Oil Finish Virtues and Vices

Exterior oil finishes are a good alternative to exterior varnish. Exterior oils are very easy to apply—just brush or spray them on, let them soak into the wood and then wipe off the excess. Unlike varnish, exterior oils don't form a film on the surface, so there's nothing to crack or peel. Modern exterior oil finishes provide good water repellency. Most offer resistance to ultraviolet light (UV) and mildew.

On the other hand, exterior oil finishes must be reapplied as often, if not more often than film finishes. This can range from every couple of months to clear cedar-toned cedar-colored cedar-colored semi-transparent opaque

Pigmented exterior oil finishes come in a wide array of colors.

every couple of years. But since exterior oil finishes are so easy to apply, maintaining them is not difficult. Some exterior oil finishes should not be used on outdoor furniture, because they can rub off on clothing. Before you buy, doublecheck die product's label, or ask your paint dealer to make sure it's appropriate for furniture use. Finishing your outdoor project with exterior oil has three benefits. First, an exterior oil finish seals the wood so it repels water. Water repellency stabilizes the wood by minimizing the rapid swelling and shrinking diat's caused by the periodic absorption of rainwater. Repeated wood movement inevitably leads to checks and cracks—even in rot-resistant woods such as cedar, white oak and teak. Checks and cracks hasten decay by allowing water to penetrate deep into the wood.

Exterior oil finish formulations include clear, toned, semi-transparent and opaque, depending on how much pigment they contain. Clear finishes (which add an amber color to the wood) need to be reapplied every couple of years, because they afford limited resistance to the sun's ultraviolet light. Opaque finishes last the longest, because they contain the most pigments, but they also obscure most of the grain.

Pigmented exterior oil finishes come in a wide array of colors.

Second, most exterior oil finishes contain an additive to prevent mildew (called "mildewcide;" check the label). Mildew causes unfinished outdoor wood to turn blotchy, especially in humid climates or in shaded, wind-protected areas that are slow to dry out. Mildew is mainly a surface problem, but it makes wood look dirty and it will rub off onto clothing.

Third, most exterior oil finishes contain additives that keep outdoor wood from turning gray by blocking the sun's ultraviolet light. The sun's ultraviolet light is the culprit drat grays wood. UV-blocking additives also protect the finish itself from degradation. Generally, UV resistance increases with the amount of pigment an exterior oil finish contains; in other words, the more opaque the finish, the better its UV resistance. That's why paint is the ultimate in UV protection. Here's a tip: Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too? If you like the gray, weathered look, choose a gray-pig-mented oil finish. Then you'll still get the other benefits of having a finish on your outdoor wood.

Revitalize Gray Weathered Wood

If your furniture has turned gray or dull, you can restore cleaner with a brush or sprayer and let It soak awhile. Then its naturai beauty by using a wood cleaner before you stain, scrub briskly and hose It off. When the wood is thorough-

Wood cleaners are often called "deck cleaners." They're ly dry, it's ready for a fresh coat of finish, available at most paint stores and home centers. Apply the

Weathered and gray, his redwood Cleaned and brightened, this section Finished with pigmented exterior board has gone through many of the board appears much lighter. oil, this section of the board looks seasons without being finished. virtually brand-new.

Apply exterior oil finish with a brush or spray.Thoroughly saturate the surface and then brush out or rag off any finish that doesn't soak in.
An easy test determines the condition of an exterior oil finish. If the water soaks in, it's time to recoat.

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