How to Treat Natural Timber

by Ali |

Video Transcript:

Natural timber is a beautiful addition to any home. However you must be aware of how much ongoing maintenance is required.

Typically, an exterior natural timber surface needs to be recoated every 12 to 18 months. If the timber is in full sun, it can be as often as every 6 months. If natural timber is not maintained, it can start to delaminate, and the timber can begin to bleach; requiring even more effort sanding back to bare and staining to get it back to its original condition.

There are a number of questions you need to answer before recoating your natural timber. Firstly, is the natural timber a deck or trims, such as windows door or blinds. Secondly, is the natural timber interior protected by the elements, or exterior and open to the elements such as the wind, rain and sun. Thirdly, what was your natural timber previously coated in, an oil based coating or a water based coating. Finally, if it was an oil based system, was it a one-pack system or a two-pack system.

You must be able to answer all these questions so you can purchase the right product for the job. If you know exactly what is on your deck or natural timber, you can simply recoat with the same product. If you don’t know what the previous coating was, then you want to make sure you don’t coat your natural timber with a different type of product, because it could react and cause the new coating to fail, wasting time and money.

Natural timber products are expensive, and range from $30 to $60 for one litre. So the best advice I can give before you start is to visit your local paint trade or retail centre. There, you will be able to discuss the exact surface you intend to coat, and they will be able to recommend the right product and application method.

But if you don’t know what your deck or natural timber is previously coated, in then you have two options. Your first option is to sand the timber back to a bare and then choose whatever product your desire. For internal natural timber trims, you could use an oil-based polyurethane product like this (ESTAPOL) or a water based product like this (ESTAPOL). An oil-based product will mean it will take longer to dry, and you will need to use turps to wash your brushes, etc. Most people tend towards water-based products these days. They have fast dry times; 3 hours compared to 8 hours (touch tins) and because you can wash up in water, they are more DIY friendly.

For decks you have the same decision of oil-based (CABOTS) or water-based (Integrain). You also have a third option of Sikkens, which is a microporous water repellent pigmented protective coating. All you need to know is that it creates a really beautiful natural timber finish for your decks.

Finally, if you don’t know what your natural timber floor was previously coated, in you can recoat with Cabots CFP for interior, and Sikkens Cetol BLX Pro for exterior. Both are a water-based product that can be coated directly over oil or water based products, and have very quick dry times.

As you can see, with natural timber the hard work is in selecting the right product. The actual application is easy and a great job for a DIY painter to start with. Often, the products can be mopped on with a lamps wool applicator like this one or a standard brush. Even when recoating, though, it is wise to give a light sand before the first coat. Wait the recommended dry time and recoat as per the manufacturers recommendations.

The end result is a really beautiful finish that when partnered with stone, brick or painted timber creates contrast and interest.
I must tell you, though we often see property owners get their natural timber recoated once or twice; they become overwhelmed with the upkeep and decide to paint it in a timber paint colour in an attempt to protect it for a longer period of time. This is always an option for the DIY painter as well.