Wood remains the top building material for exterior projects because it has a lot going for it. It's affordable, easy to work with, versatile, and maintains a natural look that blends with the outdoor surroundings. But wood requires maintenance and occasional recoating to keep it looking good and performing well. No matter what type of wood you have, whether it’s pressure- treated lumber, cedar, cypress, redwood or even a high-end exotic hardwood, staining and sealing outdoor wood is the best way to protect it from the elements. For structures such as decks, fences, pergolas, and even outdoor fur- niture, I usually coat the wood with an oil-based pre- servative stain/sealer. An exterior-grade penetrating stain/sealer is a water-repellent preservative that includes a "mildewcide," and some products contain ultraviolet light absorbers that protect from sun exposure. The resins penetrate the wood pores to provide pigment and block out the damaging effects of UV rays and water damage, while allowing the natural woodgrain and texture to shine through. The wood will have a differ- ent color tone after application but will feel the same to the touch (unlike the glassy feel of a film-forming sealant). I prefer an oil-based finish because the tiny particles fuse together chemically into one large sheet-like substance, which achieves a hard, durable finish.
By Matt Weber
Photo courtesy Armstrong-Clark