Best Finish for Reclaimed Wood Wall Paneling

What is the best finish to use on your weathered reclaimed wood wall cladding?   3 options to get the look you want.

With some frequency, the Anthology Woods team is asked about finish options and advice for finishing rustic and weathered reclaimed wood.  We're happy to help.

You've heard that old saying “often the best solution is the most simple option” and it is true here:  weathered reclaimed wood-- the planks with a little (or a lot) of natural patina from years of exposure and previous use-- is often at its best when it is unfinished.  

But the real answer to the question of which finish to use on rustic-style reclaimed wood is:

It Depends.  

 

Depending on your application and your aesthetic goals, Oil and Poly finishes may be good options for you as well.  Here is a little info to help you decide which finish (or lack thereof) might be best for your reclaimed wood, depending on your goals.  Feel free to contact us for guidance specific to the look you want to create.

 

Option 1:  Leave your Reclaimed Wood unfinished, if:

  • You want a natural look, soft/lighter colors with muted qualities
  • You are comfortable with the idea of your old wood continuing to patina (this is generally an very slow process on most indoor wall/ceiling applications).  Grey Medley, Pela Teak, Northwest Blend, Sawmill Oak and Smokehouse Blend all look great without a drop of finish.
Leaving weathered reclaimed wood unfinished showcases the soft tones of the natural patina - - like this reclaimed silver-gray tropical hardwood that reminds us of Teak.  This unique inventory is COMING SOON to our product line-up.  Access our contact form & ask us to reach out to you when samples & specs are available.

Leaving weathered reclaimed wood unfinished showcases the soft tones of the natural patina - - like this reclaimed silver-gray tropical hardwood that reminds us of Teak.  This unique inventory is COMING SOON to our product line-up.  Access our contact form & ask us to reach out to you when samples & specs are available.

We recommend, to be a little more touch-friendly, a light scuffing with sandpaper to release any loose fibers for many applications.  For interior wall cladding applications you may sand it as little or as much as you are comfortable with (many people install without any sanding, and it is completely up to you).  Take care – the more you sand, the more you can change the look.


Option 2:  Finish your Weathered Wood with Poly, if: 

  • You want a protective barrier over the wood; sealing the surface
  • You are comfortable with a little less natural look in exchange for a coating over the wood
  • You are interested in homogenizing color a little (this generally lends a darkening, brownish tint to most natural patina products – but every unique plank of wood, with its unique story, is different).  Don't expect poly to make everything look the same - it merely puts a consistent layer over all of it - so you are looking at everything through the same "lens."

Our favorite poly product to use on weathered wood is Bona Naturale (developed for a natural look on wood flooring).  It is low-VOC and while it darkens the wood, we’ve found that it darkens it less than other products we’ve worked with.  It has a velvety touch and a matte look.  Please talk to us if you’d like more information.


Option 3:  Apply and Oil Finish to your Reclaimed Wall Paneling, if:

  • You want to highlight contrasts in the color and character
  • You desire maximizing deep, rich colors
  • You are comfortable with occasional light maintenance to keep it looking great

There are a number of low- and zero-VOC products available including Rubio Monocoat and AFM Naturals.  Maintenance is a breeze because it doesn’t require sanding – just re-touching with oil when it needs it (and you can just freshen up the areas that need it – not the whole thing).  Rubio Monocoat has a variety of color-tinted oils available, if you’d like to play with color.  Be advised – given the many tiny fibers on the surface of weathered wood, it may take more oil to cover than finely-sanded wood.


For more info on how oil and poly finishes can effect the look of reclaimed wood and why, check out our blog on the topic at this link.

Regardless of what finish you select, or if you leave your wall paneling unfinished, enjoy embracing the natural character and variation as clues to the story of the wood.  You carry its legacy to a second life when you choose reclaimed wood – and you have something truly one-of-a-kind!


For wood-related questions and assistance selecting healthy, sustainable, and LEED-elgible wood flooring and cladding for your project, please reach out to our helpful staff.

For more helpful & relevant info to enhance your success using wood, and new Anthology Woods product releases, hook up with us on your favorite social network (we're very social...see all those icons at the bottom of this page...)