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How should I finish a picnic table made from white wood?

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Forum topic by RecoveringDeveloper posted 05-21-2019 04:16 PM 795 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RecoveringDeveloper

5 posts in 29 days


05-21-2019 04:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: white wood weather proofing termites

Can you use wood filler on a project like this? Some of my joins have bigger gaps than I would like and I’m not sure how to fix them.

Second question, someone told me white wood isn’t good for a picnic table. I guess rain + termites. I still wanted to finish the project though. Any advice on how to seal it? I actually really like how it looks as it is without any finish. Pictures are attached.


22 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

537 posts in 1007 days


#1 posted 05-21-2019 04:38 PM

If you want to go with a clear finish, be prepared to redo the finish every year. In which case, go ahead and use wood putty for your joints, you can re-apply it when you re-finish the table every year.

Not a very positive outlook, but clear finishes and the sun do not play nice together.

-- Sawdust Maker

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

694 posts in 1490 days


#2 posted 05-21-2019 06:31 PM

I think it looks good. The fact that you don’t have any complex joinery is good as this wood will move a lot in an exterior environment. First, don’t use any filler in the miter joints. It won’t look good and it will likely fall out eventually. Leave the joints as they are and let the wood move. You don’t indicate how the miters are held together. If they are only glued, you can count on them falling apart. Some mechanical brackets underneath that will accommodate wood movement might be best for the long term. Because the sharp points on the miters will soon weather and splinter, you might consider replacing the end boards with full width pieces and plain butt joints. Then fasten with flat mending plates underneath.

Based on my experience with using white wood on the exterior; use a good quality exterior stain or, if you don’t want any color, use something like Thompson’s Water Seal and re-apply every year. You might want to seal the end grain particularly where it will contact the ground with something like this.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2266 posts in 2186 days


#3 posted 05-21-2019 06:47 PM

Your going to have to paint it. It will last longer if you primer then paint.

-- Aj

View pottz's profile

pottz

5256 posts in 1372 days


#4 posted 05-21-2019 06:57 PM

id stain or paint it with a good quality paint and as bilyo said dont bother trying to fill the gaps it wont hold anyway and make it look worse.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View RecoveringDeveloper's profile

RecoveringDeveloper

5 posts in 29 days


#5 posted 05-22-2019 07:00 AM

Okay, thanks for the tips guys. I’ll skip the wood filler. Do I need to take it apart to apply the clear coat? If I do that will be a lot more work than I planned but if I don’t I’m worried about the wood that isn’t directly exposed getting damaged

As requested it’s held together with 3” exterior screws. The lumber (id 090214009289) is heat treated.

Here’s the latest progress pic.

View anthm27's profile

anthm27

864 posts in 1498 days


#6 posted 05-22-2019 09:02 AM

It looks great, dont let a few gaps in the joins put you off.

You can buy a termite treatment in a one or two liter tin that can be applied to raw wood (brush on) pre stain , paint or oil. Termites dont like eating wood that has been coated in it.

Personally I would go for a good quality oil based decking oil.

Regards
Anthony (Hong Kong)

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

3405 posts in 1775 days


#7 posted 05-22-2019 11:51 AM

+1 on no filler. I would probably just apply a semi transparent or opaque stain. If it sits in the sun, it will need to be refinished more often. If you can keep it off the ground by putting in on bricks or concrete for example, termites and rotting in general will be less of an issue. Or, you could replace the pieces in contact with the ground with pressure treated lumber to get a little longer life out of them and/or just replace them when they start looking a little rough.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View MikeDilday's profile

MikeDilday

255 posts in 847 days


#8 posted 05-22-2019 11:53 AM

Check out Rustoleum Coppercoat. I am using it on a carriage door made of southern yellow pine and it looks promising. A pile and lumber company that I bought it from use it on docks that are submerged and they said it is good stuff.

-- Michael Dilday, Suffolk, Va.

View HackFabrication's profile

HackFabrication

134 posts in 99 days


#9 posted 05-22-2019 12:33 PM

I’m with the crowd, not to use any filler.

Structural grade lumber is going to move around quite a bit as it acclimates. Even tightly screwed down boards are going to cup and bow. Pretty much the nature of this structural wood, that for the most part is protected in the interior of a house (studs, etc.), where it’s not exposed to the elements.

My big concern would be where this table is going to rest. If it’s on grass, or bare ground, the four 2×4’s on the bottom are not going to last many years. Same for the raw ends of the table/bench legs. You’re looking at an annual or bi-annual refinishing operation to keep this looking somewhere near pristine. Sun, snow, rain all will take their toll on the white wood. Or any wood. Trust me, I did annual battle with a cedar deck, for almost 20 years. A chore I finally got rid of, when I re-decked with Trex.

From an economic standpoint, I’d find some reasonably priced deck sealer, and go with that. IMO: You’re wasting time/energy/money applying anything else.

-- "In the end, it's all Hack..."

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

949 posts in 1607 days


#10 posted 05-22-2019 01:01 PM

sherwin williams A100 non tinted would be what i put on it. id thin some and let it soak into end grain then a couple coats unthinned.
the wood will start rotting at end grain so ya want to do what ya cant to seal that up but youre probably going to have to maintain it every other year or so.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5541 posts in 2881 days


#11 posted 05-22-2019 01:09 PM

The A100 mentioned above will work very well, and be a lot cheaper than many alternatives.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View theart's profile

theart

95 posts in 942 days


#12 posted 05-22-2019 02:05 PM


My big concern would be where this table is going to rest. If it s on grass, or bare ground, the four 2×4 s on the bottom are not going to last many years.
- HackFabrication

Same here. If this was going on grass, I would get some patio pavers under it to keep the bottom a little dryer.

View Davevand's profile

Davevand

120 posts in 1224 days


#13 posted 05-22-2019 02:21 PM

you will want to seal any wood that contacts the ground. I made an adirondack chair out of white wood and used a thin epoxy on the bottom of the legs to seal them. Also prime and paint all sides before you assemble.
The chair lasted about 12 years before it rotted away, it rotted from the bottom up.

View SMP's profile

SMP

1034 posts in 293 days


#14 posted 05-22-2019 03:52 PM



you will want to seal any wood that contacts the ground. I made an adirondack chair out of white wood and used a thin epoxy on the bottom of the legs to seal them. Also prime and paint all sides before you assemble.
The chair lasted about 12 years before it rotted away, it rotted from the bottom up.

- Davevand

Agree here, something on the bottom. Whether its the little metal/plastic “feet” or sacrificial seperate block, etc. Though I don’t think its completely necessary to prime and paint. A good UV exterior stain/oil finish will work well as long as you maintain/reapply every coupple years.

View HackFabrication's profile

HackFabrication

134 posts in 99 days


#15 posted 05-22-2019 04:07 PM



I made an Adirondack chair out of white wood and used a thin epoxy on the bottom of the legs to seal them. Also prime and paint all sides before you assemble.
The chair lasted about 12 years before it rotted away, it rotted from the bottom up.

- Davevand


I don’t think its completely necessary to prime and paint.
SMP

I believe there’s some sort of federal or state law that mandates Adirondack chairs be painted…..

And I agree, I don’t think paint is the answer. Penetrating stain, either color or clear. He’s going to be re-doing it numerous times before it rots to the point of being useless.

-- "In the end, it's all Hack..."

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