windguy

Spar Varnish on Port Orford Cedar

Recommended Posts

Howdy - newbie here.  Has anyone used Spar Varnish on Port Orford Cedar?  Also looking for stain recommendations.  The project is vertical deck louvers for wind control.  I will also be bending some laminates to add some soft geometry - probably as extensions of deck rails - that's phase II.  For now it's the louvers and some basic benches.  The environment is pretty harsh - coastal Oregon - lots of rain, fog/marine layer, intense sun, and hellacious winter storm winds.  I'll be using STK Port Orford for structures and clear for bending.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think  that Werker will weigh in on Spar Varnish.  As a fellow newbie I'll mention that Fine Woodworking did a two year study of various outdoor treatments, concluding that their best entry was a "Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer" (CPES, they used a particular brand) followed by a particular brand of spar varnish.  If you PM me, I'll look up the article.

I hope you will keep us informed on your project.

PS.  One of the factors involved is UV.  I think that the spar varnish is necessary for UV protection.  The CPES helps keep water and rot out of the wood.

[edit, and PPS:  I used  this treatment on an outdoor, but under a roof, table:  after less than a year it so far looks new.]

[re-edit, and PPPs:  if you don't care about how it looks, a pigmented treatment - paint/solid stain -  will help UV protection immensely.]

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum.  I have limited experience but I think that spar varnish is way to go.  Just be sure that the cedar has had a chance to dry ( weather a littlel) before finishing.  I waited 4 months after installing a cedar fence before Painting it and the recommendatioin of the installer.  Be prepared to varnish again every couple of years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spar varnish cures slightly softer so it can deal with the weather. It also has UV protection. I don't have any experience with the brands available today. I haven't finished any outdoor projects in a long time. Be aware that you will have to re varnish every few years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys - I failed to mention that I'm allergic to epoxy as are 30% of the population.  I'd considered it, but ..  I am 40 miles south of Port Orford, OR and have access to the finest cedar available.  POC is not really a cedar, but a cypress.  I've done some work with spar varnish on redwood, redwood sapwood, and western red cedar.  The western red is gorgeous but the prices just doubled - and then some - putting Port Orford into reach.  

I've used Ace Hardware Brand (I forgot who really makes it) to some degree of success on red cedar.  But - the 24 hours to re-coat is hard in my environment.  "Total Boat" brand appeals as they claim up to four coats per day.  

I'm anxious to get comments on brands and experiences.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unknown:  Two things - three.  1).  Thanks!  2).  POC does indeed weather - probably better than anything out there.   Herein lies my quandary.  To finish, or not.  I have the Mrs weighing in and waffling just as much as I am on this issue.  Even the neighbor chimed in for letting it weather.  But I've also seen some finished work and it's crazy gorgeous.  3).  I'm buying my POC from a local mill near Port Orford (you should smell this place), and the owner said to stay away from water based anything.  I'll paraphrase his comment, "one local contractor used water based stain and final finish - after about six months it looked like a Jackson Pollock with eczema.."  The oils in the POC repelled the stain and finish coat..  I assume the final finish was some kind of water based urethane which explains the peeling.  

If I were to go General 450 - how often would it need re-application.  
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting thread.  Brings back memories as POC was the standard in my younger days as the wood for arrows.  This was before fiberglass, aluminum. and graphite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow the pic of the can is big. Port orford cedar smells great a lot like ginger if anyone wondering. @windguyYour going to have to do some checking if 450 is okay on port orford. I'm guessing it's ok , General Finish makes great products you could also call them.

Aj

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Fine Woodworking:  http://www.finewoodworking.com/2011/05/18/torture-test-for-outdoor-finishes-the-end

"The boards finished with Epifanes, a Dutch marine varnish, and those that were first treated with an epoxy sealer and then finished with Epifanes as shown by Sean Clarke in issue #178 “A Durable Exterior Finish” came through almost unscathed, a hardware store spar varnish had mixed results, while those boards finished with a water-based polyurethane and those finished with a penetrating oil finish did not survive their year-long test."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wondering where the name "windguy" came from?   Long time sailor here of anything that floats, and some things that don't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have teak, redwood (old growth) and cedar ( western red) wooden things outside unfinished. Oil might eventually dry out and the surface weather but any film finish will need fairly frequent attention. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For something like that, I'd spray whatever the current version of the higher end of the Thompson's clear is, with a pump sprayer, and expect to redo it in a few years.  I wouldn't want to redo a varnish finish on louvers. 

To redo, I'd pressure wash it with bleach, let it dry, and hit it again with the Thompson's.

I've done Cedar, and Cypress shingle (modern name Shake)  roofs like that, and it's not too bad of a job.

There are many variations of pressure washers.  My pressure washer that I use on wood is 2500 psi 4.4gpm, and never a nozzle narrower than 15 degrees-don't want to erode the wood.  It can suck bleach up into the water if you want it to with the 45 degree nozzle.   Wet it all with the bleach, starting from the bottom going up (so it won't leave possible permanent streaks), let it work for a while, but blast it off before it dries or it can lighten more than you might want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again gents.

Tom - I've been in the wind power business for 35 years.  Big fan of the Gougeon Brothers at West Systems.  Those boys built some awesome wood/epoxy laminate rotor blades - structurally speaking.  Turbine sizes and stresses outgrew the use of wood (save for balsa cores on some).  Meade was one of the nicest people on the planet. 

The Mrs has decided.  The Railings and frames will be a hybrid of corrugated steel and POC, all unfinished.  This way I won't have to dangle over the edge of my deck to refinish anything.  The deck is about 18 feet above ground on north side - 22 on the south.  The benches and side tables and planters will be POC and finished - I'm still deciding which coating.  

Unknown:  I cannot find a contact for General Finishes - other than a fax - which I've abandoned.  If you have an email for them I'd appreciate it.  

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update.  Spoke with the folks at General Finishes and was talked out of their Exterior 450. I'd have to go to a dark stain underneath in order to get enough pigment to keep it from graying.  His recommendation was Penofin or back to spar varnish.

Thanks to all for guidance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would definitely go with the oil finish. Any film finish will end up drying out cracking & peel . If the back side will be hard to access oil would be the easiest to renew or just let the wood weather and turn gray. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now