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This spring I am having a pergola built over my patio. 13 feet by 13 feet.
I am 82 so I am looking for the least maintenence for white oak. I am willing to leave it unfinished if that is a viable option. I am using local white oak as it is readily available, and have a very reliable lumber source. Frank
 

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It can go unfinished, but will turn that silvery gray color you always see on unfinished wood. If that's acceptable, you're good to go. Almost any finish is going to take some kind of maintenance, some more (much more) than others. Paint would be the least, and some kind of polyurethane spar varnish near the most. If you want a clear finish that has the least amount of maintenance (among clears) that would be a good marine spar varnish, or untinted paint. But those would still need something over time, the great outdoors isn't so great for finishes. White oak is an excellent choice for this.
 
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