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staining ceiling

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: Aug 28 2005

Hi, I have an original unpainted ceiling with painted beams on my eichler that looks kind of old and need to be refinished. Is it possible to stain the ceiling to have a lighter wood color? I really want to avoid painting it since I like the wood color, but unfortunately it is making the room look dark and small.

I also noticed that most houses with unpainted ceiling have a dark beam color, vs white beam. I wonder if painting them to a darker color can make my ceiling look better?


Joined: Aug 25 2005

You have a great looking ceiling, you have no stains or discoloration, I wouldn't touch your ceiling. Before considering painting or staining your ORIGINAL ceiling, try these steps first....
- To stain your ceiling, I would assume you would use a brush to stain it. First try staining your garage and see how long that takes, then multiply that by oh 10 times to do the rest of your house. You'll quickly find out that it's very hard and time consuming. You would have to also tape off your beams and trim. Plus, you might not get the right look from the stain that you think you like.
- Try to paint your beams first. A fresh coat of white or off white paint will brighten up the room. Darker beams will only further shrink your room. You also have to remember that if you paint your beams dark on the inside, you'd have to paint the outside beams too.
- You also have the high peak roof so staining with ladders might be difficult.
- Try buying or directing lights to shine on your ceiling, that would brighten your rooms considerably.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is you have a rare feature in your house, no-one's touched your ceiling for 44 years. Preserving what you can goes along way in these homes.


Castro Valley

Joined: Aug 28 2005

You're right Nick, for the most part it looks okay. There are some areas in the room that have black spots (might be a tar leak from the TG roof?) that I would like to sand and restain though, and also parts of the ceiling on the outside have discolored due to the weather. I guess the easiest way is just use the same stain color to fix these areas.

Joined: Sep 22 2004

We also have original unpainted ceilings, and it is definitely
dark and you can put as many lights as you want, it's
still dark. When I've seen Eichlers that I've liked, they've
usually had painted white ceilings.

So can someone who has acgtually painted their ceilings
say whether they were happy with the results or whether
they regretted it?

Joined: Dec 14 2003

I've never painted a stained ceiling. Instead, we went in the other direction. We stripped and stained the ceilings in most of our house. It was a BIG job. I still haven't stripped the front two bedrooms and plan on simply painting the exterior eaves to match. I was just napping in the guest room today and looking at the white painted ceiling. I mean no offense to those of you with painted ceilings, but I think paint is ugly. The white paint on the uneven boards just looks messy and imperfect to me. My restained ceiling is much nicer. Shaw, do not paint your ceiling. Trust me. You would be covering up thousands of dollars worth of beautiful redwood -- something unique -- with plain white paint just like any ordinary type of house.

Joined: Jul 6 2006

We actually have ceilings that are partially painted white and partially the same area of the house. The original owner painted the living area white but left the original over the kitchen and dining area. The funny thing is, the light actually reflects better off the the original portion of the ceiling even though it is "darker" than the white. The paint seems to absorb the color a bit while the light actually reflects off the original finish. I really notice this in the afternoon as the sun streams in and hits both parts of the ceiling evenly. Even though the white may seem lighter and brighter in general, I definitely don't feel that it makes that part of my house any lighter. We plan on removing the white paint this summer.

Joined: Apr 2 2003

Our ceilings (and every other piece of wood or brick) were (badly) painted white when we moved in. We mistakenly like the Sante Fe look of one of the bedrooms in the Jerry Ditto book and paid to have the ceilings "refreshed" in off-white and the beams painted black before we moved in.

Some time later we awoke to the Eichler aesthetic and had to rectify our mistake. We stripped the ceilings in the "public" areas to reveal a medium tone redwood. Removing ceiling strips and checking closet ceilings (unpainted) allowed us to see the original grey stain. We purposely chose a stain color a shade lighter. Still, I was surprised to find that applying stain actually *lightened* the color of the wood (much like a whitewash does). We then painted the beams off-white (their original color). The light grey vs. off white is sufficient to create the necesary contrast and yet the overall look is still light.

Now, not everyone will want (or should) strip their painting ceilings. This is definitely "a labor of love"--real estate speak for "loonies only". However, I think the principal that if you have a near-original ceiling you are better to sand and stain, rather than paint, is true. Both approaches require prep but one will had $$ to your resale (and enjoyment) and one will land you in the masses. Of course, this is simply my opinion for what it's worth.


eichfan at rawbw dot com

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