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Outdoor sign finishing

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I have a customer who wants me to do a large outdoor sign with live edge pine.  The customer wants low maintenance on it.  Normally I use Hellsman Spar Urethane for outdoor signs.  Is there an epoxy I could use that doesnt need to be maintained every year.

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No such thing as a clear outside finish, for wood,  that doesn't need to be maintained.  Epifanes will last longer than a year, in some climates, but the number will vary with the conditions.

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+1 To Tom's reply. I've seen some outdoor stuff last for five or so years in very good condition, coated with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES, check places like Jamestown Distributirs) followed by Epifanes. But those projects were made from weather resistant wood species as well.

Which pine definitely is not.

For that, it might actually last longer to use a clear deck sealer (Thompsons or comparable) and re-coat a couple times a year. Requires maintenance, but its easy maintenance.

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I just tried last weekend ilva 3 in 1 on a piece of maple. It does not produce a coat like others, but it is a very clear finish. It was recommended by a friend of mine, chemical engineer. My friend comments about other products I have used before, 20 years old technology.  I was tired of the striping and refinishing of the other product I have used before.

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45 minutes ago, Martin-IT said:

I just tried last weekend ilva 3 in 1 on a piece of maple. It does not produce a coat like others, but it is a very clear finish. It was recommended by a friend of mine, chemical engineer. My friend comments about other products I have used before, 20 years old technology.  I was tired of the striping and refinishing of the other product I have used before.

That would be a neat deal if it works. Will check into it. I agree with @wtnhighlander, start with a slab of cedar, cypress , redwood or more durable wood than pine. 

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I use western red cedar for outdoor projects. It can be nicely finished or left unfinished. It will turn gray with age but lasts a long time. Cedar unfinished may cost the same as pine, finished. And low maintenance...

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Paint would be the lowest maintenance coating. I'm assuming that's not an option. Otherwise to keep it nice  a twice a year application of some sort of outdoor oil finish is really all there is. I'd avoid a film forming finish.

I've had good luck with both General Finishes Outdoor oil and Real Milk Paint company Outdoor defense. they both have some resins to help keep out water and some compounds in the finish that will help prevent bacteria and fungus from growing.

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The problem with any film forming finish like epoxy, varnish, etc is that when it does start to fail, it looks super ugly. And refinishing will be a major project. 

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Thank you all for your input!  The customer is pretty set on using the live edge beetle pine.  Basically it is a pine tree from the Black Hills National Forest that bark beetles killed and it left blue streaks throughout the slabs, there is no beetle holes.  It will take 3 slabs about 7 feet long for the sign.  I am going to CNC the wordage and logo. 

Another person recommended using boiled linseed oil.  She said thats what they use on tree trunks that were carved with a chainsaw and the roots are still in the ground.  carvings such as owls, eagles etc. 

Has anyone had experience with using the boiled linseed oil for a finish?

IMG_4874.jpg

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Linseed oil alone is not typically used as an outdoor finish. And it imparts a good deal of yellow to the wood. But it is simple to apply, so the necessary frequent re-application won't be difficult.

Beware, it takes a while to dry.

Personally, I'd go with a clear deck sealer. Something that soaks in and repels water, but doesn't form a film that has to be scraped or sanded off when it gets ugly. Sun is going to bleach the wood, period. Moisture will encourage / accelerate fungal growth. Do what you can to limit exposure to sun and water to extend the life of any finish you decide to use.

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Thank you for the advice wtnhighlander.  I did try the boiled linseed oil on a scrap piece and you are right it did really yellow it and with multiple coats I believe it would even be more yellow.

I will go with your advice on a good clear deck sealer.  Thanks again!

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I used BLO on chainsaw carving; 2 coats diluted by 50%, then 2 more coats full strenth. Then, multiple coats of spar varnish.  BLO helped to slow down the drying process of the chainsaw carving. But it starts to crack/peel after a few years. I do not think just BLO will be a good idea, it does not protect that well against the elements.

The same top cover that failed last year and I just refinished, the base is failing this year. The base, which is 2 flared easter white cedar trunk, is losing its finish. I peeled 2 inches wide, 2'  long pieces of the finish.  The top was penofin (horizontal), the base was spar varnish by benjamin moore (vertical). I feel the pricier product, lasted as long as a cheaper product (I am giving it credit for being horizontal).

 

 

 

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Thank you all for your input.

I think I am going to lean towards what the log homes are finished with as log homes are pine here in the upper midwest, beings pine is what I am using.  Along with a bug insecticide and mold buster additive.  Log Homes if maintained last quite a few years.  I will probably use a log home caulk to fill in the cracks too as this will stretch and compact as the pine timber expands and contracts.

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The resort where we often stay when visiting the Smokies has (pine) log cabins managed by at least 4 different companies. The company we like best keeps their places looking very nice, but claims they apply fresh stain (semi-transparent) SEVEN times a year.

Food for thought.

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On 8/1/2019 at 11:38 AM, drzaius said:

The problem with any film forming finish like epoxy, varnish, etc is that when it does start to fail, it looks super ugly. And refinishing will be a major project. 

That is the reason my preference outdoors is western red cedar unfinished. Otherwise probably at the worst moment the piece would be yelling at me for attention. I no longer have the energy to deal with demanding maintenance. So if I can figure an acceptable low maintenance alternative, that's where I am going. I don't mind doing finish work on the things I build, but re-finishing is not my cup of tea. I occasionally re-finish some of my own stuff, otherwise I hire it out. Stuff for me. So far I've done some outdoor pieces for hire all in cedar. No one is interested in refinishing...So far...

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