When it comes to choosing a finish system for your log home exterior there are many factors to consider and depending on what choices you make it will have a significant impact on the longevity of the finish system. Some of these choices include surface preparation, type of stain and color choice.

In this Q&A , Jared Turner, Chemist/Product Manager for Perma-Chink in Knoxville, Tennessee, takes a closer look at each one of these factors and explains how they each contribute to a systems performance.


Q. How important is surface preparation?

Jared Turner: First, surface preparation is often overlooked, not taken seriously, or even dismissed entirely. At Perma-Chink Systems we have learned through many years of testing and experience that this is an important step and forms the foundation for a successful finish system.

Does the surface of the wood have mold, dirt, discoloration, existing finishes, metal contaminants or greyed weathering? All these wood conditions will likely lead to problems with your finish system if left unaddressed. Perma-Chink Systems offers a full line of wood restoration and cleaning products and literature to deal effectively with each of these wood conditions.

If, however, surface preparation is skipped or done improperly prior to an application of stain, it will impact the appearance and longevity of the final system. Some of the likely outcomes such as peeling and early discoloration and unhappy homeowners are the usual result.

Q. How do I know which type of stain to choose?

Jared Turner: The type of stain you choose also will impact performance. For all horizontal surfaces it is more advantageous to go with a penetrating type of stain such as our Deck Defense™. If you want to coat both horizontal and vertical surfaces another penetrating flat stain such as our Log and Timber Defense™ is an excellent choice. For all vertical surfaces film forming stains such as Lifeline Ultra 7™, Lifeline Ultra 2™ or Lifeline Exterior™ are your choices. For long lasting color fastness and protection on vertical surfaces the best option is our all-acrylic Lifeline Ultra 7.

Q. What’s the difference in oil-based and water-based stains?

Jared Turner: Two broad categories for stain type are oil and water-based stains. What distinguishes these two types from each other? The advantages of oils are ease of application, extended drying time and initial high gloss appearance. The disadvantages of oil types are, more hazardous to work with due to dangerous flammable solvents as a primary ingredient, the gloss appearance dulls relativity quickly with exposure and due to its high solid content is less breathable and can chip and peel more easily than a water-based stain. Clean up of oils requires dangerous paint thinner solvents and is arguably more difficult. All our water-based stains are non-hazardous and easy soap and water cleanup as well as breathable making them less susceptible to peeling and chipping.

Q. Is color a factor?

Jared Turner: Color strongly influences the performance of any finish system. Our stains are designed to be semi- transparent. This allows the observer to more easily see the unique features of the wood such as grain and texture. However, by their very nature transparent type finishes do not offer the kind of protection afforded opaque systems such as paint. In many of our exterior formulations we use Transparent Oxide type pigments. These pigment types still allow light to pass through so that you can see the grain while at the same time providing a high level of protection from the sun. In addition, we avoid using organic type colorants that are not as colorfast as oxide-based colorants.

In general, the darker tone colors will provide more protection and longevity for your home while lighter honey tone colors offer reduced protection. Nevertheless, at Perma-Chink we understand that color is a very personal preference and we all cannot agree on exactly what we would like our home to look like. Perma-Chink offers a broad range of color choices to meet our customers’ expectations and desires when it comes to color. Color formulations have been carefully evaluated for color longevity. Pigment loading levels have been formulated to give the greatest protection possible while at the same time providing color choices that meet our customers’ needs.

Q. How many coats of stain will I need?

Jared Turner: Some additional choices such as how many coats of stain, topcoat or no topcoat and surface porosity are also important factors. In general, two coats of Lifeline stain are better than one. It helps to even the color out and provides increased protection of the wood. Having a clear topcoat, such as our Lifeline Advance™, is also a great benefit. This helps keep the system sealed, dirt pickup is greatly reduced, performance of the system is increased, and it provides a great look to the final product.

Increased wood surface porosity is also important and to achieve best results, we recommend sanding your wood with 60 grit sandpaper. This allows for improved mechanical adhesion of the stain with the wood fibers and increases overall performance of the system as well as color uniformity. The overall color development will be much darker than on un-sanded wood. Nevertheless, the protection of the wood surface is increased substantially. Staining on smooth/un-sanded wood can look splotchy due to the reduced porosity and unevenness of the wood. As a result, not much stain goes on the wall and the performance is reduced accordingly.

Q. What if I need more help when making these decisions?

Jared Turner: As a log homeowner you have many important decisions to make when it comes to the care and maintenance of your home. At Perma-Chink Systems we have spent the last 40 years developing solutions to help meet your needs. Your choices as well as ours do matter and will make a difference. Let us work together to keep your log home looking great well into the future. For more information about our products please give us a call at 1-800-548-3554 and tell us what your needs are. You can also visit our website at www.permachink.com where you can find more information and order our products directly.

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