I'm planning on building a small deck and some furniture and I want to leave the wood natural looking -- no staining. What's the best preservative for this application. I don't want to stain the wood at all, and I've heard of some preservatives yellowing after time. I'm familiar with Thompsons and Penofin. Are these any good and are any others better?????
I've been down this road before and hit most of the potholes! Let me elaborate.....I built our deck out of cedar and added a border trim effect with redwood so I was very interested in keeping the natural look of the wood. I tried two different "clear" deck finishes that looked great for a few months but fading and peeling by one year(here in Wisconsin). I spoke to several guys at local paint stores and was finally convinced that I had to use some type of pigmented deck stain to get any longevity so I applied a "redwood" Cabot stain that I ended up hating due to its monotonous fake redwood color. Recently someone told me that most of the log cabin owners "up north" use a product called Sikkens and they have a special line for decks. The weathered example stick was very impressive with no other product even looking half as good after one year of exposure. Here's the bad news though.....1) you have to get your deck down to bare wood (I chemical washed, pressured washed, then sanded the whole deck ) 2) you are supposed to treat all six sides of the board(yeah right!, impossible with an already completed deck so I didn't do this, but I noticed the example stick/board didn't have all six sides treated either), and 3) it costs about 55 bucks a gallon! I went ahead and went for it since I was determined not to have a stained deck. The stuff went on like thinned molasses and it does impart a honey brown color to the wood (not much color difference between my cedar and redwood boards) but the wood grain and color variations come through and so far one month later it looks awesome!!! Obviously the true test will be how it looks next spring but at this point I'm glad I did it.
Born and raised in a paint store- hated every minute of it , but learned a lot-
Thompson's is great-- you get to sell it once because of thier ad campaigns, then sell the customer again, and maybe even refer a contractor to fix the damage! They are nothing more than solvents and a wax to make that nifty water beading trick work!
The Sikkens products are fanatastic-expensive, and very high maintenence. They need to be recoated often-at least a couple years. They are kind of a cross between a "film build" product and a penetrating product. My dads deck has had it now for about 7 years, and I personally think it looks like Ch*t. As you continue to recoat over time, the pigments keep getting thicker and thicker, eventually looking very dark and quite shiny.
Clear penetraiting sealers- Every one will eventually let the wood turn grey. No pigment, no sunblock = Grey wood. Checking and splitting are inevitable.
After years of trying I'm testing and learning about a Canadian product called Lifetime- It instantly turns the wood grey and "preserves" it. The preserve part is the one I'm testing. They claim it is a once in lifetime application. It is very different than the "weathering stains" that are on the market. The colors come out beautiful--If you like grey/olive brown/aged look.(They call it "patina")
As far as stains go the best I've seen is Wood Iron or Renegade.
They definitely color the wood though. They as well need to be maintained every couple years.
--Even through all this, I can't bring myself to use the composites-- I've recently looked in to them and they just havn't got it yet.
I've now had my redwood deck for 13 years---no it doesn't look like new redwood, but that's just the way it is.
I've used Thompson's Wood Preservative ---different than their water seal---it sounds like some of the products discussed. Darkens the wood upon application, but tends to maintain that look longer---after a couple of years, either live with the silver gray or re-wash and re-treat the deck.
Totally agree--stay away from the pigmented stains---look like plastic-ville.
With redwood or cedar, you don't even want to think about any varnish---just won't last and more work than washing and re-treating every few years.
I doubt you'll find anything that satisfies all your requirements; in preserving outdoor wood, compromise is the order of the day. --plus repeated treatments on an annual or bienniel basis. I've tried Thompsons and several others, but the best one I've found is the German Xyledecor. If I recall correctly, it's available in a clear version, but that's supposedly only for use as an undercoat; as others have indicated, you have to use a pigmented type for real preservation.
I have used a deck stain on my cedar siding on my home. It probably comes in a very light color, but, anyway I used a product called SUPERDECK, Color Redwood DB1903. It has been on my home for 4 years and is beautiful. Not a ucky fake puke color either...very natural if you like a transparent stain. Check their website, if I recall they have a natural (very light) cedar color...natural. If you wish to see a pic of my home..email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love this stain! It's great stuff...about $23 a gallon.
If you want to have a look at Sikkens (after it has weather for a few years) check out my post in "Just Talking - Hello to All" I have a pic of a bench that I just finished (yellow cedar treated with Thompson's). The house and deck surround are red cedar finished with Sikkens. It really weathers well, but you do have to repaint after a few years (less often after the second coat). The deck itself is plain, untreated yellow cedar. Personally, I like the unfinished 'silver' look of yellow cedar as it ages, and yellow cedar is one of few woods that doesn't need protecting, and does not rot easily (check out those native totem poles...some have been standing for thousands of years). And again, personal preference, I like the contrast between the finished and weathered woods.
As far as the Sikkens deck products are concerned, they will wear in heavy traffic areas, leaving a 'footpath' from the back door to the stairs. This means you will probably want/need to recoat the deck more often that you would like.
I use Thompson's on the outdoor furniture, not so much for its preservative properties, but more to keep the bird chit and other stuff from causing stains. I like it, it would work well to preserve and protect the natural beauty of your deck, but plan on applying it every spring.