Finish for hardwood stairs please (quick, easy, odourproof!)

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Forum topic by wheregoesthetime posted 08-24-2011 03:47 PM 1884 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 2431 days

08-24-2011 03:47 PM

We have just installed an unfinished hardwood staircase in our bedroom, and are considering finish. We would like as natural a finish as possible (and easy/ quick to do) which can be readily repeated as necessary.
I think that a wiping varnish of some type would probably be the best in both above respects… and I am keen on the sound of Don Kondra’s ‘secret magic mix’ (if I can translate all the ingredients, but I’ll come to that…).

We do however have another problem – the staircase is made from a tropical hardwood – tauari (scientifically Couratari guianensis I understand), and it frankly stinks!! It has a fetid smell, which I suspect is like old swamps, where they probably grow. I note the Wiki entry refers to a fetid smell, so its honestly not just us really :)

Two main questions please:
Can anyone identify the type of varnish the spar varnish in Don’s recipe is (is is a traditional shellac or similar, is it a modern varnish such as polyurethane, or what)? I note references to ‘urethane’ not being suitable, but that is not a term I am familiar with on its own (is it the same as polyurethane?).
If I can come up with a suitable varnish and make and use the magic mix or similar, will it hold the smell into the wood? If not, will anything, and if so any ideas what please?(bearing in mind that we need to minimalise the work and want a subtle finish)?!

All advice gratefully received!

-- Where does the time go (its not around here!) ?

2 replies so far

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3023 days

#1 posted 08-25-2011 05:27 AM

I made a thread explaining the types of varnish.

Polyurethane( also known as Urethane), alkyd, phenolic varnish.

Varnish will seal the smell of the wood, but varnish itself has a strong smell. I suggest you open a can and smell if you like or not.

Don’s Recipe

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4091 days

#2 posted 08-25-2011 08:11 PM

Consider a water-based varnish, especially one fortified with polyuerthane. They have low odor and dry quickly. However, they need to completely cure before being exposed to foot traffic.
Based upon my professional experience, I recommend AQUA ZAR WATER-BASED POLYURETHANE from UGL. This finish can be applied to flat surfaces with a paint pad.

Note: Polyurethane is an ingredient, not a type of finishing product. Not all polyurethane-containing finishes are the same. It is usually delivered as an alkyd resin that has been modified with small amounts of “poly”, aka Polyurethane Modified Alkyd Resin. It’s the entire list of ingredients in a finishing product that make a difference. Don’t be fooled that all “poly’s” are the same.

Note: Spar varnish is intended to be an outdoor finish. It is usually made with a Long-Oil Varnish of tung oil and phenolic resins, with some UV blockers added. It is inetended to dry a little on the flexible side so that it will weather well. This can result in a soft finish that might not perform well indoors and might even remain a little sticky. “Spar varnish” is a generic term and some manufacturers take liberties with labeling. There are even several so-called “spar urethanes” which are really only consumer-grade exterior polyurethane varnishes.

Bro. Tenzin

-- 温故知新

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