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How do you find your way out of the maze of wood stain products?

12-How-choose-exterior-wood-stain-livos-alis

There are hundreds of outdoor stains. There are natural oil stains often found in specialized hardware stores, home made products found in cabinetmaking centers, high-end and low-end stains in large-scale renovations centers... In front of all these choices, it can be difficult to find our way out of this! Yet all products have their share of particularity which distinguishes them from each other. 

Today, I suggest three sets of reflection to help you make a first sorting process. Will the promises claimed by cheaper exterior stains be kept and will they really save you money? What are the criterias for assessing whether an exterior stain product claiming to be environmentally friendly is actually so? Is the exterior stain you are about to buy a real stain or is it a diluted paint that will eventually hide the grain of the wood, crack and peel?


1- A cheaper product, a real economy?

The first hesitation that you may have in front of a high-end product is probably its price. Will it really be worth the cost? Be sure first of all not to tag a finishing product as expensive when solely comparing price per volume (the price on the container) but on coverage (the price / covering area). When you analyse the situation, the covering power can be 1.5x to 3x higher for an impregnating product than for a film-forming product. It goes without saying that for the same quantity, a coverage 3x higher will divide its price the same extent!


Take the example of a very low-end stain at $34.99 and a covering yield of 150 ft2 / coat. This gives a value of 0.23 $ / ft2. By putting a second layer, you get to 0.46 $ / ft2 to cover the surface. For a high-end dyeing at $233.95 and a covering capacity of 300 ft2 for 2 coats, we have a cover price of 0.78 $ / ft2. Thus, a product 6.5x more expensive in terms of volume, but only 1.5x more expensive in terms of cost per ft2.


A second important point to consider is the durability of a high-end exterior stain. It is thus necessary to consider that if a product resists longer, its equivalent price will also decrease with time. This is even more true if you ask a professional to maintain your wooden surfaces, in which case it will be necessary to consider his remuneration. If the exterior stain is easy to maintain, you will also need to consider lower costs of sanding accessories to solve cracking and peeling problems, not to mention the cost of your sweat and elbow grease!


If in the previous example, to maintain your surface, you have to sand everything and put two coats of low-end stain the next year again, it means another 0.46 $ / ft2 in maintenance, and this, every year! In the case of the high-end stain, because it is a product working through saturation, the maintenance coat is much more covering. We can speak of nearly 900 ft2 / coat. Since only one coat is required after 2 years, maintenance costs is about 0.26 $ / ft2.


After some math and 3 years of maintenance, you end up with a high-end stain of $235 costing you 1.03 $ / ft2 and a low-end stain of $34.99 costing you 1.38 $ / ft2 plus some sanding. A 34% saving for the high-end stain... Impressive, right?



In addition to the characteristics that can influence the long-term cost of exterior stain, there are other qualitative factors that are important to consider. Does the stain provide a beautiful finish both after application and after being exposed to sunlight and rain? If you live in a humid area, it is also important to make sure your exterior stain is resistant to fungi, mold and micro-algae.


2 - An eco-friendly product, really?

If environment and health are values ​​that really matter to you, it is important to pay attention to sales speeches and the visual aspect of packaging. There is nothing wrong with creating beautiful packaging with green colors and using convincing arguments to present an environmentally friendly stain product. However, it is necessary that what’s outside the container be equivalent with what’s inside!


To know if a product is up to its ecological claims, it is important to study its components. Is it carcinogenic? Is it toxic to the environment? Is production poses health issues to the workers that manufacture that wood stain? For example, alkyd urethane products are very toxic to produce as their manufacture can generate highly toxic toluene diisocyanates by inhalation. In addition, products based on alkyd and water require the use of an azeotropic product such as xylene itself considered to be toxic for the fetus. Finally, there is an array of solvents such as 2-butoxyethanol which has a fairly severe lethal dose and is also considered carcinogenic for animals.


You have probably already heard: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger”. If this principle holds true for certain bacterias and viruses that can stimulate our immune system, this is not true for toxic chemical components which, as they are described, are carcinogenic and thus slowly but surely attack our immune system. If integral composition description is not available, it may be best not to buy the product. Indeed, if it is impossible to study the content, it is equally impossible to verify if the product is safe for you and your family.



3- An in depth protection product or only at the surface?

Many companies tout the merits of linseed oil and tung oil as products protecting indepths the pores of the wood. However, many of them will be tempted to add an innovative mixture of alkyd urethane combined with polymerized silicone. Still others add an alkyd / water base combined with alcohols to render the alkyd / water mixture inter-mixable. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Why? To add some resistance to external stain, but at which cost?


All these additions have the same effect. They are in fact polymers and thus plastic components that accumulate at each maintenance layer. If the exterior stain does not completely cover the wood as a paint would do, it is because the plastic materials that make up the stain are diluted by the oil components. Whatever their concentration, these plastic materials will eventually accumulate on the surface, masking the grain of your wood. The resulting side effect is an inevitable cracking and peeling of the topcoat and its possible restoration by sanding.


That's why the best products to protect your wooden surface in depth remain those based solely on linseed oil and tung oil. Exterior oils penetrate the pores of the wood in depths. If applied at the wood saturation level, no film product builds up on the surface for optimum results that enhances the wood grain without cracking or peeling of the finish in the long term.



So now?

So-called environmentally friendly low-cost stains are less expensive because they are diluted with water and other additives. They do not necessarily respect health and environment because they require the use of toxic and carcinogenic substances in their manufacture. In addition, they lead to more surface maintenance and may crack and peel.


Available in specialized hardware stores, exterior stains based on natural linseed and tung oils help protect your wooden surfaces in depth. They are actually more environmentally friendly and respectful of human health, because neither their manufacture nor their application generate toxic fumes. The higher covering power of these exterior stains is certainly to be taken into account in their prices.  Besides this fact, their less frequent and easier maintenance will save you in the long term.


These points of reflection will certainly help you sort through. The ALIS 579 oil is composed of high quality natural linseed and tung oils, is produced and manufactured with the respect for the environment and human health. Having a multitude of benefits in terms of maintenance, application and aesthetics, discover the specificity of the ALIS 579 oil.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

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