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Madison, WI 53726-2398
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Title: Paint, Stain, Varnish, or Preservative? It's Your Choice

Source: USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, FinishLine, 2013

Author(s)Knaebe, Mark

Publication Year: 2013  View PDF »

Related Publications: view

Category: FinishLines

Abstract: If you've ever admired an old, unpainted barn that has survived 100 years or more of weather, it's easy to wonder why you should use a finish on your home. However, the cracks, fissures, and air spaces that give weathered barn siding its character wouldn't be acceptable on most houses. For a discussion of weathering and decay see the FinishLine 'Outdoor Furniture, Artwork, Fences, and Play Equipment.'

Although you can't completely arrest or reverse the weathering of exterior wood, you can slow the process dramatically by using the right type of finish. Appearance, durability, cost, surface type, ease of application, and maintenance should all be considered when selecting an exterior finish.

Two basic types of finishes or treatments are used to protect wood surfaces from weathering: those that form a film or coating on the wood (film-forming finishes) and those that penetrate the wood surface. Film-forming materials include paints, solid-color stains, and varnishes. Penetrating finishes include preservatives, water repellents, and pigmented semitransparent stains.

What you choose to protect and enhance the beauty of wood always involves trade-offs. You should select the finish that best suits the application.

Keywords: paints; stains; water repellent finishes; varnishes; preservatives

File size: 298 kb(s)

Date posted: 07/17/2013

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