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From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three

Things That Make You Go… Oops…

I’ve been meaning to write an update on the beetle kill staining experiment for a while, but the switch back to night shift from days drained my will to type more than the occasional easy-peasy FB post. Thankfully a dear reader who read my previous post about the beetle kill staining experiements and my ever-increasing level of frustration over finding “The One” stain that brought out the best of the blue staining without drastically altering the look of the wood, and her expressing desire to see the latest staining attempts finally lit the proverbial fire under my butt to make a real blog post about it all. I’m at work and don’t have access to all my photos, but I’ll share what I have and update more if needed at a later time.

First, though, I want to confess what I consider to be an “oops.” I’ve railed before about how upset I was that our original stain choice, Penofin Ultra Premium Red Label in Transparent Clear, changed the color of the beetle kill from a lovely shade of grey-blue and natural pine to a yellowish orange and barnwood brown. I was upset because the original fascade style I envisioned for our house included a most definitely blue-grey lower half covered in beetle kill and an upper half of painted board & batten, and the Penofin altered the look so dramatically. It was a lovely look for a more rustic house than I had originally imagined, but without that signature blue-grey stain visible it simply wasn’t going to work for our needs.

This is what the Penofin did to the beetle kill. It’s actually quite lovely, but we were shocked to see the pretty blue-grey shift to a barnwood brown. Not what we were looking for!


I emailed Ryan at Sustainable Lumber lamenting the discovery, and he suggested a simple waterproofer that wouldn’t alter the wood’s look at all, and after returning the remaining 4 gallons of Penofin for a $200 refund I promptly bought 2 gallons of Seal Once from Amazon as he sugested. I had been staining the back side of the beetle kill with the Penofin simply because I had it on hand and the wood still needed to be protected, but once I realized just how deeply the oil was penetrating (as in all the way through to the front side fo the wood – good stuff!), I realized I out to start using the Seal Once to prevent the rest of the wood from having the colors altered  by the Penofin any further. The Seal Once really, truly goes on comepltely clear and in no discernable way did it change the natural colors of the beetle kill. The decision was made that we would mix and match the Penofin back-sealed pieces with the Seal Once ones when we started the siding install to help blend the two together and make the bleed-through from the back not so obvious.

The left piece under the window had its back stained with Penofin, which bled through to the front and darkened the colors. The piece on the right was clear coated with Seal Once and looks like it naturally looked from the mill.


Now here’s the “oops” part.

I really, really, REALLY wanted to make sure the natural blue-grey stain in the wood was prominent, so I used Sherwin Williams Blue Shadow stain to lightly brush over all the natural blue staining in the wood. Unlike oil based stains, you don’t really have any excess to wipe off the wood, and with the wood having been sanded down there was no mill glaze left to resist the stain anyway. What resulted was a very deep blue stain of the natural blues in the wood that, unfortunately, ended up looking more like I painted it purposely blue than highlighted the natural colors and patterns within the wood itself. Oops.

I had hoped that applying the Benjamin Moore Sea Gull Grey stain, another non-oil option, would help balance out the colors a bit and make it far less obvious that dummy me “painted” the wood blue. Sadly, though, all it did was mute the darker blue and, not surprisingly, turn the natural pine a pale grey-blue. Don’t get me wrong – it’s lovely, truly – but now that we have so radically changed the overall look of the house with all the recalimed wood and unpainted cedar, the more or less monochromatic look my (in hindsight) poor staining choices have created. I’ve bought six different stains in order to achieve almost the precise look I originally envisioned for the beetle kill only to determine that it doesn’t quite work with the current incarnation of the fascade. Go figure!

This is a triptych showing the natural, unsanded beetle kill; what the Blue Shadow stain did to the natural blue-grey in the wood; and what it all looked like after a coat of Sea Gull Grey stain.


What I probably should have done was cover ALL the wood in the Blue Shadow stain and called it a day, or done what I did on a couple of the sample pieces and use Blue Shadow on the natural blue and Harbor Mist, a gray stain also from Sherwin Williams, on the natural pine parts. With the mill glaze still on the wood, it resisted the two stains ever so slightly and gave it a really cool multitonal look even more than just having the natural pine color and beetle kill staining. Maybe what I should have really done was NOT sand anything down at all, too, which let the stain soak in even more, thus making the Blue Shadow darker than I imagined it would turn out. Live and learn, and then get Love’s (or a migraine) I suppose.

So, here’s the plan now. I took a scrap piece that had a good blend of both the natural pine and the blue-grey staining and treated it the same way I did the siding with the exception of a reduced dry time between the Blue Shadow and the Sea Gull Grey. I let it dry overnight before sanding the whole thing down again and brushing on a thin coat of the Penofin oil that I let sit for about 10 minutes before wiping off the excess. I waited 2 whole days before checking the results (work and biting cold wind kept me away), and while it isn’t a perfect solution, we both agreed that adding back a little more color courtesy of the darkening effects of the Penofin will help the beetle kill compliment the cedar and the various reclaimed woods that so dramatically changed our plans for the house’s look. This is the final plan as there’s no going back after this, so I’ll have to love it no matter what or else have to paint over all that beautiful wood. No thank you very much.

While this pic doesn’t show it off really accurately, here you can see the scrap piece (with more of the gold tones visible) sitting up against the siding as it is now. While I didn’t do a great job of sanding the scrap piece down for this experiment, nor did I leave the Penofin on for very long, I think we can make this all work with some heavier sanding of the beetle kill and a bit longer penetration time for the final stain.


Now, I keep mentioning the natural cedar and the need to make the beetle kill compliment it, but in reality even the cedar won’t be left alone. Instead of leaving it the natural reddish brown we will be adding a colored stain over the board and batten sections anyway. After realizing the Penofin actually was a good choice for the new direction our house has taken, I ordered 2 gallons of their Verde stain in the “pine” color that acutally has a deep blue-green tint to it. No matter what it ends up looking like on the cedar, that’s the color it will be period. point. dot. The only cedar that will remain its natural color will be the belly band (accentuated with a coat of the Penofin clear), the shake shingle accent areas, and possibly the two pieces on either side of the front big blue window. I’m still deciding if I’ll add any color to those two particular pieces or not, but right now I’m really leaning toward a coat of Penofin and calling them done. Brandy is right that I’m suffering from a case of “paralysis by analysis” on the siding color choices, and I’m just over it now. We’ve got sooo much more to do on the outside of the house let alone the inside, so as the crude saying goes… it’s time to shit or get off the pot! 😉

This is a screen grab of the Penofin Verde color chart from Penofin.com. I really like the “Pine” and “Willow” colors, so hopefully it will look at pretty on cedar as is does on pine.


I’ve basically given up on timelines all together since weather and work keep getting in the way of progress, but we are also not really under any sort of time restriction anyway. We’re ready to start throwing up the siding on the right side of the house as soon as we get a chance, and then we can tackle the tongue side window bump out and storage shed project. Right now I’m just trying to get used to working night shift again while still managing to sneak in runs and boot camp workouts as frequently as possible, and Brandy is hard at work trying to get R.A.D totally potty trained. Oh yes, there is a great deal of battle royale going on behind the scenes in that department between the two waring kingdoms of Ser Dadimus Rex and R.A.D the Defiant (there was a massive poopsplosion just prior to my departure tonight, and I’m fairly certain those undies have since relocated to the Trash Heap in the Sky), but I’m grateful we have a “real” bathroom with endless running water in a big tub/shower and a flushing toilet to navigate these choppy waters. I can’t imagine trying to potty train a toddler in a tiny house with a composting toilet and a limited water supply, so hallelujah for an un-rushed building time frame in that regard. Small favors, right?!

Well, back to work! We *may* have some exciting news soon, so I’ll post on that once things get ironed out. 😉


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