View Full Version : Walls with sunburn (ghost shapes)
09-16-2008, 05:00 PM
Our great room has beadboard walls. They're white pine, and unpainted but coated with clear, darkened poly. I guess that's how to put that. I don't really know the details because the work was done before we bought the house.
Anyway, the previous tenants (who were also the rennovators) had some things on the wall, like a trophy buck, a couple of swords, and even a few license plates. Their decor theme was sort of Cracker Barrel.
When they moved, they took all those things, of course, but the things left behind sort of ghost images of themselves — slightly lighter color areas underneath where they were. There's a big shield-shape, for example, where the buck's head was displayed. And there are light colored rectangles where the license plates were.
We don't really keep the room bright. Usually, it's just TV light and a couple of lamps, and the ghosts don't really show up. But sometimes, we turn on the overhead light or open the shades on all the windows. And when we do, the ghosts really stand out.
My question is whether there's anything we can do about the problem. If we refinish the walls, are the ghosts in the wood or just in the coating? Would a stain help, or would it just change the relative brightness of the ghosted and unghosted areas?
Does anybody have any idea what I'm talking about? :D
09-17-2008, 01:17 PM
Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?
09-17-2008, 03:08 PM
I sort of know what you are describing but don't have a clue how to fix it.
Do you have a picture of the room online? It sounds kind of cool from your description.
09-17-2008, 03:20 PM
No, sorry. And we changed the decor considerably. If you were hoping for Cracker Barrel, all that's gone... But ghosts of it remain.
09-17-2008, 06:13 PM
Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?The ghosts are almost certainly in the coating, assuming I understand the scenario. I don't know why the absence of sunlight would cause urethaned wood to lighten. It's much more likely that sunlight darkened the coating.
If it is polyurethane, you will have to strip it, which will be a big pain because of the grooves in the beadboard.
09-17-2008, 10:07 PM
Our great room has beadboard walls. They're white pine, and unpainted but coated with clear, darkened poly.
If we refinish the walls, are the ghosts in the wood or just in the coating? Would a stain help, or would it just change the relative brightness of the ghosted and unghosted areas?Conceivably the ghosts are only in the poly, but in my experience polyurethane, unlike older varnishes, doesn't darken appreciably with time. Pine, however, does - at least uncoated pine. Coated pine I'm less sure about, but I bet the ghosts are in the wood. If so, staining won't help; it'll just change relative brightness. Your only recourse then would be paint. Before making any decision, however, you'd be smart to refinish a test patch and see if the ghosts can be sanded out. Ideally the test patch should be in an inconspicuous area, but given that the ghosts result from shadowing of a spot otherwise bathed in bright light, you may not have many good choices. Ghosts in the wood can be sanded out if you're willing to do enough sanding - I sanded past the darkened surface when refinishing some pine doors once. But trying to sand a whole room to have a uniform tone would be a helluva job.
I may of course be completely wrong about the above and the ghosts are only in the "darkened poly." Even so, sanding down a roomful of poly would not be a pleasant task. If it were left to me I'd buff the surface of the poly, prime, and paint.
09-18-2008, 03:29 AM
:( Sad to hear, but thanks for leveling with me.
09-19-2008, 03:08 PM
If you're not in a great tearing hurry, I'd wait a little while and see what happens. Pine darkens considerably on exposure to light. You can prove it to yourself by putting a piece of pine out in the sun. If you like, mask part of it with a piece of dark paper or something so you can see the difference between tanned and untanned areas.
As to your walls, I would think that in time, the ghostly areas would catch up to the tanned areas. Maybe you can even rig up a series of mirrors to direct sunlight to the lighter areas!
09-19-2008, 04:36 PM
As to your walls, I would think that in time, the ghostly areas would catch up to the tanned areas.I suspect you're right about that.
Maybe you can even rig up a series of mirrors to direct sunlight to the lighter areas!That's certainly an interesting idea. One problem, though, is that there are so blessed many of them. When I said Cracker Barrel, I meant full-on Cracker Barrel. Huge surface areas had hanging crap — from old hacksaw blades to wood augers. One corner was floor to ceiling license plates. There is a shape beside the ghost shield that is clearly a handsaw. There are roughly (very roughly) parallel spots, that I have no idea what they were.
Obviously, we missed this on the final walk-through, after they'd left. But we weren't really looking for it. There's an imposing stone hearth and chimney that kinda grabs attention when the room is empty.
So anyway, I guess my choices are clear. Either forget about it or paint over natural knotty pine, which will mean a thorough sanding. We could also scrap the walls and redo them, I guess. That might actually be the way to go. The great room is an addition to the old house. It wouldn't be like we'd be tossing out history or anything.
Then again, What's to stop it from fading all over again? So, maybe paint is the way to go.
09-20-2008, 10:31 AM
If it's knotty pine, I'd never recommend painting it. There's nothing on earth that will stop the knots from showing through the paint.
You're faced with a number of not-so-good alternatives there. Living with it may not be the worst one, particularly if under most conditions the ghosts aren't noticeable. Heck, make a parlor game of it: guess the object from its spectral remnant!
09-20-2008, 11:22 AM
Agreed on the knotty pine. Conceivably you could use some kind of (very) thick wall covering that wouldn't show the beadboard grooves, but I have no personal experience with this and coverups generally offend my sense of the Right Way. Perhaps the question to ask is: do you like knotty pine? If not, and I can't say I'm too crazy about it personally, here's an excuse to replace it with something more to your taste. Not saying I'd want to get out the crowbar tomorrow, but it's something to think about.
09-20-2008, 07:21 PM
I'm too old and out of shape to get out the crowbar. :D
But we've decided, based on these responses, to begin saving for a project to replace the boards with new ones. (We do only cash-as-you-go, except for our mortgage.) We have two items on the wall — a painting on one side (The Declaration Signing from Monticello) and a TV on the other. Since those things will always be there, it won't really matter if they leave ghosts.
We really like the knotty pine look for the room. Even the ceiling, which is vaulted, is the same beadboard. In fact, everything on the mezzanine level is beadboard, but most of it is painted, isn't knotty, and isn't a problem. I think we can get by with leaving the ceiling and wainscoting (with vertical beadboard) intact, and doing only the walls. If necessary, we can stain. My brother-in-law, a lifelong painter, is an excellent stain mixer and does a great job of matching color.
Thanks for the great information. Wish us luck. :)
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