Wood Ceiling panels discolored from Track Lighting
We have a beautiful high vaulted ceiling in our grand room that are natural wood tongue and groove panels. We are in the middle of a major kitchen remodel and recently took down the track lighting from the kitchen. The lighting doesn't work where it use to be in our new kitchen configuration. The wood was considerably lighter where the track lighting was located. The painter told us to sand it and try to stain match it. We did but it now looks worse and we can't seem to match the color of the wood. Where we sand is very light and the stain doesn't seem to take as well in that section. What can we do? I would like to fix this section and not sand the whole ceiling. Plus I'm afraid if we do that we may see dark lines between the grooves when we clear coat.
Your advice is greatly appreciated.
You need to match both the sheen and the color.
Sheen: What you need: A small can of clear, flat stain and another can of clear, glossy stain (same brand).
Match the sheen by getting a board similar to what you have, stain it with clear, flat stain, and hold it against the ceiling. Which is shinier, the ceiling or the board? If the ceiling is shinier, mix 9 parts flat with one part glossy, and repeat the test. Eventually you will find a flat-to-glossy ratio that matches your ceiling. Hold on to that mix: it will be applied last after you've matched the color.
Color: What you need: A small can of clear stain and another can of stain with the same basic color as your ceiling (golden, brownish, reddish) and a sheen similar to your previous match (flat, semi-gloss, gloss). Find a board with a color similar to that of your under-the-old-light wood (pine, hemlock, cedar) and try first with just clear stain. Add tinted stain gradually like you did to match the sheen. When you find a close-enough ratio (it's never going to be a perfect match) try it on the ceiling. Tape the edges (with masking tape) so that you don't make the darker wood even darker. Fine-tune if you have the patience. Finish by applying the matching sheen over the matching color.
To match the color you can use, instead of mixing clear and tinted stains, a clear stain and drops of tinting colors. Those give you more control. "Raw sienna" and "lamp black" are probably the only tints you need. Add a drop at a time to the clear stain with a good eye until you get a match.
Matching to existing stain is always tricky and from my experience comes down to compromise and what you can live with. It is especially tricky with linear problems----you probably have what looks like a streak right? I assume you mean the color is different where the lighting track itself was, correct? Or do you have a fading problem from the track bulbs radiating from where they were placed?
If the wood is varnished you could try stripping the whole thing and sanding to see if color evens out a bit. Lots of work and may not help much actually.
Gel stains are pretty cool and worth a shot for this sort of thing. Some come with solid pigments. You will not find the good ones at a box store so find a paint store or if you have one near a woodworking type supplier.
Test a small area of course to see what works. I usually use sponge with gel stains in this situation. Or the ends of those foam brushes you can get by the hundreds for $1 or whatever work.
You can try tinting varnish or poly to match. Again, results are a maybe.
If you strip the ceiling and need to re-stain use real stuff and not gels.
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