Log & Siding | Deck & Fence

Log & Siding Maintenance Guide

Rule #1 – Keep It Clean
Rule #2 – Keep your Clear UV top coat fresh
Rule #3 – Don’t wait for finish to “wear off” before you re-apply

Maintaining a home is a lot easier if you dedicate a weekend a year to cleaning the wood all the way around the house and examining the high wear areas that are most exposed. A little preventative maintenance goes a long way and can save you a lot of time and money. If you don’t do some yearly maintenance on your log home or wood siding you may eventually have to strip off the finish and re-apply it again and that is a lot more work than just the preventative maintenance. Transparent wood finishes need to be maintained more often, they are not loaded with pigment like paint. Everyone wants to maintain a natural wood look and be able to see the grain and beauty of the wood. Major label store brand transparent finishes usually need to be reapplied every 1-2 years. The specialty log and siding finishes such as Timber Pro UV will last longer but the high exposure walls still need to be monitored closely and stained on an “as needed” basis. Walls that are more protected or under overhangs or covered porches can look great for 5-8 years. Rough sawn wood siding or shingles will hold stain longer than smoother wood such as logs because rough sawn wood absorbs more stain in the first place. In some climates where extreme heat and sun exposure are year round, maintenance coating will always be more frequent. Exotic hardwood siding will need more frequent coating as it does not absorb much stain in the first place because it is so dense. Here are some tips that will help you to keep your wood beautiful year round.

Keep it Clean - Wood Finishes Hold up Longer if They are Kept Clean

Timber Pro UV is not a “dirt attracting” finish because it does not contain soft, waxy oils that dirt wants to stick to. You could just actually use a hose with a trigger sprayer set on “jet” to spray off the siding every six months and the dust will rinse away, especially on smoother siding like logs. Better yet, to ensure that the dirt, pollen, and spores are removed, we suggest that you wash the home at least once a year with our Clean & Brite formula. It brightens the wood and removes contaminants. Clean wood will not grow mildew!

Keep Snow Away from Your Siding

Those of you who live in areas where snow can build up against the siding are going to need to be as vigilant as possible about keeping that snow away from your siding. Timber Pro UV is a breathable sealer, and it is important that wood siding is allowed to breathe a little and adjust its humidity levels to the environment. Normally, water won’t soak through the stain into the wood, but water in its vapor form can be released out of the wood. Snow however, is a constant, smothering wetness and exposure to that much wetness without air movement can result in the moisture insinuating through the finish. It can rehydrate the stain and dilute it so much it just absorbs deeper into the wood and can look as if there is no more stain on the surface at all. Keep the snow brushed off and swept away from your siding.

Monitor the Checks if You have a Log Home

There is not a finish made that will prevent the logs from checking (cracking). This is a natural occurrence caused by the logs expanding and contracting as they season over time. Keeping the log ends sealed will reduce checking but never eliminate it completely. Checks in the logs do not diminish its dimensional stability but if the check faces up and is exposed to rain then there is a possibility that rain will run down into the crack. If this happens the water can push the stain off the log around the checks. On a regular basis, try to blow dust, cobwebs, etc. out of these cracks and if they are facing upwards and catching moisture then spray or brush Timber Pro Clear UV stain/sealer into these cracks. Keeping these cracks sealed inside will help prevent moisture from getting deep into the log behind the stain. Many log home professionals recommend filling the checks that are collecting rain with backer rod and a high quality log caulk then monitoring the seal on a yearly basis to make sure it is not breaking away from the edges.

Log Railings

Log railings are so beautiful but they are maintenance intensive. If you choose to have log railings be prepared to treat them very regularly just like you would a deck. Here is why: Railings are almost always very exposed to direct weather because they are usually at the outer edge of the deck or porch and not under the overhang. The logs used to make these railings are quite small, which means this is not vertical grain old growth lumber. These small circumference logs are usually quite flat grain and do not absorb much finish. They are also very prone to cracking (checking) because they are so small. If a check faces up toward the sky then rain and snow will fall into that crack and water will insinuate deeply into the wood and make its way behind the finish you have applied. We recommend caulking these upward facing checks so that this will not occur. Clean the inside of these cracks and take a small brush and continually paint Timber Pro UV stain into these cracks as deep as you can then caulk. You will probably also have to clean the railing yearly and brush some more stain or Clear UV on the railings, especially the horizontal top surface. Remember, every horizontal surface is a like a deck - getting continual abrasion from rain, snow, dirt, dust and pollen landing there as well as getting a direct beating from the sun.

Keep the Clear UV Coat Fresh

Hopefully you applied that single top coat of Clear UV that we recommended initially. It usually takes 2 initial color coats for the wood pores to become filled up to the point where the wood is non-absorbent. This saturation point is evidenced by the finish taking on a very slight sheen when it dries. The final (and third coat) of Clear UV lays on the wood surface and helps to “lock in” and protect the two color coats underneath it which is why we recommend it. The last coat applied is always the first coat that wears off so it is better to eventually lose a “clear coat” to the elements than a color coat. Once the Clear UV coat is applied you should definitely see “side sheen”, the low level gleam that you see when the sun hits the wood. This gleam eventually dies down as the product slowly cures and sinks deeper into the wood. At some point, usually a year or two down the road, there is no longer any sheen. The logs or siding still have their color but they look dull and matte. This indicates that your top clear coat has eroded away and should be re-applied. Wash the logs or siding with Clean & Brite before re-applying your Clear UV coat. Do not wash your logs with bleach and tsp or any cleaning solution containing bleach or oxalic acid. Bleach is very hard on wood and causes fuzz. Bleach and Oxalic acid will cause problems with Timber-Pro UV and other finishes by making them turn gummy. If you notice that some of the color coat comes off during the washing process you should probably apply another color coat before re-applying the clear top coat.

Once you have re-applied the top coat of Clear UV your side sheen should re-appear. If the logs or siding still looks matte and dull then you are not applying heavy enough and need to apply more! If you still have sheen, do not apply a maintenance coat. Some people apply product more often than they should and build up the Timber Pro UV so much it looks like varnish and it will not breathe as well as it should. You may notice that under your eaves or covered porches the finish has not worn at all. Do not apply a maintenance coat to the areas where the finish is not worn! With a brush, feather into the first few inches of those areas and then stop. No finish made will wear evenly on a log or wood sided home. You must learn the art of maintaining the most weather exposed areas and feathering into the least exposed parts. This is required whatever brand of finish you have chosen.

Eventually, even if you’ve kept your top coat fresh, the sun may fade the color. We use the highest tech UV inhibitor made but the sun is a powerful enemy. At this point you may want to mix some of your original color in with some Clear UV to revive the color a little. Do a patch test in a more hidden area to determine what amount of your stain color you should mix in with the Clear UV to even out the color with the less exposed walls of the structure.

Don’t Wait for Finish to Wear Off Before you Re-apply

How do you know the finish has worn off? Well, Timber-Pro UV only wears off the surface fibers. The oil resin is still inside the wood protecting from water absorption. When the tint has eroded completely the wood will usually turn a creamy pale color. Soon after that, it will turn pale gray. You have waited too long. You will have to remove that gray before re-applying the stain.

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Deck & Fence Maintenance Guide

Timber-Pro UV is a hard-drying, penetrating and bonding finish made from plant oil resin. The finish will “bead” water initially until it is well cured and rainproof. From that point on it will “sheet” water rather than bead water. Keep the deck clean with an occasional light power washing or mild wood cleaner such as Clean & Brite. DO NOT USE BLEACH-BASED CLEANERS! As a rule of thumb, deck stains need to be refreshed yearly. Occasionally, every other year is okay if your stain is holding really well but at least clean the deck in the interim year. Usually one liberal coat is sufficient for a maintenance coat, unless you have a lot of sun or wear on your deck. If you see a gleam on the wood after the first maintenance coat you should not apply a second maintenance coat. Fences, being vertical surfaces require less frequent maintenance coating. If you applied two coats originally you should re-apply a coat or two every 4-6 years after a good cleaning.

Snow is a deck stains worst enemy! For those of you who live in areas where snow is likely to fall on your deck, snow left to accumulate causes problems. You could end up with a situation where water is actually being “pressure treated” into the wood. Snow melts from the bottom up so the wetness is next to the stained wood with heavy snow on top of it. Just about every deck board has minute cracks and the weight of the snow on the water is forcing moisture into these cracks where it insinuates into the wood underneath the stain. The water will then push the stain off from the inside out. Try to keep your deck swept free of snow at all times to avoid this possibility.

Holding the Color

The tint in Timber-Pro UV lays mostly on surface fibers to act as a layer of sunscreen. Tint will eventually begin to break down and fade. Examine your deck periodically for fading. Before noticeable fading occurs, clean deck with Clean & Brite and apply a maintenance coat. If you wait too long, the surface will significantly lighten and then gray. You may notice that in the more protected areas of the deck (under a covered section, or under the house eaves) the finish has not worn. When applying a maintenance coat on the more weathered areas, feather into the areas where the stain has not worn rather than just applying more stain where it isn’t needed.

Gray Streaks? Keep your eye on the flat grain portion of your deck and fence boards. The finish will wear faster on the flat grain (very wide apart grain lines and scalloped grain pattern areas) and if you wait too long to re-apply the flat grain area will fade to gray. If you do have multiple gray areas you would need to strip the deck with Strip & Brite and remove all the stain and discoloration and then start over again with a fresh, stripped back to bare deck. This is why it saves effort in the long run to maintain your deck on a regular basis.

NEW DECKS or Exotic Wood Decks will need to be re-coated more often. New wood will not absorb as much stain as a seasoned deck so they need more consistent coating applications until they are seasoned and start absorbing product better. Your new wood deck may need to be single coated every 12 months for the first two years, after which it should be treated every 24 months. Exotic Wood Decks (new or old) will probably need re-coating every year due to the density of the wood.