Spar Urethane For Outdoor Use

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Review by Mike posted 09-22-2013 06:57 PM 30500 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’ve used the Helmsman® Spar Urethane for several outdoor protects and I wanted to share what I’ve learned about this product. First off, I must say that surface prep is everything in how this product will last over time. If you clean your surface of just, grime, and other foreign items, it should work well.

I coated an outdoor bench about 5 years ago and it is now just starting to show signs that it needs to be refinished. The bench was out front of my old home on a dirt road under a porch overhang. It wasn’t in direct light, nor exposed to rain and snow. I used a paint sprayer to apply a single coat to the finished bench. The Urethane has held up very well, but it no longer beads water as it used to and there are a few peel points. I would recommend at least two or three coats with a sprayer to get a nice thick coat and finish. As expected with urethanes, the finishing color is more amber than the base wood. I used untreated pine so it made the bench just look a little richer in yellow color.

Within the last month I built myself an outdoor table. Unlike the bench, I stained the table with Minwax Gunstock stain first. Even though I read the instructions on both cans, I wasn’t completely confident that they would work together. For the table I pre-stained and pre-urethaned the surfaces before I assemble it. Again I used the sprayer to apply the urethane. The table came out great. This time I applied several coats of stain and urethane. The two materials bonded to each other well. Since I assembled the table, we have had a good amount of rain and the water is beading and pooling like I would expect it to. Once the water is cleared off / dried, the urethane is still very shiny and looks a lot better than when I finished off the bench. In comparison, the table finish is a lot better than how I had done the bench. Live and learn.

I took one star off for this product since I don’t think any product is perfect. I will use it again on the outdoor chairs I am building for the table. I would recommend this if you also want to stain the wood first. While the stain looked nice, the urethane made it pop! Overall I am pleased with the product.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View Mike's profile


408 posts in 3456 days

7 comments so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3256 days

#1 posted 09-22-2013 07:04 PM

Helmsman suggests 2-3 coats. Why would you use just one anyway?
I think 5 years is a pretty good track record for a single coat of Poly that was improperly applied in the first place.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3652 days

#2 posted 09-22-2013 10:35 PM

I must live in a more extreme environment than you; most of the outdoors stuff that I use this on peels within 2 years or so. I built a hutch for my recycling bins that sits on the deck; 5 coats of Minwax spar urethane and it was peeling before year 2 was up. I have switched to a marine varnish for my outdoor projects, costs more but way more durable than this Helmsman product.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3871 days

#3 posted 09-23-2013 07:31 AM

I agree with Dallas and Manitario. I have used this stuff on several outdoor projects and never had it last more than two years. After that it has always looked terrible. I guess it depends on the climate you live in. I live in rain country with snow in the winter and hot sun (briefly) in the summer…................

-- mike...............

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4522 days

#4 posted 09-24-2013 04:27 AM

6 coats lasted less than 2 years on my boat here in the PNW. On teak. Will not use it again in this app.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View XrayJay's profile


272 posts in 2748 days

#5 posted 09-24-2013 10:51 PM

I hate to ride the fence but I agree with all of you. I haven’t had that good of luck with it when it’s out in direct rain or sunshine. I think the key is what Mike alluded to is, he didn’t have it in direct sun or rain. I have a planter box on my covered porch near the outer side (not by the house) and it only makes it about 3-4 years using 4 coats. Manitario thanks for the heads up I’m going to try marine varnish too. Just my 2 cents.

-- Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,... because there is no work in the grave...Ecclesiastes 9:10

View DonB's profile


582 posts in 3461 days

#6 posted 10-19-2013 01:49 PM

I built a bench for the porch about 15-17 years ago. Used this product originally and since. Application was by brush. I agree with Mike on the change in color over time. It does make the pine look rich, especially with a forest green frame, Spar Urethane for the slats of the seat and back. (On my DonB LJ projects). It does get direct sun for a short period of time in late afternoon, but apparently insufficient to cause damage. The bench looks older but as good as it did when I made it. Other projects did not fair as well, so it must be the environment and the particular setting that makes or breaks the product. Although the price is similar to other products, it is still pricey for an ole retired guy.

-- DonB

View Sofia56's profile


1 post in 810 days

#7 posted 04-16-2018 07:29 AM

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