FAQs About Wood Finishes

How long will the finishes last on the exterior?
What about finishes for horizontal surfaces?
What is the best way to clean and prep exterior logs and wood surfaces?
Can your products be applied over an oil-based stain?
How can we retain the natural color of the wood on the exterior of our new home?
What is the best method for applying Weatherall finishes?


How long will the finishes last on the exterior?

Finishes that are applied following Weatherall recommended guidelines can go many years with only simple maintenance.

There are areas on any structure that are going to need more attentive and frequent maintenance than other areas. On our log home we have a tall southwestern wall that receives direct afternoon sunlight (intense Rocky Mountain sunlight) and also receives the brunt of weather coming out of our canyon. We find that reapplication of the Clear coat on that wall is necessary every 3-4 years. The other three sides of our home are protected either by generous overhangs, porches or simply by having a northern or eastern exposure, and those sides we recoat with Clear only about every 6-8 years. Obviously, maintenance is situational.

It is best to play close attention to the appearance of the wood, examining it yearly. When it starts to appear dull and dry, it is time for another protective coat of Clear, which will both rejuvenate the finish and add another layer of protection. If the degradation of the finish goes so far that the pigmented stain coat is affected, then maintenance is much more difficult. The stain coat may have to be reapplied and the wood may have weathered unevenly, necessitating stripping or sanding.

A simple test to use: spray the surface of the wood lightly with water. If the water beads up, the integrity of the finish is still good. If the water soaks right into the wood, it is time for a recoat.

 

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What about finishes for horizontal surfaces?

Any horizontal wooden surface exposed directly to the weather will require more maintenance, no matter what type of finish or preservative product is used. Railings are often the most challenging, being out in the weather and exposed to continual rain, snow and sun. We suggest that a mildewcide additive be combined with the finish anytime it will be applied to wood that is horizontal or completely exposed to long periods of wetting.

Decks are a special problem. Not only are they horizontal surfaces, they are also scuffed with foot traffic, pets, snow shovels, etc. Weatherall manufactures no products for decks, and when we do find a really good deck product from another manufacturer, we’ll let you know.

 

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What is the best way to clean and prep exterior logs and wood surfaces?

Following are some general guidelines on cleaning logs and wood exteriors. We would be happy to talk with you and make certain that the best approach is being chosen for your particular situation.

  • Reapplication of a maintenance finish coat – make sure the wood is really clean before application of another finish coat. Log-Gevity Log Maintenance Wash is an excellent product that will remove dirt and oxidation while maintaining the integrity of the finish. Gentle pressure washing often is best, but hand washing and rinsing with a garden hose is an acceptable alternative. Always rinse really well and allow the wood to dry thoroughly before applying the new finish coat.
  • New construction – if the soiling is only construction dirt, black marks, and perhaps a little bit of fading, we recommend New Log Prep cleaner. This product restores the wood to its original color, while opening the grain, enabling better penetration of the wood finish. Black scuff marks and pencil marks can often be removed with a gum rubber eraser. If sanding is required to remove some marks, we recommend using an Osborn buffing brush, which is much gentler than sandpaper. Although this tool may still leave an area lighter than the surrounding wood, it is more readily blended in and will not be noticeable in a short period of time.
  • Old oil-based transparent finishes, very dirty or water-stained wood – a stronger cleaning product is required to deal with these situations. We have had much success with Log-Gevity Bio Strip gel formula, a product designed to remove a variety of coatings, although not so successfully used on solid body stains, heavy latexes or paint.
  • Heavy layers of old finishes – in this situation either a heavier stripper or mechanical cleaning methods are necessary. We recommend Log-Gevity Citrus Log Stripper if you prefer a stripping product; it is biodegradable, non-caustic, and has a balanced pH that requires no neutralizing. Blasting with grit media (sand, glass) is also effective, but use caution and know that these methods will almost certainly leave a rough, pockmarked surface on the wood. We don’t recommend corn cob, even though it is economical and biodegradable. It lodges in every little check and fissure in the wood, eventually rots and can cause future growth of mildew and subsequent wood rot.

Our philosophy is that wood, being an organic cellulose-based material, needs to be treated as gently as possible. Think of it as fine furniture.

  • Do not use bleach on your wood, ever. It destroys the wood fibers and will cause much more damage and deterioration further down the road.
  • Be extremely cautious with mechanical cleaning methods such as sand blasting and corn blasting, any type of grit system. It takes skill and expertise to use these systems without damaging the wood and leaving a pockmarked and porous surface. Check very carefully the references of any restoration company or individual. There are lots of good ones, and unfortunately, too many number of not good ones.
  • Be careful with power washing. Although less likely to do damage to the wood, using too much pressure can cause removal of the softer wood, leaving an uneven surface. Even lower pressure power washing can leave a fuzzed up wood surface and these fuzzy fibers should be removed with an Osborn Buffing Brush or a ‘scotchbrite’ pad prior to application of the finish. Pressure washing also has the potential to force gallons of water inside the building through checks and unsealed joints.

 

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Can your products be applied over an oil-based stain?

If you have an existing oil-based finish that is in good condition, you may be able to use any of the Weatherall finish products as your new choice in finishes.

Water-based latex finishes such as UV Guard and UV Guard II can be applied over the top of most well-cured oil and solvent based finishes, keeping in mind that the surfaces must be clean and the old finish intact (not flaking, peeling, or powdering off). If you have chosen to use an oil or solvent based finish and it has been recently applied, Clear UV Guard or UV Guard II will make an excellent protective topcoat for that finish.

If you would prefer to stay with an oil-based finish, Weatherall’s SuStain is a premium quality semi-transparent penetrating oil based exterior finish. It is particularly well suited to be applied as a new coating over older faded oil-based finishes.

If your previous finish contains paraffin or wax, or is a non-drying oil, it will have to be removed completely before the application of any new product. These types of finishes are rarely used , but if you have any questions about the previous finish, please call us.

 

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How can we retain the natural color of the wood on the exterior of our new home?

To keep the new color of your wood, look for a light colored semi-transparent stain that is very similar to the color you want to maintain. It is very strongly recommended that a Clear finish NOT be used alone.

Homes that are coated with clear finishes do not have near the amount of protection from UV damage and discoloration. Pigments add a significant amount of UV protection, more than can be added to any clear finish. A home with only a clear finish will look good for only a short period of time, then will appear to be faded in some areas, darker in others, generally blotchy and weathered looking. Pigmented finishes last longer than clear finishes because the pigments act as sun blockers / reflectors.

 

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What is the best method for applying Weatherall finishes?

The best method of application is either brush alone, or spray application followed by back brushing. Either a hand-pump sprayer may be used, or an airless sprayer with a fine tip (.013 to .019). Back brushing works the material into the grain of the wood and brushes out runs. You should back-brush immediately if using a sprayer; this is best done as a two-person project unless brushing alone is chosen.

Keep the brushes clean by periodically rinsing them in clean water. This keeps a gummy layer of finish from building up on the brush. A gummed up brush will not work the finish into the wood and may actually help pull the finish off of the wood.

 

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