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Pros and Cons of Using a Clear Coat On My Exterior Logs

Learn the pros and cons of using only a clear coat to achieve a natural look over time.

Sponsored by Sashco Sealants
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What are the pros and cons of using a clear coat on my exterior logs and wood?

 
We hear it all the time: “I want to keep my logs looking natural. I don’t want a stain” Indeed, there’s nothing quite like that fresh, blonde wood. Is there an easy way to keep the natural look over time? And if you do use only a clear coat, what are the pros and cons of doing so?
 
Pros of a clear coat only:
  • Allows you to maintain the light blonde color of the wood for the first year or so
  • Proves water repellency
  • Great for interior wood that's not exposed to much UV light. Will maintain the fresh wood look for many years
Cons of clear coat only:
In a word: entropy. (We’re digging into our physics background here.) Entropy is the rule that states that all things tend to disorder. That includes clear coats.
  • Doesn’t protect wood from UV damage. Think of a clear coat as an SPF 8 sunscreen. Doesn’t work for long. That UV damage turns wood from amber yellow to gray over time, usually within the first year to 18 months
  • Inconsistent moisture protection. UV breaks down the clear coat. With no other protection, you have moisture repellency in some areas and not in others
  • Higher maintenance over time. A clear coat must be reapplied every year, if not sooner, to ensure proper protection from moisture
If you want to keep that fresh blonde wood look, or even if you prefer the weathered gray wood look (big trend right now!), you’ll be better off over the long run using a stain that delivers that color, along with the protection your wood needs, in one product. (Think of pigmented stains as an SPF 15 with long sleeves.) Get samples of the colors you like best and test them first to see what’s possible. Yes, traditional stains will have to be maintained over time, but not nearly as often as a clear coat, and they’ll protect your wood from rot, insects, and UV damage much better than a mere clear coat.
 
November 7th, 2017

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