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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/unfinished natural pine door


I recently had a sliding barn door made of natural pine for my bedroom. I was wondering if it is ok to leave the door unfinished with no stain, varnish or wax applied to it. Will the door be ok without anything on it like that?


There are a couple of drawbacks to leaving indoor woodwork unfinished:

(1) The pine will get dirty from skin oils, pets, or other things that might come in contact with it.  And because it is bare raw wood it cannot easily be cleaned.  You really don't want to use any water-based cleaner, as this will swell the wood fibers (not good), and any solvent or oil based cleaner will probably cause discoloration.  When you clean finished wood (such as wood that has been varnished, shellacked, or lacquered) you are never cleaning wood, just the coating, which is much easier to clean than bare wood.

(2) Wood finishes, whether clear or opaque(like paint), slow down the movement of water vapor into and out of the wood during seasonal humidity changes.  All wood continues to expand and contract in response to ambient humidity levels forever, but finished wood responds more gradually, and this is lass damaging to the wooden structure and joinery.

So in my opinion this door should be finished.  One of my favorites is ZAR Antique Flat Ultra-Max.  This is a water based finish that, done correctly, leaves a flat and beautiful layer of protection without ever looking plastic.  By correctly, I mean at least three coats, with gentle wet-sanding between coats with 400 or 600 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper.

Best of luck,
Steve Major

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Stephen Major (Owner--Major Design Group)


I can answer questions regarding woodworking, cabinetmaking, architectural woodwork (interior and exterior), and the design of same. PLEASE provide photos whenever possible.


I have 25 years experience as a professional woodworker and cabinetmaker. I have a lot of experience in the design and fabrication of casework (built-ins, bookcases, entertainment centers) as well as free-standing furnishings including beds, tables, etc.

Author: "Architectural Woodwork - Details for Construction" published by Van Nostrand Reinhold (now Wiley).

BS Cornell University.

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