Outdoor Finish Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Max posted 08-07-2008 06:20 PM 11907 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Max's profile


55999 posts in 5612 days

08-07-2008 06:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: redwood finish outdoors chair adirondack water proof question

I am in the process of completing a couple of Adirondack chairs. These are being made with some reclaimed heart redwood from Train tunnels and bridges. The wood is around 100 yrs old and, as you would suspect, very dry.

My questions is what would be the best finish for these chairs for outdoor use? What about those water seal products like Thompson’s water seal? I would like some thing that will not cover the nice color and grain of these chairs, yet provide great protection. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

11 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5739 days

#1 posted 08-07-2008 06:26 PM

Try to find some penofin finish. They are on the web. They make a Marine finish that is 99.44% uv block but it is a “Clear finish”

They use it for log homes etc.

You might aslso try some spar varnish. I think that it is a marine varnish.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5466 days

#2 posted 08-07-2008 06:48 PM

Hi Max:

Stay away from Thompson’s Water Seal. It is strictly a consumer product.

Look at a good Spar or Marine Varnishes. I like Zar exterior varnishes.

Also, Cetol from Sikkens is an excellent finish for outdoor redwood and cedar.

-- 温故知新

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5083 days

#3 posted 08-07-2008 07:01 PM

I’m a big fan of pure tung oil. I protects and doesn’t put a film on the wood, that later you will have to sand off and redo. The tung oil will give the wood a natural look and has a nice feel to it. You can add another coat anytime without really any prep work. I would start out with about 8-10 coats over as many days.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5224 days

#4 posted 08-07-2008 07:32 PM

I used a Tung oil finish (Tung oil and paint thinner? purchased from Rockler no longer available anywhere) when I stripped the varnish from the arms of my patio chairs and it has worked great. Any time I have used UV protected Spar Varnish on any outdoor wood it has really deteriotated after a year or two, turned brown/black and was ugly. I put on the Tung Oil Formula on with at least 10 coats, you should reapply each year.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 5392 days

#5 posted 08-07-2008 09:09 PM

Down here in the sunny south, just about any surface built film type of finish whether it’s got uv protection or not will crinkle up like corn flakes within a year or two. I agree with the last two posters in that a penetrating type of finish will work better in the long run even if you have to re apply every year. Tung oil is great as well as Cabot’s Timber Oil or some other similar product. Watco makes a pretty good outdoor finish too.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Max's profile


55999 posts in 5612 days

#6 posted 08-07-2008 11:33 PM

Sounds like so far the Tung Oil, or Oil finish is the most popular. Any other suggestions. I checked out the penifon finish that Karson mentioned and it looks to be an oil finish also. Keep them coming.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 5106 days

#7 posted 08-07-2008 11:48 PM

Cabot does make some really nice products for wood being used outdoors. The timber oil is probably your best bet from their product line up.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 5208 days

#8 posted 08-08-2008 12:32 AM

I’m a rookie like you but I made a small no back chair for the ailing wife. (A place for her to rest) It was make of store purchased (home depot) cedar. Well it took longer to make than I would have expected but don’t they all. I finished it in spar varnish By Zar. We have all finished wood before what’s the big deal, Well I live in Florida, (miid state) and this is summer and it rains every few days.
I finished it and let it dry, and it took Four days to dry in the Sun. It looked great, like I should be selling it. I leave it outside for two days and mildew starting to form all over the chair. Well the wife comes in and states I can’t sit on that it has mildew all over it. Of course she doesn’t care about the 20 maybe 30 hours in the 90 degree heat in the gararge over 4 days. Well to make a long story short I later read that Spar varnishes require 8, that right it said 8 coats. I have refinished it yet, I just wiped it down with pool chlorine that worked but its still stained. I not sure what to do now except sand it all down and start over.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 5126 days

#9 posted 08-08-2008 04:04 AM

I used General Finishes Outdoor Oil on a rocking chair that sits on my deck here in NC (we have 100 degrees several times a year and high humidity also). It holds up fairly well in the shade (I redo it annually). Like Dominic, I have a mildew problem, but found that Lysol Sanitizing Wipes takes the mildew right off, even if I let it accumulate for several months.


-- Go

View John's profile


190 posts in 4922 days

#10 posted 08-08-2008 04:43 AM

I used Watco teak oil on some meratni deck furniture I recently made. Three coats over two days and after 4 – 6 weeks out on the deck in the sun one additional coat applied quickly with a sponge. Seems to me to be the way to go. No surface film but penetrates the wood well and imparts a nice rich color to the wood. The meranti looks similar to the jatoba used by the LJ who posted the nice slatted deck table with the tapered legs. I also used the teak oil on a cedar table top. We do get lots of sun, heat and high humidity here on the south shore of Long Island. I used it on an outdoor table top last season and left the table out all winter but had to do a quick sanding this spring to get all the weathered grey off. Leaving the furniture out all winter is not the way to go unless I can keep the sun off it.

-- John, Long Island, NY

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5402 days

#11 posted 08-08-2008 06:23 AM

Sean Clarke, a frequent Fine Woodworking author and professional finisher uses “… Smith & Company’s MultiWoodPrime (also called Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer), is a two-part resin epoxy that penetrates the wood, making it resistant to fungi and water damage. It also chemically bonds to the Epifanes varnish, which has ultraviolet (UV) inhibitors to protect the wood for years to come.”

quoted from

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics