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Generally, driftwood or barnwood will take on a golden amber look when you apply oil or oil based poly. It's a nice effect, but, obviously, the gray turns.

I've had good luck keeping the original look with lacquer, but I had to mist the first coat, or three, so it rested on the surface and dried, rather than soaked in.

I haven't tried the waterborne finishes. They might be worth a shot.

In the end and once you get the surface sealed, anything should be fair game. As long as you keep the wet off, it should be fine.

If you want to crank up the protection against shifting due to humidity changes, consider sealing every side and edge. However, unless your bath is a sauna or like one, running a fan will go a long ways to eliminating unwanted, damaging moisture. Too, the little amount that is going to work its way into the wood from the back should be minimal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The barn wood is very weathered and worn. Its texture is rough with about 3/16 variation. Its surface must be kept in this condition. As for the type of finish - I am leaving that up to the customer. I am looking for experienced opinions, so that I don't overlook an option to sample for the customers selection.
I am in favor of no finish or an oil. However the customer was sold spar varnish and is concerned about the moisture in the bathroom.
 

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I love Spar urethane! I have sprayed it on a lot of rustic and live edge projects. It will add some color/darken the wood but would be a good choice in a bathroom environment.
 
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