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What to do with plywood

by electricalD
posted 01-05-2013 10:35 AM

34 replies so far

View patron's profile


13608 posts in 3367 days

#1 posted 01-05-2013 10:47 AM

the main reason i paint the shops white

is for reflected light

especially where finishing is part
of the deal

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View brucethecontrarian's profile


26 posts in 2012 days

#2 posted 01-05-2013 10:58 AM

I agree with patron. White walls are a must for me. Light is one of our best tools and getting as much as possible in the workshop is a good thing. You do not have to have a “showroom finish” I used a budget roller and paint for a good “workshop standard” finish.

-- Bruce, UK

View Ross's profile


142 posts in 1999 days

#3 posted 01-05-2013 12:20 PM

I agree with Patron. White walls for reflected light. I went several years without white walls, having to use extra spot lighting for doing finish work. Also had to use heavier lead pencils for marking so I could see the cut lines.
White painted walls and ceilings are also easier to clean.
I used a satin finish paint for the walls (to avoid excess glare) and flat white ceiling paint on the ceiling.

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View Hoakie's profile


306 posts in 4062 days

#4 posted 01-05-2013 04:19 PM

+1 on white, I do love the look of natural wood colored walled workshops but just going from grey concrete to primed drywall in my shop made an incredible difference in the light intensity in the shop

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2701 days

#5 posted 01-05-2013 04:36 PM

Yup, White is right!!!
You could do a whitewash, that would let some of the grain show through, while providing a bit of the light reflecting properties.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2228 days

#6 posted 01-05-2013 04:40 PM

White, White did I mention White…...

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2625 days

#7 posted 01-05-2013 04:47 PM

I dont think anyone has suggested white yet, so I with throw it out there… : )

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2978 days

#8 posted 01-05-2013 04:53 PM

Plus, unless it’s cabinet grade plywood or something, plywood is just plain ugly, no matter if you stain or put a finish on it. Unless of course you like ugly plywood, then by all means….

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3582 days

#9 posted 01-05-2013 05:58 PM

Yeah, stain on plywood probably wouldn’t turn out too good. I vote white paint.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2594 days

#10 posted 01-05-2013 06:03 PM

I just poly’ed mine. Did it before I put it up. Its light enough for me, and it looks like wood. Luckily for me, I don’t believe its ugly, and it is a work shop after all.

Edit: and if you’re like me, you won’t see much of it by the time you are done anyhow. It will be covered with tools, cabinets and storage.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View TechRedneck's profile


768 posts in 2883 days

#11 posted 01-05-2013 07:01 PM

I have plain concrete block walls in my shop. In hindsight, I should have painted them…...yes…. White

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View MrRon's profile


4795 posts in 3270 days

#12 posted 01-05-2013 07:34 PM

Not only would I paint them white, I would use a high gloss paint to discourage sawdust from settling on the plywood.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2217 days

#13 posted 01-05-2013 10:46 PM

well i painted mine before i really started woodworking much,so light wasn’t a major concern.i am an avid college football fan and i painted mine inthere colors.crimson,white and gray.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2530 days

#14 posted 01-05-2013 11:04 PM

You could cover the walls with tools…

Or you could go crazy…

Or you could be conservative…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3010 days

#15 posted 01-06-2013 12:29 AM

If painting is not what you really want to do. You could still get the white for reflection and still have that wood grain effect by pickling instead which can be done like a stain.

Shop for white paint pickeling on Google

Minwax 61860 White Wash…

MINWAX 61860 QT W…
World Paint S…

Minwax Pickling Stain…
Aubuchon Ha…

Minwax Company 61…

Old Masters 1G Pickling Whit…

Minwax 61860 White Wash…

Old Masters 1/2 Pint Pickli…

Old Masters 12404 1 Quar…

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3136 days

#16 posted 01-06-2013 01:26 AM

Well Folks, white was the last colour I was thinking of. I have a 22 X 26 shop and am putting up 10—4’ Fluorescent fixtures with deluxe daylight lamps in them. I tried it with just two and even that was almost enough. That will be plenty of light. I have tons of electrical sockets and all my fluorescent lights are plugged into the ceiling receptacles that I can control from a switch. So there is even plenty of room for additional lighting. Any other suggestions?


-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View tomd's profile


2155 posts in 3797 days

#17 posted 01-06-2013 01:31 AM

I have a 16’ x 24’ shop with 12 double 4’ lights and I would still go white. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear.

-- Tom D

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2948 days

#18 posted 01-06-2013 02:49 AM

I got here late…..I just acquired a workshop that had dark paneled walls and a dirty t-bar ceiling so I painted the walls and the ceiling…......WHITE. I have twelve 4 foot long florescent tubes in this 22’ x 13’ shop. Yes it is light enough in there now.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2716 days

#19 posted 01-06-2013 03:40 AM

I painted the walls and the ceiling Gloss White for additional light and easy cleaning.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3136 days

#20 posted 01-06-2013 11:22 AM

I was more looking at some kind of stain than going with white. As I mentioned previously, I had two of those lights going in my shop and the brightness was amazing. These are not your average bulbs either and they have a high “K” temperature rating. I think even if I painted the shop black there wouldn’t be a lighting issue with ten of those lamps. But have any of you stained plywood? Or know of sites where I can see different stains on plywood? I am new to this guys so pardon my ignorance.

Dan P.

-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View Bustedknuckle's profile


4 posts in 1993 days

#21 posted 01-06-2013 11:45 AM

As others have already said, White is where it’s at. I used to have brownish walls. We cleared the place out, blasted everything white, and then set backup. WOW! It’s like we more than doubled the amount of light, and thats pretty impressive considering the massive number of fixtures we have. (I like it bright!)

-- With the right tools you can break anything!

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 2719 days

#22 posted 01-06-2013 01:01 PM

I vote for the conservative, gloss white. Tools will collect lots of dust if exposed, though it looks nice if well organized.

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3010 days

#23 posted 01-06-2013 03:34 PM

I here are a couple of projects that I have stained made from plywood.

You might want to use a prestain conditioner to avoid blotching.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View johnstoneb's profile


2942 posts in 2199 days

#24 posted 01-06-2013 03:47 PM

My garage/shop is about 22’ by 30’ finished with sheetrock painted white and 2 24’ rows of 2×48” flourescents. I am thinking of painting the floor white to get more light. You cannot get too much light in a shop. I also have task lights on some of my tools(ie bandsaw, scrollsaw, drill press).

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2099 days

#25 posted 01-06-2013 07:32 PM

Late to the party… If you don’t want white, how bout Burnt Orange… Hook EM..

-- Who is John Galt?

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2557 days

#26 posted 01-07-2013 04:14 AM

ElecticalD – I just installed a couple of 4-lamp T5HO fixtures in my shop. Not sure if that’s the kind that you installed, but if it was, white walls would be reflect far too much. I’d go with a fairly neutral color so that you can see color accurately when doing finishing, maybe a light grey.

I’m personally biased toward Subaru blue, but that tends to really distort color perception. Blue is very uncommon in wood finishing :-)

If you don’t mind the plywood look, you could always use a satin sheen polyurethane.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3136 days

#27 posted 01-07-2013 07:38 AM

I am amazed at the number of you that have white shops. And most of you (if not all) went with white as to reflect more light. I tell you what, I am going to hang the 10 lights that I have and see what the light is like. If it is either bit touchy on the amount of light there is then white it is. Though I have to say that those bulbs I bought at HD were $20 (CAD) for two. They were the most expensive that HD had. And I bought 2 sets to try them out and the light is just amazing.
I am amazed at the response I got here. This is the one positive thing of the internet technology and in particular with this woodworking website, that you can reach out to thousands of people like yourself and ask for advice. Just like they were all your next door neighbour. Truly amazing! Thanks to all of you for the huge response. I can’t wait to post my pictures of my shop when it is done.

Kindest Regards,
Dan P.

-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View MrRon's profile


4795 posts in 3270 days

#28 posted 01-07-2013 11:18 PM

You might also want to consider “eye rest green”, but only if you don’t want white.

View Tom Clark's profile

Tom Clark

88 posts in 3047 days

#29 posted 01-09-2013 02:25 PM

God, whatever you do don’t paint them white! Brown is beautiful…

Built my new shop last year before moving across county. Plan was to use cheap paneling. Guess my age was showing. Sticker shock when looking at todays crap paneling. Anyway, used 7/16 OSB and painted the walls with two coats of Kilz primer. I really wanted brown primer, but all they had was white.

Turns out that in a finished workshop, you can’t see the walls much anyway.

OK,so I hit img and posted two photos.Where are they????

-- Tom

View Tom Clark's profile

Tom Clark

88 posts in 3047 days

#30 posted 01-09-2013 04:12 PM

Tried again a couple of hours later and they posted…

-- Tom

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3136 days

#31 posted 01-10-2013 09:35 AM

Hey Tom,

I can see the contrast in the first picture and the white does look nice. As I mentioned earlier my shop is 22×26 and with the lights I am going to use it will be bright. I am using 10, 4 foot fluorescents with deluxe daylight lamps and for that size shop I think it is more than ample lighting. But everyone speaks of white as the best colour for reflected light, which it obviously is. The only thing about painting my walls is I used 1/2” standard grade plywood I got at HD and it is full of knots. I do, however recall something that you can apply to them before painting. I know that I have ample lighting and I have more room to add more lights as I previously mentioned. And I know that if you have enough lighting the colour of the walls won’t matter. I was actually thinking of a brownish type tone. By the way I have your book, “Practical Shop Cabinets” and am using it to build my own. Thanks for responding.


-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2891 days

#32 posted 01-10-2013 10:03 AM

I’m thinking about doing my walls and ceiling with white painted osb or ply. However I have some
bead board paneling I want to go about half way up the walls and cap it with a ledge (chair rail) of
3×4 landscaping timber.

So it will have a rustic touch of polyed/stained bead board paneling that has a nice light pine
or oak color, but also be brightened up with the upper walls and ceiling being white.

I plan on installing my electrical outlets outside the walls
and will run the conduit along the top of the landscaping timber. Thats the plan anyway.

Kind of a compromise between looking all white and sterile, or drab with too much wood.

Similar to this picture . But instead of moulding, 3×4 timbers.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2313 days

#33 posted 01-10-2013 01:08 PM

I think you should have three white walls and one red wall. Fung schwe or however you spell it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View electricalD's profile


116 posts in 3136 days

#34 posted 01-13-2013 02:12 AM

I have to agree with Tom as eventually the walls will be filled in. And I believe that white is fine if your lighting is limited or it just is the best reflector of light. But I have more than ample lights and room to add more. Anyway thanks to you all for the response. Now I need to find out what to use on the knots in the plywood.

Dan P.

-- If there were no God, there would be no atheists, G. K. Chesterton

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