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Finish on wood in barn?

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  • Finish on wood in barn?

    Does anybody have any experience with using linseed oil or tung oil as a finish on the wood inside their barn? I have some oak tongue in groove that I need to put a finish on in front of my stalls and in my tack room and someone has recommend oil instead of standard wood stain. Thoughts?

  • #2
    I remember hearing about a deadly barn fire a few years ago. They suspected the barn went up in flames even faster than normal because of the highly flammable wood stain they used.

    But that's probably not the info you were looking for. I don't know anything about the oil you're asking about. Maybe it's not flammable?


    • #3
      Don't know about flammability of stains.

      Whatever you use, I would not use anything that makes the wood much darker than natural. It makes a barn too dark for my taste.

      We put a water seal/deck seal on the insides & outsides of the stalls of the barn we had built 4 years ago. We used spar varnish in the wash stall & storage alcoves. I actually wish we had used spar varnish everywhere. I like the look. On the other hand, we do layups which means lots of stall-bound horses that are always attacking the wood of the barn so nothing looks very nice for long.


      • #4
        I just used Spar Urethane, basically marine-grade urethane. Water/weatherproof. Nice subtle shine (you can go shinier or less shiny, depending on satin or high gloss, etc), and easy to clean. You do need at least 2, preferably 3 coats.
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          Tung oil is ouchie expensive. Hubby uses it in refinishing. A little does go a long way. Must use multiple coats to get a nice finish. I did see on the internet a gallon was about $50 plus you will need something to thin it with like mineral spirits.


          • #6
            We mixed one part turpentine to 3 parts linseed oil to the t-i-g ash in our barn and loved the results. It deepened the grain of the wood and really brought everything out, without making the wood itself darker. It was a recommendation from the builder that had done a lot of barns previously

            The turpentine "drove" the oil into the wood so that it didnt remain oily or tacky and one year later it still looks fabulous


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            • #7
              I can't speak for barn wood but we used tung oil on our pine plank flooriing in our house and it was gorgeous. However, it needs to be redone every other year to maintain the look which is a PITA. I don't think I would use it in the barn - I would go with a stain I liked and varnish/urethane top coat instead.
              Susan N.

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              • #8
                We used McCloskey's Man O' War marine spar varnish on our stalls (inside the stalls as well). It is awesome; when the stall walls get dirty you can wipe them clean or even lightly hose them off. We used the semi-gloss version, but they also have satin and high gloss finishes available.

                I would not use linseed oil under any circumstances as it blackens the wood over time. It is also highly flammable (though do note, just about any of these products are highly flammanble when wet; do not ever leave around a rag that is soaked with any of these oils or oil based stains as they can spontaneously combust).

                In my house, we have ultra-wide plank white oak flooring. It is stained and finished with Waterlox. Waterlox is a tung oil based finish that contains resins, so it is far more durable than other tung oil products, and does not need to be redone nearly as frequently. The resins penetrate and actually strengthen the wood (kind of like dried sap). Also, if you get a ding, you can just spot- repair it (which you cannot do with polyurethane products). Waterlox is smelly when wet but is odorles once it cures. It is also foodsafe for humans (i.e., for use on counter tops), so it might be a better choice around animals than some of the other products. Waterlox can be used alone or with stain; in either event, it will deepen and enhance the surface underneath.
                Roseknoll Sporthorses


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Evalee Hunter View Post
                  Whatever you use, I would not use anything that makes the wood much darker than natural. It makes a barn too dark for my taste.
                  The other problem with staining is that inevitably horses will kick, chew, and otherwise ding the wood, and those dings look REALLY bad on stained wood after a while. They show up a lot less on lighter finishes.

                  We also finished any exposed "edges" in the stalls in angle iron (my stall grills are from Classic Equine, and they also make matching angle iron trim) so the horses won't chew on them.
                  Roseknoll Sporthorses


                  • #10
                    Sorry to hijack, but what finishes would be resistant enough to be powerwashed?
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
                      Sorry to hijack, but what finishes would be resistant enough to be powerwashed?
                      The McCloskey Marine Spar is about as tough as you can get; it is used for the hulls of yachts. BUT - almost no surface finish can withstand a vigorous powerwash (I am not even sure my wood planks could handle that). My stalls with the spar finish can be lightly / carefully powerwashed, but I usually just use a large sponge and a bucket of warm soapy water for spring cleaning.
                      Roseknoll Sporthorses


                      • #12
                        Yes, go with spar urethane, of whatever good brand. That's the stuff used for marine applications - it better be able to withstand some amount of water

                        But as said, not a lot can withstand a really strong power wash, since the whole point of that is to get stuff stripped off.
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                        • #13
                          If you do decide to oil, just make sure you take care of the rags (and anything else soaked with oil) after you're done working -- without fail, right away, and double check your worksite before you leave.

                          Spontaneous combustion of oil-soaked rags is one of the most common (if not the most common) causes of fires on construction sites...and in garbage cans! I like to just put them in a bucket of water as soon as I'm done with them and dispose of the whole mess when I'm done with the job.

                          I've refinished using Sutherland Welles' tung oils and they do create a beautiful finish but real tung oil is a real PITA, as it needs to be hand-rubbed and, like any oil, applied in thin coats. The great thing is that after a few coats and lots of elbow grease, any water will bead up on a pure tung oil finish...for years and years. It's nearly indestructible.
                          The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks everybody. The barn is a new barn but built to be "old" with 8x8 and 8x12 oak timbers on a foundation with rock. Literally if urban sprawl doesn't bring it down it will be around for 200 years or more. It is a highly functional private 6 stall barn, but we do use it for parties, the occasional wedding and charity events (or my favorite drinking beer and watching the sunset!) So, I'm looking for something that will give it very long term protection but still be in keeping with the "old barn" thing. My timber guy thinks that oil finishes are actually more "authentic" and barn-like as that is how farmers would have protected barn wood 100 years ago. (The famous red barn color was originally iron oxide (rust) and linseed oil.)

                            Originally posted by YankeeLawyer View Post
                            The other problem with staining is that inevitably horses will kick, chew, and otherwise ding the wood, and those dings look REALLY bad on stained wood after a while. They show up a lot less on lighter finishes.
                            This is exactly what I find interesting about an oil finish--if it gets dinged, and of course it will, you can just re apply some oil and a little elbow grease on the mark.

                            As far as flammability, finishing oils are "drying oils." I too was concerned about the fire issues, two different experts I've talked to say that once it dries it isn't any more flammable than any other product. I know about the hazardous rags though--that's what caught Buckingham Palace on fire a few years ago.


                            • #15
                              Maybe you'd be interested in the Alback paints: http://www.solventfreepaint.com/index.htm

                              I've heard good things about them from people I've worked with.
                              The aids are the legs, the hands, the weight of the rider, the whip, the caress, the voice and the use of extraneous circumstances. ~ General Decarpentry


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
                                Sorry to hijack, but what finishes would be resistant enough to be powerwashed?
                                My parents did the interior of their barn with the same thing they use on gym floors. I don't know specifically what it was, but it was very durable and my dad had it power washed all the time (well, twice a year). It was a clear finish so didn't darken the wood at all. You may want to do a search to see what you can come up with. I'll try and remember to ask next time I talk to him.


                                • #17

                                  Just want to reiterate a previous poster. Just make sure it's not too dark. I worked at a farm that had me paint the inside of a barn with I think it was creosote. This was 30 years ago. And it was god awful dark. Then a following owner of the farm painted over that with polyureuthane and it was even darker. It was literally black inside that barn and so, so uninviting...

                                  When I went back to visit the farm about 2 years ago it was still the same blackness inside and that particular barn was empty of horses and particularly boarders. I told them that I had painted that and they said they wish I hadn't. I replied, "Just doing what I was told to do."

                                  So the inside color of that particular barn made it worthless for these past 30 years...The floors in the stalls were like new as NO ONE wanted their horses in that barn...
                                  Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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