As your exotic wood supplier in Memphis, TN can attest, using rare and different wood for your construction projects comes with many benefits. Beauty, durability and a new look for your deck or structure are just a few of those. However, you will not realize any of the advantages of exotic wood unless you use the right finish. Ipe, Purpleheart and Teak are just a few varieties that react to finishes differently than domestic variations. Here are four tips to follow when choosing a finish for your exotic wood products:
- Avoid oil-based products: Oil-based finishes frequently do not dry on exotic woods. This is often due to the amount of retained moisture in these varieties. Even the rock-hard Ipe, which has been known to wear out tools, does not respond well to oil. Unless you want that deck, shed or sauna to remain sticky forever, it is best to avoid finishes with an oil base.
- Stay away from reactive finishes: Polyurethane falls under the category of reactive finishes. Usually, when applied, it will undergo a chemical reaction with the wood that will harden and cure it. However, it does not work this way with most exotic woods. Also being oil-based as well as reactive, applying polyurethane to your Cumaru will mean a sticky tacky surface that renders your deck or other project useless. Before reviewing finishes, putting polyurethane on your avoidance list will save you wasted time and frustration.
- Pursue evaporative finishes: Even with oil bases and polyurethane eliminated, you still have hope! Evaporative finishes do not go into a chemical reaction. They evaporate after application and leave a thin protective film as it dissipates. You create this reaction by mixing a resin with a solvent. Shellac and lacquer are the most common examples of evaporative finishes, and both make excellent substitutes for polyurethane.
- When in doubt, use shellac: If the finish battle appears insurmountable, you are likely safe using shellac with most exotic woods. Use it as an intermediate coat after sanding, and add a stain over it for more protection. If you are using a particularly oily wood, you may have to apply three or four coats. The nice thing about shellac is that it can be found premixed in every hardware store. You can also make your own and customize it to your wood type. Discuss your options with your exotic wood supplier in Memphis, TN.
There are several exotic wood varieties that can prove challenging to finishes. Cumaru and Ipe are candidates for shellac. Teak is frequently best untreated since it is heavy in natural oils. If you are in doubt, ask your wood supplier about treating exotic lumber. There are varieties that are best left alone, and if you are stuck on a certain color of finish, suppliers can help you find a wood to match rather than risk you mishandling an exotic variety.
Bolen-Brunson-Bell Lumber Co. is a full-service exotic wood supplier in Memphis, TN. Contact us today for Ipe, Cumaru, Redwood or our specialty, Western Red Cedar.