Why Wood Turns Gray If You Use a Clear Finish

Effect of 18 Months of Sun Exposure on Bare Northern White Cedar
Effect of 18 Months of Sun Exposure on Bare Northern White Cedar-Image courtesy Perma-Chink Systems

 

 

“The bottom line is that if only clear coats are applied to exterior bare wood they provide only temporary protection against UV damage.” – Perma-Chink Systems

Our customers often ask us for a clear finish that will protect their wood.  The truth is, clear finishes may provide water repellency, resistance against mold and mildew and insecticidal properties, but clear finishes do not  protect your log home from damaging UV rays that cause graying of your home’s exterior walls, decks and rails.  With most clear finishes you will notice graying wood within 6-24  months of initial application.

Why will the exterior of your home turn gray if you only use a clear finish to protect it?   Clear finishes do not contain the appropriate pigment load to absorb UV rays from the sun. Clear finishes often contain little to no chemical UV inhibitors and the inhibitors they do contain are often “sacrificial, in other words the more UV light that they are exposed to, the quicker they get used up” according to Perma-Chink Systems. The result is a clear finish that breaks down rapidly from exposure to the sun, leaving wood unprotected and exposed to damaging  UV rays.  Wood will then start to turn gray, which is the natural reaction of bare wood fibers when exposed to the sun for extended periods of time.

We like to compare pigmented wood finishes to sunblock. Your body’s natural reaction when exposed to the sun over time is to tan or burn, it’s just how your body manages UV exposure. You apply sunblock to create a protective layer between you and the sun.  When you apply a wood finish that contains pigments or tints, you are accomplishing the same thing as you are with applying sunblock before you go to the pool, which is to provide a layer of pigment protection between the wood and the sun.

Semi-transparent, tinted wood finishes provide your wood with UV protection. Different wood finish brands contain various UV inhibitors, but the rule of thumb is the darker the tint of the stain, the better the UV protection for your house.  If your house is located in a high sun area, where it is fully exposed for hours at a time, LogFinish.com recommends using a finish with a medium to dark tint.

If your deck or wood exteriors are weathered and gray and you have decided to re-finish them with a tinted product it is important to first remove the gray, weathered surface. To do this, we recommend using a cleaning and brightening product that will leave your wood at the proper pH for staining as well as remove any dirt and pollen that has collected on the wood.  We do not recommend using household bleach and water to brighten wood because of its ability to dramatically change the natural pH of the wood. Instead, try out an oxalic acid based product like X-180 Weathered Wood Restorer, a wood cleaner and brightener for mild to severely discolored wood.

Thanks to the good folks at Perma-Chink Systems and LogFinish.com for inspiring this article and providing a wealth of information on this subject.

How to Pick the Best Exterior Stain or Finish for Your Log Cabin-Part 2

1.  Have you treated your logs with a wood preservative?  If not, you can use an all-in-one wood preservative and wood finish  by applying Q8 Log Oil.  Other finishes such as Sikkens Cetol Log and Siding, and Lifeline Ultra 2 and 7 require a borate wood preservative before applying  the finish.

 

2. Are you concerned about making sure your logs are flame retardant?  If you live in a fire-prone area or you just want to protect your log home from the unthinkable, think about applying a flame retardant like Flame Seal which gives your home a Class A fire rating.

 

3. Would you like the finish to be film-forming or penetrate into the logs?  Outlast Q8 Log Oil  is a penetrating finish that soaks into the logs.  Sikkens and Perma-Chink products form a satin or gloss film on the wood to protect it.

 

4. Would you like a flat matte finish or a shiny satin/gloss finish?  Some people like a matte finish which gives wood  a natural, textured look.  Others like the sheen or shine created by satin or glossy finishes.

 

5. How often are you willing to retreat the home in the following years?  Some finishes require re-application in 2-3 years, after the initial coat.  Others require application every 3-7 years.  What are you willing to do?

 

6. Is a warranty on the finish you purchase important to you?   Perma-Chink Systems offers a 3-5 year warranty on their Lifeline Ultra 2 and Ultra 7  products when applied to their standards and proof of purchase is provided.

 

7. What is your budget?  Exterior finishes can range  from $1.75 a square foot to $8.50 a square foot including labor.

 

8. Are you finishing the house yourself or are you hiring someone to do the work?  Different finishes require different methods of application.  It is important to apply finishes according to the product label.  Sometimes hiring an experienced person to do the work is best, since they may already have the special equipment needed for application.

 

9. What is the weather?  Most stains need to be applied between 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit in dry weather.  Products should always be applied at temperatures specified by the product label.  Many finishes should not be applied in direct sunlight.  Some finishes dry in a couple of hours, others dry overnight and still others take several days to dry.

 

So, end the end, keep in mind that there is no “best” finish, just the best finish for you and your log home. If you have any questions about the information we have posed please do call us at 1-888-208-2248.

How to Pick the Best Exterior Stain or Finish for Your Log Cabin-Part 1

Over the years we have had one question that our clients have asked us over and over again.  That question is “What is the best finish you have available?” In reality there is no “best finish”; there are many great finishes available. The real question is “What is the best finish for you and your log home?”.  Here is the first of  several key questions to ask yourself when deciding on the best finish or stain for your log home:

1. Would you like an oil-based or a water-based finish?    There are many different  finishes, but this  question encompasses all of them.  Here are some pros  and cons about each category:

Petroleum  Based  Products

Brand names you recognize like Sikkens Cetol Log and Siding  and Outlast Q8 Log Oil are oil based finishes that contain some type of petroleum.

Pros

  • Petroleum  based stains like Q8 Log Oil will keep wood from drying out because it penetrates deep into the wood  therefore minimizing cracking and checking.  Outlast Q8 Log Oil is also an EPA registered wood preservative and has a built-in pesticide called Copper 8 quinolinolate.
  • A high solids products like WeatherSeal and Sikkens Log and Siding provide excellent UV protection.

Cons

  • Petroleum oil based products are subject to major price increases on a regular basis because of the rising cost of oil.
  • Petroleum oil based products can be tough to clean up and some have high VOC (volatile organic compound) levels.
  • Once you use an oil based penetrating stain it can be tough to switch to a different product because  it soaks deep into the wood and can be very hard to remove.

Plant Oil Based  Finishes

Pros

  • Plant oil based stains and finishes are very environmentally friendly.  
  • These stains are all natural and  can be applied in a much greater range of temperature than petroleum oil based stains.
  • Plant oil based products generally have very low VOC’s.
  • Very safe to work with and have easy, non-toxic clean up as compared to petroleum oil based stains.

Cons

  • Plant oil based stains and finishes can often require  more coats to finish the exterior of your house, therefore creating the need for more application time and a larger initial product purchase.

 

 Water Based Acrylic Latex Finishes

Pros

  • Water-based  stains are easy to clean up, usually only requiring warm soapy water.  
  • Very low VOC’s,  so they often have very little smell.  
  • Water-based stains are usually more environmentally friendly than their petroleum oil based counterparts.
  • These stains and finishes often provide a better color variety and options for satin or gloss finish.  
  • Water-based stains like Perma-Chink Systems Lifeline Ultra 2 and Ultra 7 and Seal-Once offer up to a 5 year warranty when applied to their standards.

Cons

  • Many water based finishes require an additional top coat to finish the application.

 

So, there you have it.  Hopefully this article has taken you one step closer to finding out what stain or finish to use on your home.  For extra help or questions about products give us a call at 1-888-208-2248.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

New Exterior Stain from Perma-Chink Systems

 Perma-chink Systems, Inc., has released a new two-coat only exterior wood finish that is amazing for many different reasons.

Appearance+Longevity

1. Ultra 7‘s state-of-the-art resin ensures that the seal is continuous, providing protection from holes and gaps that might otherwise develop with a lower-quality finish.  What is a polymer resin?  A polymer resin is a clear liquid plastic product that hardens to create a thick, durable, glossy coating. Once hardened, polymer resin is fade-proof and water-resistant (1).

 2. Ultra-7’s water-resistant film breathes just like Gore-Tex® to allow trapped moisture to evaporate from your logs.

 3. Ultra-7 includes transparent oxides (sunscreen for your wood) and mildew inhibitors to protect against UV degradation, color fading and mildew collection on your home.

  •  Value+Environment

1. Ultra-7 can be used in nearly every application around your home, making it a great one-stop shop product for all of your finishing needs. It works on exterior walls, decks, railings, siding, while also being compatible with all existing Lifeline coatings to help streamline your maintenance routine.

2. Perma-Chink Systems is offering up to a 5-year warranty against UV exposure when applied to bare wood and covered with Lifeline Advance clear topcoat. Click here for more details.

3. Easy clean-up!  The tools you use to apply your home’s finish need only soap and water for clean-up, eliminating the need for any harsh chemicals during the initial application or maintenance.

4. Ultra-7  meets and exceeds all standards for low-VOC exterior finishes in the most restrictive regions in North America.

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So there we are.  Lifeline Ultra 7 is supported by a 3 year warranty against UV degradation, it is a two-coat only system finishing with a one coat of Lifeline Advance gloss or satin which increases durability, and can be used for multiple applications around the home!  Whats not to like?  Please let us know your experiences with Ultra-7 in the comments below so we can develop a good understanding of the performance and usage of Lifeline Ultra-7 in the industry.  Please keep in mind that you do need to register your home with Perma-Chink Systems, Inc., in order to qualify for the warranty.

 

Thank you to Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. for providing information for this post.  Want to see Lifeline Ultra 7 colors and read more? Visit www.LogFinish.com or give us a holler for some friendly help at 1-888-208-2248.  Ready to finish your home?