spar urethane used in sauna in error - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-18-2019, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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spar urethane used in sauna in error

I put 2 coats of Helmsman spar urethane on walls, ceiling & benches of my sauna. After a month of curing with the heat and a fan to circulate the air, it still hasn't cured and sets off my son's asthma. We had polyurethane on the white pine boards before with no problem. Checked with Minwax and they said, in this setting, it would never cure and was not safe for anyone and should be removed. Huge job! Could it be encapsulated by applying a safe product over it and what would that be and, if not, how can I best remove it?
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-18-2019, 06:16 PM
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spar urethane is difficult to remove unfortunately. Id get a respirator, and scrape and sand out everything. That said, im not sure why the finish wouldn't cure, spar urethane is great for moisture resistance, kind of purpose built for this thing.
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-18-2019, 06:20 PM
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Hmm. I've been in many saunas over the decades, and I have never seen one with a finish on the INSIDE. They are always raw cedar on the inside. Why would you put a finish on it?
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-18-2019, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Rick: We had polyurethane on the white pine boards before with no problem.
Rick - were the pine boards inside or outside of the sauna ??


Quote:
Bob: spar urethane is great for moisture resistance, kind of purpose built for this thing.
Bob - very true - IF - it is a REAL Marine Spar Varnish.
this product has been beat to death on just about every forum on the net
that deals with finishes. the killer here is "MinWax" and "Helmsman" used
in the same breath.
unfortunately - the damage is done. and a long tedious recovery is ahead.
Rick, I have no solution, sorry.
just hope that others can learn something about Minwax Helmsman.
jus my Dos Centavos

.

.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 11-18-2019 at 06:44 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-19-2019, 11:16 AM
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It's hard to imagine that the finish hasn't cured. I suppose it could still be off gassing enough to trigger your son's asthma. When you say you've got a fan running, do you mean a fan within the space, or are you bringing in air from outside the sauna, circulating it inside the sauna and then exhausting it somehow?
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-19-2019, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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I too thought that spar urethane was the thing. Comments on the Minwax website even mentioned using it in kitchens and baths. I thought there must be some way to get rid of what was causing my son's problem, and that's when finally I talked with customer service at Minwax. She checked with another rep and her supervisor and said they concluded that since there is no other venting when we're in the sauna with the door closed the off-gassing would always be a problem and make the room unsafe.
I used a box fan sitting on a bench in the sauna room and blowing out the door into the dressing room. The pine boards are attached vertically on the inside walls of the sauna room. A finish protects them and makes cleaning easier.
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-19-2019, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
Hmm. I've been in many saunas over the decades, and I have never seen one with a finish on the INSIDE. They are always raw cedar on the inside. Why would you put a finish on it?

This question has never been answered.


George
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-19-2019, 04:58 PM
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I know it is a little after the fact, but i dont believe there is any legal requirement for the term 'spar varnish'. Minwax Spar Varnish' as far as I am concerned, is a joke and implies quality and marine use. It is anything but quality. I have worked on wood and fiberglass boats with wood trim for over 35 years. And I have no kind words for MInwax. It's not that people just threw their money away and that's the end of it. It's the hours wasted in application and at least twice as much effort getting rid of it. Because of it's Spar Varnish' I will never say buy or say a good word about Minwax products. Yes, this is a sore spot for me.
As to whether coating wood is appropriate for a sauna, I have no idea.
Sorry to hear about your project and the resulting discomfort to your family.

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Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-19-2019, 11:48 PM
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I always thought "Spar" varnish / polyurethane was designed to more or less never cure. Typically used on boats where wood moves.
DUNNO
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-22-2019, 01:21 PM
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Replace the wood and start over, that will be the quickest and safest way to go. Helmsman spar urethane will stay soft for years, should never be used inside IMO.
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post #11 of 11 Old 11-22-2019, 06:21 PM
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Most reputable marine varnish manufacturers refer to their products as 'marine varnish'. very few use the term 'spar varnish'. Minwax used the Spar Varnish' loosely. It is anything but a spar varnish. It seems to have a lifespan in direct sunlight of barely a month or two. It is pure crap. The name of the product is deceptive.
I dont know what criteria some people are referring to when they say spar or marine varnish is soft. Soft as compared to what?
i have lived on my boat/boats for 25 years. The areas of varnish (marine varnish) such as thresholds parts of decking, etc, even my
main salon sole (living room floor) that get walked on everyday, have anchor chains dragged across them etc, hold up for many years if the varnish is properly maintained. I never saw dents in the finish, but I have seen scratches. So I dont know what 'soft' is. Probably a relative term.

Anyway, Helmsman Spar Varnish by Minwax is a joke and other marine varnishes should not be judged in the same sentence with this crap. When a boater, including myself, spends countless hours sanding, scraping and masking the woodwork (brightwork) and ultimately paint the "Spar Varnish" on the boat just to see it disintegrate in well under 2 months, that makes you very mad. Now, it must be removed which also takes a lot of time. so that is why I hate Minwax Helmsman Spar Varnish.

While we are at it, let me give u another nautical term...."Brightwork" is varnished wood as compared to painted wood.

As for expansion and contraction due to humidity, not really too much of an effect because the wood is encased in a moisture proof barrier of the varnish.

The initial application of a marine varnish on a really worn out part of the boat does takes time and maintenance. usually, the first go around takes 8 coats of marine varnish at 2 coats a day in warm - not hot - weather. Annual maintenance means every year thereafter you lightly sand the surface and apply 2 coats. And thats on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to the Redneck Riviera where there is too much sunlight and heat. Slightly north of the coast, you can get away with maintaining the finish every 2 years.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx

Last edited by Tony B; 11-22-2019 at 06:24 PM.
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