Help identify wood & finish for tongue & groove + beam cabin ceiling - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Question Help identify wood & finish for tongue & groove + beam cabin ceiling

I have cathedral popcorn ceilings in my house and am looking to reproduce a tongue & groove + beam type ceiling that is/was very popular in a lot of chalet type houses in the Pocono mountains (and likely other mountainous type areas).

I saw over 50 houses while house shopping in the area over the summer and a lot of them had this type of ceiling at least in some parts of the house. They all look very similar in style, wood and color but I cannot for the life of me find anyone that knows what type of wood or stain was used. This looks like the closest thing in terms of wood: https://www.homedepot.com/p/8-ft-x-4...EPOT/202535999 but I'm really not sure what to get in terms of stain. Any ideas?
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post #2 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 07:57 PM
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The ceiling and wall appear to just be whitewood pine. The beams look like they may be either old timbers or if new maybe western cedar. It's difficult to see in the picture but there are places that appear to have water stains which make me think it might be old timbers.
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post #3 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
The ceiling and wall appear to just be whitewood pine. The beams look like they may be either old timbers or if new maybe western cedar. It's difficult to see in the picture but there are places that appear to have water stains which make me think it might be old timbers.
I was thinking pine as well - any idea what the ceiling/wall was finished with? I'm in love with that light brownish tint.
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post #4 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by yevc View Post
I was thinking pine as well - any idea what the ceiling/wall was finished with? I'm in love with that light brownish tint.
My best guess if I were going to make that color I would start with a wood conditioner on the pine and then use a fruitwood stain. If the beams are cedar, most cedar is nearly as light as the pine so I would use a thinner wood conditioner and a walnut stain. Like most things pertaining to finishing you just have to tinker with the color on scrap wood to work out the finishing procedure before putting anything on the woodwork.

I believe the woodwork I would run a tongue and groove joint on the edges and pre-finish the paneling before installing it. It could then be put up with a little construction adhesive and nails through the tongue just like flooring is done.
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post #5 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 09:11 PM
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Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) or Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) can and will be any shade of chocolate brown to pale pine-looking, depending on source location. For that deep brown? Coastal WRC from a very cool climate.



In my district, fresh WRC is pink! which oxidizes like apple fruit to a pale brown over 48 hours and not much darker.


The knot pattern in the pictures makes me think WRC and it colored up all on it's own = do nothing was the plan.
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post #6 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
My best guess if I were going to make that color I would start with a wood conditioner on the pine and then use a fruitwood stain. If the beams are cedar, most cedar is nearly as light as the pine so I would use a thinner wood conditioner and a walnut stain. Like most things pertaining to finishing you just have to tinker with the color on scrap wood to work out the finishing procedure before putting anything on the woodwork.

I believe the woodwork I would run a tongue and groove joint on the edges and pre-finish the paneling before installing it. It could then be put up with a little construction adhesive and nails through the tongue just like flooring is done.
Got it! Yea that's the plan - I would just buy the pine already with T&G joints and finish before installing. For something like this (ceiling application) would I need multiple coats of stain for protection purposes or just whatever it takes to achieve the look I need? After the stain - would I need to protect the finish with polyurethane or something or would that not be necessary since it will just be on the ceiling?
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post #7 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by yevc View Post
Got it! Yea that's the plan - I would just buy the pine already with T&G joints and finish before installing. For something like this (ceiling application) would I need multiple coats of stain for protection purposes or just whatever it takes to achieve the look I need? After the stain - would I need to protect the finish with polyurethane or something or would that not be necessary since it will just be on the ceiling?
If you are going to use a oil only type finish use something like watco or a deck finish. With that type finish you apply the stain for about 20 minutes or so until the wood seems it just won't accept anymore and allow it to dry. Then in the next couple days if it appears to be dry looking put another coat on but you don't have to soak it that long on the second coat.

A finish such as polyurethane would probably be easier to keep clean since the finish is sanded between coats and makes the wood smoother to touch than an oil finish. If you go that route it would be better to use a interior oil stain. Some deck finishes never dry and would not work to put polyurethane over the top. Only one coat of stain should be applied.
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post #8 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 09:50 PM
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This has nothing to do with the question but what the heck is that one perpendicular beam at the bottom doing besides adding weight the other beams? They didn't even hang the ceiling fan off of it which would have made a little more sense. The load is carried by the load bearing wall anyway.


Way back when I was younger I had a double wide trailer that had a cathedral with beams. In between the beams was that wallpaper sheetrock with those ugly buttons. It looked like a car with three wheels on it. Every week I bought some 1/4" beadboard T&G and when I had enough to do one beam I did it. Took me a year to finish it but I got it done. I was poor as Job's turkey. I clear sealed it before I installed it. I'm not much on tinted stain, I like the natural look. Plus, to me, on the ceiling the lighter the better.
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post #9 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yevc View Post
I was thinking pine as well - any idea what the ceiling/wall was finished with? I'm in love with that light brownish tint.
Hello Yevc,

For clients (or student DIYers) like you...my typically response is for such a question...

Make it whatever color you want, out of just about any species you can afford and/or get you hands on...

So the first questions would be...Are you doing the work? What are your skills (if you are doing it DIY)?...and Where are you?

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This has nothing to do with the question but what the heck is that one perpendicular beam at the bottom doing besides adding weight the other beams?...
Now I know I like you...!!!...

You mean the "suspended beam" that is TOO SMALL!!!!...and only adding weight to the roof diaphragm...!!!???

Welcome to the sometimes awkward world of "post and beam" and "wannabe Timberwrights!!!" LMAO...
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post #10 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
Hello Yevc,

For clients (or student DIYers) like you...my typically response is for such a question...

Make it whatever color you want, out of just about any species you can afford and/or get you hands on...
I want exactly the color in the photo haha - that's actually from one of the houses I saw while house shopping. I'll definitely get a bunch of stains/finishes to test out and see which I like best. In terms of species - I like knots and pine seems to be the cheapest option and it's readily available at the big box stores so seems like that's the winner! The beams I'll probably diy distressed beams or not put beams at all - still on the fence about that one. I was just wondering if there is some known formula for this look as I've seen exactly that in a lot of houses.

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So the first questions would be...Are you doing the work? What are your skills (if you are doing it DIY)?...and Where are you?
Yes, I will be doing the work. I'm in Pennsylvania. I'm generally good with my hands, worked a renovation/construction job for 2 years (not much woodworking though) and have enough tools and know-how to attempt this. My biggest concern (apart from figuring out the ladder system to reach the cathedral ceiling) is understanding what should my wood finish "sandwich" consist of what and how much needs to be applied. For example: if using stain - I first apply conditioner, then the stain, then... do I need another layer of stain or only enough to achieve the desired color? After staining, do I need to apply any additional protection such as poly or is there no need for protection as it will be the ceiling?
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post #11 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mreynolds7714 View Post
This has nothing to do with the question but what the heck is that one perpendicular beam at the bottom doing besides adding weight the other beams? They didn't even hang the ceiling fan off of it which would have made a little more sense. The load is carried by the load bearing wall anyway.
Who knows - I like the overall look though:)


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Originally Posted by mreynolds7714 View Post
Way back when I was younger I had a double wide trailer that had a cathedral with beams. In between the beams was that wallpaper sheetrock with those ugly buttons. It looked like a car with three wheels on it. Every week I bought some 1/4" beadboard T&G and when I had enough to do one beam I did it. Took me a year to finish it but I got it done. I was poor as Job's turkey. I clear sealed it before I installed it. I'm not much on tinted stain, I like the natural look. Plus, to me, on the ceiling the lighter the better.
Not sure what you mean by "that wallpaper sheetrock with those ugly buttons", but this is exactly what I'm trying to do - cover up the disaster of a popcorn ceiling I have.
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post #12 of 17 Old 02-25-2019, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
If you are going to use a oil only type finish use something like watco or a deck finish. With that type finish you apply the stain for about 20 minutes or so until the wood seems it just won't accept anymore and allow it to dry. Then in the next couple days if it appears to be dry looking put another coat on but you don't have to soak it that long on the second coat.

A finish such as polyurethane would probably be easier to keep clean since the finish is sanded between coats and makes the wood smoother to touch than an oil finish. If you go that route it would be better to use a interior oil stain. Some deck finishes never dry and would not work to put polyurethane over the top. Only one coat of stain should be applied.
From my understanding watco and deck finishes are for exterior - this is going to be inside the house.. do I really need that much protection? I'm curious if I even need a "final finish" after the stain as it will be on the ceiling and will never be walked on or touched. It would only really be affected by some seasonal temperature shifts and possibly some indirect UV.
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post #13 of 17 Old 02-26-2019, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by yevc View Post
From my understanding watco and deck finishes are for exterior - this is going to be inside the house.. do I really need that much protection? I'm curious if I even need a "final finish" after the stain as it will be on the ceiling and will never be walked on or touched. It would only really be affected by some seasonal temperature shifts and possibly some indirect UV.
Technically watco is an interior finish but for oil finishes it doesn't matter if used inside or outside. It just matters if you use an interior finish outside.

What you need to understand is an oil stain is just a solution of pigment, linseed oil and mineral spirits. It's the linseed oil that makes a finish and the concentration of linseed oil in stain is barely enough to suspend the pigment. It's not enough to make a finish. It might look fine to put just a stain on the wood but in a few days or a week the wood is going to look very dead and dry when the stain completely cures. This is why I recommended an actual oil finish. It has a higher concentration of linseed oil so it's not so likely to look dry. Still in time they can do it too and need to be re-oiled. If you put a varnish over the top there would be a more permanence in it. Assuming you haven't began yet try staining a board and let it sit out for a few days and see how the stain develops, especially if it's someplace with some airborne dust. When dust settles on the stain it will absorb some of the oils and as you wipe it off the board will get drier and drier.
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post #14 of 17 Old 02-26-2019, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Technically watco is an interior finish but for oil finishes it doesn't matter if used inside or outside. It just matters if you use an interior finish outside.

What you need to understand is an oil stain is just a solution of pigment, linseed oil and mineral spirits. It's the linseed oil that makes a finish and the concentration of linseed oil in stain is barely enough to suspend the pigment. It's not enough to make a finish. It might look fine to put just a stain on the wood but in a few days or a week the wood is going to look very dead and dry when the stain completely cures. This is why I recommended an actual oil finish. It has a higher concentration of linseed oil so it's not so likely to look dry. Still in time they can do it too and need to be re-oiled. If you put a varnish over the top there would be a more permanence in it. Assuming you haven't began yet try staining a board and let it sit out for a few days and see how the stain develops, especially if it's someplace with some airborne dust. When dust settles on the stain it will absorb some of the oils and as you wipe it off the board will get drier and drier.
Gotcha! My hope is that not much dust settles on the ceiling. I would like the sheen to be as natural as possible, so as matte as possible. Is there no permanent clear coat like that would lock in the stain?
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post #15 of 17 Old 02-26-2019, 09:00 PM
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Gotcha! My hope is that not much dust settles on the ceiling. I would like the sheen to be as natural as possible, so as matte as possible. Is there no permanent clear coat like that would lock in the stain?
Just about any clear coating could fit your needs. As much volume of wood to finish as you will have I would recommend using precatalyzed lacquer. It can be purchased in flat or satin which if you only used a single coat of sealer it should end up pretty close to a oil finish look. Lacquer is a very thin finish and is easy to use and dries fast. It normally dries to touch in ten minutes. The only down side is it is very sensitive to humidity. Above 65% humidity you probably shouldn't spray it.
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post #16 of 17 Old 02-26-2019, 10:59 PM
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Yes, I will be doing the work. I'm in Pennsylvania. I'm generally good with my hands, worked a renovation/construction job for 2 years (not much woodworking though) and have enough tools and know-how to attempt this. My biggest concern (apart from figuring out the ladder system to reach the cathedral ceiling) is understanding what should my wood finish "sandwich" consist of what and how much needs to be applied. For example: if using stain - I first apply conditioner, then the stain, then... do I need another layer of stain or only enough to achieve the desired color? After staining, do I need to apply any additional protection such as poly or is there no need for protection as it will be the ceiling?
Hi Yevc,

I've been following along...There are traditional and/or natural stains and finishes if your are up for such things (It the methods I work in) other wise, its "big box" and paint stores...Your getting advise on that now, so won't comment as I don't use poly or related "plastic finishes" for such traditional work.

Traditional stains are pretty strait forward and easy to use (and make in many examples), and the oil finishes give you the tradtional look I think you are trying to get?

If your up for a real challenge (but supper fun) we do...timber frame...inserts on a regular basis for clients. These are fully traditional timber frames, just "retro fitted" into existing space. It is more work, but may give you more of an authentic feeling because it actually is "authentic"...LOL... You could cut your own even with the most basic tools...
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post #17 of 17 Old 02-27-2019, 09:23 AM
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I have a knotty pine tongue and groove ceiling in my shop. After I installed it, I ran over the flats with an orbital sander very briefly just to remove any fingerprints and dirt. Then I used a matte finish water based poly on it to seal it.
Mike Hawkins
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