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Green White Oak8/25/15
We have a customer building a green white oak timber frame home. The millwork and doors are kiln dried rustic white oak. He is using a clear oil finish on everything. The green wood in the frame takes the oil very light and hardly changes color while the millwork darkens quite a bit with the oil.
Would this be because the wet wood is not absorbing the oil? I know there are a few species of white oak. We tracked down the origin and the timber frame is Ohio and the KD material is New York and Penn.
I'd be surprised that the oil is drying on the wet oak.
It dries. Here are pictures of his front door with one of the beam cutoffs. As you can see the door wood varies a lot in color with some pieces close to the beam.
I think common logic would confirm your suspicion that the oil is not soaking in. If the wood fibers are saturated with water there is no place for the oil to go. As a result it just sits on the wet surface where on a microscopic level it mixes with moisture, thins out and lightens.
Personally I don't think there is any chance of darkening the wet beams until they dry out somewhat. I suppose you could try a very dark stain but that sort of thing is probably just looking for trouble in the long run. You also might have a little better luck with a water based stain but I've yet to see one that worked as well as an oil stain.
Looks like different oak species for sure. Over 400 kinds of oak, so no surprise. All wood darkens with age, except for walnut. It will darken, but will likely never reach the depth of color in the doors. They almost look closer to red oak to me.
I also wonder if the kiln drying could affect the color of the oak. I probably should post this on the sawmill forum.
The green oak should be dry enough on the surface to take a light stain within a few days, but I would hold off on final oil coats.
You ought to pick up a little Minwax Golden Oak to try on the new wood. I think it will have just enough color to get you back in the ball park.
I didn't recall any mention of the new beams having any sapwood. If there is any sapwood, it will surely be whiter than heartwood, and always will without a stain.
The rustic white we are using have some sapwood and those boards match perfect. The beam in the picture however is all heartwood. I would guess the beams have been cut for a year or so. The house has been under construction for 6 to 8 months.
There are 20 species of white oak that are in the commercial market. The color varies from one to another. In fact, the lighter color is more unusual tan the door's darker color. The color does not change when kiln drying very much, especially on the interior. You certainly can get surface dirt, mold, and sunlight darkening. Drying really hot when wet can also darken the wood, but this also creates cracking.
I dropped off some doors at the job site and snapped a phone picture of the beams with T&G rustic oak we milled. I think it is already starting to blend and personally I like the contrast.
That's nice work Joe. It's always tricky having customers around while a job is in-process. Folks tend to get attached to the look of unfinished wood. Can't say I blame them, really. Glad it worked out.
I didnt see it in the other replies but perhaps mentioning to the customer that if he matches the color for move-in day it likely wont match in 5 years even if they were the identical species. They are building a structure that will change drastically over the next 5 years and it would seem patience would be imperative. I'd think the only rational solution would be to allow the timber frame to dry substantially THEN match IT to the KD woodwork.
Having been a GC for a long time I deal with this kind of stuff so often its nauseating. It would seem to me chasing a match today is going to guarantee a mis-match for the rest of the homes life.
The customer is highly involved in the project. This was a given from the start so it is a T&M job including all consulting time. They are actually a pleasure to work with and appreciate good craftsmanship.
This was curious to me also as never seeing white oak that color. They are ok with it now.
We have a natural spruce timber frame in our own home with natural VG fir doors and windows and white pine millwork. It is like night and day when new but all goes to the same mellow color with age. I also have a #3 white oak strip floor and it has darkened a little but not a lot of change compared to the pine and fir.