Staining wood. Renovation of an old manor house, Portugal

Now that we have all of the skirting boards for both the floor and the ceiling it is time to get them to match the existing wood on the ceiling, we have tried all kinds of varnish and stain and struggled to find a match. The best we found was a red mahogany stain on German ebay and teak exterior varnish mixed together.

I have my space in the garden, nicely slotted between the piles of rubble and spend the next couple of days painting them.

When they are all finished John puts one in place to see how close the colour is, it isn’t, it looks totally different, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but they look too different to leave.

John suggests painting the entire ceiling, but I love the colour it is now, and don´t want to to do that.

Time for a drink.

When I come back John has painted a corner of the ceiling, but before I can start an assault, it actually looks really good, he then paints the rest of the bedroom ceiling and it looks great, so problem solved all the ceilings will now be covered.

I had really not wanted to do this and was sure that it would change the colour, but it actually just seems to bring the ceiling to life.

Never be afraid to try things, you can always change it again if you do not like it.

Our only other alternative would’ve been to search for a dye that was over a hundred years old and we had spent far too long finding this one.

This will always be problem when you are renovating an old property, if you want to keep features, it will be difficult to find replacements, but persevere as it is worth it.

Top tips

  • Perseverance is essential
  • Do not be afraid to try things
  • Remember, what is the worst that can happen?

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Staining wood. Renovation of an old manor house, Portugalrenovation of an old manor house Portugalrenovation of an old manor house Portugal

3 comments on “Staining wood

  1. Looks great you’ve made the right decision!


  2. thanks we are really happy with the result


  3. Even if you’d found the original dye I’d say there’d be about a 99% chance that the existing finish is an intricate mix of the original stain (possibly tinted shellac), natural darkening of the wood and 100 years of deposits from smoke and dust, possibly encapsulated by additional layers of shellac and/or more modern finishes. Our kitchen ceiling (that we dismantled for various reasons) was a very dark brown, considerably darker than yours looks in the pictures. When I hit one of the boards with a Scotch pad and plain cold water it quickly turned back to natural spruce!

    We never quite figured out the full story of that ceiling but the guesswork led us to the following rough conclusion: at some point in the late 19th century that kitchen had an exposed beam ceiling with random-sized partly round oak beams and an opening for a HUGE brick oven in one corner, covering about half of today’s window. At some point, probably in the 1930s, the oven was dismantled and the chimney removed. The hole in the ceiling was then closed with rough plain boards and spruce tongue&groove boards were nailed to the beams. Since they varied so much in size all the shimming they did couldn’t bring the ceiling anywhere close to flat and level. We thought we might be able to save the original ceiling but as we removed the newer boards we discovered the state it was in – poorly built to begin with, a big hole (roughly 1×1 m) in a corner, the boards nearly black with age and soot and fist-sized holes thanks to old insect damage. Now the ceiling is level and plastered like the hall ceiling.


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