Another year at Boise’s Art in the Park (our 19th year) is over and we are still getting the same questions, even from repeat customers. What do we do to preserve our purchase? When one of our customer purchases our furniture, we tell them to refinish it every year or twice a year if exposed to the elements with a product we use called Sunfrog Deck Sealer in a cedar tone. It is an oil based stain that protects against UV damage, resists mildew growth, and puts color back into your furniture.
This year several people stopped by our booth and said their furniture does not look like the furniture we had showing. We ask what they were using and they would say nothing, teak oil, or polyurethane.
The problem with using nothing is that cedar needs to be taken care of every year or it will turn to a silvery grey and you could get checking and lifting of the grain.
When using products such as polyurethane and varnish, the ultraviolet rays will penetrate the transparent film (even with UV inhibitors) and degrade the wood surface. No matter how many coats you apply, the finished will eventually become brittle, then crack and blister and will ultimately fail. It is also very difficult to remove without vigorously sanding.
Teak oil is specifically formulated for dense woods such as teak, mahogany or rosewood, not cedar which is a softwood. Teak oil offers very little protection from sun damage and UV rays, so wood will fade fast. It provides no protection from the sun and rain. It is also toxic so it is unsuitable to use in many food-based applications (such as dining tables). Some feel that an oil finish is unsuitable for outdoor furniture because the oil will capture dust particles in the air. The finish can achieve a dingy appearance, and be harder to keep clean.
So, next year we will probably get the same questions but it will be our job to educate our current buyers on the importance of taking care of their purchase. The more sealer that is absorbed by the wood, the better the protection and the longer the life of the furniture and you will be a happy and satisfied customer!
To learn more about wood preservation and technique, please visit our FAQ!