outside finishes

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Forum topic by daves1 posted 10-25-2011 09:06 PM 1822 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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188 posts in 3003 days

10-25-2011 09:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut finishing outdoors question

I made a bench from slab walnut this spring and I finished it with 2 coats of spar urethane. The bench has begun to turn gray. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I did wrong. I really expected the spar to hold up.

10 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2927 days

#1 posted 10-26-2011 04:16 AM

2 coats of Spar is not enough UV protection to prevent the sun from greying the wood. I haven’t tried it yet but The Wood Whisperer swears by Epiphanes for outdoor projects in Az. wheher they get a LOT of sun. But it will take several coats.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3433 days

#2 posted 10-26-2011 02:57 PM

Only outdoor piece I’ve done was just applying a few coats of outdoor staining on a picnic table we bought. Sure enough it was mainly gray within a year.

I remember watching a video on finewoodworking’s website for an outdoor bench build interviewing outdoor furniture maker, Hank Gilpin. He said there is no point to doing a nice finish unless you constantly want to reapply a finish. All wood will turn gray. Here is an excerpt from the video….

“Maintaining a finish on outdoor furniture is akin to an assignment from hell….you will basically be refinishing your furniture all the time….Oil looks great the first year and then it turns gray. So you can oil it for the first year to feel like you’ve done something, but your wasting your time. Better to put it outside to go gray. If you want a finish then buy painted furniture….If you want wood, then let it go gray, and all wood goes gray. ” His recommendation is to make all outdoor furniture out of teak if possible as it produces a beautiful silver gray.

If you have an FWW online subscription, here is the link,

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View steviep's profile


233 posts in 2884 days

#3 posted 10-26-2011 03:20 PM

I got a call a couple a months ago from a guy who wanted his teak patio bar refinished. He said “what finish can you put on in so I will never have to mess with it again?” I told him concrete! Gfadvm, thanks for the tip, thats worth a try. The reviews all seem to be pretty good.

-- StevieP ~ Micheal Tompkins - you were not here on earth long but left a giant mark on us. RIP Brother

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5148 posts in 4198 days

#4 posted 10-26-2011 03:26 PM

Outdoor furniture should be made from concrete, a naturally grey product that will take on the colors spilled on it.


View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2928 days

#5 posted 10-26-2011 08:00 PM

General Finishes Exterior 450 is a great product, but will not stop the aging process.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5236 posts in 2730 days

#6 posted 10-27-2011 02:44 PM

I have a different suggestion, and it might save you some money. Untinted oil based paint. I’ve used Olympic base #4, other brands would probably be base #5. It has very good UV protection, holds up to weather well (after all this exterior paint), and looks all the world like a linseed oil based varnish once it dries (clear, with amber tones). The secret is to get it untinted. When I bought mine at Lowes, Skippy Stockgirl at the paint counter told me “we can’t sell it that way”, later I snuck behind the gate and grabbed a can (this was when they had the mixing area sot of caged off). Anyway, let me give a link that might be of interest. Just remember the finish will have to be renewed over time, but that should be several years….

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View mrg's profile


849 posts in 3237 days

#7 posted 10-28-2011 12:22 AM

I used manowar marine spar varnish on my planter boxes that have been outside in direct sun for the past 2 summers. They have not faded or greyed. You may have not put enough on. Marine varnish has a high tolerance to UV rays.

-- mrg

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 3145 days

#8 posted 10-28-2011 01:42 AM

Very interesting link and article. I make Western Red Cedar Adirondack furniture here in Las Vegas. It gets hot, dry and blistering sun. The best I have found to finish my stuff is 2 coats of Cabot’s timber oil and then 2 coats of spar varnish. That combination as held up very well. I have some pieces in my back yard that have been sitting in the elements for about a year and a half and they still look good. No graying, cracking etc. But if I can find just one product I can use it would really cut down on finishing time and save me money. I’ll have to call HWL to see if that $17.90 is for a gallon or a pint.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View chrisstef's profile


17799 posts in 3244 days

#9 posted 10-28-2011 01:45 AM

ive also heard good things about penofin .. no experience with it on my end though

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View jromines's profile


1 post in 2202 days

#10 posted 01-08-2013 02:13 AM

I know that this topic is a year old so old, but I’m curious to know if anyone has any updates to their teak finishing projects. I’m interested to hear more about the long term durability of the use of Untinted oil based paint on teak wood. How did the end product look? How long did the finish last? Etc…

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