Special Effects in Wood

Special Effects in Wood

Titus Gilliam

This article is meant to demonstrate how different the same type of material can look. First of all reclaimed lumber has a lot of variation in of itself. That is the beauty of the wood. Old wood has seen a lot of different environments in the course of time and everything from where the tree lived to where the board was installed instilled a little bit of their personality on the board. Each batch of reclaimed boards may have their own unique blend of personalities. This is why we caution customers not to get to set on one particular shade, color, texture, or grade from a picture or sample. Depending on how restrictive the standards are for the project could leave a lot of leeway in variation.

Sometimes a customer tells us they don’t like one picture but they really like this different picture that we presented. Often times it is the same exact product! The difference could be something as subtle as lighting in the photo. Usually it is just the difference between an unfinished product and one with finish on it (even if it is a clear coat). For example, we can have customers come to our shop where we are manufacturing doors. They will walk by racks full of assembled doors and not notice or comment. Then in the office we show them a picture of the finished and installed door and they excited. Even though they just saw the same door in person as a raw door, finish and installation make a big difference.

Another interesting dilemma is what people have in their mind that a particular species of wood should look like. For example, reclaimed oak sometimes looks totally different than the oak that people are used to from their 1970s kitchen extraordinaire. We have walnut stained oak doors that customers refuse to believe they are oak doors. Often times the designer and customer is more concerned about the color than the material the product is made from. A similar example would be if a potential buyer walks into a house and loves or hates the house because of the color painted on the sheetrock. That is the easiest and cheapest thing to fix. More important are the structure and bones of the house. Most of our product gets sent out unfinished. This gives the customer the opportunity to dial in what they exactly want for color, sheen, maintenance and so forth when finishing their custom reclaimed wood door, floor or table. Consider our product a good foundation of quality materials from which you can make a masterpiece.

Even with a clear coat of finish there is a bunch of room for different results. For example, a solvent based sealer coat will darken, enhance the colors, and be brighter with more ambering than a water based finish. Higher gloss sheens will look more wet and less natural than dull or matte sheens. If one wants to keep the wood looking as original with little change as possible choose a matte poly acrylic finish. We like General Finishes matte poly acrylic for this (not for use on floors). It goes on crystal clear and changes the look the least. Always test samples before doing the whole project.

Please note the pictures in the above photo gallery. These are just a little taste of how different the same product can look. The first seven pictures are all the same reclaimed oak engineered wood floor. It all came from the same batch. These seven pictures are even finished with the same brand of finish Rubio Monocoat. This is a very easy to apply finish that is great for our fully surfaced reclaimed wood floors. It is a one coat user friendly application and is easy to touch up. The first picture shows the floor installed with a clear coat. The next six are just a sampling of what is possible with Rubio’s color selections; there are dozens of combinations. The last two pictures in the gallery are from the same batch of resawn reclaimed fir flooring, our most affordable line of flooring. This solid wood floor also lends itself to the creative installer. The first of the two pictures represents the raw unfinished flooring, and the last picture is installed with a stain.

There are an unlimited possible combination of options and results.