How-To Guides


2. Clean and Restore

Over the past several years we have discovered many things about cleaning wood and existing finishes.

Dusty-copyFirst and foremost is that chlorine bleach is not a good product to use. In addition to its potential for damaging the finish and bare wood fibers, its use and misuse contributes to a number of problems including the loss of film adhesion, discolorations due to tannin extraction, and the formation of iron tannates, streaks, blotches and premature failures of the finish system. We have also discovered that a number of wood and deck cleaners available at paint and hardware stores, home improvement centers and Do-It-Yourself outlets contain components that interfere with the proper performance of our finish systems.

With this in mind we have decided that the ONLY cleaning products approved for use with our finishes are those products supplied or recommended by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. We are not doing this to increase our sales of cleaning products. It is simply because we have tested our cleaning products with our finish systems and have confidence that when properly used and applied, their use will result in the best possible appearance and performance of the final LIFELINE™ finish. We cannot say the same about the use of other types and brands of wood cleaners and strongly discourage their use with any of our LIFELINE™ stains.

Guideline for cleaning Bare Wood prior to applying LIFELINE™ stains.

New Log Homes

  1. If the wood has not grayed, wash the surface with two (2) cups per gallon Log Wash solution and a pressure washer no more than seven (7) days prior to staining. Smooth log siding should be washed using Wood ReNew™. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry.
  2. If you are finishing Western Red Cedar, Redwood, Walnut or Mahogany, use Cedar Wash™, a ready-to-use cleaner, instead of Log Wash™ for better surface preparation and finish longevity on these specific wood substrates.
  3. If there are signs of grayed wood, use Wood ReNew™ according to the label along with a pressure washer. Rinse well and allow wood surface to dry before staining. If more than seven (7) days pass before the home is ready for staining, wash the surface with two (2) cups per gallon of water Log Wash™ solution, rinse well with a garden hose and allow wood surface to dry.
    cleaning before cleaning after
  4. If after steps one or two there are still dark streaks or discolorations on the surface, use a solution of Oxcon™ which contains oxalic acid, on the entire wall according to the directions for use. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before staining. 

Older Log Homes that have had a previous finish removed

  1. If there are no signs of gray surface wood, wash the surface with a two (2) cups per gallon Log Wash™ solution no more than seven (7) days prior to staining. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry.
  2. If you are finishing Western Red Cedar, Redwood, Walnut or Mahogany, use Cedar Wash™, a ready-to-use cleaner, instead of Log Wash for better surface preparation and finish longevity on these specific wood substrates.
  3. If there are areas where grayed wood is still evident or if the wood has darkened after the finish was removed, use Wood ReNew™ according to the label along with a pressure washer. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before staining.
  4. If the wood has darkened or more than seven days pass before the home is ready for staining, wash the surface with two (2) cups per gallon of water Log Wash™ solution, rinse well with a garden hose and allow the wood surface dry.
  5. If after steps one or two there are still dark streaks or discolorations on the surface, use Oxcon™, an aqueous oxalic acid solution, on the entire wall according to the directions for use. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before staining. 
cleaningbefore cleaningafter

Log Homes with an Existing Finish That is Still in Good Condition

  1. If a maintenance coat of LIFELINE stain or topcoat is going to be applied over an existing LIFELINE finish, wash the coating surface with a two (2) cups per gallon Log Wash solution no more than seven (7) days prior to staining. Pressure washing is not recommended. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry. For maintenance cleaning finished surfaces that are not going to be stained or top-coated, use a one (1) cup per gallon Log Wash™ solution.

 

*A NOTE ABOUT RINSING

No matter what product you use to clean bare wood, nothing is more important than making sure you have adequately rinsed the surface. Any chemical residue remaining on the surface can have serious consequences later on. We always recommend using pH Strips to make sure that the surface of the wood has been sufficiently rinsed, preferably to a pH of between 6.5 and 7.5. pH Strips are available at most pool supply dealers, aquarium supply shops and Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. They are not expensive, are very easy to use and a great tool to ensure adequate rinsing.

 

Guideline for Restoring your logs prior to applying LIFELINE™ stains.

ext28-copyThere often comes a time, usually over the course of many years of neglect, when you may choose to remove all existing finish and reapply a fresh coat. There are a few methods that can be used; either the dry media blasting process or pressure washing, which at times may need a chemical stripper first applied. Both have their advantages and both can provide stellar results. The variables that should be considered when deciding which process is best for you include:

  • Stain condition and how much of it needs to be removed,
  • Type and age of wood,
  • Accessibility to the walls,
  • Your budget or how much time you wish to invest if doing the project yourself and what your expectations in the finished look may be.

The process that is best for one house isn’t necessarily the best for another. Let’s take a look at two options below:

 

OPTION 1: Using a Chemical Finish Remover Step-by-Step

It is always best to use finish removers supplied or approved by Perma-Chink Systems. Never use finish removers containing potassium or sodium hydroxide. They disrupt the chemistry of the wood and can lead to discolorations appearing under the finish. Before purchasing any finish remover be sure to obtain a sample and test it on your existing finish to see how well it works. Finish removers do not dissolve finishes; they only soften them enough to allow the finish to be removed with pressure washing.

Tools

Before you start have all of the tools that you will need at hand and be sure that they are clean and in good working order. These may include:

  • Paint brushes Paint scraper
  • Stiff nylon brush (never use a wire brush) Airless sprayer*
  • Wet and dry rags Water hose
  • Gas powered pressure washer with an output of 2 to 3 gallons per minute (gpm) Tarps
  • Recommended safety equipment such as eye protection and rubber gloves.

 

Preparation

preparation step by step guideaBefore you start make sure to remove downspouts and cover or mask off any areas that you don't want to strip. Finish removers will soften both stains and paints. You may wish to protect window and door trim with plastic sheeting. If you do get some finish remover on an area that you don't want to strip, immediately wash it or wipe it off with a wet rag. If you have a deck or porch floor that you want to protect it's best to cover it with a tarp. Although neither S-100™ nor StripIt® is highly toxic to plant life it is best to either cover plants or wet them down prior to starting then rinse them off when stripping is complete.

 

Application and Removal

application and removal step by step guideaStep 1. Thoroughly read the label and be sure to wear the proper safety equipment and eye protection. Starting at the bottom of the wall apply the finish remover with a brush or airless sprayer according to the directions for use. Be sure to follow the directions pertaining to the application rate; if applied too thinly the finish remover may not work and you will have wasted your time and money. Be sure to give the product time to work. On hot dry days; work on small sections of a wall at a time so that it does not dry out.

Step 2. Allow the finish remover time to soften the finish. It may take 30 minutes or several hours depending on the existing finish, product and temperature. If you see that the S-100™ is beginning to dry, mist it with a light spray of water. For drying StripIt® apply another coat on top. In colder weather conditions it may take many times longer for the finish to soften than it does in warm or hot weather. On cool days you can apply the finish remover to the entire wall late in the afternoon or early evening and leave it on overnight. Neither S-100™ nor StripIt® will damage the wood or cured Perma-Chink sealant even with prolonged contact.

step three 2step three 1Step 3. Once the finish has softened use a pressure washer to remove the chemical stripper along with the finish. The use of a 15 degree fan tip works well. Start at the bottom of the wall and work up. You don't want to wash away the chemical stripper from those areas you are not ready to strip. Hold the pressure washer wand at a 30 to 45 degree angle from the wall (3A). The objective is to “peel” the softened finish off of the surface, not blast it off with a lot of water pressure (3B). This will help avoid gouging the surface and severe feathering. If there are some spots of remaining intact finish try scraping them off with a paint scraper or a stiff nylon brush before they dry.

Step 4. Once the entire wall is completed, begin the rinsing process starting at the top of the wall and work your way down. Rinsing off all remaining chemical residue and bits of loose finish is very important for the long term performance of the new LIFELINE™ finish system.

Step 5. If after rinsing there are still remnants of finish remaining on the wall, repeat the process until all of the existing finish is removed. It is not necessary to reapply the stripper to the entire wall. Only use it on those areas that need it.

Step 6. Once the entire wall is completely bare rinse the entire wall starting at the top and work your way down. Allow the wall to dry before making your final evaluation.

step sevenStep 7. If pressure washing the wall has feathered the surface you may wish to lightly sand it or use an Osborn™ Brush to remove the feathered wood fibers. Never use sandpaper or Osborn™ Brushes finer than 80 grit on exterior surfaces. Sanded or brushed surfaces MUST be washed with two cups per gallon Log Wash™ solution and the surface allowed to dry before the first coat of finish is applied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPTION 2: Media Blasting

How-to-Remove-Existing-Finishes-14-1Although we rent and sell the Blaster Buddy™ and furnish crushed recycled glass blasting media we usually advise do-it-yourself homeowners to use chemical finish removers along with pressure washing because the process can be easily accomplished by an average homeowner and since it is less susceptible to surface damage it results in a more attractive finished surface. However, when performed by an experienced professional, media blasting can effectively and efficiently remove the most stubborn existing finish. We do recommend that you first inspect a home that has been media blasted before making your final decision about which method of finish removal you want to use.

 

Media blasting consists of using corncob grit, walnut shells, glass beads, baking soda, dry ice or recycled crushed glass to abrade the finish off the wood. We prefer crushed glass since it is very efficient, relatively inexpensive and does not impregnate the wood with organic material that can later mold. Plus it is very safe for the environment.

Once a home has been media blasted there are two steps that are often overlooked but need to be followed:

 

Step 1. Blow off as much dust and debris as possible using compressed air.

 

Step 2. Wash the wall down two cups per gallon Log Wash™ solution no more than seven days prior to staining. It is not necessary to use a pressure washer, a garden hose will do. Clean from the bottom up and rinse from the top down. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before applying a color coat or Prelude Clear Wood Primer. This removes all of the loose wood fibers and dust that may still be remaining on the surface and ensures better adhesion of the finish to the wood.

 

Sanding

sandingSanding can effectively remove an existing finish but it is time consuming and a lot of work. The use of sanding disks rather than sandpaper can save you both time and money but you need to be careful not to create swirl marks in the wood. When sanding exterior surfaces never use anything finer than 80 grit.

Water-based film forming finishes require some wood texture for good adhesion, especially on exterior surfaces. Osborn™ Buffing Brushes work great for removing raised wood fibers (feathers) that may have resulted from aggressive pressure washing but they are not suitable for removing finishes.

 

 

 

 

 


A sanded wall is not clean!
Always wash down sanded walls with two cups per gallon Log Wash™ solution no more than seven days prior to staining. It is not necessary to use a pressure washer, a garden hose will do. Clean from the bottom up and rinse from the top down. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before applying the first coat of finish.

wood before buffing wood after buffing
Wood Before Buffing Wood After Buffing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To:  1. Inspect, 2. Cleaning and Restore, 3. Preserve, 4. Stain & Finish, 5. Chink & Seal

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