One of the reasons why we paint and varnish wood is to protect it. All types of weather have harsh affects on wood, ultimately destroying its natural beauty and utility if the wood isn't protected. This comes into conflict with our aesthetic desires at times, wanting to leave the wood unfinished, as to enjoy its natural beauty. This is especially true of exterior wood projects, such as decks, fences, and cedar shake shingles.
Sun and heat tend to dry out the wood in these projects. This is actually more of a problem than water causes, as the types of wood used for these projects withstands water damage well. However, there is no such thing as a wood that withstands the affects of sun and heat, without drying out.
Dry wood is more brittle, making it more easily damaged by wind, hail, heavy rain, and objects falling on it. Splintering is common, which can make surfaces like wood decks dangerous for inhabitants of the home.
The way to prevent wood from becoming damaged by sun and heat, without having to paint or varnish it, is to use a wood protector. These oil based products moisturize the wood and seal it, to hold in the moisture. With a wood protector applied, wood fences, shingles and decks last longer, with less splintering and cracking. The cost of the finish is more than compensated for by the cost savings of not having to make replacements prematurely.
At the same time, these products waterproof the wood, preventing water from entering in and causing water rot. Some also have bug inhibiting capabilities, which help keep termites and other wood eating insects out of the wood.
These products are usually sprayed on with an airless paint sprayer, although they can be brushed or rolled on as well. The main reason that airless sprayers are used is to save time. They dont need to be applied neatly, although you should be careful of overspray.
In some cases, wood protectors are tinted slightly, although in most cases they are transparent. This doesn't mean that they dont affect the color of the wood though, as the natural wetting action of applying them tends to darken the wood somewhat, bringing out the natural grain and beauty of the wood.
This is a unique product that consists of an acrylic resin which penetrates the wood and bonds with the fibers. As such, it offers seven years of protection, more than any other wood protector. Read Full Review
OneTime is a very unique product in this category, in that it isnt oil or water based. Instead, this is an acrylic resin product which is UV cured. When applied, the resin actually soaks into the wood, bonding with the wood fibers. There is no outgassing while drying and no VOCs, which should make the EPA happy. However, the curing process takes a full two days of sunshine to accomplish; so be sure to check the weather before using it. The product can be used on new or old wood, the only requirement is that previous paint and stain be removed. While the products color will fade with time, the protection for the wood is guaranteed to last a full seven years.
Thompsons is an oil based wood protector that offers extensive protection for the wood; protecting it from UV, mold, rot, and water damage. As an oil-based product, it can be painted or stained over, with other oil-based products. Read Full Review
Thompsons is a personal favorite of mine, which I have had very good results in using. This is an oil based product, which soaks into the wood providing what the manufacturer calls three way protection. It waterproofs the wood, so it wont be affected by the moisture; protects the wood against rot and mildew; and has a UV absorber to retard fading from sunlight. I might add to that the protection it offers against the wood drying out and cracking. Thompsons comes in various colors and can be applied to any wood, even if it has previously been painted, stained or is weathered. Oil based stains and paints can be used over it.
Olympic offers both clear and tinted wood protectors. Surprisingly, the clear offers better UV protection than the tinted ones do. This product is 100 percent VOC compliant. Read Full Review
Olympic is another oil-based product, which soaks into the wood much like Thompsons does. Although they offer tinted versions, this clear contains advanced UV inhibitors, which actually work better than the tinted versions. It also protects against mold, mildew and algae. It also has a scuffguard formulation which protects the wood from discoloration caused by scuffing and scraping. The product is guaranteed to protect water damage and graying for a minimum of two years on decks and three years on fences and siding. It is 100 percent VOC compliant.
Preserva-Wood is intended not only to protect wood, but to restore the finish of wood that has been ravaged by weather. This totally organic formula penetrates the wood, making it look new once again. Read Full Review
Preserva-Wood is a unique product in that it is intended for use in restoring weathered wood and not just preserving it (which it does also). This is a totally organic formula, which uses no acids, corrosives or bleach. The unique blend of resin and oil penetrates wood cell structure, restoring the cells and restoring the surface of the wood. Once treated wood returns to looking new again. Since it penetrates the cells, it doesnt leave anything on the surface to peel or chip. The finish resists, mold, mildew and algae, as well as splitting and warping.
This is a different sort of wood preservative, designed for a different type of threat. More than anything, it is designed to protect the wood from wood eating insects. As such, it is best applied to wood posts, such as for fences and decks, before they are put in the ground. Read Full Review
This is a different sort of wood preservative, primarily intended to protect wood from termites and other wood eating insects. It gives the wood the green tint of being pressure treated, although that isnt what it is doing. The green color comes from the copper oxide that is in the product. AT the same time, it protects the wood from rot and decay, like other wood preserving products do. This product is most effective when applied to wood before it is put in the ground.