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 In Finishing

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How to choose and apply a long-lasting clear finish.

What do fancy wooden boats and beautiful wooden front doors have in common? They both need a clear finish that can really stand up to the elements. Sunlight, water, extreme temperature changes and abrasions are bound to occur in both situations. Most clear coatings just can’t take that type of abuse and will fail in a year or two, allowing discoloration and damage to the wood.

Clear exterior varnishes

1. Saturate the raw surface with distilled water to eliminate a possible catastrophe. Moisture (from rain or wet fingerprints, for example) that inadvertently gets on the surface leaves invisible marks that show up as ugly splotches when stain is applied.

Spar varnishes are formulated to be resilient under outdoor conditions. They’re more elastic than regular varnish, so they’re less likely to crack as the wood continuously expands and contracts with changing outdoor conditions. Some spar varnishes also contain very effective UV inhibitors. The finishes with the best track record for exterior use come from the marine industry, where spar varnish originated.


Spar varnishes are usually glossy.


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