Some of the most challenging discolorations on wood are water stains. They can run the range from light brown to jet black and can appear on both interior and exterior surfaces. How do water stains form? All wood contains a number of components that are grouped under the category of “water-soluble extractives.” In other words, they can dissolve in water and as the water within the wood evaporates, they can be carried along to the surface. Generally, if wood is exposed to water for only a brief period of time, the water does not get a chance to penetrate deep into the wood and dissolve these water-soluble components. However, if the wood is exposed to water for days, weeks or months, the water can pick up a high concentration of these components and deposit them on or near the surface of the wood.
Exterior water stains typically occur around checks, fissures and other openings that collect rain water. The water soaks into the wood and as it evaporates out of the wood it brings along the colored extractives which can then become visible on the surface. In some cases water-soluble tannins may react with minute particles of steel on the surface forming dark, iron tannate stains. This process may occur on bare wood or under an existing finish. Interior water stains typically develop during construction before the home is sealed or from an ongoing water leak. They can be particularly ugly and may cause a lot of distress.
Always cure or mitigate the cause of the water stain before treating the water stain. There might not be much you can do about stains coming from inside the wood, but you can stop leaks, seal checks, and route water away from sitting on wood.
The first step in determining a course of action is to find how deep the stain goes into the wood. Remove about a 1/16” thick sliver of the discolored surface with a sharp knife and if the discoloration comes off with the sliver, the discoloration can usually be sanded off or treated with products like Log Wash, Wood ReNew or Oxcon. Since there are a number of components involved with water stains, it's impossible to predict which product will work best. We recommend starting with Log Wash and if that does not work, move to Wood ReNew and finally Oxcon.
The issue is that the wood stains are so varied, even these products don't always work, leaving sanding as the only solution. If the discoloration goes deep into the wood and is still visible after the sliver of wood is removed, it will be virtually impossible to either sand or chemically remove the water stain. In this case there are only two options, either replace the discolored wood or hide the stains.
Although Perma-Chink Systems manufactures and sells transparent finishes, some of our colors are fairly pigmented which gives them some hiding power. On interior bare wood surfaces, Butternut color is a good choice since it is very close to the color of bare white pine. It may take several coats depending on the darkness of the discolorations.
If a colored stain is going to be applied later, it would be a good idea to first use Prelude over the entire wall to even out the absorption of the stain and obtain a uniform color. The best way to hide exterior water stains is to use a dark colored finish like Walnut or one of our gray colors. If this is not to your liking, you can try using the same hiding procedures as stated for interior stains but on exterior walls the opaque finished areas tend to be more pronounced than on interior surfaces.
For several years our Lifeline Advance Topcoats have been an integral part of our exterior finish systems. In addition to prolonging the life of the finish system, Advance Topcoats help keep the exterior surfaces free of dust and dirt and make them easier to clean. That's because Advance is designed specifically as a topcoat. Unlike most topcoats on the market, Advance is not just a non-pigmented version of our Lifeline stain. This allows us to formulate our stains for maximum color retention and adhesion when applied to bare wood and use an entirely different formulation to meet the performance criteria important in a clear topcoat.
The same concept applies to our Lifeline Interior finishes as well. Acrylic Gloss and Satin (G/S) and Sure Shine Gloss and Satin (G/S) are totally different formulations than Lifeline Interior. Lifeline Interior, Lifeline Accents and Prelude contain a polymer system that offer some distinct adhesion advantages when applied to bare wood, however, when left exposed without a topcoat, they are more susceptible to dirt pick-up that may not be easily cleaned off. When topcoated with Acrylic G/S or Sure Shine G/S, the finish surfaces become much more impervious to dirt pick-up and since the coating surfaces are slick and smooth they can be kept clean with much less effort. The bottom line is that Lifeline Interior, Lifeline Accents or Prelude are highly recommended to be topcoated with either Acrylic G/S or Sure Shine G/S.
Whenever a house is over one or two years old or you are sure your logs are dry, be sure to obtain samples of both Sure Shine G/S and Acrylic G/S to try. If Acrylic G/S does not result in the smooth, slick surface that you may be expecting, try Sure Shine G/S. Sure Shine G/S is a water-based acrylic-urethane that builds depth and luster with fewer coats. However, polyurethane films are less breathable so we do not recommend their use on logs that have not fully seasoned. One or two coats of Sure Shine G/S can always be applied over the Acrylic G/S later if you want a smoother, deeper finish on your interior walls.
What if you don't want a pigmented stain on your interior wood? Do you need to apply Prelude or Lifeline Interior Clear before applying Sure Shine G/S or Acrylic G/S? From a technical and performance standpoint it does not matter, although Prelude does include an additive called UV Boost that will help prevent the picture frame effect that occurs over time. Although UV Boost can be added to Interior Clear, Acrylic G/S and Sure Shine G/S, most people prefer not to spend more money than they need to and using Prelude as a primer on bare interior wood will significantly decrease the amount of more expensive Acrylic G/S or Sure Shine G/S you will require.
Perma-Chink Systems Family of Interior Stains and Finishes
Staining your log home is a humbler art. Whereas paint transforms the color of a surface, leaving no trace of its previous hue, stain is typically used to accent the natural beauty of wood. Its purpose is to bring out the best in what’s already there. Semi-transparent stains from Perma-Chink Systems are designed to let the beauty of the wood shine through and to add a colorful twist to your interior or exterior.
Check out Lifeline Accents' extensive interior/exterior stain product line that boasts a variety of features that everyone will find irresistible; the most obvious is color. Nothing compliments wood better than earthy reds. The rich and full-bodied Cinnabar or Barn Red brings color warmth into home exteriors and this stylish tone is universally appealing.
Bold hues such as jade, garnet and midnight catch the eye, while more traditional tones, such as sand, umber and charcoal, round out the 18-color palette. Each vibrant color is designed to allow the wood's grain to emerge, so the color complements the wood, rather than covers it. And unlike many other tinted stains, the color endures, meaning fewer touchups over time.
"Our Lifeline Accents high-performance semi-transparent stains are designed utilizing our proprietary technology to highlight and protect both interior and exterior surfaces," said Richard Dunstan, the founder of Perma-Chink Systems. "The combination of exciting colors and ease of application will expand choices and add value for homeowners and applicators."
If you are moving into a new home, thinking about installing wood floors or refinishing the ones you have, you’re probably dreaming of those gorgeous, glossy finishes like you find at professional gyms. They never seem to get a nick or lose their luster. Even if deciphering wood finishes is a whole new arena for you, don’t worry. Sure Shine, a revolutionary product, has changed the industry. Now it’s easy to have that professional grade shine and you can do it yourself with very little mess, odors, or waiting time.
Up until about 20 years ago, the “Swedish Finish” was the only way to go. Extremely high-performance, it worked well, but as a solvent based product, it was highly caustic. Certainly not a do-it-yourself project, it required trained professionals and total evacuation for up to a week (including the houseplants!)
Sure Shine offers all that original wearability, durability and beautiful shine, without the toxic fumes and disruption to your life. Instead of solvent-based, it uses a water-based technology that is both environmentally and user-friendly.
When these water, or urethane-based, finishes were first introduced they got a bad wrap for not adhering as well or enduring wear and tear. Sure Shine, however, is a third generation product, with the years behind it to prove that it will last as long as the original, super-tough polyurethane finishes.
Allen Erickson writes of Sure Shine: “About two years ago I laid about 1200 sq.ft. of plank flooring in my house and decided to try your floor product Sure Shine. The wood species were mixed pine, spruce and sub alpine fir, which was very soft. It caused me to wonder if I would need to redo the floor within a year or two. So far it appears I will never have to redo even in areas of heavy traffic as the Sure Shine is holding up remarkably well.”
This product shines even brighter from an application standpoint. It’s easy to do yourself, and it dries so quickly (only one hour) you can apply all three coats in one day. They will never yellow, are non-flammable and there are no fumes, which means there is no reason for the inconvenience of vacating your home. Cleaning up your tools is a simple matter of a little soap and water. And when the work is done, you can walk on your new floor finish in 8 short hours!
It is virtually impossible to prevent logs from developing cracks and checks as they age and dry. That's because as a large piece of wood seasons, mechanical stresses build up until the surface stress becomes so great that the wood cracks. We call these stress cracks “checks.”
Do checks need to be sealed? Depends upon the depth and direction of the checks. Upward facing checks can collect water increasing the interior moisture content of the log. If they continue to collect water and the wood remains damp, they can eventually result in internal wood decay as well as provide nesting sites for carpenter ants and other insects. It is not necessary to seal checks on the bottom half of round logs since they do not collect water. For a uniform appearance of your home, you may want to seal them as well. It is not usually necessary to seal checks or fissures that are less than 1/4” wide since they cannot accumulate that much water.
Another wood check to inspect for is a spiral check, where the check spirals around the length of the log. Sometimes these checks can start on the exterior and spread around the log to the interior, creating drafts and paths for insects to crawl into the home. Insects can gain access through small voids and checks; one-sixteenth of an inch or less.
The good news is you can prevent insects from entering your home by sealing spiral checks. Other entry points can occur around window and door casings, log-on-log joints, and facia cracks.
If your home is new and the logs or siding are green, it may be best to wait a year or so before addressing the checks. This allows the wood to reach an equilibrium with its environment and by then most of the larger checks will have opened. On seasoned wood or an older home that's in the process of being refinished you can seal the checks either before or after applying a stain.
Checks and splits in logs present a different set of dynamics than those typically addressed by a caulk. They open and close as the log's moisture content varies throughout the year. The opening width of a check may change as much as 50% from summer to winter. Most sealants are designed to cope with a different set of conditions and are ill suited for sealing checks. Check Mate 2 is specifically formulated to meet the particular requirements for sealing checks that appear in logs and log siding.
When initially applied 3/8” thick in a check the Check Mate 2 bonds to the sides of the check. As the check opens, the Check Mate 2 stretches to maintain a water-tight seal. The role the Backer Rod plays is to maintain a Check Mate 2 thickness of 3/8” during the application and two point contact with the wood. Two point adhesion enables Check Mate 2 to elongate and contract
It’s getting cold and you still haven’t finished sealing your home. So what can you do? Depending on the stage of construction you are in, you have several options available. The most critical part of the application process that is weather dependent is staining or finishing the exterior. This should always be done keeping the weather in mind.
Temperature and humidity go a long way in determining how well a product will perform and can also determine the success or failure of the product. Air temperature and substrate temperature are not always the same.
For example, a log wall that is exposed to constant shade will normally have a lower surface temperature than the air around it. Even though the air has warmed up considerably, there may still be ice or moisture on the log surface that will interfere with the finish.
If the wall feels warm to your touch, it’s probably OK to apply your finish as long as there is sufficient time for the product to dry before the temperature drops below freezing. Allow four to six hours of drying time before the finish is exposed to freezing temperatures.
Products that are “freeze/thaw” stable are formulated to resist damage during freezing temperatures, but it doesn’t mean they can be applied in freezing weather. It also doesn’t mean they can be constantly exposed to temperatures below freezing.
In most circumstances, it is always better to stain prior to applying chinking. It is very difficult to apply a finish without staining existing chinking or sealant. So, if you were able to apply your finish in good weather conditions you can apply the chinking or other sealant in colder weather.
If the home is located in a very cold climate, it may be necessary to “tent” the home and use space heaters to warm up the area prior to the application of the chinking. This serves more than one purpose. First of all, it helps to warm up the surface and drive off excessive moisture from the substrate. Second, it is much more difficult to work in sub-freezing conditions and may make the results less than satisfactory
Care should be exercised anytime you are using space heaters in confined area as they consume life-supporting oxygen in order to achieve combustion. They also emit deadly fumes that can cause serious injury or death.
If you tent the home for work, always allow for fresh air to enter the area in more than one place and break the work up into small time periods so you can leave the tented area for a while.
Perma-Chink and Energy Seal are both freeze/thaw stable, but as the temperature drops the viscosity of the product goes up. Consequently it gets more difficult to apply them as it gets colder. To make the product trowel easier, put a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent in your spray bottle before you start.
As in any temperature, do not apply the chinking compound over dirt, grease, or wood that has water or ice on the surface since this will impede adhesion and lead to early failures. If possible, store the product in a heated area prior to application and only bring out pails that will be immediately used.
Also remember when you apply chinking, water is involved in both the tooling process and clean up, which makes it feel even colder. So, plan extra time for the project and allow time for warm up to make your job easier.
It is possible to work under less than ideal weather conditions if the will exists and the weather is not totally intolerable. Remember, if you use common sense and follow the directions, you’ll never go wrong.
Click here to see what products are freeze/thaw stable.
Ok, so you have an idea of which Perma-Chink or Energy Seal sealant you need for your home - and the right color - now what? Depending on the job and type of sealant needed, you have a few decisions to make regarding the tools and accessories you'll need for the project.
Having the right tools at hand is critical for a good chinking job. The most popular tool for applying Perma-Chink or Energy Seal is the bulk-loading gun. This tool is available in two sizes, the 20-oz. and 30-oz. capacity and operates by pulling sealant straight from the pail.
Simply insert the 2-inch wide cylinder into the pail and fill the gun by pulling back the plunger, which draws the product from the pail into the body of the gun. After wiping the threads clean and screwing on the end cap with plastic cone nozzle, you’re ready to apply the product. To make your job easier, quicker and much cleaner with less product waste, the gun-compatible follow plate can be used (highly recommended). This 9.5” round metal plate has a 1” rubber gasket which allows for the tapered shape of the pails.
To move the sealant into position for proper adhesion and smooth bumps is what we refer to as "tool" or "tooling." The best tool we recommend is a bent trowel that’s about the width of the chink joint. The bent trowel makes it much easier to avoid trowel marks in the sealant as it dries and cures. Along with a trowel, you’ll want to have a plant mister or squirt bottle filled with plain water. Perma-Chink Systems offers a variety of stainless steel trowels ranging from ¾” to 4-inch wide with both rounded and squared off tips in our Tools & Dry-In section.
Backing materials are an integral part of a sealant system and should be used wherever possible. The overall performance of any sealant system is dependent on the use of correct application thickness and proper backing. Backing materials furnish an even surface for the application of a sealant and make it easier to apply a uniform thickness across the joint or gap. They also provide two-point adhesion to ensure maximum elasticity and flexibility after the sealant has cured (they form a bond breaker in the center of the sealant band with adhesion to the wood at both sides). The use of improper or poorly installed backing materials can result in unsightly sealant joints and substandard performance. They are an integral part of the sealant system and should always be used whenever and wherever possible.
For small joinery the most used backing is round backer rod. It comes in a range of sizes and is relatively inexpensive. It is flexible and can be pushed into a crevice without needing to be nailed or stapled. In situations where joinery is too narrow to insert some type of backing material, a narrow strip of water resistant masking tape works well. (Avoid masking tape that wrinkles when wet because the wrinkles may show through the sealant after it has cured.) A good option is to use pinstripe tape available at most automotive supply stores. The tape should be water resistant, so Energy Seal does not adhere to it, making it a suitable backer material. Pinstripe tape is available in widths down to 1/8".
There are a number of products specifically designed for use as backing materials for sealants. For smaller gaps, joints and cracks the most commonly used material is round backer rod. It comes in a range of sizes and is relatively inexpensive. Since it is flexible it can be pushed into a crevice without needing to be nailed or stapled. Grip Strip is designed for sealing larger gaps. Similar in composition to backer rod, it is shaped like a trapezoid so it can be squeezed in between round logs although it can be used in a variety of situations.
DO NOT USE: Expanded Polystyrene (causes blisters), Polyurethane foam (Pur Fill, Great Stuff, Styrofoam), Blue Board, Pink Board or other colored board that outgases to cause blisters. If you are unsure about your backing material, check with Perma-Chink Systems before using it.
Fall is a great time of year to do some of those home maintenance chores you’ve been putting off during the hot, summer months.
You want your home to look great and now is the time to get ready for the cold winter months ahead.