Reclaimed Wood

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...)

Oil vs. Poly: How finish effects the look of your reclaimed wood

When sampling reclaimed wood, it is important to consider how the finish will influence the color, depth, and tone of your selection.

Reclaimed wood is unique, and naturally weathered and aged patina reclaimed wood is even more unique (in the "no two pieces are exactly the same" sort of way).  This is the character that speaks to our soul and whispers about the rich history that the wood has lived through.  This is also the character that influences finish in a way unique to reclaimed wood.

Let's start by looking at a non-patina product, Anthology Wood's Heritage Oak reclaimed flooring and wall cladding.  This is fully surfaced on the front face, and is a blend of Red and White Oak.  some checking and oxide stains are present, but overall the surface to receive finish is quite smooth.  On the left is Heritage Oak reclaimed flooring with a poly finish (low sheen) and on the right is the same product with an oil finish. We see the oil is much warmer and emphasizes depth in the color of the wood.  It is also slightly darker.  If you have experience working with wood, this is about what you'd expect.

Heritage Oak with Poly Finish

Heritage Oak with Poly Finish

Heritage Oak with Oil Finish

Heritage Oak with Oil Finish

Now let's look at a product with surface patina: Sawmill Oak.  To share even more about its nature, we've split the boards so you can see a single piece of wood unfinished, and then the same board with the respective finish.  Poly finish is applied to the top half of the 3 boards on the left (no finish on the bottom half) and Oil finish is applied to the top half of the 3 boards on the right, below:

Sawmill Oak: Bottom half unfinished, top half finished with clear low sheen poly.

Sawmill Oak: Bottom half unfinished, top half finished with clear low sheen poly.

Sawmill Oak: Bottom half unfinished, top half finished with clear natural oil.

Sawmill Oak: Bottom half unfinished, top half finished with clear natural oil.

On a product with surface patina, the difference in color and darkness with a poly finish is still minimal, but the the alteration of appearance with an oil finish is much more dramatic!!  This is due, at least in part, to the textured surface of a naturally weathered or naturally patina product.  The texture on the surface means more total surface area and more available to be saturated by the oil finish.

If you are considering purchasing a naturally weathered or aged surface patina product, please ask us to sample it with the finish you'll be ultimately applying (unless you plan to leave it unfinished), so you can get an accurate representation of color, tone, and character.  This applies to Grey Medley, Pela Teak, Sawmill Oak, and Northwest Blend to name a few.

Want to know more about Oil vs. Poly finish, or Woodology in general?  Please check out our learn section or connect with one of our helpful experts at 541-227-5238 or

The Elusive Gray - Reclaimed Wood Wall Cladding

Weathered Gray Wood Wall

Weathered Gray Wood Wall

At Anthology Woods our clients are frequently looking for a “gray-weathered” reclaimed wood look. I have to admit, it is really striking to see the silver/gray shimmering tone on an accent wall.  Depending on how the light hits it, a gray weathered wood wall can change colors and have an almost luminescent sheen at certain angles.  Truly marvelous!

Distinctive Grain Patterns Make This Unique

Distinctive Grain Patterns Make This Unique

However, over years of experimentation with different finish products and techniques, we have discovered that there is really no gray finish that can mimic what mother nature does best.  We have come close, and others may tell you they have perfected it…but if you compare products, you will find that natural weathering is in a class by itself.  And further, depending on the species of wood, distinctive surface character develops in the weathered grain lending depth and variation to color and texture which simply cannot be replicated.  Add in the natural oxide stains, fastener holes and surface checking and you have a truly distinctive and one of a kind aged patina product.

We recently completed a project using a combination of weathered tropical hardwoods sourced from two different decks slated for demolition.  While we are frequently able to source weathered barn boards of fir, pine, oak, and other domestic species, the customer was particularly interested in these recycled tropical boards because of their “wild” swirling grain.  After some sanding and buffing treatments to knock-down the rough edges, smooth the boards out and clean away debris and dirt, we added a square channel reveal.  The resulting effect was particularly stunning in their modern home installation.

Ready For Installation!

Ready For Installation!

This is the type of custom reclaimed wood project that Anthology Woods specializes in.  Check out our Grey Medley and NW Blend wall cladding products.  We offer a variety of weathered barn boards in reclaimed oak, douglas fir, cedar, pine, teak and occasional special inventories of exotic species like the recycled weathered Purple Heart and Mahogany seen in these photos.  We still have a small inventory of this stock remaining.  Inquire for details.

Welcome to Anthology Woods


Well, we are on our journey.  After many months of preparation we have officially launched Anthology Woods!  The website is up and running.  The warehouse is full of inventory. Sample boxes are ready to ship. And our small and humble showroom is set to host visitors.  We are feeling the energy and already busy fielding calls from curious folks who want to enter the world of reclaimed wood!

Anthology Woods offers sustainably sourced beautiful, unique wood products with informed customer service at a fair price.  Our staff has combined decades of experience in design, construction, wood milling and sourcing.  We're a group of ASID designers, former contractors, wood ninjas, and generally a bunch of fun loving wood freaks. We all hold advanced degrees in Woodology.  We love wood, and we would love to help make your project a success.

Watch closely, soon we'll posting about our amazing products, like reclaimed wide plank teak and fir, and our equally fun sourcing and installation adventures.  The journey has only begun...