How should I protect a wood window in a shower stall?


jherzens
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Whoever built my house put a wood window in the bathroom--in the actual shower stall. Annoyance + laziness, we just taped plastic over it, but now I'd like to actually make it nice. I put Varathane (Rust-o-leum) stain to make it pretty, now I'd like to make it protected. What can I put as a topcoat?

 

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I feel your pain. We just had an add on bathroom to our house and I’m still dealing with the gc. Our problem however deals with the ventilation of the shower enclosure and not a wood window. Consider ventilation also as part of your solution. I’m sure others will chime in on the wood problem. 

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I'd use an hardwax oil like rubio, osmo, or even a polymirized oil like tried and true. Think about treating the wood like a cutting board.

Thick film is going to fail and cause a MAJOR headache down the road 5-7 years. Oils and waxes may need a refresh in  3-5 years but it's a wipe on wipe off process no sanding no headache, minimal down time.

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I guess it would also depend on how it is used. If you are going to use it as a shelf, I would go with a hard finish like bar top epoxy. Chestnut is right that maintenance with hard wax oils like Rubio or Osmo is much easier. However it seems like maintenance is usually maintained after you notice that it needed maintenance. 

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Any in the tub windows I've had to deal with were tiled, so I have no direct experience.  However I echo the vote for an hard wax oil and specifically suggest Osmo Polyx-Oil.  

The hard wax oils were developed in Europe as finishes for hardwood floors, so intended for hard wear areas occasionally exposed to water and cleaning agents.  They have been in use for decades, but have only recently made it into the US.  

Durable as they may be, there are no surface coatings that will last indefinitely in your environment (or on a floor).  If there was, boat owners everywhere would be rejoiceing in the streets.  So you are going to have to either refresh or refinish the surface coating every year or two.  

What makes the HWO's great is that they can be easily refreshed by applying over an old surface with little prep.  You could easily do this annually as part of regular maintenance.  Any varnish product will likely need to be stripped and refinished.  Beyond that you could just use primer and exterior paint.  

The woodwhisperer has a video on Rubio Monocoat which includes making a spot repair.  Rubio is a two part product so a little more complicated than Osmo (which is available in small cans).

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What ever you finish it with, it is going to be a long term maintenance problem. To keep you from have to periodically refinish or repair it, I see two options: get rid of the window; close in the opening. Or, replace it with vinyl a or vinyl clad window and frame.

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