Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to waterproof wood (unpainted)

If you are working on a wood project that will be used primarily outdoors - such as a gazebo, cedar chairs, cedar garden planters, garden benches, deck, etc - and you want to keep the natural wood finish, you need to waterproof and seal your wood. Waterproofing and sealing natural wood is actually very easy to do - here is how to do it!

These instructions are aimed at waterproofing wood when it is relatively new and just being used for a project, deck, or other outdoor project. The same principles can be applied to outdoor furniture you have had for a long time as well.

Purchase Olympic WaterGuard, nylon brush, and a 2 quart bucket from a home supply store.

Olympic WaterGuard

2 Quart Bucket

Lay your wood out on a shop table, tablesaw, sawhorses, or outside - anywhere where you can stain them with the Olympic WaterGuard.I happen to know ahead of time that I am going to be using this wood for an outdoor project, so I am prepping it before construction. This is not necessary, and you can have your entire piece complete at this point.

I recommend that at this point you thoroughly and lightly sand your wood to clean up the surface and allow the grain to get exposed to soak in the WaterGuard sealer. You can use an orbital palm sander or hand sand paper for this.

Take a tack cloth and wipe away any access dust from the piece caused by sanding.

We want to brush the Olympic WaterGuard onto our wood, just like we would a stain. I like to use a synthetic nylon brush to do this as it applies the WaterGuard cleanly.

Pour about 8 oz of the Olympic Water Guard into your 2 quart bucket. You may need more as you work on your project, but it is always better to work with a small amount of WaterGuard at first and use up the solution in your 2 quart bucket completely as you cover your entire project.

Dip your brush into the 2 quart bucket and let a liberal amount of WaterGuard soak up into the brush. Use the same technique you would use for painting or staining a piece of wood. Apply the WaterGuard liberally to your wood piece to ensure that it is being soaked up into the wood. Brush the water sealer on in the direction of the wood grain.

An important part of the wood to seal is the end-grain. This is often forgotten, and this is the most porous part of the wood. If you have a wood chair outside, it will literally suck up water through the end-grain, dry out, and crack the whole piece of wood. Be sure to apply the sealer to the wood grain, and apply a few coats in these areas.

The directions on the Olympic WaterGuard can indicate that only one coat is necessary. I have found that to be true for hard woods, but I would recommend that you apply at least two-three coats on soft or porous woods, such as cedar. If you want the cedar to age over time with that nice silver color, then only apply one coat. I would also apply at least two to three coats on a deck due to heavy use and water collection.

Allow the WaterGuard to dry for 24 hours before taking your furniture or project outside.

Enjoy your work.

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