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Forum topic by Dabcan posted 127 days ago 682 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dabcan

77 posts in 1275 days


127 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: outdoor finish blo spar varnish poly bird house water oil

I’ve been making birdhouses for the last 2 years, and I’ve tried various brands of spar varnish as well as one type of water based finish. All are meant for outdoor use, and all have worked well. My problem is the water based finish dries fast, and looks fine on lighter woods, but really doesn’t do much for walnut (which I am using more and more). So I’ve been using the spar on the varnish, but it takes about 10 hours to dry, and the last can I bought smells like a urinal (it also wasn’t satin as the can said, and yes I stirred it… a lot). I also find the spar looks horrible almost like a plastic film over top of the wood.

Am I asking too much for a durable outdoor finish that doesn’t look bad? i’ve done a few rifle stocks in BLO and they look great, but they don’t sit outside year round. BLO would be the look I’m hoping to achieve, but more durable.

Thanks!

-- http://www.craftcollective.wordpress.com


12 replies so far

View TechTeacher04's profile

TechTeacher04

165 posts in 135 days


#1 posted 127 days ago

That is the issue with finishes that survive UV rays, spar varnished simply do not last, they must go on think to create a barrier for water and to block the suns harmful rays. Another option is changing the species of wood you build he birdhouses out of. I cringe thinking of using walnut outside. It is one of my favorite woods to work with. Teak, cedar, some oaks and locust all hold up well in the sun and weather, however even these species will need periodic refinishing. Another school of thought would be to leave the wood raw, provided you use a species like I listed that will hold up better in the elements and let the wood gray like nature intended.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10602 posts in 1294 days


#2 posted 127 days ago

I built some wren houses from Hedge (Osage Orange for the Yankees here). It has held up amazingly well with no finish at all. It doesn’t even look weathered after 5 years.

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

View Dabcan's profile

Dabcan

77 posts in 1275 days


#3 posted 127 days ago

I’ve done a few with birch and a thin water based finish, but I have one model that needs a nice dark wood to contrast. I wonder if I should retry the spar but thin it down more

-- http://www.craftcollective.wordpress.com

View mesquite22's profile

mesquite22

42 posts in 1273 days


#4 posted 127 days ago

This works well http://www.hempshield.net/

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1655 posts in 1097 days


#5 posted 127 days ago

A couple of thoughts. Your comment about the “plastic look” sounds like it’s a polyurethane formula varnish. Urethane and UV do not get along well, if you check the high quality marine grade spar varnishes you’ll see they are all may with other reins, usually an alkyd resin. “Spar” doesn’t mean the finish has UV protection, it refers to the amount of oil in the basic formula. Spar is “long oil” meaning it has a higher oil content when made, which gives makes the finish softer and more flexible. The marine grade spars do have UV protection for that application. Waterborne finishes may be labeled as “urethane” but they are all (one exception) really an acrylic finish, and one labeled with UV inhibitors should be acceptable for your use if it’s otherwise suitable. (The one exception may be water borne shellac, which apparently uses shellac resins.) So, if the acrylic finishes don’t give you the look you want, you may well be stuck with an oil base. If that’s the case try a marine spar like Epifanes. There is one more option you can try: exterior oil based paint base (without tint). Buy a quart of the paint base and try it, it looks very much like varnish once dry (clear), is less expensive, and holds up well outdoors. I used it on cedar bird feeders for many years. If you choose this, it’s best to test the base first by putting some on a paint paddle and letting it dry, not all of them dry clear. One I know for sure works is the Olympic exterior oil base #5, but Lowes has stopped carrying it. I intend to try the Benjamin Moore version (theirs would be #4)...but you want the base that used for the darkest paints, in most brand that would be #4. Be aware, any clear outdoor finish will need repair over time, but the marine spar and/or exterior oil give you probably the most life of any. (my opinion, of course).

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1157 posts in 900 days


#6 posted 127 days ago

If you are making birdhouses for birds to actually use I wouldn’t worry about finish. I made a few out of scrap pine years ago, sprayed them with some old red primer so they would look barn red and put left over shingle material on the roofs. They have held up really well and have raised lots of peeping babies.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

345 posts in 838 days


#7 posted 126 days ago

Ipe. It will not rot, burn or float. It is very, very heavy and will dull tools quickly.

-- Jerry

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4288 posts in 1652 days


#8 posted 126 days ago

I have the same question for an outdoor table made of ash wood and pine.
I do not want to let turn grey, what can I use?
Same thing that Fred recommend?

-- Bert

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1655 posts in 1097 days


#9 posted 126 days ago

Bert the UV inhibitors in the marine spar and the untinted paint base will do just that, keep the wood from turning gray. But be aware of the need to re do any of these finishes over time…those I mentioned should give the maximum life before you have to do it.

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4288 posts in 1652 days


#10 posted 125 days ago

Thank you Fred

-- Bert

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

687 posts in 496 days


#11 posted 125 days ago

Maybe design your bird houses with oversized roofs (the overhang will give added sun and weather protection to the main structure) that you attach unfinished cedar shingles to – and replace the cedar shingles every 3-5? years or so when they degrade enough. Then that guy named Bob somehow becomes your uncle.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile

joeyinsouthaustin

1216 posts in 676 days


#12 posted 124 days ago

This may be well out of reach, but I have started using a post catalyzed product with uv protection for my exterior doors. It is by MLcambell. They call it EuroX. It gave the oak doors I just finished a nice deep satin sheen, that actually looked quite similar to the waterlox the rest of the interior oak paneling was finished with on the job. It is technically a 2 part poly based formula. It has been formulated over years in the Mediterranean, and is tuff, and uv resistant. Downsides… it is very expensive, very toxic (until cured) and requires equipment and experience to mix and spray post catalyzed products. But if you want Birdhouses that will stand up like a teak door on the beach in full sun, it is the stuff.

-- Who is John Galt?

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