By N. R. Mallery
My deck was built twelve years ago. Since that time I have used a number of finishes on it, none of which was satisfactory. The last one I used was put down three years back, and I was so disappointed that I power-washed it off. The cedar wood of the deck was weathering and wearing in ways that I did not want to permit, and so I turned to Mary Goderwis of Sutherland Welles, Ltd., in North Hyde Park, Vermont, for help. Aside from the fact that I had been impressed by their products for other applications, I prefer doing business with local companies.
I got some Sutherland Welles’ Exterior Polymerized Tung Oil. Going from my weathered deck to a beautiful finish was not going to happen just by applying the oil, of course, so I started by cleaning the deck, preparing it for the application of oil, exactly according to the Mary’s instructions, and were online, too.
The first two applications had their stain mixed in for color. Sutherland Welles has a number of stains to choose from so I could get the exact color finish I wanted. I chose a warm pine color, with Mary’s help. This was mixed with the tung oil, again with care to follow instructions. The final coat was just the tung oil. All coatings were cured accordingly. The tung oil also had two additives for protection of the finish, one being protection against the harm of ultraviolet light, and the other a material called “mildeweide.”
I should start by saying that my house has a lot of beautiful wood exposed, and this makes it very important to me that it has a natural wood finish look. The process of applying the tung oil was accomplished in three sessions with appropriate curing periods in between. When the tung oil was newly finished, it looked and felt exactly as I had wanted. It had taken a deck that was in clear need of a lot of work and made it something to be proud of. Neighbors marveled at the change. And, I could feel very good about having a natural finish on my deck.
This winter was brutal, and had the advantage of providing an absolutely perfect product test. Anything that could stand up to the elements in such a winter clearly has some impressive advantages.
Now, having gone through a winter of watching to see how the tung oil finish stood up, I can give a report on it. It looks exactly as it did last summer, except that it might have a slightly more natural appearance.
I would highly recommend this product to anyone who loves the appearance of wood and wants to protect it. Sutherland Welles not only has a great product, but also easy to follow instructions, and great support, if you need it. I’m hooked!
The website for Sutherland Welles is www.sutherlandwelles.com.
I have experienced S-W Exterior Spar varnish 4 times. Can #1 was great, leveled beautifully, lasted 3 years, which is superior to the big box brands. Can #2 had a white precipitate in it that was very noticeable on the door I was refinishing. They replaced it free of charge, noting that sometimes the UV inhibitors and mildewcide form a complex and come out of solution.
Can #3, the replacement can, was fine. Went on like can #1.
Can #4, which I obtained from S-W, had the same precipitate problem as can #2. The product was 4 months from its date of manufacture. Again, the same problem with the gritty precipitate. Phoned them again, and they agreed to replace it. When I asked if I could filter the precipitate out, I was told that it was too fine and no varnish/paint filters would work.
There is obviously a stability issue with the additives in this product. Problem is, here in NJ, there are few days that have the temps that allow prep and application on front doors without excessive moisture/pollen/low temps becoming a problem. And so, if ordering a can of fresh product for a targeted project may result in a delay because the product appears to develop unpredictable precipitate, it is a real hardship.