This past weekend we spent part of the time getting ready for winter. I sneer at people that say they like winter around here. They are only fooling themselves. It is their way to cope in order to get through this cruel, icy time of year. Let them. I see it for what it is, confinement in a freezer.
My husband brought down the storm windows. He checked them over and cleaned them and the glass inside and out. He told me the paint was good but next year we are going to have to reglaze them. Ugh! Well, that’s next year. So I was spared having to paint them before they were put up. I’ll use that white latex foam spray insulation (Dap Tex, I think) around the inside of the storm windows. It brushes away with a stiff brush and I just vacuum it up when we remove the windows in the spring.
I also sanded our 6 ft high cedar gate I made several years ago. It still in great shape except the spar varnish peels up every year. It makes me mad that I go through the effort only to have it fail. Last year I did an experiment with leftover Waterlox. I coated the south/west side of the gate with Waterlox before winter. It looked really pretty. Waterlox makes a marine product meant for outdoors but this is what I had leftover (the original finish for floors, woodwork and furniture) so I thought I’d try it. This Waterlox didn’t have UV filters etc in it. The sun’s UV rays penetrates through the finish and breaks down the bond between the wood and the finish. However, I did add some gel stain (oil based) to the mix which turned it a nice orangy-cedar color. The gate looked terrific in the spring after surviving temperatures down to zero and snow for months on end. The east side of the gate I used the spar varnish like always. The east side is the protected side as wind, rain and snow usually hit the west side. Both sides looked pretty good but the east side was starting to have small slits appearing in the finish.
I knew summer would be the real test. That humidity and rain coupled with the heat and strong sun rays would do the finish in I was sure. But the Waterlox side survived with very little damage, just a few tiny breaks in the finish. and it was on the side that has most of the hot sun and rain. The other side I had to scrape and sand to get all the peeling finish (peeling like a bad sunburn) off which is what I always have to do every year because that stuff just doesn’t last. This past weekend I put Waterlox mixed with the antique maple, oil-based gel stain on that side of the gate, too, after sanding off the peeling areas of spar varnish. I’ll need to put on 2 more coats to build up the finish and even out the color. The side that got the coating of Waterlox the year before just needed a light, thinned-down coat. The great part is you don’t have to sand between coats of Waterlox (each coat melts into the previous not like spar varnish that you have to scratch the surface for it to bond.)
My thought is that the oil-based Gel Stain I added to the Waterlox has solids in it that perhaps filtered some of the UV rays out. Whatever, it worked good. Even if I have to lightly re-coat it every year, I had to do it anyway and I wouldn’t have to sand it all down to re-coat it like I do with spar varnish. That is huge. Of course I’m putting Waterlox over some areas that still have some spar varnish so it is only going to hold as long as that under coat lasts. So now I’m thinking that next year I will buy some of the marine Waterlox made to withstand the outdoor weather and sun. It so expensive but if it lasts, it would be worth it. The industry just doesn’t make a product that lasts. The sun is a mean enemy of finishes. Even paint only lasts a few years before you have to start repainting. I guess they’d put themselves out of business if you didn’t have to keep going back to buy their products every year. So, like congressmen voting for term limits, it’s never going to happen.