Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ceiling Planks




"Faux Reclaimed" planks cover the OSB sheathing on the Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) roof
Sourced from the Shohola Sawmill on Hwy 6 between Hawley & Milford PA. 

Reclaimed wood is overrated. It fetches a hefty price premium in the northeast due to the mill work required to standardize it. It is also in high demand with designers. Environmental benefits of reusing old wood? Not really there. Buying new wood from sustainably managed local forests is actually the way to go. A ceiling does not need to stand up to foot traffic so a soft wood such as pine will do the trick. 

How we achieved the "reclaimed" random look from new pine planks 


STEP 1: Visit the local Civil War era water-powered sawmill and "borrow" their gigantic saw. Well, not really. However, visiting the mill was a great experience. Every cut requires a miraculous operation of pulleys, belts and specialized iron to drag gigantic logs through this massive blade. Still, incredibly, powered by a water turbine three levels below. 
Visiting the Joel Hill sawmill in Equinunk, PA. A few times a year the Equinunk Historical Society puts on demonstrations at this gem of a mill. They put in a ton of work maintaining the place and educating the public about the early days of the PA lumber industry. 

REAL STEP 1: Pick up rough sawn planks in random lengths and at least three different widths. The Shohola Saw Mill made us 4", 6" and 8" wide planks in lengths ranging from 8 ft to 12 feet.  We cut these down further to provide more variation and to ensure the edges do not line up. 

STEP 2: Stack, dry and let the planks weather naturally. We stored the wood outdoors for over 6 months. This created a natural patina ranging from sun-bleached grey to golden oak. By making a few stacks and separating layers of planks with wooden battens, you'll get a variety of shades and will ensure adequate air flow between the boards. If you are impatient, there are ways to "fake age" the wood -- just google it. 

STEP 3: Give the planks a rough sanding with 100 grit paper. Then another with 220 grit. We were careful not to sand the natural weathering off the planks that achieved a deep gray color. 

STEP 4: Apply penetrating stain. The wood has to be finished or it will eventually deform due to interior moisture, freezing and thawing, etc. Our color strategy was to lay out 15 boards at a time. Then we stained each plank according to the natural color in the wood and the character of each adjacent plank. Our color choices are simply Minwax "natural," "weathered oak," and "golden oak." 

STEP 5: Mount! A 16 ga pneumatic finish nailer is essential for this task. Rent or buy one. The cost savings of DIY'ing these boards allowed us to buy a new air compressor + nailer kit that will be extremely useful for other projects. 

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