We often get asked whether Perma-Chink's Lifeline™ wood stains and finishes can be applied over an existing wood stain. Since the answer to this question is somewhat complex, we'll look at the various types of wood stains individually.
First and foremost, for the best look and performance of a Lifeline finish, it's always best to remove any existing old wood finish unless it already is a Lifeline finish. Even then, the existing Lifeline finish needs to be in pretty good shape before we recommend applying another coat on top of it.
That pretty well covers what should be done. However the question, posed another way, is “can a Lifeline finish be applied over other brands of existing finishes?” If the existing finish is water-based and there are no signs of grayed wood and the color on all of the walls is fairly uniform, the answer is typically yes with some reservations. For example, if the existing water-based log finish contains wax there may be a problem with adhesion or “fish eyes” forming during application. But you have to be careful, not all water-based finishes are created equal. Water/oil emulsion stains claim to be water-based but in fact contain enough oil that adhesion may become an issue.
Meet The Lifeline Family
|Dark Mold Growth
In general Lifeline should never be applied over film-forming oil stains like Sikkens Cetol Log & Siding, Sashco Transformation, or other alkyd oil-based stains. The same thing applies to the oil/water emulsion finishes. These types of finishes should always be removed before applying Lifeline. But what about penetrating oil stains like WOODguard, Outlast Q8 Log Oil, TWP, Olympic and others? It really depends on the individual situation. Since one-coat oil stains usually don't last more than a couple of years, we rarely encounter a situation where the condition of the surface is good enough to apply one of our Lifeline transparent stains without first removing the remaining stain residue. By the time someone typically decides that the existing finish is in need of repair there is usually enough grayed wood or dark mold growth present to require getting back down to a clean bare wood surface.
A more challenging question is when someone decides that he or she wants to apply Lifeline over a penetrating oil stain less than a couple of years old. The best and safest way to proceed is to remove the existing finish. Attempting to apply Lifeline directly over an oil-based finish is risky and the last thing any of us want is for you to be disappointed with the results.
So what's the best way to remove an existing oil finish? If at all possible, chemical stripping is the way to go. The components in most chemical finish removers like our S-100™ and StripIt® not only soften the finish but they also help remove any residual oil that may present in the top layer of wood. Media blasting, on the other hand, may remove the alkyd film or the oil-based pigments but does not remove any oils that may have penetrated into the wood. If Lifeline is immediately applied to the blasted surface, there is a chance that the remaining oil residue will come to the surface creating an adhesion problem or blisters in the Lifeline film, especially on sunny walls. After blasting the home to remove the oil finish, a good washing with Log Wash will remove any blasting residue prior to applying the finish of your choice.
The exceptional quality of Perma-Chink Systems’ log home maintenance and restoration products has always been vibrant, and the company takes that philosophy quite literally. Lifeline Accents™, from Perma-Chink Systems’ extensive interior/exterior stain product line, boasts a variety of features that everyone from professional applicators to the do-it-yourselfer will find irresistible, and the most obvious is color.
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 covering it. And unlike many other tinted stains, the color endures, meaning fewer touchups over time. In addition to our standard color options, we have the ability to create nearly any custom color.
“Our Lifeline Accents high-performance semi-transparent stains are designed utilizing our proprietary technology to highlight and protect both interior and exterior surfaces,” said Rich Dunstan, the founder of Perma-Chink Systems. “The combination of exciting colors and ease of application will expand choices and add value for both homeowners and applicators.”
As a leader and innovator in wood-finishing products, Perma-Chink Systems offers a complete line of specialized sealers, stains, finishes, wood preservatives, and cleaners made for the unique needs of log, timber and wood-trimmed homes.
The most important thing that you can do to help maintain the finish of your log home is to keep it clean. An annual washing with Log Wash will help prevent airborne contaminates, dirt, bird droppings and sunlight from degrading the finish. How can keeping the surface clean prevent sunlight from injuring the finish? One of the features of our Advance clear topcoats is that they reflect UV radiation. If the surface is dirty and dull, it reflects less sunlight and the absorbed UV light will eventually fade the color and gray the wood. So just like car finishes, the cleaner you keep your home the longer the finish will last.
That being said, there will come a time when it may become necessary to do some touch-up work to the topcoat and perhaps the color coat, especially on the south and west walls. The question is, when and where should maintenance coats of finish be applied? The first thing to understand is more is not necessarily better. In other words, if the wall does not need another coat of stain or topcoat, leave it alone. One of the features of Lifeline finishes is their ability to breathe. This allows water vapor to escape from the wood while preventing liquid water from penetrating through the finish. Technically, we call this vapor permeability. If applied at the recommended application rates, one or two coats of stain, depending on the color system chosen from Perma-Chink Systems, and one coats of topcoat maintains enough vapor permeability to allow water that may enter the wood through cracks, checks and fissures to evaporate through the finish. However, each coat of finish that's applied reduces the vapor permeability of the entire finish system by some percentage. The thicker that a coat is applied, the more it will reduce the vapor permeability. That's one reason why we always recommend applying thin coats.
For the past 30 years the most accepted and effective method for preventing infestations of wood destroying insects and decay fungi in log homes has been by impregnating the wood with a solution containing the element boron. Boron salts are referred to as borates and the most commonly used borate utilized for this purpose is disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT), the active ingredient found in Armor-Guard, Shell-Guard and Shell-Guard RTU. The reason for using this material instead of borax or boric acid is because it has a much higher boron content per pound and is significantly more water soluble than other boron containing compounds. But what is it about boron that makes it so effective for preserving and protecting wood? In the case of wood consuming insects like termites and wood boring beetles, boron disrupts their digestion process by killing the bacteria that allows the insects to digest cellulose. There is also some evidence that boron interferes with the insects' metabolic systems. These modes of actions do take some time and it is not unusual for insect activity to continue for several months after being exposed to a borate treatment. However, once eliminated, the wood will be protected from future wood consuming insect infestations as long as the boron remains within the wood's cellular structure.
In the case of decay fungi the presence of boron disrupts the cellular production of enzymes that allow the fungi to extract nutrients from the wood. As opposed to insects, a borate treatment will kill decay fungi rather rapidly, usually within a day or two.
Borate Treatment Methods
Pressure treating wood with preservatives dates back to the 19th century when railroad ties were
impregnated with creosote under pressure. Since then a number of chemical formulations have been used for pressure treating logs and dimensional lumber but most have been discontinued due to their toxicity or health and environmental hazards. Due to their low mammalian toxicity and environmental friendliness, borates are now being used by a number of pressure treating companies for treating both logs and dimensional lumber. The one limitation of borate pressure treated lumber is that it cannot be used for wood in contact with the soil since the moisture in the soil will extract out the water soluble borate within a few years.
A number of log home manufacturers dip their logs in a solution of borate before they are shipped to the customer. Although there are set standards for the “Dip Diffusion” process, very few companies actually meet these standards since it requires dipping green, unseasoned logs in a hot, concentrated borate solution and then storing the logs in a covered building for a minimum of two weeks. Most log suppliers simply dip their logs in a borate solution for a few minutes then allow them to dry. Although this procedure does not meet set standards, it has been used for over 30 years and as long as the borate concentration in the dipping solution is maintained at or above 10% we rarely hear of this process not providing adequate protection to new logs.
Back in the late 1980s Perma-Chink Systems developed the very first borate preservative that could be applied to wood in the field during or after construction. Since then hundreds of thousands of log and conventionally constructed homes have been borate treated using the technology originally developed by Perma-Chink Systems. What made this possible was combining the borate with a combination of glycols that allow the borate to penetrate into the wood rather than remaining just on the surface. In addition, the glycols increase the efficacy of the boron allowing less applied product to be just, if not more effective than higher concentrations of borate water solutions alone. This technology is incorporated in both Shell-Guard RTU and Shell-Guard Concentrate.
Pure borate / water solutions like our Armor-Guard are also used for topical applications but since they do not contain anything that aids in the penetration of the borate into the wood we recommend that they be used only on new, un-infested logs and be reapplied any time the home is stripped of its existing finish.
The one limitation of any topically applied borate is that it must be applied to bare wood. If there is anything on the surface that inhibits the absorption of water into the wood the borate solution will remain on the surface and no protection will be imparted to the wood itself.
The success rate of properly applied borate treatments is truly astounding. In the 30 years that we have been involved with borate treating wood the number of reported complaints is miniscule and most of them involved insects that do not consume wood for nourishment like carpenter bees, parasitic wasps, house ants and other pests that are not included on the label. We occasionally get calls about a continuing beetle infestation after a borate treatment but it's almost always within a week or two of the product being applied and that's just not long enough for the borate to completely eliminate an active infestation of wood boring beetles. However, once the borate has had time to work and the activity ends, that's the end of the infestation and they never return.
Occasionally we get asked which performs better, Advance Gloss or Advance Satin? Overall, both topcoats protect the finish and your log home exceptionally well. While it mainly comes down to personal preference on which log home topcoat you choose, as the manufacturer of the topcoat, we've learned some things that can tip the scales if you're undecided on which topcoat to select for your log or timber home. So the quick answer is: we recommend Advance Gloss.
When it comes to performance and longevity there is no doubt about it, a gloss topcoat will outperform a satin topcoat. Why? The most important factor is reflectivity. A smooth glossy surface reflects more ultraviolet (UV) light than a less reflective or dull one. This is why automotive finishes don't come in satin versions, and why a shiny coat of wax helps retain a vehicle's color.
The next factor is cleanliness. The smooth, slick surface provided by Advance Gloss sheds dirt easier than the Satin. That's because the flatting agent used in the Satin results in microscopic imperfections in the surface of the finish where airborne dust, pollen and pollutants can lodge. Although particulates can be removed with a good washing, it takes a bit more effort with a Satin finish than removing dirt from a Gloss surface.
The last factor, at least in the Southeast, relates to how Advance Gloss reduces carpenter bee damage. A few years ago we did a survey of customers who used both our satin and gloss topcoats and the results clearly revealed that the gloss topcoat substantially reduced the number of carpenter bee holes. Although there was some reduction in carpenter bee activity using Advance Satin, it was not nearly as significant as the Gloss. Carpenter bees are searching for a wood space to create a chamber to lay their eggs. If this wood surface is coated and that coating is reflective, it created a mechanical deterrent for carpenter activity.
Whenever requesting exterior finish samples, include a sample of Advance Gloss even if you are only interested in Advance Satin, so that you can see the difference for yourself. You may end up choosing the Gloss because of the way it looks and how it highlights the color of the stain. Although there are other gloss topcoats on the market, none that we have tested retained their level of gloss for more than a few months. Advance Gloss, on the other hand, has been on homes and walls since 2003, and they continue to retain most of their initial gloss.
Deck Maintenance is Easy with the Right Approach
Your deck looks a little tired after a winter or two without any treatment. Would you like it to look fresh and well kept again? A coat of high quality deck finish like Deck Defense™ will do the job, right? Well, yes it will if the deck has been properly prepared before you put your deck finish on.
The dirt, fading and other kinds of discoloration on your deck can be caused by a number of sources. If you know what you are trying to remove, it gets much easier to do the cleaning job. In most instances, only two kinds of cleaners are required to clean your decks before the application of a deck stain. Those two types of cleaners are cleansers and wood color restorers. You may need either or both to do the job right.
Cleansers: Percarbonate cleaner (Wood ReNew™). It will remove most kinds of discoloration, including mold and mildew stains, fading from UV decomposition, dirt, algae and most decomposed old finishes. Using this kind of cleaner instead of chlorine bleach avoids many potential problems associated with chlorine bleach solutions. Users should be cautioned that chlorine solutions could easily do more harm than good.
Although we emphasize the importance of cleaning the surface prior to the application of our finishes, there are some types of surface contaminates that can be very difficult or even impossible to remove with just a light washing. The leading cause of dark discolorations appearing under any transparent finish like LIFELINE is the presence of minute metal particles imbedded in the surface of the wood. All wood contains tannic acid and when tannic acid comes to the surface it can react with these metal particles creating dark color bodies or discolorations. There is much about this process that we have yet to understand but there are some things that we do know. The first is that the application of chlorine bleach not only accelerates but in many cases initiates this process. The second is that direct sunlight intensifies the discolorations. That's why the south and west walls are typically (but not always) more prone to discolorations than the north and east walls. The third is that areas of the log that cut through heartwood are usually worse than exposed sapwood. This makes sense since heartwood contains a higher concentration of tannic acid than sapwood.
All logs and siding used in a log home go through some type of process to remove the bark, cambium and branches and to shape the wood. No matter what process is used, be it milling, planing, draw knifing or even hand hewing, some type of steel blade is involved. Although you may not be able to see them, microscopic particles of steel are deposited on the surface as the blade or blades cut through the wood. If the blades on a milling machine for example get dull, many times more particles of steel will shear off as opposed to when the blades are sharp.
Using wire brushes, steel wool or metallic abrasives to aid in the removal process of old finishes or smooth the surface will definitely create discoloration problems. Small bits of metal will be deposited on the wood and the use should of these materials should be avoided at all costs.
|Spots created by steel wool
|Section on left was wire brushed
| Section of fascia that was wire brushed
| Metallic tannate discolorations from an
Although the use of most sandpaper and sanding pads present no risk to the formation of discolorations, it is not out of the realm of possibility for them to be a source of metal contamination, especially if they have been previously used. Let's say a sanding belt was used to remove rust from a steel plate and then used again on a log home. Thousands of small metallic particles will be forced into the wood fibers. The same thing can happen if a sander or sanding disk goes over a nail or screw during the course of sanding a wall. The metal contamination will then be spread over a wide area. We also believe that there are some types or brands of sandpaper that may contain metallic particles along with the abrasives but at this time we have not specifically identified them.
Blasting media like crushed glass is very abrasive and since it maintains its abrasiveness even after being used, some people try to reclaim and reuse it several times. If done once or twice it usually does not present a problem but when reused multiple times it can become contaminated with metal picked up as it flowed through the blaster pot, valves and connections. It can also pick up contamination from the ground when it is reclaimed.
You can easily envision the amount of metallic dust and particles generated by cutting or sawing steel roof panels. They may well end up on the surface of your logs or even more likely, your deck. If they are not completely washed away they will become a source of discolorations. Fortunately, we have never seen any discolorations associated with particles of aluminum. But any metal that contains iron has the potential for creating dark discolorations.
The best way of preventing metallic tannate discolorations is to avoid contaminating the surface in the first place but in the case of metallic particles deposited during the shaping process that's impossible. Wood surfaces should always be thoroughly cleaned with Log Wash, or in the case of milled log siding, Wood ReNew before the first coat of finish is applied.
Have you ever considered the impact that landscaping can have on the well being and beauty of your log home? Let's look at some things around your home that can significantly affect its health.
|Trees and shrubs too close to the home
In summer months trees located close to your home can help provide shade which may lower your air conditioning costs. But if any branches are touching your roof they can provide pathways for insects and rodents to enter your attic and eventually your living space. It's best to keep tree branches at least three (3) feet away from your walls and roof. This distance will discourage creatures like gray squirrels and roof rats from investigating your attic and help prevent carpenter ants from taking up residence inside your home.
|Shrubs wearing finish off walls
|Mold on chinking due to high moisture
conditions created by shrubs
Shrubs and Hedges
The next things to consider are shrubs and hedges planted next to your foundation. Over the years you've probably let them grow too large, and they may be getting close to your log walls, or even worse, actually touching the logs. In addition to keeping the logs damp, they can actually wear the finish right off of the wood. You need to trim them back if for no other reason than they are hiding the beauty of your home. There should be at least two (2) feet of clear space between any plants and shrubs and your foundation or log wall. This allows air to flow over the logs which helps keep them dry and free from insects, mold, algae and decay.
Energy Seal™ is specially formulated for sealing narrow gaps in log home joinery such as butt joints, window trims, door trim and corners. These gaps should be no larger than one inch wide. Energy Seal contains a fine aggregate that gives it a texture which enables it to more closely match the texture of wood and accept a stain, so that it will blend in with the stained wall color if so desired. Although it can be used in wider joints, we typically recommend using Perma-Chink® Log Home Chinking for wide chink joints.
The best time to apply Energy Seal is after the home has been cleaned and before the finish is applied. The wood surfaces will be fresh and clean and Energy Seal adheres best to bare wood surfaces. That's not saying that it won't adhere to stained and/or top-coated surfaces, but it adheres best to bare wood. Application to surfaces with a freshly applied oil-based stain should be avoided. For the least visible caulk lines choose a color that's a shade lighter than the stain color you plan to use. It's easier to cover a lighter color sealant with a darker color stain than it is to hide a dark colored sealant with a light colored stain. However, if you prefer the look of visible caulk lines, apply Energy Seal after you stain. Just be sure that the surface is clean and dry.
If you are going to be applying Lifeline Advance Topcoat, apply the topcoat after the Energy Seal. This results in a more even appearance to the sealed areas and helps them blend in with the rest of the wall. Furthermore, it helps keep the Energy Seal application clean and easier to clean when maintenance cleaning is required.
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.
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. It provides a flat surface for chinking or sealing.
In situations where a joint, seam or gap is too small to insert Backer Rod you can hold it in place by applying small dabs of Energy Seal along the seam and then pressing the Backer Rod into them. The dabs of Energy Seal will hold the Backer Rod in place while a proper thickness of Energy Seal is applied on top. You can also use a narrow strip of water-resistant masking tape. You don't want to use masking tape that wrinkles when it gets wet, since the wrinkles may show through the sealant. For extremely narrow seams an excellent option is to use pinstripe tape available at most automotive supply stores. The tape is vinyl; therefore, it's waterproof and since our sealants do not bond to it, it makes an excellent material to use. Pinstripe tape is available in widths down to 1/8”.
When deciding the width of a sealant joint between round logs a good guideline to follow is for the width of the sealant to be one-sixth the log diameter. For example, with six inch diameter logs 6” ÷ 6 = 1.0” wide sealant joint. The width of the backing material you require depends on the profile of your logs but you need to take into account that you will be applying a 3/8” thick layer of sealant over it and you'll need at least ¼” top and bottom for adequate adhesion to the wood.
We rarely see squared log chink joints less than 2” wide, so Energy Seal or Woodsman is seldom used in these situations. However, for cosmetic chink joints less than 3/8 inches deep we recommend sealing the seam with Energy Seal and then applying Chink Paint over the entire joint. On the other hand Energy Seal is often used on squared logs for sealing corners, butt joints, widows, door frames and other areas where a visible chink joint is not desired.
The overall performance of any sealant system is dependent on the use of proper application methods. Any sealant must be applied in a manner that will allow it to stretch in order to compensate for log movement. If it is applied too thick, once it cures it won't be able to stretch enough to compensate for the movement and it may tear away from the wood. Think of it like a rubber band. A thick rubber band will not stretch as far as a thin one. However if the rubber band is too thin, it will break when it is stretched. The same thing applies to sealants. If applied too thick, they can't stretch and if too thin they may be weak and will tear when pulled apart. In the case of our sealants the magic number is an applied wet thickness of 3/8”. When cured this results in the best elongation with maximum strength.
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:
Freshly applied sealants should be protected from direct rainfall for a minimum of 24 hours. Either watch the weather or drape a newly sealed wall with plastic film. Be sure to allow some airspace between the wall and the plastic to facilitate drying. Avoid applying sealants in direct sunlight or when the temperature is less than 40° F. In cold weather it's important that the logs be free of frost and dew in order to ensure that the sealant adheres tightly to the wood. The best surface temperature range for easiest application and best results is between 50° F and 80° F.
Cut the applicator or tube tip to the desired diameter of the sealant bead you want to apply.
|Step 1: Begin by holding the tip firmly against the seam or joint and apply a bead of sealant. You need to apply enough sealant to maintain a wet thickness of at least 5/16” and no more than ½” (target = 3/8”) across the entire seam or joint after tooling. Only apply as much sealant as you can tool smooth in about 15 minutes.
|Step 2: Once the joint is filled trowel it out to approximately 3/8th of an inch thick across the entire joint. Do not spray it with water at this time! Make sure there is good contact between the sealant and the exposed edges of the wood. The most difficult areas to tool are corners. You tend to drag product out of the corners resulting in the sealant becoming too thin. You can occasionally check the thickness of the sealant using a toothpick to see if you are maintaining the proper thickness.
|Step 3: Once the sealant is roughly in place and any entrapped air worked out of it, spray it with a light mist of water. Do not saturate the surface with water. If water begins to run down the wall, you have applied too much.
|Step 4: Tool the surface smooth with a trowel or spatula. If you used masking tape to protect the surrounding wood be sure to remove it as soon as you are finished tooling and make sure that you have not left any lip on the top edge of the sealant that may catch water. If you have, tool it smooth.
If you get any sealant on the surface of the wood, be sure to wipe it off with a wet rag as soon as possible. If you allow it to dry it will be just about impossible to completely remove. Make sure to clean your tools and equipment with clean water occasionally during application. Dried sealant is difficult to remove from just about anything including clothes.
Drying time and curing time are two entirely different terms. In warm or hot weather, Energy Seal may begin to skin over in as little as ten minutes while a complete cure may take a couple of weeks. Cooler temperatures will slow both the drying time and curing process.
When applying any of our sealants in cold weather there are two main factors to consider, the temperature of the logs and the temperature of the product. As long as the logs are dry and not frozen, any of our sealants can be applied to them without comprising appearance or performance.
The problem associated with very cold sealants is viscosity, their viscosity increases as the temperature decreases. In other words, they become thicker. This is especially apparent when trying to squeeze product out of an 11 ounce or 30 ounce tube or when attempting to load a bulk loading gun from a pail of sealant. Cold product is also more difficult to tool. It's always best to store our sealants in a controlled environment (50-70oF), they will be a lot easier to apply and tool. Once applied the only effect that freezing temperatures have on our sealants is lengthening the time it takes for them to cure. Whereas in summer months it may take Energy Seal™ or Perma-Chink® a matter of a few weeks to completely cure, during the winter it may take a couple of months to complete the curing process.
No matter what the time of year it is advisable to never apply a sealant in direct sunlight. Even if the day is cool, direct sunlight can cause the surface to skin over before the remaining free water has a chance to evaporate resulting in blisters forming on the surface of the sealant. In very hot weather blistering can occur if the sun rapidly heats the wall after chinking has been applied, especially if the underlying wood is green or damp. Draping the chinked wall with a tarp until the chinking cures will help prevent the formation of blisters.
Another challenge using our sealants in very hot weather is that the surface may dry so quickly that tooling time may be reduced to only a few minutes. If masking tape has been used to protect the surrounding outer surfaces, it's imperative to remove it before the surface starts to dry. If left on too long, it will pull off the skinned-over layer of sealant along with it.
Although we don't specifically state an upper limit on the Perma-Chink and Energy Seal labels, we discourage either product's use above 90°F.
Note: The upper end of the Woodsman™ application temperature range is 120°F. That's fine if the Woodsman is to be used between courses of logs but if it is going to be used as an external sealant in a manner similar to Energy Seal, 90°F should be considered its upper temperature limit.