Friday, August 31, 2012

DIY: Making Barnwood


We've lived in our home for a dozen years and completed several projects (many I've shared with you) but one Honey-Do became my obsession: Getting rid of our popcorn ceilings. Our home is contemporary with a very open plan which means miles of popcorn with no stopping point. The great room ceiling alone is 850 square feet.

If you have removed popcorn you know what a mess it is to get off. Then you have to mud, sand, prime, and apply paint or a finish. Or you figure out a way to cover the popcorn.  With the help of our handy friend Scott we decided to use pine tongue-n-groove planks to create a new ceiling.

And while natural pine has lodge charm, I really wanted something that was closer to a re-claimed wood look. Like Barn wood.

I studied several pictures of Barn wood and re-claimed wood ceilings before I tackled my 146 12foot long planks.  Pine is a soft wood and doesn't want to stain smoothly plus I wanted to kill some of the yellow.  I began my project by mixing FE Stain & Seal with FE Duraseal. Duraseal is a sanding sealer that I use for many cabinet projects.  I always tint it and it gives me a base color, grain filler, and sealed surface in one step.

Thin Duraseal 10%-25% for brush/roll applications and more for spraying depending on your spray system.  I mixed a mocha shade (seen above) and a red brown shade that I alternated between planks.  On some planks I applied two coats just to give me the natural variations you would find in Barn wood.  I let my Duraseal dry 2 hours before staining. Depending on the wood you will want to sand the Duraseal when dry for a lovely smooth base coat.  I wanted my pine to retain some grain so I skipped sanding.

I like to stain with a mix of Faux Creme Color Concentrate, Stain & Seal, and FX Thinner to make a nice rich wiping stain.  I mixed two different colors: One a deep coffee color and the other a warm neutral brown. Again I alternated shades, even applying the two colors at the same time to some planks.  I love using these big fat glazing brushes because they hold so much stain.

One of the nice things about water-based staining (besides the smell and clean-up) is you may use water in the project.

Keep a water spritzer handy and just spray the surface to remove more of your stain or to move it along a long surface length.

I wiped the surface with a dry terry towel or cheesecloth to even the stain and control the color sheerness.

At this stage the planks look like regular stained wood.  The next step makes them look like Barn wood.  I mixed FE Lime Paint & Wash with Stain & Seal and/or Faux Creme Colors. Our lime wash is solid in the bottom with separated liquid on top.  I don't bother to whip it which doesn't work very well anyway.  I dump the liquid into another container and spoon out a TBSP of the solid lime.  Then I add 2 more Tbsps of the liquid.  I did this in 3 different containers before re-boxing the Lime solid and liquid.

I added 1/3 cup Pickling White Stain & Seal to each Lime mix and then fine tinted with more Stain & Seal or Faux Creme Colors.  One of my lime washes is silver based, another pale grey, and the third a mid-range taupe.  I thinned my washes with 1/2 FX Thinner and 1/2 Water. These 3 pints did all 146 planks.  Although the lime content is low, wear gloves when working with any lime-base product.

I used my fat glazing brush to apply the lime wash and then wiped it back with a dry terry towel.  Don't over load lime washes or you will end up with a white pickled mess.  Lime dries quickly so you can see the tone within minutes.  At that point you can dry brush in more of your wash. I just had fun and worked between the 3 colors applying some separately and others together. The Lime Wash gives the wood a pretty chalky patina and alters the understain slightly.

What helped the most on this project was lining up the pieces as I worked on each layer. This gave me an indication of the color mix I was getting-Good thing I have a large space to work in because moving 12 foot long planks all day is tiring.

This is the day that we found out we were short and I needed to finish 22 extra pieces-my smile is a little forced.  I like the Lime Wash to dry over night so I can see how it shades the piece.

My final step was to apply Master Finishing Wax to add more color, seal the pieces, and give them a hand-rubbed finish to the patina.  I've found this water-based wax to be a good choice for sealing the low content lime wash.  Plus you may always glaze on top of this wax which is a welcome bonus. Adding 10% So-Slow will help the wax flow over large surfaces. MFWax may be tinted with Stain & Seal, Faux Color, or Faux Creme Colors making it a versatile addition to cabinetry and furniture finishes.

I dip a wadded up piece of cheesecloth or squared terry towel into the wax and apply it in long strokes going with the grain. Some pieces just got the un-tinted wax.

While other pieces were finished with a pale tan wax. MF Wax dries within 40 minutes and may be sanded (400 grit or higher) or re-applied if needed. I did neither-thank goodness for selecting a weathered look-LOL!

The guys installed the planks with finishing nails in the ceiling joists and did a great job of mixing the colors and the plank lengths. Every night I would take some touch up stain to fix any saw cuts or raw edges that showed.

An added benefit of the new ceiling was the ability to add lighting. This will be a new modern ceiling fan with a light.  We also added some eyeball lights to highlight art. Since I have my whole room scaffolded and the new ceiling looks so great I am up-grading the walls this weekend! When I am done I will post the finished project.


  1. Holy c%@p Rebecca!!! 146 12' long boards?! Yikes.
    Love the look of barn wood, and these are fabulous. Thanks for the step-by-step.

  2. FABULOUS and inspirational as usual Rebecca! I love watching you create!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I love most this kind of Blog. I, too, would love reclaimed wood shelves in our study and needed to know how to make them. There are more item of wood and wood institute. I love it very much. I need to know more about wood. So I am searching this kind of blog.
    barn wood

  4. Hi Rebecca. You've done an amazing job. Just wondering what the FE stands for in the products you have used. We are moving to a new home and they have used lots of pine panelling on the walls. I'm pretty sure they are just clear varnished and look pretty awful. Regards, Cathy

  5. Sorry, forgot to say we will be living in New South Wales, Australia

  6. Hi, love this look but I'm a total rookie, please help:

    1.)what is step 1 thinned with and is it mixed with stain & seal?
    2.)is step 2 equal parts of stain, seal & thinner?
    3.)step 3 is lime, the liquid, pickling, stain & seal and colors or is it stain and seal or colors?
    Thank you!

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