much in that space this week. Today would be fine if I had all the decisions made and the products purchased, but overnight it’s going to rain and then clear up tomorrow night but the lows overnight on Sunday night will be as low as 35F, Monday will be a sunny, dry, day with a high of 61F. So I was thinking I can prep today and be ready to paint on Monday. I am an early riser, so I could set up a space heater early and this space faces East, so the sun will hit there first thing. Maybe by 10am I could start painting and quit early to give it time to dry before overnight temps are supposed to be a low of 44F. And that’s it. The rest of the week is rain. So with that small a window of opportunity, I’m thinking I should just go ahead and paint all the trim and the windows and maybe the front door if I had time. But I’ll be lucky to get one coat on before I have to quit for the day.

Is that going to be enough time to get the trim at least painted right and what about the rainy weather afterward? Is that going to hinder the way the paint dries and it’s supposed to ‘cure’, right?

Believe me, if I could get someone else to do this job, I would be very happy. I have grown children who are all working hard and can't take the time to do it for me right now. One of our kids did the paneling and trim work and did a great job. I have some experience painting interior rooms, so I'm stepping out of my comfort zone to deal with filling nail holes, sanding and using stains and sealers. I just don't want to make a mess of our son's great work, so all my questions are to clarify the confusion I have reading multiple suggestions of doing it differently.

Thanks again for all your input.
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:42 AM   #10
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


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I’m thinking I should just go ahead and paint all the trim and the windows and maybe the front door if I had time. But I’ll be lucky to get one coat on before I have to quit for the day.
I forgot the details, is the wood primed? If not, that should be your one coat. And let it dry thoroughly before painting.
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Old 10-20-2013, 07:43 AM   #11
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Thanks Jasper, yes the wood is raw and it will take a primer coat.

I called my local Sherwin Williams store yesterday and after discussing the weather forecast, he explained that taking the risk of painting with an overnight low of 35, followed by 4 days of rain forecast, could result in peeling or blistering down the road. When asked what he would do, he said he would wait for Spring to do any painting. That I could do all the prep work whenever I wanted and be ready for spring. So, that is what I'm going to do. Thanks for all your input.
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Old 10-20-2013, 08:27 AM   #12
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The wood is going to absorb a lot of moisture in the meantime. Primer dries in a few hours so I don't see why the night time lows would matter unless you can't do it before the evening. I've primed wood for 28 years as part of my trade and under adverse conditions. I primed and painted in the mornings when it was cold. If you circulate the air on it it will help immensely.
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:08 PM   #13
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Need help figuring out how to finish knotty pine


Jasper, do you mean over the winter until spring, the wood is going to absorb a lot of moisture? Yes, I haven't got the supplies yet, or prepped the wood yet. So I don't think I'd have time to prime all the trim. I'm not really a fast painter either. So I think with all the rain that is due, I could at least get the supplies and start prepping the trim and maybe I might get another opportunity before winter sets in, to do a coat of primer. Our weather has been unusually warm sometimes even in November, that you never know when a mild couple of days will present itself.

Thanks very much, I trust your 28 years of experience! In my mind, there aren't that many perfect days to paint in a year, but obviously someone who does it for a living, has to paint in less than perfect conditions. Using a fan is a good idea. I know when it is damp and I have to dry clothes on the line in the basement, I use a fan too and that makes a big difference. Thanks!

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