Before, During, & After - Vintage Paneling REFURB

After the gas meter was moved and the HVAC system was replaced it was time for demo, or as the Gaines' say, #demoday. However, our demo was longer than a day. We gutted a 2000 square foot house. It took longer than a day. I will provide a link to that adventure soon (after I write the post).

First, let me get the legal out of the way:

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On to the post.... (Click here to see the Top 5 products I wish I used!)

While demo was happening and even as reconstruction was going on, I worked on the original 1960's pine paneling. It is the real paneling, not the crap they came up with in the 1970's. Thick pine paneling. It seemed a complete shame to take it out. It seemed an even bigger shame to paint it. I had an idea.

My inspiration began when I saw these floors on Pinterest back in early 2015 :

These are pictures of a studio owned by a creative lady who makes really neat sweaters: KatWise

I emailed Kat to get further details on the great floors. She told me that a friend of hers did the floors for her. She used a product called MIXOL that she added to polyurethane to get the colors.

You can buy this kit here:

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I ordered some Mixol the next day after talking to Kat. The instructions say that you can mix this at a certain ratio and you can get some stunning colors. As much as I wanted this to be true, I could not get the great colors I was looking for by doing this. The mixol did tint the polyurethane, but not at the saturation that I needed. I found that it didn't mix as smoothly as I needed. Keep in mind, this could also be that I used water based poly and the mixol needs oil based. I'm not really sure about that and I didn't research further, because I was so frustrated at the time. The above link to the kit is still a great product, I think it was user problem (user being me). On to try something else.

I wanted my walls to look like WET WATER. Yes, I know all water is WET. But that was the best description I had for the image in my mind. I wanted it to reflect light, because this is a dark den. There are only 2 small windows and the room itself is on slab partially below grade. It is "Basement-y" or "Basement-ish", but not a full basement. I needed to reflect some light around the room so that it wouldn't appear too dark.

You have to understand that back in 2015, there weren't a whole lot of other Pinterest Mixol ideas. There are now! Hence the inclusion of this link for you all to try, because I think there are a lot of other folks who made Mixol work beautifully!

My solution was to go to Home Depot (links to come as soon as I'm approved as an affiliate) and get custom colored stain. This was not easy either in 2015. But I found a very nice girl who was up for the challenge. They had a few colors of Minwax stain, but none were close to what I needed. But we had to start somewhere. The color never got to the true turquoise I was looking for, but for the time invested and money spent, my results are great. I ended up using the greener colored stain and then added streaks of a deep blue stain. I topped it all off with a very shiny, crystal clear, non-yellowing high grade polyurethane by Varathane like this below:

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I am also going to include the next link, because Zar makes a good crystal clear polyurethane as well. Any brand should be fine. I know 2015 was only 4 year ago, but you would not believe the trouble I had finding a QUALITY NON-YELLOWING polyurethane. I think there are more choices now.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

UPDATE 12/3/19: I was going to include a link to Minwax stain that was similar to what we used at the time when I'm approved as a Home Depot affiliate, however while I was just looking over both the affiliate products AND the actual site, it seems Home Depot is now selling only VARATHANE products. I'm sure Varathane stain will work and can be tinted. Hopefully it is improved and their color palette is larger now. Just did some quick research on Google, and it seems at the end of 2018, Home Depot cleared out their Minwax products. Interesting.

I can't find an affiliate link to a product similar to what I used, but here is a regular link to something that may work. I won't get paid for this one, but such is life. I would rather direct you all to a product that will work: VARATHANE CLASSIC WHITE TINT BASE INTERIOR WATER-BASED WOOD STAIN

Here is another great product you may think about. This is a pre-stain product that may help the stain go on better. Personally, I would wonder if it would change the color of my vibrant "Staint", but it could be worth a try:

Varathane 1 qt. Classic Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (2-Pack)

I sanded my paneling well enough and I was applying the stain thick enough that splotchy staining wasn't an issue. This is supposed to be wood conditioner. Personally, I think it would be worth a try for a small project. But if I had to condition the wood on a room full of old paneling, I may have run for the hills since this would have been ONE MORE STEP. And as you can see, my color wasn't blotchy. But I do like the idea of this product and the next time I'm working with a small project that doesn't involve me craning my neck all day to apply layers of products to wood, I will try this product.

The description of the Varathane 1 qt. Classic Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner is a pre-staining step made for use on interior wood projects before finishing with a water-based stain. Varathane Wood Conditioner helps prevent splotchy, uneven staining on soft and porous wood types, including birch, maple, alder, fir and pine. High-solids formula offers excellent penetration into the wood for beautiful staining results and projects. Made to prep and seal wood surfaces allowing for a rich, deep and even color.

UPDATE 12/3/19: I am now a Home Depot Affiliate! I don't think this clickable link is big enough. Perhaps I can as for one larger?

Here are some #beforeduringafter shots:

BEFORE - (L-R/T-B) (some pictures are dated 2016, but this was work that I did from 4/5/15 - 6/7/15 in between the other projects I worked on. I was busy. I was tired. I was bitchy. But, I did it.)

1.)A close-up of the paneling before 2.) Den before looking into the kitchen (before demo), 3.) Fireplace/paneling picture before, 4.) Another close-up of paneling before, 5.) Den before looking from the elevated kitchen (the den is on slab and is 3 steps down from the kitchen.


1.)This wasn't the first sanded board, but it does show the difference in before and during, 2.) Sanded boards vs. non-sanded boards, 3.) Dittto, 4.) Just some of the tools of this trade, 5.) Looks like I am giving birth. It was may have been just as painful (I have no kids, so I'm exaggerating), but I was determined, 6.) Mad-woman on a mission, 7.) The testing center. This is where I tested the Mixol vs. the Minwax custom stain I got at Home Depot. You can see in pictures 7 and 8 that the Mixol worked fine, just not fine enough for the color saturation I wanted.

Note: The idea of this exercise was to truly STAIN the walls so that the wood grain came through. I knew that if all else failed, I could always paint the paneling. This helped in the bravery of trying this. It also helped in one of the many fights I had with my sweet husband who is not one to try many things new.....especially when it comes to color or design. Luckily, the results were beautiful, so he could show it off as if he was on board the whole time. As I stated before, the color wasn't the aqua/turquoise I originally wanted. But I decided that this was a good look, so I took it as a sign that the walls were SUPPOSED to be this color, called it serendipity and moved on.

However, I did come up with a new term for how this was done....STAINTING. The applied the stain thicker than normal and due to the age of the paneling, and some of the spots that didn't get sanded as well as I would have liked thereby leaving some of the original finish, I couldn't rub it in as well as you could with fresh wood. This worked in my favor. It kept the color vibrant. It's hard to see in these pictures, but you can see the wood through the application of both colors. Hence: heard it here first, folks!

STAINTING involves applying the stain THICKLY, wiping it off LIGHTLY, then before it dries, add the dark blue streaks with a small brush. Not sure if you can tell, but this is a big-ass room. As I've always said, you never know how big a room is UNTIL you are in it with a paintbrush in your hand. This is also why it took me 2 months and long days and nights (while also doing other projects). How the hell did I survive this house? I have no freaking clue. But I'm still standing.

DURING (cont) & AFTER-ISH - (L-R/T-B)

1.) a good comparison of the walls after they were stainted with the 2 different colors and the before of the sanded walls. I left out all the wiping of the sanded walls, tons of vacuuming, coughing, sneezing and....well, mess. But I did get one picture of my torn up wrist from all the work, 2.) a close up of the wall with both colors applied. You'll notice that I didn't touch the base molding in this process. I decided to paint all the trim a deep blue to match the second deep blue "staint", 3.) Me stainting with my wrist in a flexible brace, 4.) After-ish picture. You can see the sheen on the walls after the sealant was applied. Of course, the remodel was still going on. All those boxes you see....Ikea Cabinets we were starting to assemble. That's another post entirely.

AFTER - The room as it is today. Lord, looking at these pictures, that is one crowded-ass room. Don't get me started on the pool table. Another post you, honey!

There you have it. An adventure.....yes, that's what I'm calling it. I do love the result, but could I do this today? When you are in your 50's (as I have well established) projects have new meaning. Especially when they involve the physical labor that this house involved. However, I can always say that I did it! I have the picture to prove it! Yes, I had help with the house, and will share all that help in posts to come....but this room, I was on my own!

That is all.

Carry on.

UPDATE 12/3/19: Now that I am a Home Depot Affiliate, Let me say this about that......

I really, really, WISH I had thought of a product like this stain applicator. Since I was stainting, I'm not sure how thick the stain would go on, but the pole and the applicator pad may have actually saved my wrist some trauma:

The description of this stain applicator shows that it normally would be used for deck stain. But I think if you are staining vintage paneling that is 8 feet high, it will still be helpful.

Stain Applicator Description:

Now there is a way to cover surfaces and gaps between the boards at the same time. The Deck Pro stain stick with Gap Wheel Stain Applicator combines the StainStick with the Deck Pro with Gap Wheel in one. Simply feed stain to the applicator pad by pushing the handle and cover the surface and gap in one-pass. The spring loaded wheel drops in-between boards to finish both edges and boards at the same time. The ergonomically designed pivoting push handle extends to 54 in., so the user is able to stand upright without bending. Handles holds 18 oz. of stain, simply push to feed stain directly to the stain pad.

Amazon Disclosure:

Marla Sanderson/

is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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