On Natural Timber Finishes

People sometimes ask me why I didn’t leave Montacute a natural wood colour. The answer is that natural finishes are a confusing nightmare and are not durable. For acrylic paint they say 10 to 15 years. The Accoya people say you can double this if painting on Accoya. I did the Gothic Fabrique in Intergrain Nature’s Timber Oil and it lasted six months and the wood is now black. I had always intended the carport to be natural timber, and given that there is not much cladding on it I felt I could afford to take the risk. So Montacute is painted, with only some details in natural wood.

The Dulux rep recommend Intergrain Ultra Clear for the spotted gum plinths. This seems to ne starting to crack or craze after a year. I used this over some Merbau pickets on the entrance six months ago, but this seems to be lifting already. For the Indian seat and the Indian columns, in order to preserve the remnant original pain I used I think a Feast Watson clear polyurethane ‘marine’ varnish. The seat needs to be redone every year and as it deteriorates it takes the old paint with it. On the columns I gave it at least four coats but after a year or so it has lost its gloss and is similarly flaking off with the paint.

In the carport interior I used Cabot’s Aquadeck in ‘natural’ colour which is in fact a dirty yellow. It seems that any timber finish to be durable (or semi-durable) it needs to be pigmented in order to take the anti-UV protection. I don’t like this but I may just leave it as a single coat as it is reasonably even. I had a tin of Intergrain UltraDeck (water based) in Merbau and I had decided to use this on the grounds that it is a combined stain and varnish. Only it isn’t I discovered today. In Bunnings they had a Cabot’s Stain and Varnish aimed at furniture and window trim but it only came in 2 litre tins that cost as much as 4 litre tins of anything else. I had gone to Bunnings and not the local hardware store because of colour. UltraDeck is supposed to come in a range of colours, but the only colours anyone has are ‘merbau’ (dark red) and ‘natural’ (dirty yellow). We decided ‘teak’ was best, as it was not too red or yellow. Bunnings could only add ‘spotted gum’ and ‘jarrah’.

In the end I bought a Sikkens product (Sikkens HLSe). From its name this is a Dutch firm, seemingly manufactured in Austria, and owned by AkzoNobel which seems to own everything, including Dulux. On-line reviews of all these products are all over the place, but there were hints this European product might be better and its specification specifically refers to cladding. It is an oil-based alkyd product. They recommend one or two coats plus one or two coats of a related product which has boosted UV protection, but the second product is not available in Bunnings. They did have it in teak colour, which is the base colour for related tints. They have tiny little sample pots for $11.00 (?) to test the colours, but that wasn’t really my problem, which was the type of product. So I bought this.

With these finishes you have to brush them out hard to avoid unevenness, but even so the first coat on the sample section looks uneven. This may change with the second coat, but each coat makes it darker and it is pretty dark already. The tech sheet gives it 2 to 3 years, but this may be for Europe, where, although they have to deal with damp and frosts, I suspect the climate is less wearing than our sun. I am not sure whether I have bought an old-fashioned product (some sites say the technology of water-based products are better) or a better quality import. But I am committed now. Unlike paint, once you have started you have to keep going.

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