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Pros and cons of leaving wood T&G interior unfinished

chandlerkemp | Posted in General Questions on

I’m going to be installing tongue and groove pine in lieu of drywall in an apartment this summer. After reading through Bryan Pontolilo’s article on VOCs (, I’m thinking about leaving the wood unfinished. What are the pros and cons to this approach?

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  1. gusfhb | | #1

    Bare wood will get dirty and you cannot clean it.
    One would not leave drywall bare for the same reason
    I would find a low VOC finish.
    Ventilate well until it dries

  2. orange_cat | | #2

    Rubio monocoat is advertised as 0 voc, but there are other wood finishes (linseed-oil based, etc) that are 0 voc or close to.

  3. jollygreenshortguy | | #3

    I wouldn't do bare wood, especially in a rental. In fact, I used pine walling in my own home on two small walls. Water based polyurethanes are very low in VOCs. Leave the windows open and run a fan while doing the work. Maybe keep the windows cracked open and the fan going for a couple of days after.
    I used a clear polyurethane on one wall. On another I mixed in about 50% of white acrylic paint and put on 3 coats, to give the wall a lovely white transparent glaze that still lets the grain show but is also easy to clean.
    Elsewhere, where I expected less wear and tear I just rubbed in some beeswax and linseed oil.

  4. Expert Member


    It's worth distinguishing between products that emit VOCs during application, and those that continue to do so afterwards. Most water-based wood finishes emit some VOCs while you are applying them, but give off negligible amounts after that.

  5. Expert Member
    Akos | | #5

    One thing to watch with pine is that it yellows pretty quick. If you want the natural wood look, I would include a stain and use an outdoor clearcoat that has UV protection.

    I've had good luck with mixing a water based pickling white wash with a water based clear coat as a single coat base layer. This is enough to protect the wood but another layer of clearcoat adds a lot more durability.

  6. walta100 | | #6

    When you say apartment that implies mutable families will be living in the same building.

    If that is true make sure you understand the local code for multi family building. I would be very surprised if the wall you described satisfied the fire code for multi family.

    Will the wall have an air barrier?

    Sound like perfect for cockroaches.


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