"To fine tune the finish, I first purchased a couple of spare pieces and tested them with many finishing products," Herold says today. "I ended up using Watco Danish Finishing Wood Oil. The beauty of this product is that I did not have to stain the wood. You just paint it on and wipe if off. It is a painless process that gives a warm glow to the wood. I used the natural finish, and it does darken the wood a bit, but not much."
When paneling over sheet rock, Herold recommends actually placing two sheets of paneling over the sheet rock surface. "Sheet rock is never going to be flat because it is so flexible," he says. "The joists are out of alignment so you will get deflection of as much as 1/8 of an inch, and it will look wavy. I bought inexpensive lauan and used it to true the walls. I shimmed it, and attached it to the sheetrock with glue (Liquid Nails) and brads, which are smaller than finishing nails."
Next, Herold mounted the final wood panels using the same technique. The Liquid Nails glue was applied with a caulking gun in an 'x' pattern approximately every two feet. To insert the brads, he drilled tiny holes. Herold found that brads are so small that he did not need to putty over them. He warns to be careful to offset the brads from those underneath so that they do not hit one another.
Today, many products are available to help restore and maintain Eichler interior paneling, and it seems that no two people use the exact same approach. So, experimentation is key. Cooke prefers a combination of Murphy's Wood Oil Soap for cleaning, and Cabot's opaque 2000 series stain for finishing. He finds that using a conditioner is not necessary, since lauan paneling is considered a hardwood.
Lou Palladino prefers to use a polyurethane finish with a small amount of stain added. Similarly, RPM's Moseley likes a combination of Cabot stain, followed by a coat of clear polyurethane for permanent protection. Escobar found that the regimen of fine sanding, pre-stain conditioning, and custom-mixed stain produced the results he was looking for.
Other products are also available. Located in Redding, California, is Touch of Oranges, whose owner, Vicki Lewis, believes that her products offer distinct advantages for paneling restoration. "Touch of Oranges is a natural product for cleaning wood," Lewis points out. "It removes dirt and grime, and it will make your wood look like new. And unlike some cleaners, which can strip the color and finish right off, our product is gentle and safe."
Lewis also sells a wood restoration kit that includes Touch of Oranges cleaner, Restore-A-Finish stain, and Bees Wax for conditioning and moisturizing. The wax is reapplied every one to two years.
Another similar product that is popular with the Eichler community is Howard's Feed and Wax. This product cleans, moisturizes, and adds luster to old, tired wood paneling.