When I was nine years old I discovered ‘blush’ in my mum’s make-up drawer. I put a little on my cheeks and scrutinized my reflection. It didn’t seem to make much difference. So I added a little more. Still not noticeable. So I added a little more. After five or six applications, I finally started to get a ‘mod’ look.
Then the doorbell rang and I ran to answer it. A nice lady selling religion looked at me with a shocked expression and said, “Oh you’re feverish. I’ll come back another time.” I shut the door and checked the mirror. Okay, maybe I did have too much blush on.
It’s funny how your brain perceives things.
It’s even funnier how your mind can maintain the impression that something looks the same as it did five or 10 years ago, like your figure or your car or your outdoor furniture.
And then one day you suddenly notice, “Whoa, I’ve got serious belly fat!” or “Whoa, my car looks like it belongs to a vagrant!” or “Whoa, my patio furniture is the colour of rot!”
I had that very experience last weekend with my outdoor benches. I’d built them myself around the turn of the millennium and had proudly applied milk paint to the base and five coats of water-based clear sealant to the seat. The coatings had oxidized to the point of molecular extinction. The seat was a bird-poop-splotched, weathered bed of slivers.
Wood that I could
I hauled out the random orbit sander and went at that bench with an 80-grit sanding disc. Then I mixed and applied milk paint (www.leevalley.com) to the base; so far, so good.
Now, was I going to repeat the five-coat mistake on the seat? Not likely. But here’s the problem: I didn’t want to use an oil-based product because, although they’re durable, they stink and damage the environment. Luckily, there have been recent breakthroughs in the world of environmentally-friendly outdoor coatings.
I went with Sikkens New Cetol ‘SRD’ (that stands for Siding, Railings, Decks), a single-coat low-VOC wood finish made from an emulsion of alkyd and acrylic. (By the way, Sikkens has been around since the 1700s, so they’ve had time to practice their emulsifying.)
Wood you look at that
New Cetol SRD produces a rich, matte finish that allows the grain of the wood to show through. It cleans up with soap and water and the odour is mild; in fact it has a pleasant butterscotch-y smell. But the best part is that it’s fun to apply, penetrates beautifully and protects wood from ultraviolet rays, humidity, rain, sleet and snow (we can get all of that in one day around here).
It won’t peel since it’s a penetrating stain, and can easily be touched up when worn. It’s breathable, so it will never cause cupping or warping the way solid coatings will. It’s designed for use on natural wood decks, fences, siding, docks, shakes and shingles, outdoor furniture and log houses. Pressure-treated wood is a good candidate for New Cetol SRD as well. (Some people think they don’t have to do any maintenance on pressure-treated wood, but they’re wrong; it will split, cup and warp if not regularly treated with a finish that protects it from sun, wind and moisture.)
New Cetol SRD is available in eight colours, but since the stain is tinted with iron oxide, all of those colours are in the orange portion of the spectrum. Even the ‘Natural’ hue has an orange cast to it. I can overlook that though, since iron oxide is great for UV protection. I chose ‘Mahogany,’ which is the darkest shade in the line.
If you have any exterior wood structures (vertical or horizontal), applying a coat of New Cetol SRD is a good investment. A gallon goes a long way and has a shelf life of five-plus years.
The wood has to be thirsty. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the boards. If the water beads up, there’s too much residual waterproofing in the wood, or it’s still glazed from the mill. You’ll need to wait for the elements to do their magic. If the water sinks right into the wood, it’s ready to be treated;
Use a natural bristle paintbrush to ensure good penetration;
Surface prep is crucial, especially if your wood has an existing coating; visit www.sikkens.ca for details.
A gallon of Cetol New SRD retails for $51.70. For more info, or to locate a Sikkens dealer, visit www.sikkens.ca.