Recommend a finish for bathroom barn wood mirrors.

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Forum topic by Paul Maurer posted 03-03-2015 05:09 PM 1055 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul Maurer

162 posts in 2803 days

03-03-2015 05:09 PM

I am to make bathroom mirrors out of barn wood. It has been suggested to use spar varnish. I don’t think so and have suggested making samples to choose from. Help me determine what to sample with your suggestions please.

9 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5360 posts in 5209 days

#1 posted 03-03-2015 05:36 PM

Not enough info as to what you’re trying to achieve. Gloss, semi gloss, satin, flat sheen? Rough primitive surface?
Give us a bit more to work with.

-- [email protected]

View Kelly's profile


3805 posts in 4193 days

#2 posted 03-03-2015 06:30 PM

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.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 2770 days

#3 posted 03-03-2015 08:13 PM

What’s your purpose for the finish ? It seems to me, if you’re going for the rustic look, do you want a finish ?

View Paul Maurer's profile

Paul Maurer

162 posts in 2803 days

#4 posted 03-04-2015 06:25 PM

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.

View mcg1990's profile


159 posts in 2541 days

#5 posted 03-05-2015 12:47 AM

I haven’t experimented a whole lot, but I found using my Wagner Plus sprayer (Walmart $100 cheapy) and putting Matte Ploycrilic looked pretty good.

I hate Spar varnish and hope to never use them again.

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4246 days

#6 posted 03-05-2015 01:06 AM

Minwax satin “Polycrylic”. It is water based, leaves the wood the color it is, wont yellow.
Thin coats, if you can spray it better yet.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3939 days

#7 posted 03-05-2015 01:37 AM

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.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View TimberMagic's profile


114 posts in 2428 days

#8 posted 03-05-2015 03:24 AM

I’d test good old shellac on a scrap and see what you think. I like the blonde or super blonde to keep the finish color pretty clear.

-- Lee

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Paul Maurer

162 posts in 2803 days

#9 posted 03-05-2015 10:05 PM

Glass cleaners often contain ammonia. Ammonia cleans both glass and shellac very well.

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