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Shellac for planter box?

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Forum topic by Travis posted 11-09-2019 02:44 AM 190 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Travis

339 posts in 302 days


11-09-2019 02:44 AM

Hello all,

I’m in the final stages of building a planter box out of flatsawn white oak. I picked white oak for its excellent weathering properties. Still, I’m wondering if I should consider some type of finish just to help prolong its life. I live in Phoenix and we have blistering summers. I think UV is definitely more of a concern than water, though I plan to line the inside with plastic and I’ve heard moisture can get trapped between the lining and the wood.

I was thinking about using fresh shellac from chips; I’m new to shellac but I understand water resistance is much improved when made fresh vs pre-mixed. I was thinking shellac because it is easy to touch-up/repair and I expect any outdoor finish needs frequent work. I know spar varnishes are more common, but to get a quality spar varnish is costly and even then I understand they are usually only good for a couple of years. Since the oak should weather well on its own, I thought shellac might be an easy way to give it just a little help. But I’ve also heard shellac doesn’t do well outdoors.

So…. should I just leave the wood raw, or would shellac (or another easy to repair) finish be beneficial?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.


10 replies so far

View Hammerthumb's profile

Hammerthumb

2968 posts in 2510 days


#1 posted 11-09-2019 03:03 AM

Shellac is not an outdoor finish. You will probably get some clouding of the finish from moisture relatively rapidly. I would recommend a deck oil that is not a film finish. You will have to re-apply every year or so, but won’t have to strip it down like you would with a long oil varnish.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2529 posts in 2333 days


#2 posted 11-09-2019 03:42 AM

Travis it’s not a good idea for your finished project. I recommend you make a test piece on some scraps shellac it and see how it does.
Remember outdoor stuff is up against Mother Nature. And the Sun both are titans in their own way.

Good Luck

-- Aj

View DrTebi's profile

DrTebi

347 posts in 3802 days


#3 posted 11-09-2019 06:41 AM

I have, just for fun, tried shellac outside once. It was the door step from our deck into the kitchen of all things. The wood was douglas fir. I was actually surprised how well it held up. Here in San Francisco the door step was mostly exposed to sun, since not a lot of rain made it directly onto the step (a deck above). Nevertheless, eventually it sort of came off, also because it was stepped on, too, of course.

Our deck had been finished with whatever super durable outdoor finish. About a year or so later it looked like crap. Some areas are OK, the areas where most rain hit or where we walked over the most, were almost down to the bare wood. The “contrast” between the finished and unfinished parts is just plain ugly.

We have outdoor furniture that is teak. I clean it thoroughly once a year, and apply linseed oil. That works quite well for a few month. Rain seems to be the enemy on those. I also made a steel table with a redwood top. The redwood held up quite nicely, I oil it once a year just like the teak.

For your planter, I would take Paul’s advice and just oil it. It won’t last long, but any other finishes will be a bit of a pain to refinish, since they don’t “weather” evenly.

View Travis's profile

Travis

339 posts in 302 days


#4 posted 11-09-2019 07:26 AM



Shellac is not an outdoor finish. You will probably get some clouding of the finish from moisture relatively rapidly. I would recommend a deck oil that is not a film finish. You will have to re-apply every year or so, but won’t have to strip it down like you would with a long oil varnish.

- Hammerthumb


This is exactly what I was looking for! I had never heard of that product but it sounds like just the type of finish I was imagining.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Travis's profile

Travis

339 posts in 302 days


#5 posted 11-09-2019 07:28 AM



I have, just for fun, tried shellac outside once. It was the door step from our deck into the kitchen of all things. The wood was douglas fir. I was actually surprised how well it held up. Here in San Francisco the door step was mostly exposed to sun, since not a lot of rain made it directly onto the step (a deck above). Nevertheless, eventually it sort of came off, also because it was stepped on, too, of course.

Our deck had been finished with whatever super durable outdoor finish. About a year or so later it looked like crap. Some areas are OK, the areas where most rain hit or where we walked over the most, were almost down to the bare wood. The “contrast” between the finished and unfinished parts is just plain ugly.

We have outdoor furniture that is teak. I clean it thoroughly once a year, and apply linseed oil. That works quite well for a few month. Rain seems to be the enemy on those. I also made a steel table with a redwood top. The redwood held up quite nicely, I oil it once a year just like the teak.

For your planter, I would take Paul s advice and just oil it. It won t last long, but any other finishes will be a bit of a pain to refinish, since they don t “weather” evenly.

- DrTebi

Great advice, and thank you for sharing your experiences. I have a much better idea what to do now

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View DrTebi's profile

DrTebi

347 posts in 3802 days


#6 posted 11-09-2019 07:56 AM

I learned something too :) I had no idea that white oak was great for outdoors. All I ever heard was teak, cedar, and redwood.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

429 posts in 83 days


#7 posted 11-09-2019 09:02 AM

For an outside piece subject to alot of moisture and sun, like a planter, I would use marine spar varnish, the first two coats or so thinned 75/25 M.S,/varnish, so it really penetrates the wood. You could rubout the glossy finish if that isnt what youre after.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

485 posts in 1495 days


#8 posted 11-09-2019 03:41 PM

As much as I like a stained finish product I went with paint. Using the liners will protect the inside but he outside still take a outside beating…I have had thee up several years and haven’t had to repaint yet…

View Travis's profile

Travis

339 posts in 302 days


#9 posted 11-10-2019 05:05 PM



I learned something too :) I had no idea that white oak was great for outdoors. All I ever heard was teak, cedar, and redwood.

- DrTebi

Yes, I don’t know why it is always skipped over in those conversations (do a google search for good wood for planter boxes and it’s teak, redwood, cedar, or cypress). But white oak is rated as very durable and was the wood of choice for wine barrels and often boats.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Travis's profile

Travis

339 posts in 302 days


#10 posted 11-10-2019 05:07 PM



As much as I like a stained finish product I went with paint. Using the liners will protect the inside but he outside still take a outside beating…I have had thee up several years and haven t had to repaint yet…

- JackDuren


Those are lovely! Great contrast against your house!

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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