Need help on which stain/poly to use on new knotty pine doors in log cabin

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Forum topic by scotttt posted 01-15-2018 04:10 AM 288 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 62 days

01-15-2018 04:10 AM

1st post. 1st off, I have no idea what I’m doing. I have a cabin and the interior is either knotty pine or alder. 2nd- I have bought knotty pine slab doors and 1) Should the doors typically be lighter, darker or match interior wood? and 2) how the heck do I achieve that? OBSTACLE- basement where 3 of doors will be (it’s finished/furnished down there) is prone to moisture- hence why I think polyurethane should be on it. Regardless, I’m looking for at least a glossy finish since the entire interior wood seems to also be glossy. My thought is amber shellac (non-waxed somehow) followed by polyurethane with black door knobs. I’ll be doing 6 doors in total including a french door (only pine, not knotty) and I will be working on them on sawhorses in a 2 car garage. Door in pic are the old ones currently in place. Thanks for any help in advance!!

2 replies so far

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25 posts in 796 days

#1 posted 01-15-2018 07:52 PM

A lot of what you’re asking is just self preference but I’ll give you my thoughts as I’ve been living in a log home for 10+ yrs now. First need to know if the walls have a finish on them and if so what kind and then try to match that up. If it’s an existing home you just bought then it’s probably got poly on it. As a side note that the wood will darken over time and especially if sunlight hits the wood in any way.

First thing I would do is stain the door trim a contrasting color such as walnut color. This will make the doors pop while allowing the doors to match more closely the rest of the wood if initially the color is off a bit, this is faster, cheaper, easier. Also do the window trim in the same manner. I couldn’t the believe the difference this made when we did this. I ended up doing the same thing to our exterior window & door trim. You could sand the trim then stain then finish when you finish the doors or just buff sand them and then try a dark gel stain on the trim. I would’ve tried this route first if I’d known better. I hate sanding worse than finishing.

I personally do not like the yellowing/orangish hue that polyurethane changes to over time and especially under sunlight conditions over time. Also the longer duration of odor that using this will cause in the house. If I had it to do over again I would use a water based finish with a UV protector (Deft makes one) but this of course would likely get more expensive than using poly. Poly would hold up better in direct sun over time though I would think. Spar urethane would hold up even better to the light but it would yellow even worse I think, which I wouldn’t like. I’d especially consider a spar if really high humidity is expected, such as a bathroom w/ shower.

Not sure if your cabin is new or not but be aware that anything hanging on the wood walls that see any amount of sunlight will leave a reverse shadow (item outlined and lighter color behind the item). Over time the wood and poly darkening cause this and I’ve found that not even sanding gets it out unless you sand really really deep so be sure to know exactly where you wish to hang anything and get something with UV blockers in it as best as you can….even then it still will likely occur.

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John Smith

565 posts in 93 days

#2 posted 01-15-2018 11:14 PM

this is a snapshot of the Family Homestead my parents built back in 1963.
all knotty pine was covered with Spar Varnish (I don’t think polyurethane was available back then).
I remember my father diluting the first coat 50/50 with mineral spirits.
then the second coat 25% – then a coat or two full strength after that.
the first 20 years, it looked awesome.
then all of it started to take on the aged patina and just looked plum dated and ugly.

during the total overhaul, I ripped out all of the pine boards and paneling and put up drywall.
in my personal opinion, if you cut corners and take the cheap way out on the first coat, or use the wrong finish,
you will be fighting it for the rest of its life. like jfynyson said: this is the time to really research
the UV inhibitors before you put anything on it if you do not want a color change over the years to come.
also – on the wall by the main door, there are two very distinct light shadows (ghost images)
of picture frames that hung there for about 10 years before they were removed. so you WILL have to pay
attention to small details such as that throughout the life of the wood. this goes for furniture and rugs also.
[nothing stays in one place for more than a year]

you said: “1st off, I have no idea what I’m doing”
this would be an indication that you need to at least consult a painting professional
in your area. even if you have to pay a small consultation fee, it could save you
years of heartache (and expense) down the road.


-- Graduated Valedictorian from the University of HardKnocks --

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