Articles » Problem Solvers Latest Edition » How To Take Care of New Exposed Wood
Over the last decade, more wood has been used on the outsides of buildings than ever before. Fashion no doubt played its part as far as designs etc were concerned. Better availability of different species of wood such as Cedar, Redwoods, and many different types of hardwoods also helped make wood more popular with architects, builders etc. Wood is one of the most beautiful natural building materials when used on places like wall cladding, decking, log homes, gazebos, fencing and lots more.
Unfortunately, everywhere you go, you will see lots of that beautiful wood looking like a pile of old pallets with situations varying from no protection at all, to where it was treated with something or other, maybe a poor choice of finish and has been left peeling off etc.
We have discovered through our constant interaction with people in the wood related industries, as well as home / property owners at home and abroad that there is a huge shortage of useful, practical information on how to take care of wood, some of which we hope to address here.
Vertically installed wood such as cladding and log cabins etc can look very bad and that’s bad enough, but horizontal installations like decking, apart from looking bad, can be lethal (slippery) from algae etc if left unmaintained.
New wood should not be painted or oiled too soon. The first year is the worst year for newly sawn / planed wood exposed to the elements. If you are installing new timber decking, log home, cladding etc, applying conventional wood treatments too soon is not a good idea. Newly planed wood is not very receptive to conventional treatments because the woods pores are still closed from the planer blades and natural resins etc present.
“My timber is pressure treated – and it does not need protection!” A common myth prevails that if your timber is pressure treated it does not need further treatment. Some timber sellers give the impression that pressure treated wood is fully protected & that is NOT the case.
Pressure treatment (a greenish tint) is designed to prevent the wood from rot and being eaten by insects. It does not prevent wood from taking in water, becoming grey and weathered, dirty and even slippery in the case of decking.
Why New Wood Cracks and Warps (see picture above) New wood exposed to the elements is prone to water absorption which expands the wood and when followed by a dry / sunny spell causes the moisture to exit quickly from the wood causing cracking, warping etc. Example, a newly installed timber deck (untreated) When you ‘hear’ timber creaking etc… it is cracking and splitting. Your best options It is advisable not to apply oils, paint etc to new exposed wood because they do not get into the wood very well and may peel off or not last long. We suggest two options before you apply oils, or any other coatings. (Irrespective of whether pressure treated or not) Leave the wood to weather for about 6 to 8 weeks (unless winter is fast approaching) to give the pores a chance to open & become receptive to treatments. This option does however carry the risk of moisture absorption and splitting etc if it gets a rainy spell during that time.
Another option is to apply one coat of Seasonite, a product specially created for newly sawn exposed wood.
Seasonite protects new wood during its ‘settling in’ period and allows wood to season gradually over a year or so thereby allowing any excess moisture present to escape in a gradual manner while at the same time preventing any new water / moisture from getting in – like a one way valve. As Seasonite contains a fungicide, it also helps to protect decking from becoming slippery over the winter. (Slippery decking is caused by algae forming on wood that is wet or damp a lot of the time) Seasonite will not prevent the wood from becoming grey… its function is to get that wood into great condition over the first year and then do the ‘pretty up’ part of the job later. That grey faded look is easily removed with a cleaner such as Net-Trol and oiling or painting can be done at that time. If you instal wood outdoow late in the year, it is better to treat it with a coat of Seasonite to prevent water ingress and frost damage over the winter.
Note Re Anti-Slip: If you are looking for an Anti-Slip paint or finish for wooden deck etc, check out Anti-Slip from Owatrol