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.