The Restoration Process Consists of 4 Basic Elements: Surface Preparation, Preserving, Staining and Sealing
Article Credit: Jim Renfroe
There are several hundred types of wood finishes and deciding which one to use is a confusing process. They all say the same thing because all are supposed to do the same thing, which is to protect the wood against organic growth, water absorption and UV damage. There are many ways to research the best products and options for you, including reading informational articles/brochures and talking to professionals.
There are a few common denominators about all wood finishes. One is the solids content. Solids can be defined as active ingredients or what’s left in and on the wood after the finish dries. Solids are components like resins, binders, pigments, fungicides, etc. Most over the counter finishes contain less than 10% solids. Therefore, 90% of what is in the can dissipates into the atmosphere a few hours after application leaving 10% of what you paid for, to protect the wood. These low solids finishes are cheap and ineffective. Most won’t even last one year.
A high quality wood finish will contain at least 30% solids and the better ones contain over 60% solids. The disadvantage of these products is that they cost more per gallon and the dry time is usually longer. However, instead of having to re-stain your dream home every year, a higher quality finish will look good and protect the wood for 4 – 5 years between maintenance coats. The payback comes in labor savings, good looks and protected wood.
Texas A&M University has conducted extensive tests on wood finishes. They found that most finishes failed between 7 and 18 months of exposure. Of over 200 products tested, only three finishes offered a natural look for 2 to 5 years before refinishing became necessary. TWP® , Sikkens and Seal Treat II. Seal Treat II is no longer available, leaving Sikkens and TWP.
A natural wood finish should be maintained whenever there are visible signs that the wood is aging. Examples are discoloration between the top and bottom of a log on the sunny side of the house, or when the wood no longer beads water. This should be part of a walk around inspection of your home at least once a year. New wood does not accept a finish nearly as well as wood that has been exposed for a couple of years. However, it is important to apply a wood finish as soon as possible. The first application will not last as long as subsequent applications and may have to be reapplied in the first or second year. The key to keeping a home looking good is to have a finish that can be reapplied without extensive surface preparation.
The Word on Stains and Wood Finishes
We hope you’ve found part 3 of this series insightful. We will conclude next week with a few of Jim Renfroe’s thoughts on Step 4, Sealing. In the meantime, if you have questions on any of Parts 1-3 of the Restoration Process, please call our expert team so we can help clarify.