The Living Room… me, against the grain

As it’s Ground Hog Day, I have a new update that very much falls in line with the theme, particularly of the movie where the day keeps happening!  This is about perseverance people!

When we walked into the house, we both agreed that we were  going to keep the paneling  in the living room.  It has a chair rail molding, with the panels only going from the rail up to the ceiling.  It adds so much texture and character to the room, but this color has got to go!

Paneling Before

the living room paneling before...

 I have been trying to find a way update the tongue and groove panels from it’s very cherry finish.  I also think it was a shame to just paint it, there is actually such a lovely grain, but this project has proven to be a challenge!  It seems to be original to the house so part of the problem is know what they used.  It didn’t seem to be sealed, but it was definitely stained. 

First attempt, I picked up some lovely low-VOC paint, thinned it with water and tried to do a milk paint-rubbed finish… this was dismal.  Everything was beading and streaking.  It was awful.  The worst part is that the panels don’t appear to be coated with a sealer, but maybe just atmospheric grime over the years have given a waxed finish.  Maybe we try stain?

Okay… second attempt was the stain.  I went to the paint store, brought in a piece of the wood, determined with the staff there that the stain was the best option and how to go about it.  I thought this one would work.  We picked up good minwax water based stain, conditioned the wood, sanded, even bought two different colors of stain to see which would neutralize the red more.  None of this seemed to make a difference.  The streaking, the beading, it was just as bad!  I tried all different combinations, not conditioning, sanding more, sanding less, nothing seemed to be working.  Back to square one, and I was running out of test boards!

the failed stain

the color was nice... the consistency was not

In desperation, I went to the hardware store.  Wandering around the paint isle the clerk asked me if he could offer any assistance.  I couldn’t contain my pout and explained what had been going on.  As he was telling me that I should maybe just give up and go for plain old paint and throw in the towel, I spied a board of samples that looked just like what I was looking for.  I pointed to it, but he said they were exterior stains.  So I asked, ‘could they be used indoors’?  Officially, he told me that they are only meant for outdoor use, I asked if it was for fumes?  Durability?  He said no, they are actually very durable, the fumes aren’t an issue but the stain has more elasticity and may not harden as much as an interior paint due to the climate changes it’s expected to withstand.  In the end, the poor guy admitted there’s really no reason not to use it.

So that’s what I bought!  The best part about this stain is you don’t wipe it off as you apply, it makes it more consistent – at least in this instance.  Three coats later, it looks amazing!  Just grayed enough with all the wood grain still showing through.  It almost takes on a lavender toned color and there is a nice sheen to it.  Against the new white chair rail and trim, it looks great! 

aged wood paneling

aged wood finish

the final result

We can’t WAIT to finish this room!

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