Fact Sheet for Factory Finishing with Transparent Coatings: Requirements for Maximizing Longevity

  • Select heartwood where possible to minimize nutrient content of wood surfaces and prevent nutrients migrating through the coating to support fungal growth on the surface.
  • Round all corners to minimum 5 mm radius to eliminate sharp edges where coating can thin out.
  • Prepare surface by sanding with 100 grit sandpaper to physically and chemically activate the surface.  Pretreatment and coating should be applied immediately after sanding. Research shows sanding can double coating life.
  • Pretreat with an aqueous formulation containing a UV absorber designed to absorb the visible light that must penetrate transparent coatings to permit the wood to be visible. If the subsequent coating is not completely opaque to UV light, a hindered amine light stabilizer should be added to the visible light protection system. Not only does a visible light protection system prevent degradation of the wood-coating interface, it also prevents release of lignin breakdown products that can be used as a food source by black-stain fungi and prevents light induced breakdown of the biocide components. This pre-treatment must also contain three low-dose carbon-based biocides with differing chemistries to provide cross protection against detoxification and with complementary spectra of activity providing resistance to the full range of black-stain fungi. It should ideally have water repellent properties and must maintain wood surface pH close to neutral or slightly alkaline.
  • Apply a transparent water-based catalyzed urethane coating, containing organic and inorganic UV absorbers with absorbance that extends from UVB through to the high-energy part of the visible spectrum (violet light). The coating must virtually eliminate UV from penetrating to the wood, preventing breakdown of wood, biocides and water repellents. This coating will be formulated to be damp-wood friendly to allow application soon after pre-treatment. It will contain no nutrients for fungal growth. It must have an optimum combination of moisture excluding efficiency and vapour permeability to minimize moisture uptake and allow drying after rain. The first coat to be designed to penetrate and bond to the wood, subsequent coats to be designed to ensure maximum intercoat adhesion without sanding between coats. Sufficient coats to be applied to give a film thickness no less than 60 microns to minimize the ability of black-stain fungi to penetrate the film with their infection pegs. The surface layer to have sheeting rather than beading properties to ensure rapid drying after rain or dew, reducing the time available for spore germination.

Additional detailed information on coating wood surfaces has been assembled by the Joint Coatings and Forest Products Committee (http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2004/fpl_2004_bonura001.pdf, 2004).