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Materials & Construction
What materials do you use?
Anything the customer prefers. Our niche is millwork made from reclaimed lumber. Our storage yard has 100s of thousand of board feet of lumber in inventory available to pull from, and we will source whatever we need through a broad network if we don't have it in stock. The most common locally available material for us are Northwest softwoods (i.e. pine and fir) salvaged from old buildings. Oak is fairly affordable and commonly available, too. Remember that we are a custom shop, so that means we will find the material that suits the customer. If a customer doesn't want us to reclaimed material, of course we are a full service custom shop that can use any material available.
We have an old barn or wood. Will you use our lumber?
Sure. We like to keep memories. If for nostalgia reasons you want something special built out of Grandpa's barn, then let's design something around it. Please keep in mind the yield on reclaimed lumber is extremely low. It will take a minimum of twice as much wood as you expect to complete a project. The quality of the wood greatly effects the results and amount of raw material required to make your project. As an average rule of thumb, a door built entirely from barn lumber might need 75 - 100 board feet of raw material before machining to assemble the door. It is especially important to have good boards slightly longer than the height of the door.
Are your doors solid wood?
Yes. The door is built with no hollow cavities. The advantage with our doors is the engineered frame built with thick veneers over a stave core. The cores are built with the same material as the faces. In simple terms it is a bunch of laminations that you cannot see from the face of the door. The more laminations one has the stronger and more stable it becomes. See our glossary page for a better understanding of this when you look at the cross sections.
Describe the differences/ attributes between solid wood engineered stile and rail doors and flush plank doors.
A stile and rail door is built with a rigid frame and floating panel. This allows the door to maintain a consistent width and flatness even if the wood moves due to season and environment changes. The entire door can be built from recycled content and all with NAUF glues. All of these doors are fully covered by our warranty. Unlimited options abound for panel design, applied moldings and profiles.
The flush plank doors can give a different look or feel to a project. They basically look like boards edge glued together in one flat consistent plane. There is less decoration, and it is a simpler design. Our flush plank doors can be built with a foam core over the majority of the surface area which allows us to build a lighter or better insulated door. These doors never have recycled content in their core. Typically the most that they will be reclaimed material is about 33% content overall, but everything that shows on the face or edges is matching reclaimed material. The core is usually a combination of engineered materials. Be sure to ask the source, some of these materials we cannot get as a NAUF product. Our warranty excludes coverage on warping in this style of door as is the industry standard. Generally these doors cost slightly less than a comparably sized stile and rail door. If we do not use a foam core product, these doors tend to be heavier than normal. Since there is no panel or rail system, one has more flexibility to apply strap hinges or other decoration anywhere on the surface of the door.
Describe the difference between solid wood and engineered wood flooring.
In a reclaimed product the engineered flooring really shines. Since the nature of reclaimed material is rustic with splits, various height, warps and so forth by doing an engineered product we can eliminate those issues. We match the texture and color that you want in the floor but you don't have to put up with the inherent problems that come with installing and living with a reclaimed wood floor. Due to our precise sanding during the lamination process and after, pieces are more consistent in height, more uniform in texture, fit together tighter, no waste, holes and cracks already filled, and no sanding necessary after install unless you want to do a light screen or buff. Engineered is also absolutely essential if installing over radiant heat, concrete, below grade, and wide planks over 6" are more stable. We recommend gluing with floor mastic and nailing our engineered down so it won't have squeaks like some solid wood floors can have. Our specialty is the unusual such as super wide width plank floor that is 12"+ in width; our belief is that it is just not safe to do that with a solid wood floor. Some of our wider width products are actually less expensive than if ordered in a narrower width.
We personally do not care for prefinished flooring due to installation problems associated with it, so our product requires site applied finish. This means that your floor finish if site applied will be easier to sand and refinish than a prefinished floor. Also you do not have to deal with that micro bevel groove between each board that tends to fill up with dust and crumbs.
Engineered flooring is more expensive. Our product has a thicker wear layer (6mm) and is thicker overall (18mm) than the industry standard. This means that is equal in thickness to a solid wood product and can be sanded/ refinished just as many or more times than comparable solid wood floors. We use an exterior grade, FSC pure, 9 layer, NAUF Carb 2 compliant plywood along with a type II water resistant crosslink PVA Glue. What this means to you is our flooring has no odors, tough, water resistant, and qualifies for a multitude of Green building programs such as LEED with the USGBC. Due to all of the advantages, durability, ease of install, and ease of finishing/sanding, we believe the difference in price over a solid product is worth it. If you are comparing the two different products we will be frank with you and tell you whether it is worth the extra money for your application.
Concerning texture on the engineered flooring, what is the difference between your mostly smooth finish or skip sanded?
"mostly smooth" is sanded almost all the way smooth, very little variation in height between boards, equal quality, more likely to come from the inside of boards or beams rather than the outside textured face, will have less character, still looks reclaimed, will have nail holes to stain but no weathering or deep saw marks, easier to clean, easier to fully sand and refinish, more affordable.
"skip sanded" always come from the outside dirty face of boards, some circle sawn or weathering remains, slightly more variation in height between pieces of flooring (could have height difference of up to a 1/16”), more rustic, takes longer and is more expensive to manufacture, most people want this textured look.
How do your doors compare to the competition?
We take pride in our product and want to make sure that it is good value, unique, and built to last. We won’t degrade a competitor’s product, but it is very difficult to compare our product in an apples to apples scenario.
Compare to a standard wood door like a knotty alder or pine sold at lumberyards. Our minimum thickness is 1 ¾” vs. 1 3/8”. We’re made in America by us; you are dealing directly with the manufacturer (no middleman). Our thicker veneers are part of our laminating process to make reclaimed lumber lay perfectly flat over a solid wood stave core. Our doors will accept stain better and you won’t sand through our thicker veneers. If you ding, dent, or chip our doors it is reclaimed lumber throughout and not a composite underneath; our doors stand up to abuse better. We always are more expensive than a mass produced doors, but these are not a comparable comparison.
Our doors are not for everybody. Our customers typically purchase from us for the following reasons:
- environmentally conscious such as building a LEED project and using the recycled content aspect of our products
- looking for the utmost in quality and durability
- timeless beauty that comes from sustainable natural materials
- unique and something different than the mass produced building materials
- customized to your exact specifications
- we provide sensible value by selling direct to the customer
We try to be affordable when compared to other custom shops. It is important, too, to ask a lot of questions about how the doors are made when you start shopping.
How are your doors green?
We are a small company focused on quality and hiring local rural labor. We use material that otherwise would have gone to a landfill.
Since our doors are built from reclaimed lumber they can contribute to your recycled content points for LEED certified construction.
Note the above three answers, too.
We believe that if one builds with a quality product made from natural materials it is a more sustainable option. Well made products will last longer and need less replacements. Natural material and organic design lends itself to a timeless essence. Styles change, but if one will notice with architecture buildings built with heavy duty stone and wood seem to always be in style.
Note the above three answers, too.
Do you prehang?
If necessary, we can prehang. Our primary focus is to be a wholesale direct slab door manufacturer. If you don’t have the means to prehang the door slabs yourself, we will offer options. Where we excel in prehanging doors is a custom option we offer for extremely heavy doors. We have designed a system with a steel reinforced frame and functioning strap hinges that is indestructible.
Do you supply hardware?
If it is part of the pre hung for swing doors, yes. We do not supply door knobs or entry handle sets.
We are becoming the best source on the internet for barn door hardware. Our track systems have unique features that really make a difference for ease of use and install. Start by checking our online store for low profile sliding door hardware, flat track barn door kits, privacy locks, and pull handles. All hardware you see in our store is ready-to-ship! A major component of our business is building sliding door slabs to go with barn door hardware.
How much do your doors and floors cost?
That varies greatly on the size of the order, materials, and complexity. Generally we have a minimum order for custom doors of around $2500 to cover setup time, design, shipping and handling. As the number of doors per order increases the price drops due to economics of scale. Generally our interior door slabs start at around $800 and our exteriors at $1400 in addition to setup and base fees. Solid wood flooring starts is around $4-8 per square foot and engineered is $9-15. Every bid is different, though, so it should be priced with all options before assuming you know the final cost. Make sure to bid the entire project including doors, flooring, and anything you can imagine sourcing from us. That will get you the best pricing when combining orders to save. Essentially the greater the quantity than the lower the price per item. Also please see our answer below about which products we may stock.
These costs are out of our budget, do you have any other suggestions?
We understand budgets and will make value engineering suggestions. Usually we will look at a project and make recommendations to get the most "bang for your buck" such as where to cut on the budget or spend a little more because it is worth the extra cost. Also we should never be the low price leader because of our quality and unique product. If you are only price driven, it just does not make sense to use our products. For small orders your best price is going to be an item from our online store or clearance page. If you are doing other millwork, trim and floors with us it will also help bring down some costs. Consider reducing the total number of doors ordered for the house to maybe just a few key doors like the entry and the obvious ones in the main living areas. On the other hand, if you are looking for the lowest average price per door larger orders with multiple doors of the same design get our best pricing per door due to economics of scale.
Do you offer different pricing for dealers, contractors, or designers?
No. Our pricing is the same for everybody. We are the manufacturer, and we sell direct to the buyer. The main item to lower pricing is greater volume within an order. This lowers our average costs per item such as shipping and setup time on the order. If you become a repeat customer and regularly order the same item we can carry that in inventory for you and negotiate a discounted rate.
We have two different broad categories for pricing. One are the items available in stock in our online store. These ship anywhere in the lower 48 states with free shipping. Sometimes if you are able to do a different payment option than credit card on these items we can pass on a small discount. For our custom orders we figure pricing based on the customer's location and details of item ordered; credit card processing will be additional on these items. Custom items are the easiest place for customers in the trade to get better pricing by combining orders and ordering in bulk if they plan to resell.
Can we get better pricing on our second order since we previously placed an order?
We appreciate the repeat business, but unless a firm written estimate is provided prior to all shipments, each new order has separate pricing. With both online store stock items and custom orders do NOT assume that your pricing is fixed and you will always receive the same pricing. Our costs and lead times frequently fluctuate.
Quantity price breaks for online store items apply only to items shipped at one time in one order. If you need to reorder a smaller quantity at a later date, you will not receive the same higher quantity price break. Any special sorting for color, texture or size will always increase the price. As a rule of thumb the way to get the best negotiated pricing from us is to order in advance and ship as much quantity as you can use in one order.
What about going to a thrift or salvage store and buying antique or used doors?
This is a great option if you can make it work. You might save money initially, if you find the right style, and this is one of the purest forms of recycling. However, keep in mind the hidden costs involved in this route; cost of redesign on plans to fit the doors you have sourced, refinishing and hanging the doors can be complicated and costly with both labor and materials. In addition, many of these older doors you might have to deal with lead-paint and other environmental issues with refinishing. These are some benefits with our doors: we can make any size, we can repeat a pattern at a later date if you want to add to the order, perfectly square and flat, you can put matching hardware on, can match throughout the home, you may save labor and install costs, you won’t have to scrape or strip of old finish, can be customized in any way you like, and we offer a warranty.
Ordering & Shipping
Do you stock any product?
Yes, check our online store. Most items here are ready to ship, with free shipping. Very rarely do we build the exact same item for two different customers. Everybody's tastes, sizes and applications are slightly different. If one repeat customer has a product that they want us to keep on hand we will carry that in inventory.
Can you send us a sample?
It depends on the complexity of your order. Before we send samples we like to discuss your project to be sure that you are requesting the best fit for your job. If it is going to be a custom order we want to bid and design the project before samples to be sure that we are on the same page for budget reasons. We can send out large sample boxes for you to experiment with finishes and textures. Sometimes we even have scale replicas of doors that can be sent. With this we often will take a deposit which is refundable when the door is returned.
If you are ordering something like our feature wall paneling from our online store, there is an option to order a sample right in the product listing. We will send as much variety as possible to represent the range of possibilities that the wood could vary by. Be sure to supply a shipping address that works with priority mail and UPS ground.
Can you custom sort our paneling order?
If ordering paneling from out online store, then the pricing shown is only for the specifications listed with that product. Generally these blends are very random in color ratios and sizes. The blends are always random and the ratio for example of brown to grey or long to short materials can change slightly from batch to batch, and it may not match the pictures shown exactly. We intentionally keep the batches and blends randomly mixed and sorted so that it varies.
As a general rule of thumb it is not cost effective for a customer to ask us to modify these blends for special sorting of certain sizes or colors. Our pricing structure on the online store reflects greater volume at the time that we manufacture the product and customizing small batches is very costly.
Describe the inquiry and ordering process.
The following applies to custom orders--- The customer sends in an email inquiry with as much information as possible about their project.
We reply with a ballpark price if there is enough information to do a quote.
If the price is in the customer’s budget, then we will move forward with providing some samples and drawings for the project.
We generally ship small wood samples and cross sections to a customer upon request. We hesitate to send out to much, though, until the customer has spoken with us and we both understand the project well. If the customer would like larger samples, we can send out scaled down replicas of the door with a small deposit; this deposit is refunded minus shipping if the sample is returned.
We provide a final estimate for the whole job. This price is fixed except for shipping charges (except for quotes where shipping is a fixed in the cost of the job). If the customer makes changes to the order they may be charged for the changes proportional to the amount of time and materials used by us to accommodate this change. At this time we can quote lead times again, but schedules are never firm until the order is confirmed with a deposit.
If everybody agrees on the specifics, then the customer should make the deposit to hold their place in production. Included with the deposit should be signed copies of the estimate, our warranty/ contract, and shop drawings.
Upon receipt of the deposit we will start production and hold spot in schedule.
Upon completion we will email the customer pictures to show proof of completion along with the final shipping prices in the invoice for the balance due.
Upon all funds cleared we can ship your order to you.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We require a deposit to start the order and payment in full prior to shipping. Emailed proof with tracking that the deposit check is in the mail is satisfactory to hold firm delivery date and reserve place in line.
We do accept Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal but must charge an additional 3% to cover processing fees (payments made in our online store by credit card are not charged a processing fee). Most of our orders are fairly large and the processing fee is just too much. Our preferred method of payment that is free to you is an E-check. In your invoice will be a link for you to enter your information through a secure service offered by Intuit. You can also send in written check. Please consider that the USPS standard mail is slow to deliver if you are sending in a written check and you may want to upgrade delivery class to speedier service. For your piece of mind and planning, we recommend you send your checks with signature confirmation and tracking.
How soon can you ship our order and what is your lead time?
Usually orders placed in our online store are shipped in three days or less. If you are ordering flooring or a large quantity of any other item be sure to call first to verify inventory and what the lead time might be. We try to update lead times for online store items here: Customer Service
For custom orders, we rank all our orders according to when the deposits were received. We are a custom shop so most products will have a lead time; the sooner you can plan ahead to place your order the easier it is on us to meet your schedule. Generally a whole house full of doors takes a minimum of one month to produce. We have never missed a promised deadline, and we take your schedule very seriously. If it is a rush to receive the product, it is crucial to order ASAP. Good communication is also key if you are in a rush to receive your order. Note the above answers for payment terms. Our lead times change daily based on other order confirmations, too.
It is also helpful to start the bid and design process early. We can work with the architect and homeowner to get the very best value out of our product. Most of our upgrades are very affordable compared with the rest of the industry. It also nice to have our free advice to draw the plans correctly before it is more difficult to adjust doors sizes and so forth after construction has started.
As a value-added service, we have worked with many customers (free of charge) early in the planning process to ensure the door package (i.e. sizes, materials etc) make the most sense from a design and economic standpoint. In many situations we have been able to save the customer significant money with our suggestions.
We do not ship your order until full payment has been received.
How do you ship?
Primarily we ship via LTL freight/ enclosed van. What this means is that a big truck will deliver your doors in a crate. As an option they can deliver with a lift gate, meaning they will set it on the street. Usually items that are larger than 8' can not fit on a lift gate. This means that it is nice to have dock or forklift to unload the delivery truck. If this isn't an option, you will need to make arrangements with us before shipping. You need to be prepared to unpack the crate and move heavy doors by hand or have a forklift to unload and move the crate. Of course this varies depending on the size of your order.
We build a reinforced wood box for each shipment. Your order is tightly and carefully packaged in this wood crate. You will unscrew this box to access the contents when you receive it. Most single door orders, though, are shipped in a heavy duty cardboard box.
Track hardware and small paneling orders usually ship UPS Ground.
If you have specific requirements to receive your shipment be sure to discuss prior to placing your order.
We don’t live close to you (Idaho), so is shipping going to be a lot?
Shipping costs are much more affordable than most people think. 90% of our business is out of state. It is cheaper for us to ship across the country than to a neighboring town two hours away.
Included in the overall cost of the order, shipping is a very minor component. All custom orders may have shipping cost broken out in a separate line item. All orders placed for merchandise in our online store have free shipping.
Is it more green to buy local? Why should we order from you?
Freight lines have routes all over the country. Less diesel is often burned with an established carrier going long distances than a dedicated short trip; that is why we mentioned above the freight cost sometimes cheaper over long distances than in neighboring towns.
We always try to source our materials locally if available. It saves us costs, and gives us more control over the product. Usually we have enough raw material inventory in our storage yard to complete all but the most specialized of orders.
It is very difficult to find a comparable quality door as ours made entirely from recycled content. We build a solid wood engineered door, not a composite, entirely from recycled content. Specialty products such as ours often need to be sourced from greater distances.
Can you cut our barn door track to a custom length?
We find that it is best for the customer to cut their own track during install if it is a length different than what we offer in our online store. We stock in one foot increments track from 5' to 15'. Generally we recommend purchasing the track at twice the width of the door, and always refer to our installation instructions for further tips. Sometimes a track can be adapted to work by moving the end stops or changing the spacing from the edge of the door for the hangers. If the track still needs to be cut it can easily be done at install with a hacksaw or reciprocating saw.
Here are some reasons why we have learned not to cut the track to length before sending it out to the customer: our tracks are cut before powder so all cut tracks will have a raw exposed end. Once it is cut that is final. If the customer measures or calculates wrong, that's it. We have a no refund or return policy. Having the installer cut the track gives them more options. Most of the time, a longer track can be made to work without cutting it. Sometimes a specific right or left end should be cut. Finially, our charge to make cuts is not a good value because of our higher rates.
If the customer has a large order for multiple tracks with odd sizes, has the time and budget for a custom build process, then feel free to contact us for a quote to build a one of a kind barn door hardware or extra long flat track hardware kit.
What if we would like cabinets, furniture or trim to coordinate with our doors?
As mentioned throughout our website, we are a custom shop and are able to work with each individual customer to meet there needs. In many situations we have done cabinet doors, trim, flooring or tables from the matching reclaimed material.
Can we do a return?
No, we have a no returns, no exchanges, no refund policy. Be sure to carefully read all instructions and specifications prior to placing an order. If you have any questions or uncertainty ask first. Do not assume that any details are different than the final specifications on the final invoice or product descriptions; any exceptions to these should be clearly stated in writing.
Installation & Finish
How do we install the engineered wood flooring?
First we recommend you follow the guidelines of the National Wood Flooring Association. Here are some very abbreviated suggestions: If installing over a wood substrate above grade, we recommend both nailing/stapling in the nail groove along with flooring mastic or construction adhesive. Less nails can be used than a standard nailing pattern if using mastic. If installing over concrete we recommend using full mastic and a vapor barrier. There are products now that include this in one step. Following the mastic manufacturers recommendation for trowel notch size. The mastic will make the floor very permanent with no give, movement, or squeaks. Our product is presanded so after install it may require no sanding or just spot sanding to your preferences. We still recommend a light buff between coats of finish. See below for more finish recommendations.
Do you prefinished doors?
Usually, No, but we can offer advice and techniques on applications of certain products that we have tested. We have researched and tested what we believe is the best combination of finishes that are easy to apply, durable, low VOC, user friendly, environmentally friendly, and look the best on our materials. We will be glad to send you extra material to experiment with different finishes and techniques.
The door needs to be sealed ASAP upon receiving it, but in our experience it is best to do the final finishes by your local painter after the crating, shipping, and install.
Do you have suggestions on how to finish our doors?
Most importantly is that the doors need to be sealed soon upon arrival; protect them from changes in temperature and moisture. Also they should be stored in a manner that is perfectly vertical or flat so as to not be subjected to warping. If you do not want to do final coats until later, that is fine, but an early seal coat is important. Do not expose unsealed doors to humidity, temperature fluctuations, unconditioned environment, paint or drywall curing, or sun. Also store perfectly flat and supported or vertical; do not store for long periods where they could sag or warp.
Here are some options to do finishing. First lay the door flat on sawhorses. Make sure it is dusted and sanded the way you want it. Check for any cross grain scratches on rails and soften corners to your satisfaction.
The most commonly used finish combination for interior doors is an oil based stain, followed by sanding sealer, and oil based lacquer. We prefer a dull rub five degree lacquer. The advantages of lacquer are nice build, fast dry, easy sanding, commonly used and available. The disadvantage is the odor.
Our favorite combination to bring out the beauty in the wood and have a more user friendly product is the following detailed description. Start with one coat of Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish. This coat gives the rich, warm, depth, and amber color. The later coats would look dull and plain without this coat. If you choose to stain or darken your wood you can either tint this product or substitute a stain for it. This finish will go bad once you open the can. Retailers sell a product called Bloxygen that is an inert gas and will keep unused Waterlox from turning bad. It is important to let this dry a long time- longer than recommended before moving to the next coats. All you have to do with this coat is get the wood evenly wet. It will soak in with varying degrees from board to board but you can ignore that. Wait about 10 minutes for the product to soak in after coating it initially and with clean cotton rag wipe off any excess and polish very minimally. Then after a couple hours or when it is tack free with help flip the door over and do the other side. Do not wait too long before finishing both sides as it will cup panels if you leave the door unevenly sealed and make sure to do top and bottoms. This product has some VOC odor, so you need good ventilation and/or respirator. Temperature needs to be over 55 degrees. The advantage of using Waterlox under water based finishes is that it is not water based so it will not raise the grain causing more sanding; it will also enhance the colors of the wood. Second, move on to one coat of EF Sanding Seal by General Finishes. Before starting this wait as long as possible, preferably four plus days for a cure. The Waterlox is oil based and these other products are water based. When applying these coats make sure it is a dust free environment and no wind. Do not touch these coats until they are completely dry. Let this sealer coat cure about five plus hours, and when it is hard you can sand it. It is best to hand sand only with a fine sanding sponge and after it is not gummy at all. Just sand it well enough to get rid of hairs, dimples, rag fibers, and so forth. Do not sand through finish. Do all sides of the door. Third use Poly/Acrylic Matte. To make this product tougher you can add General Finishes’ Cross Linker (especially if you are doing table tops). If you are really worried about durability substitute the High Performance water based for the poly/acrylic. Do two plus coats of this. It is up to you if you want to sand between these coats. If you are going to do this yourself and use a brush, then make sure it is in good shape; an HVLP gun is the best applicator. We prefer not too much of a build that looks caked on, but we like to do a little bit heavier build of finish in rough texture areas to make the product feels smooth and protects against slivers. More coats will just make it feel smoother.
If you have the time to wait for it to cure, you can use just three plus coats of Waterlox Original satin sealer for a complete finished door. Make sure to wipe of excess oil (about 20-40 minutes after applying) before it turns gummy between coats. To get a smooth finish buff lightly between coats with a sanding sponge after previous coat completely hard and dried. The advantages of this finishing process are that it is one product, easy to repair scratches, and can be brushed or wiped on. The disadvantages of this are it takes much longer to cure and has odor until fully cured. You should consult Waterlox's website for further information. Take special note to read the Dry time of Waterlox Original Tung oil finishes.
The above recommendations are for interior doors only. For exteriors we prefer not to use typical urethane based products because they tend to yellow with age. We have not done much testing in exterior applications. Waterlox makes exterior glossy oil that can be used on its own. You could also use the above technique and substitute General Finishes High Performance Polyurethane Satin or Exterior 450 Satin for the final coats. For the most common type of application on exterior doors by professional painters we recommend the following: M.L. Campbell's Euro X, Prothane from Rudd, or Prolane from Sherwin Williams as a final top coat for a quick drying and durable finish; these finishes tend to have less problems with yellowing over time; these three finishes should be applied with a spray gun. Whatever finish you use it needs to be reapplied more often than the manufacture states that it will last. It is not unusual to have to do touch up coats on exterior wood doors every two to three years. Sometimes on new wood it needs to be redone after the first year. Sun is the greatest enemy to wood finishes. Wood doors need complete 100% protection from sun and water; do not depend on your finish to do this work on its own.
Note of caution- Do not use water based finishes (even if applied over oil based sealer coat) on pickle wood or any wood that may have salts, brine, or oil in it. Although we like water based finishes for the user friendly safe aspect and quick drying, oil based finishes as a whole and lacquer seem to have more predictable and perfect results when used by a professional. Since reclaimed lumber's previous life was sometimes unknown, one may get more finish failures and undesirable results with water based finishes.
Here are some common mistakes with finishing reclaimed lumber:
- ALWAYS TEST your finish before doing the whole door or floor.
- Softwoods and rougher textures will take and soak up more finish than hardwoods and smoother sanded textures. If the wood is taking the finish, you need to put as much on as it will accept (especially on the first coat). This will make the finish harder and more durable. Don't be surprised if your coverage is nowhere near as much as the manufacturer states it should be. For example, our skip sanded softwood floor may take five coats and our smooth sanded oak might be done in three coats. This also varies with the type of finish. Waterlox and tung oil products take more coats. Heavy polyurethane floor finishes may take less coats.
- Buff and sand lightly between coats. This along with enough coats of finish will make the product more user friendly and less likely to snag or have splinters.
- With Waterlox and other "soaking, rubbing oil" type finishes it is more difficult to get a build that covers rough wood fibers and prevents slivers. It will take more coats. Make sure to wipe off excess finish in areas that it is not soaking in after it has been allowed to set for 30 minutes or so; this will prevent the "gummy" effect that happens to tung oil based products where they do not want to dry.
- Make sure to budget extra time to cure between coats. Since you may be putting on heavier coats, it may take longer to cure.
- Always follow finish manufacturer’s directions.
- Your finishing results are going to be less predictable with reclaimed lumber, too.
We do not warranty any of these recommendations. We are not liable for any of the undesirable results from finishing results or following these options. It is recommended you always experiment with a sample before applying any finish to the product. Personal preferences vary greatly and there are an infinite number of finish combinations to achieve different results. It is up to the customer to make sure the door and flooring is properly sanded and prepared to receive finish, too.
Do you have suggestions on how to finish our floors?
First we always recommend testing before doing the whole floor. Generally finishing a floor requires more experience and sometimes more professional equipment than the install. We always recommend lower sheens such as a matte or satin. When choosing a finish consider the whole life of the floor. With this consider the durability of the finish, how it will be touched up or repaired, and if one has to hire a professional finisher to do touch-ups. This is too hard to answer completely in this forum but we will give you a handful of thoughts, opinions, and generalizations on finish types.
Waterborne finishes such as Glitsa Infinity II or Bona Traffic- low VOC, may take 3-4 coats, does not darken or enhance the color of the wood as much/ more natural appearance, requires buffing between coats, quick dry and quick application, do not use over pickle wood or any wood that may have oil, salts, brines or other contaminates in it.
Swedish or oil based poly urethanes- higher VOC, takes longer for smell to dissipate, 2 coats, harder to refinish or do spot touch ups (usually have to sand an refinish entire floor), darkens and enhances the color, requires buffing between coats, most common type of finish and what majority of the professionals use, not our preferred product for textured floors or "healthy or green concerned" applications.
Waterlox or tung oil- requires less buffing or no buffing between coats, 4-6 coats, long time to cure and for smell to go away, long finishing process between coats such as up to 10 days depending on conditions, easy to touch up, easy to apply, enhances and darkens color. Here is an excellent application guide.
Rubio Monocoat or one coat natural oils- low VOC, one coat, lots of color options and unique dyes, high coverage, easier for amateur to install, only recommended over smooth sanded floors, not recommended over textured floors because finish will not build or protect from slivers, easy to repair, natural appearance, moderately slow cure time, less expensive when factoring in number of coats and labor.
Hard wax oil or Osmo- slightly more difficult to install than previous two, low VOC, easy to repair, may not be as durable as previous two, expensive.
To summarize, we generally prefer penetrating oil finishes or "repairable" finishes over traditional film or polyurethane finishes. The penetrating finishes protect better from within the board by bonding with the wood fibers. Touch-ups and repairs are easier and less costly. A floor is going to get damaged and need to be repaired; this is why we like a site applied finish that is easy to work with. Our flooring gets sent out unfinished, so you can choose how you want to finish it after installing it.
We do not want to finish our product or change the appearance of the old and natural wood.
Almost any finish will change the of plain raw wood when finish is applied. Generally oil based finishes will change the look more than water based finishes. Oil based finishes will darken such as turn grey to black; it will also amber by turning wood tones brighter and colors will pop. Straight water based poly acrylic such as General Finishes tends to change the wood the least. Several coats of this will help encapsulate slivers if buffing between coats and make it feel smooth but look textured. Also use as dull of a sheen as possible to avoid the glossy look. Always test a sample.
Our warranty on our products is void if the product is not finished and maintained. We would never recommend not finishing any exterior door especially. If the customer doesn't want the look of finish on an interior door, though, that would be more acceptable. They just need to understand it could be more likely to warp and feel rough to the touch.
Paneling is also less in need of a finish. We still recommend finishes, though, even for that to seal and protect the wood. One thing to consider is that one doesn't know the complete previous history of reclaimed lumber. If it was in a barn it was certainly exposed to lots of dust and animals. Finishing it seals in some of the "unknown" particulates still present on the wood.
How do we get a more grey looking door?
We offer a number of different options to sort material and build the door from grey lumber. To keep the grey color consistent we have to use what we call full rough original texture which means that we will not mill the face of the door. The outside of the door will maintain all original color and texture. We still have to color the edges of the door to hide the fresh sawn marks.
Sometimes this original texture is not a good option because it costs a little more because of greater difficulty in the manufacturing process. Also since it is rougher, than that means that it won’t feel as smooth compared to a more sanded and machined door.
So how do we convert a machined door that has freshly machined faces to grey? The first option and most natural is to mix rust flakes with half water and half vinegar. Steel wool can be an easy substituted for rust if left to sit for a week or so in water. Let this solution sit for several days than brush it on the wood; it must go on raw wood. This is a premature aging process. You will see results within 30 minutes. Be aware that it will raise the grain, and you should let the material dry thoroughly before applying finish over the top. Do not soak the wood too much. Make sure to do all sides of the door at one time. Allow good airflow around entire door and let dry several days before applying top coats. Clean door well before spraying on clear coats. Spray on 2-3 clear coats and hand sand between coats with sanding sponge. The drawbacks of this process is that different boards take the color sporadically. Some boards, especially ones high in pitch, will not change color hardly at all. The color will be varied greatly if different types of material are in your piece (this can be a desirable result but be prepared for it). This process is the most unpredictable and random for results.
A second option is to use a dye called J.E. Moser’s Aniline Dye Stain. This is a powder that can be added to a number of different finishes, water, varnishes, lacquer, etc. We dissolve it in denatured alcohol and apply it with a paint brush as the first coat before the sealer. There are three different types that can either be dissolved in lacquer thinner, alcohol, or water. Also, a little bit of powder dye goes a long ways. This option is more repeatable and dependable than the previous vinegar solution.
Finally you can use any kind of stain that you like. This usually acts as the first sealer coat, too. This will tend to mask all variation and existing colors the most of these options. You can choose all different kinds of sealers or washes from water to solvent based and translucent to opaque. For a more natural look brush it on. Also if you are creative you can blend colors and use multiple colors to create depth.
With all of these options, always thoroughly test the whole process before applying on the finished product. See other answers on finish recommendation to go over these color coats. To keep the color the same use water based polycrylic finish.