Walls in shop

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Forum topic by willy3486 posted 08-23-2010 12:40 AM 1379 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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77 posts in 3397 days

08-23-2010 12:40 AM

Its not really a safety issue other than its dark in the shop. In my shop I have the walls lined with old barn lumber. I built my shop from recycled lumber from buildings I tore down. I like the looks of the shop the way it is except it is dark. Is there a good way to lighten the barn lumber after its up. I was thinking bleach as I have a uncle that my dad built one for. How good does this work. If you have a higher ratio of bleach to water will it make it lighter. I really don’t want to paint the walls. I only have one window in the shop but I leave the door open when I am in there. I do plan to add one or more windows at a later date. But I was wondering if bleaching the walls would help to brighten it up?

12 replies so far

View ocwoodworker's profile


209 posts in 3004 days

#1 posted 08-23-2010 12:58 AM

Is it a cost issue that you don’t paint the walls? If it is then take up a different hobby. Painting is the least expensive thing you can do to spruce up the shop. Wait till it’s too dark still and you have to add lighting. Then you realize that your panel is undersized. And once you have adequate lighting you can see all the small particles in the air, so you add an air filter, which makes you wonder how come you haven’t put in a good dust collector. Which will require ducting and total reshuffle of the shop. Thus making you wonder if it would be better to put things on wheels so you can move things around. My point is after all this you look back and realize “I DON”T CARE!!! I JUST WANT TO BUILD SOMETHING!!”.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#2 posted 08-23-2010 01:31 AM

If you try to use bleach on your walls the fumes will do you in. You might add another window or two. You can screw some 1/4” dry wall up and paint it white before hand.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View willy3486's profile


77 posts in 3397 days

#3 posted 08-23-2010 02:46 AM

Thanks to the reply. As far as painting I do not want to paint the lumber. Here where I live the rustic wood of barn lumber adds to the value. If I painted it the value would be gone. I already have a ceiling air filter, dust collector, and my tools on wheels. I think what you were getting at was just build sometihng and don’t worry about the color of the wood. Anyway As I am getting older I appreciate all the light I can have so I can see. Many times you paint the walls in a room and it gets brighter looking with lighter paint. As far as this hobby goes I do all kinds of things in my shop. I do woodworking,computers,electronics,radio restoration. I have not done as much in the way of hobbies in the last 15 years but I have been planning on it. My dad got sick first for a few years then died, then about about a year before he died my wifes dad got sick and we helped the MIL take care of him . Then add to the fact we raised a daughter during this time and I had almost no time for hobbies. But I did plan on in the next year or so being able to . During the last 15 years I have aquired a lot of tools for my shop and now I want to set it up the best I can.

Thanks Jim for the reply as well. I posted wondering if there was anything to make the walls lighten up. The walls are a darker grey from all the oxidation. I was wondering about the bleaching out, I have heard that works. But I was leary of doing it indoors. Here where I live the old barn lumber is in high demand. It runs about double of what new oak boards in this area. I had thought about putting the barn lumber on my walls for sale then pulling them off when I had a buyer. I could make a good profit but I don’t want to go that route. I tore down the old barns and house for three different elderly people. I knew some elderly people that needed them down so I did in trade for tin and wood. About half the wood was bad and i had to dispose of. I mainly made my shop out of good oak rafters and the board sides. I have a lot of old stuff around the shop such as tools,radios and other vintage stuff. So the wood fits right in. I like to recycle as much as I can and I have a lot of recycled stuff in my shop. I have a place close to my work that sells the double insulated windows at a good price. I plan on going there this fall sometime and getting one or maybe even two. I have a AC unit in the wall on the backside but I never use it.I have been thinking about replacing it with a window. I like the fresh air and I am looking at putting in a shop fan that pulls the air all through my shop. So thanks for the replys.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2983 days

#4 posted 08-23-2010 02:58 AM

You haven’t mentioned what you have for lighting in the shop. I would assume that you are using incandescent lighting and probably 100 watt bulbs. You might want to try upgrading to 300 watt bulbs or some florescent bulbs to add more lighting instead. Using wood bleach can be quite caustic and I don’t think household bleach would give you the effect you are really looking for. Another option may be to get some white latex paint and mix half and half with water to coat the walls and still maintain the barn wood effect and yet lighten up the walls some.

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

View willy3486's profile


77 posts in 3397 days

#5 posted 08-23-2010 03:27 AM

This area of the shop is 24×24. I have a mixture of lights,all florescent. I have one 3 foot light over my electronics area which is the back left area,roughly 12×12. Then on the back right I have a ceiling fan with a florescent bulb. In the front left I have a florescent bulb. And the front right I have a circular florescent fixture. I also have two 3 foot fixtures over my lathe and the other over the drill press,these I turn on when I am using these. I have been thinking about replacing the ceiling fan and the other bulb light fixtures with the 3 feet long florescent fixtures. I plan to place a shop type fan in there somewhere as I am not happy with the ceiling fan. So maybe if I do that with the lights and add a window or two it will give me the light I would like to have.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2983 days

#6 posted 08-23-2010 04:46 AM

I wonder if this might be an option, not much help for at night but may help a lot during the day.
Just a thought.

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

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3485 days

#7 posted 08-23-2010 05:48 AM

As a start you may can paint the ceiling white. Even if you just have open rafters. That will make a big difference. I understand you want to keep the walls rustic. I don’t think painting the ceiling white will detract from the rustic look of the shop. You may want to consider the floors also. Lots and lots of flourescent lights are usually a good thing.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3303 days

#8 posted 08-23-2010 06:15 AM

I have OSB walls in my shop and they suck-up the light so I dry-walled the ceiling which helped a bunch. Then I added lighting and plenty of it. Those small rectangular halogen work lights that sell for about 10 bucks apiece are a great help. I have a couple of them hung from the ceiling up out of the way where the glare doesn’t bother my eyes. They spot some of the darker areas to aid with lighting my equipment and assembly areas, they reach half way across the shop! I also have 5- 8’ double-tube florescent fixtures with the reflectors hanging and a few 4’ foot double-tube fluorescent lights. Home Depot has the 8’ fixtures with the reflectors for about $55.00 each which I have found is a pretty good deal. My shop is 36’ X 28’.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3691 days

#9 posted 08-23-2010 06:33 AM


I don’t know if this helps but for your lighting have you ever thought of using day light fluorescents they give off a more white light than the old normal fluorescents that give a more yellow light


-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View swirt's profile


2737 posts in 2971 days

#10 posted 08-23-2010 06:36 AM

Oxalic acid (wood bleach) would do a better job than household bleach.

-- Galootish log blog,

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3143 days

#11 posted 08-23-2010 04:15 PM

Oxylic Acid is probaby the trick. Deck cleaner (like Wolman Deck & Fence Brightener ) will have plenty of it in concentrated format.

The biggest issue through is once you’ve applied the cleaner you’ll want to bristle brush the walls and rinse, kind of hard to do in an environment where you can’t use a power washer. Best suggestion is a bucket, some rags and a sore arm the next day.

Oxylic Acid is corrosive to metal, so be careful to rinse areas whee there are screws/nails since it will weaken the head.

View thiel's profile


387 posts in 3291 days

#12 posted 08-24-2010 04:58 AM

I would start with the ceiling: paint it white and you’ll see an amazing difference. And then, install some t-8 lights… probably cheaper and easier than doing the walls!

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

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