“My log home is around 2000 square feet. How much stain will I need?”
Often that’s all the information a customer has available when they first call Perma-Chink Systems. When people talk about the square footage of their home, they are usually referring to the floor area that may or may not include a garage. But does this number give us enough information to make an estimate of how much stain and topcoat will be required to finish a home?
If you live around trees, and most people do, you probably have carpenter ants around your home. Carpenter ants are typically large ants, although the size of the workers can vary in a single colony. Finding a few carpenter ants in your home each week is not necessarily a sign that you have an infestation. Foraging ants roam far and wide looking for food and an occasional ant trapped in a sink or bathtub is quite common. If there are trees close to your home, ants can fall or be blown off the trees onto your roof. They may end up trapped within your home during their journey back to their nest.
Carpenter bees are big, black, solitary bees that look similar to bumble bees but have bare, shiny backs, unlike the hairy back of a bumble bee. Unlike honey bees that reproduce in hives, carpenter bees drill into wood in order to lay their eggs. Their holes are perfectly round and about 1/4 inch in diameter. Although carpenter bees prefer softwoods such as cedar, redwood, or cypress, they happily attack pine and most other species of wood. Even pressure treated wood is not immune from carpenter bee attack.
As the bee drills into the wood, coarse sawdust may be seen coming out of the hole and piling up beneath. Since it only takes a couple of hours for a carpenter bee to drill a hole a few inches deep, lots of holes can appear over a fairly short period of time.
The most important step in finishing wood - whether it is a log wall, a piece of log siding, or even a piece of wood furniture - is the surface preparation prior to applying a finish system to the wood surface. This important message has been communicated by Perma-Chink Systems for many years. The reason this topic is so important is that this step, or process, has an impact on the longevity and durability of the system. More specifically, an unclean wood surface and the presence of foreign substances interfere with the direct surface contact of the coating with the wood substrate; furthermore, it will impact the adhesion properties of the finish in a negative manner as well as present a good possibility that wood discoloration will be a topic to deal with in the future.
A number of log home manufacturers offer squared log homes with cosmetic chink joints. Although some owners of these style homes ignore these cosmetic joints and just stain over them, others like the look of a chink style home which may be the reason that they bought the home in the first place. The question is when should you use Perma-Chink® in these cosmetic joints versus using Chink Paint™?
We often get asked whether Perma-Chink's LIFELINE™ finishes can be applied over an existing stain. Since the answer to this question is somewhat complex we'll look at the various types of stains individually. First and foremost, for the best look and performance of a LIFELINE finish it's always best to remove any existing old 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 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 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.
In general LIFELINE should never be applied over film-forming oil stains like Sikkens Cetol Log & Siding, Sashco's Transformation, or other alkyd oil-based stains. 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 that's 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. A good washing with Log Wash will help remove some of these residual oils, but it's best to give a bare blasted surface three months exposure for the oils to evaporate before cleaning with Log Wash and applying the first coat of LIFELINE finish.
Some Rules of Thumb
Most of our labels list the recommended surface temperature range for the application of the product. However, there are situations when you may need to know a bit more detail about the surface temperatures in order to schedule or complete a job. In some cases, there are steps that can be taken to help cope with extreme hot or cold temperatures. Just remember that we are concerned with surface temperatures, not air temperatures. It is the temperature of the logs that must be considered, not the temperature on the thermometer hanging on the porch.