Best finish for Outdoor white oak

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Forum topic by CovenantCreations posted 12-12-2010 03:11 AM 17722 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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127 posts in 3780 days

12-12-2010 03:11 AM

What would you recommend for a finish on white oak that will be used outside? Thanks

7 replies so far

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4643 days

#1 posted 12-12-2010 03:13 AM

I’m not too sure that oak would do very well outside. Maybe with some type of super sealer or something.
- JJ

View chrisstef's profile


18110 posts in 3884 days

#2 posted 12-12-2010 03:17 AM

id go with a spar marine varnish

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3952 days

#3 posted 12-12-2010 04:08 AM

White oak (as opposed to red oak) can handle outdoor weather quite well. However, it will turn gray. You can slow this down with spar varnish.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View mfike's profile


100 posts in 4543 days

#4 posted 12-12-2010 05:34 AM

The marine grade urethane would work good. The white oak is not what most people think of as an outdoor wood choice, but it handles the weather very good. It will last longer than you will.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3928 days

#5 posted 12-12-2010 05:40 AM

White oak is one of the best outdoor woods around. Your options deepend on how much work you want to do and how often. First rember that the USS Constitution was made of live oak and white oak because they are waterproof, decay resistant, and hard enough that cannonballs bounced off. Red oak is niether water proof nor decay resistant.

To prevent white oak from greying, the best recommendation is to coat it with at least 3 coats of epoxy, then when that’s cured, sand and coat with 6 (yes, 6) coats of the most expensive MARINE varnish you can find, sanding between coats. Spar varnish doesn’t have much in the way of UV blockers. It’s simply a “long oil” that can give with seasonal movement. It’s the UV blockers that make marine varnish expensive and effective.

But wait! The fun is just beginning! The most you can expect is 2 years without maintainance. Then you have to sand thouroughly, after washing, and recoat with at least 2 coats of marine varnish. To do otherwise is to assure a mess as the top layer of wood cell degenerate and slough off taking the finish with them. It’s not the finish that crumbles, but the wood cells themselves. This is why a lot of people leave their furniture bare and accept the weathering as a “natural” progression.

The only downside to this is the woods tendancy to stay wet longer after a shower. White oak will, however dry faster due to the fact that it will not absorb water readily. Structures in the cells, called Tyloses act as gate valves to keep water from penetrating. It’s a lot of work; now and later. I’d leave them bare.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View semi75's profile


78 posts in 3777 days

#6 posted 12-12-2010 06:19 AM

I use black paint on all of my outdoor oak boards, and I have a lot of it. Of course it is on a fence. :)
White oak does fairly well outdoor, look through most of the south there are barns with 100+ year old white oak siding. Though thin and cracked it is still there. I remember in 1997 I was buying green white oak at the sawmill for .40 a board foot and some of it was very nice. Sadly now most of the local family run sawmills are closed within a 90 miles. There is still one open near that sells green white oak for .75.

If I was not going to paint it I would leave it bare and have the barn siding/fence look.

View CovenantCreations's profile


127 posts in 3780 days

#7 posted 12-12-2010 07:26 AM

I think I may just leave it bare, It will match in with its existing surrounds in a couple years that way too. Thanks for the replies

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