Rich, warm and visually engaging, knotty pine paneling can transform any interior with its characteristic markings. Every single board bears the personality of the tree it came from, and the end result is a tapestry of texture and irregular patterns for an entirely unique look. Check out this gallery for some examples of how it’s used.
Woodworkers Shoppe shows off log home applications of knotty pine paneling in a variety of beautiful interiors.
“All our knotty pine paneling is tongue and groove and end-matched for zero-waste. What is end-matched, you say? Many years ago we developed a unique tongue-n-groove design on the ends of the paneling boards known as “End-Matching”. After years of educating the public on it’s advantages, it soon became extremely popular with contractors and handymen. The end-matching demand became so highly recognized and sought after, that an industry standard was born!”
Check out this unusual ‘grandaddy blue’ knotty pine paneling from Buffalo Lumber. “GRANDDADDY BLUE STAIN PINE’s distinctive blue-gray swirling colors are the result of a stain fungus that travels into the tree when pine beetles bore into the bark. Since the 1990s a large pine beetle infestation has spread rampantly forcing the cutting and processing of many trees before the mills were ready in order to limit the spread and salvage the dead trees before it was too late.”
Woodhaven Log & Lumber, also based in Michigan, is a master of knotty pine. “Our products are made from some of the most remarkable timber in North America. Here, logs are steeled by the winter winds that blow off the Great Lakes, subzero temperatures, seasonal rains and long, hot summers.”
“As part of Woodhaven’s philosophy of preserving and protecting our natural resources for future generations, our suppliers adhere to the standards and guidelines set forth by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.® From wood scraps to sawdust, we recycle all of the by-products from our milling process. We respect the wood, as well as our environment.”
Knotty Pine is also gorgeous when used to finish a ceiling, in contrast to drywall and other wall materials. Pictured here is the interior of Aschauer Construction’s Mountain Pine model. Aschauer is a custom builder serving Arizona’s White Mountains.
Eastern White Pine proves to be as versatile as your imagination when used as a primary ceiling material, whether you apply an experimental mix of stains, arrange it in unexpected geometric patterns, contrast it with drywall or hang it in an unconventional way. These seven pine ceiling ideas range from the simple and rustic to the modern and complex.
Cloud Effect Ceiling
This unique ceiling finish by Historic Flooring, called Cloud9, is a result of blending gray, cream and white paints in rough, rustic layers to mimic the sky on a cloudy day.
Custom Eastern White Pine Frame
From Woodhouse Timber Frame Homes comes this gorgeous 3600 square foot timber frame home built in New York, showing a great example of how pine framing contrasts against finished wall and ceiling materials.
Geometric Pine Paneling
For the Yountville Community Center in California, Siegel & Strain Architects created paneled triangles that stretch up toward a central skylight, filling the interior with natural daylight and creating a visually interesting effect.
Learn about an unusual ‘basket weave’ ceiling featuring Eastern White Pine with Todd Fratzel of Front Steps Media in this exclusive NELMA video.
Slatted Ceiling Embedded with Lights
An eco-friendly, affordable cabin in rural New Hampshire made of locally sourced Eastern White Pine gets a fun ‘experimental’ touch in the kitchen, with a system of wooden slats attached to the beams, crossing over the ceiling lights like a screen for a built-in effect.
Modern Minimalist Pine in an Austrian Cottage
Made primarily of white pine, House Weinfelden by K_m Architektur overlooks the mountains of Austria from its perch on a cliff. The construction of the ceilings is simple and elegant, lending the home a clean and polished look.
Sliding along a raised platform adjacent to a former brewery and factory complex, this creative little pine structure is a mobile party pavilion that lights up like a lantern to host events after dark. The old Cesis Beer Brewery in Latvia is set to become a center for arts and science, and the pavilion connects the facility to the adjacent Castle Park. Made of locally sourced pine, the structure was designed and built by 13 students from the Riga Technical University Summer School.
Pine is frequently chosen as the main material for temporary pavilions like this one, but ‘Night Train’ stands out for three reasons: its dangling, light-diffusing lumber ‘curtains,’ its illumination and the way it slides up and down the 43-foot-long track like a carriage. The track also functions as a walkway linking the industrial complex to the wall overlooking the park.
There’s a table at the lower end, and a dining platform at the higher end. At night, a section of the pavilion’s roof is removed to shine light up onto the brewery’s towering brick chimney, allowing it to act as a beacon inviting passersby to come explore. It’s a cool example of unusual and creative temporary architecture, putting a spotlight on the versatility of pine.
“Night Train aims to provide a visual link, allowing views for brewery visitors to the park and creating curiosity about the changes afoot at the brewery from the public outside. We wanted to use light as a key element, as it has the ability to effect and transform spaces far beyond what we can physically build in this short time. At night the glowing lantern peering over into the public park attracts curiosity about what changes are going on in this derelict territory.”
It’s gorgeous no matter how it’s installed, but the possibilities for using Eastern White Pine to add a pop of color, texture and warmth to an interior wall go way beyond traditional treatments. Have you thought about creating an accent wall to contrast other materials, and taking a modern approach that shows off the material in a novel way? Sheets of plywood, vertical slats, sections of two-by-fours arranged like bricks and even bark-clad wall paneling bring us fresh new ways of looking at interior uses for this softwood.
This apartment by Netherlands-based firm i29 Interior Architects goes geometric with interesting cut-outs framing a full wall clad in white pine, and the theme continues through the stairwell and into the bathroom as a series of built-in cabinets.
These ‘Rustix Woodbrix’ white pine tiles by Rustix Creations are tongue-and-groove milled to lock together, and machined individually for a textured look that enhances the wood grain. Here, they’re installed to mimic the iconic look of subway tile.
Bark House, a company based in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, offers designer white pine bark wall paneling for a look that calls to mind weathered, rusted iron or panels of leather from afar. Step closer and you’ll start to notice all the beautiful textural details of the bark, still speckled with green lichen and small knots.
A small cliffside residence in Switzerland by K_M_architektur is covered in white pine inside and out, making the wood the main visual component to set a tranquil tone. The architect chose white pine for its minimalist appeal, particularly evident in the bedroom where it can be seen in three different forms.
Taking inspiration from the beautiful simplicity of pine and its ability to be adapted to modern aesthetics, Note Design Studio teamed up with cabinet maker Karolina Stenfelt to create a minimalist desk that meets the needs of today’s architects and designers. A slim pine box perched on a steel frame, the desk features layers of veneer laid out in a fish bone pattern and charred to a pitch black finish on the outside.
This veneer is paired with pine lumber to create a work surface and storage system full of unexpected details. Flip open the top to access the smooth herringbone desktop, bordered on one side with a built-in brass ruler. On the other side, USB and power outlets make it easy to keep your laptop, phone and other gadgets charged while you work.
Nesting drawers slide open to reveal subdivided storage space for pens and small objects, and when the desk is closed, a custom-made brass lock secures its contents. Charring the exterior was a bit of an experiment, the designers reveal; “Pine is a rather soft material and the charring was hopefully going to give the wood a hardened surface,” they say. “There is no approved technique for charring pine veneer and especially nothing proven to create and conform to the intricate intarsia pattern that covers the desk.”
Looks like the experiment paid off – the way the blackened exterior contrasts with the golden pine interior really sets off the creaminess of the wood and the pattern of the veneer.
We’ve written many pages about the historical applications of Eastern White Pine, from the King’s Broad Arrow to some of the oldest colonial structures ever built on American soil. Rising high into the sky in majestic green groves, the trees proved to be of immense value to the first English settlers arriving in the Northeast, and they soon discovered that its light weight, rot resistance and easy-to-work characteristics lends itself to everything from kitchen utensils and cupboards to ship masts and the grandest of residential architecture.
Woodworkers still favor Eastern White Pine today for these very same qualities, using it to craft boats, birdhouses, millwork, mantels and much more. It’s highly stable when dry, surprisingly strong and durable for its weight. If you’re a professional or hobbyist woodworker, you could probably use some tips for using Eastern White Pine to its best advantages. Woodcraft Magazine offers some information in its Spotlight on White Pine.
Working white pine in the shop
Let your stock acclimate in your home or a temperature/humidity controlled shop for a few weeks to ensure stability later. Then keep the following points in mind.
Rippling and routing. Eastern and western white pine contain far less pitch than other pines, but if you’re going to machine a lot of it, switch to a coated saw blade and router to avoid burning caused by gummy buildup. Clean the blade and/or cutters with a nylon bristle brush dipped in solvent.
Assembly. Drill pilot holes for screws, especially in the much harder western white pine.
Deciding on the right finish
The small pin knots found in even the best grades of white pine will remain tight, yet they can bleed through a finish. To prevent this, seal them with shellac. Remember, white pine will gradually darken to pleasing yellow-orange color no matter what clear film finish you choose (it take all, except penetrating finishes, very well.) The preference is to leave the wood unstained. If you do decide to stain the wood, first put on a commercial conditioner or a wash coat of shellac (1 lb. cut) thinned with denatured alcohol to prevent blotching. Gel stain also works and won’t blotch, because it doesn’t penetrate.
White pine finishing tips
Do not sand pine without a sanding block. The softness of the earlywood and the hardness of the lacewood result in ridges that won’t take stain or finish evenly.
Tone the finish coat rather than stain. After finish-sanding, apply a thinned (50/50) coat of clear finish, such as polyurethane, and let dry. Sand lightly with 320-grit, remove dust, and then brush on a clear finish toned to the desired color with a Mixol tint (available at Woodcraft) and let dry. Repeat for a darker color.