Loft Bridge and Finishing Timbers

I wish that I were as organized as some contractors I watch or read about. Then I would be able to pass from one project to another with ease, without hesitation, waiting for funds, or researching how to do what I’m about to do. Alas, I’m not a contractor, I do hesitate, we are building debt free, and I have lots to learn. So while others are moving in to homes two months after a build begins, we’re still trudging through the elementary steps of basic construction.

We have, however, made leaps of progress on the interior. As I stated in the previous post, we decided to make a bridge to stretch from one loft to the other. This way, we only need one ladder on the main floor space. I kept the design as basic as possible but used timber frame construction, simply adding two more floor joists a couple feet off center. I then used oak planks with a 1/4″ gap between the planks to span the distance.

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We hope to incorporate a rustic railing to the design that uses rebar and more rough timbers. It’s still in the planning process.

As much as I would have liked to let my timbers age naturally and receive their gray hue of antiquity, I felt it necessary to give some sort of finish to them. This is mostly due to the fact that our ceiling is pine and pine tends to yellow over time. Since the rafters are oak and poplar, were I to let them age, the contrast from gray to yellow does not seem appealing to us. So we decided we must finish them.

There are many different ways in which I could have finished the timbers. The first that I considered was to stain both the tongue and groove ceiling and all of the timbers to give a uniform color throughout. While I think this would be attractive, it felt a crime to take away the natural color of our timbers. And once they were stained, there would be no going back.

The second option we considered was to oil the wood with a natural oil. I certainly entertained this idea for quite some time but decided against it in the end. The only reason was that oil is much different than other finishes in that it soaks into the grain of the wood. It leaves a dark rich glow to the natural color of the timber but does need re-oiled within a few years. I didn’t want to setup a scaffolding in the center of my house once it was finished in a few years to redo the whole interior.

Long story short, we decided to go with a clear satin polyurethane. That being said, I rather hate the stuff and I’ll be the first to admit it. It’s quite unnatural, requires much prep work, and stinks to high heavens. But once the timbers were finished, they were finished, and my mind can be at ease for quite some time. We went through about 3 gallons worth, but that is less than I had anticipated.

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The siding is also done now, but that is the topic of the next blog.

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2 thoughts on “Loft Bridge and Finishing Timbers

  1. mrchickadee September 23, 2015 / 1:44 am

    What a grand idea for the bridge! I love the dual lofts, should give plenty of space!

    • jlough8788 September 24, 2015 / 12:47 pm

      Thanks! My wife has been good for presenting ideas that I am usually never creative enough to come up with.

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