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I have built a picnic table and been drying for sometime now, I am ready to finish it with stain or paint?? Any ideas, I would like to stain it to keep that good look to it, but how Domingo about doing so???
 

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You can do either. If you want to stain it, then either seal it with an exterior poly or something like Thomsons Water Seal like they use on decks.

Especially make sure the ends are thoroughly sealed as that's where most moisture will get in.:thumbsup:
 

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Any clear finish you put outside will need maintenance over time, some more (a whole lot more) than others. If you want to stain and top coat the table, I would avoid anything with urethane resins...they just don't hold up in a UV environment, forget any hype you hear about Helmsman and a similar products. 2 alternatives would be; a good quality marine varnish (I've not used Epifanes, but it gets so many good reviews it has to be a top pick) or untinted oil based paint (read more here) which I have used, and would probably be my first choice. I've had the paint last 7 years with no maintenance, and I'd bet the Epifanes (or other marine varnishes) would do so as well. One thing about the clear paint, I've used the Olympic product from Lowes, and they've dropped it. My next can will probably be Sherwin Williams or Ben Moore (those would be base #4).
 

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Poly is a urethane (polyurethane), and it doesn't "melt" in the sun. Instead what it does is turn cloudy, eventually the urethanes break down and the finish flakes, cracks and peels. Eventually, in this case, is much more quickly than non-urethane resin finishes....like the ones I suggested.
 

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Are you referring to a pigmented paint? That would be the absolute best, if you want the solid color finish. But if you stay on the stain/topcoat plan, then the unitinted oil based paint (or the marine varnishes) would be good finishes. BTW, the untinted oil base looks all the world like varnish, once dry. Just be careful, not all of them dry clear. I knwo the Olympic does, and I've been told the SW does. It can be tested in the store, put a stir stick in it, wipe it off and blow dry....you'll see the results fairly quickly.
 

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I have a few Ceday benches I made from some trees I cut down, stain and Thompsons water seal hasn't been a great success but I had a larger can of Danish oil (clear) around so I used it up on one bench with surprising success.
 

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Once again Watco Danish Oil does (or did) a color called driftwood, I make furniture out of. Pallets and use a lot of driftwood. This is the best product I have found.
 

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Just use an exterior transparent stain, same thing used on decks, fences and siding, they don't require top coats and advise against using them. Anything exposed to the weather will need re-doing from time to time. Depending on conditions, you should get 5 yrs. and then it's an easy wash and recoat. Many manufacturers to choose from, Benjamin Moore makes Arborcoat, for example.
http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/color-and-finishes
 

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What about poly ?? No good or it would melt in the sun??
Poly is intended for an interior finish. It is too hard for exterior use. The spar varnishes formulated for exterior use and made to be more elastic so it expands and contracts with the weather extremes of being outdoors. A harder finish like polyurethane would crack letting water under it causing it to flake off much faster.
 

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FWIW, I quit using film finishes for outdoor use years ago. I have a theory about why those finishes don't last. I've used the cheapo ones and the marine ones and their failures are very similar.

Consider for a moment that wood has a moisture content, and air. With changes in temperature and humidity, what's inside both expands and contracts, and in doing so, needs room to do that. In addition, vapors that expel need a place to go. If you encapsulate that wood with a film finish, it traps that exchange. Eventually it finds its way between the wood and the finish.

After many failures and not much success with any longevity, I started using penetrating oils. I found that the condition of the wood maintained a good appearance with very little maintenance. Not much more is needed than just cleaning and re-applying the oil. I found that Penofin Red Label to be the best so far. It has a high UV rating, and comes in colors and clear.

So, you ask..."If a marine spar isn't the best finish, why do the expensive yachts and sailboats use it for that high gloss plastic look?" Well, all I can say is that the owners of those crafts likely have a lot of money to afford the expensive stuff, and just pay someone to do the maintenance.





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I just finished rebuilding some old, broken red cedar outdoor furniture for the in-laws and ended up using Sherman Williams "Deckscapes" semi-transparent exterior water based stain on them. After drying, the color is actually pretty subtle and I like that I can still see the wood grain below. This furniture is left outside right on the beach all summer long, literally 50-feet from the water line and gets a good salt air and weather beating fast, so it needed something durable. The stain is the same type I used on our PT decks last year. I'm guessing that re-staining will be an almost annual event, but at least it will be simple and fast.
 

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I have sold paint for many years and the concencus of the paint companies that I have dealt with is that film finishes on outside furniture will require a lot of maintenance. Outdoor clear finishes use UV absorbers to keep the finish from degrading but in sunny climates tend not to last very long. Spars are among the best in the clear realm but still need much maintenance. We usually recommend exterior stains. Semitransparent stains need to be recoated every few years but are easy to prep. If you want the paint look, use exterior solidtone stain. It is less succeptible to peeling than paint but since it is a slight film finish, I have seen cases where it has peeled. Paint companies have come a long way in solidtone deck stains.
 
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