Durable Outdoor Finish?

Durable Outdoor Finish?

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(upbeat music) [Marc] – So you might recall this project. This is the rustic outdoor table and it looks even more rustic
than it did on day one. (birds squawking) I have to say I neglected
the finish on this. I think we just applied
like a teak oil product and it hasn’t held up well and it really needed to be
applied at least yearly, but I didn’t do that. We had another kid. Hey, I got a little helper today. I did actually get a chance
to refinish the benches. Those held up much, much better and probably just need a
new top coat at this point, but the key lesson here, outdoor finishes always
require additional maintenance. It’s just the way it is. It’s a way of life with outdoor furniture. So we will do a little rehab on this one. It doesn’t take much to
remove the gray top layer and expose fresh wood fibers. Western red cedar grays
really nicely overtime so if you’re into that weathered look, you might not want to sand the surface like I’m doing here. (slow upbeat music) To fill all the cracks and (mumbles) I’m using West System Epoxy. Unlike regular five minute epoxy, this stuff is loose enough
to pour into the small holes and cracks and it just soaks it right up. I could then use a putty
knife to spread the epoxy and push it further into the cracks. Though I didn’t initially intend on it, it quickly became evident
that I get best results by simply coating the entire surface. Then I could just go back
with an irrigation syringe and force epoxy into the deepest cracks. The ends of the bread boards
were in really bad shape, so once the top surface was dry, I just tilted the table on its side and used some blue tape
to hold back the epoxy and let the end grain
soak up all it wanted. For the benches, I decided
to completely remove the previous finish. The wood under there
was in much better shape than the table. Once the epoxy was dry, I sanded it smooth with 80 grit paper. As you can see, even the base
required some epoxy fills here and there. At this point, it was pretty
fun posting pictures online and watching people freak out
about how I ruined this table, but as you can see after
some diligent sanding the top starts to look really nice. Now I can sand up to 180 grit and get ready for the
one two punch finish, epoxy sealer followed by marine varnish. I’m trying a new to me
epoxy sealer product called Total Boat Epoxy. Unlike similar sealers, such as CPES, this stuff has minimal odor and zero VOCs. Mixing is simple. Just use the ratio
markings on the mixing cup and apply liberally to the surface. For better absorption, you
can dilute with acetone. The product applies easily enough, but it didn’t seem to soak
into the fibers as readily as CPES and it also took
a very long time to cure, like a week. Eventually, I was able to
lightly sand the surface with 180 grit in
preparation for the varnish. My varnish of choice is Epifanes. This stuff is super thick, so I like to dilute it
with mineral spirits by about 50% for the first couple of coats and the last few coats I
usually go down to 25%. You can apply this varnish like
any other oil-based varnish. I like using foam brushes
or natural bristle brushes. By the way, I should mention
that none of these products are inexpensive. These are marine quality finishes and they’re made to survive
some pretty harsh conditions. It’s a good investment for someone who really doesn’t wanna
refinish furniture every year. The tabletop was the
biggest pain in the butt, primarily because I didn’t
wanna bring the table into the shop. So my finishing schedule
was subject to the weather and yes this table did get
rained on a couple of times before I wised up and
covered it with a tarp. After each coat of
varnish, I sand the surface with 220 grit. Towards the end, I move up to 320 grit. I apply a full five coats of gloss varnish to all parts of the project at the rate of one coat
a day and in some cases only being able to apply
finish to one side at a time, you could see how a project like this might take weeks. The regular Epifanes product is high gloss and I’m not really a fan of high gloss, so I’m doing two more coats
of Epifanes Matt Wood Finish. Because I like to make things confusing, I pour the finish and dilute
it inside an empty can of the gloss product. Now check out how well this stuff works. I apply a nice even coat
and then after it dries the surface is just dead flat. I give the surface a quick
hand sanding with 320, vacuum off the dust and
apply a second coat of matt, which is the final coat of finish. All right, so was this a lot of work? Yes it was. It was a giant pain in my butt. It took a very long time dodging weather and just
the sheer number of coats of an oil-based finish like this, it just takes a long time, but in the end, it’s totally worth it because now it’s a very
easy to clean surface. I have no problem having
the family come out here and have dinner on this thing. There’s no splinters and there’s sort of a secondary benefit. The fact that I let this guy sit out in the weather for so long
means there were a lot of cracks and all those cracks are
now filled with epoxy and it gives this surface
a very unique look, one that would be difficult to replicate if you were trying to
create it from fresh wood. So you know, it’s kind of got that sort of earned rustic character
that’s difficult to replicate. But overall, I like it. It’s got like splotchiness everywhere and it sort of really
lives up to that sort of rustic, not so rustic
thing that I was going for with the original build. All right, so I would say
the lesson learned here is you should probably
finish your projects properly the first time so that you don’t have to
do a big do over mulligan like this, but if you do, there are ways to salvage a project even when it looks like it’s in really, really bad condition. All right, thanks for watching. (slow upbeat music) Well how about that. Right on cue, it’s
actually starting to rain so good thing I got
this umbrella in place. But even if I didn’t, I think that finish is gonna hold up quite nicely.

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100 Comments

  1. that turned out awesome! What are your thoughts on using a product like Thompson's Water Seal for a table like that?

  2. You did it right, just the way we finish exterior wood on boats. It's a lot of work and it takes discipline to apply enough coats, but the beauty is worth it in the end. One suggestion… all finishes wear out in the sun… boats have to be stripped of all that sealer material and resealed every couple of years, because the boat sits in the sun all the time. Keep your table in the shade, and cover it when not in use… that will add significant years to the life of your finish.

  3. Has anybody priced WestSystem epoxy??? I dont know what this guy's definition of expensive is, but that stuff is well about $100 for a gallon/quart set.

  4. Totally not worth it to me. Title your vid to indicate that it indicates that the process is super slow.

  5. Is it necessary or "better" to have first coats be gloss and top coat be matte? Would it be just as durable to use matte for all coats?

  6. Doing exactly as you show on BIG oak tree cookies (45 to 50 inch diameter) my coworker had taken down. I am making tables using this finishing technique that is leaving me speechless. Its one thing seeing it on video/photo BUT to stand in presence of this finish once done with high gloss, which Im a fan of, is a whole different ballgame ! My neighbors are totally amazed and just like you outdoors is the only place I can work on these giants. .

  7. Fantastic finish Marc! Would be good to get a follow-up/update of what it looks like a year later and if you would still use the same epoxy, etc. Thanks!

  8. Isn't there a dump-it-on wipe-it-off alternative for lazy souls?
    I had hoped for dumping linseed oil or urethane atop my deck … and just hope for the best.
    Blessings!

  9. Newbie here – refinishing old, neglected porch swing and am SO in need of that epoxy.  Watched the West System Buyer's Guide video and am now totally confused.  Which epoxy did you use?  Thanks in advance –

  10. I'd have use wood filler instead of epoxy, the matte finish looks nice , coping that for my bar top , thanks for sharing

  11. i just rewatched this again… and It turns out "burr oak" dryes with cracks in it like that to get the instant rustic look… down side is oak Is heavier then and more dense then cedar and harder to work with.

  12. Is there a reason for using the gloss first and then the matte? Couldn't it have been done all in matte?

  13. This is a great example of doing a "best" job
    craft
    engineering
    modern materials
    elbow grease
    $$$$$

    Some notes on thinning epoxy.
    https://epoxyworks.com/index.php/thinning-west-system-epoxy/

    Here are some time saving tips: sorry, no $$ saving tips here except that this job could save time and money on future maintenance of this table.
    1. do not leave epoxy thick as was done on this video. After wet-out use a bondo squeegee to remove excess epoxy and save lots of time sanding later.
    2. big sweeping scratches that show 2:25 could have been removed (if desired) before epoxy
    3. Use adhesive roller or good quality foam roller and save tons of coating time. This also helps you apply a more even coat. This applies to varnish and epoxy.
    4. thin epoxy as minimally as possible. I would not thin at all but instead would use 207 hardener which is a little thinner and wets out better. Cure is not compromised if you avoid thinning. Thin by coating on a hot day instead. Because you are using a roller and pan the epoxy will last long enough in pan even if it is 85° out…but work fast anyway…
    5. roll varnish then tip with brush or foam. Again fast fast fast.
    6. Use that fancy sander to do 320 sanding too. It has variable speed. Slow speed down on sander save time and do a better job.

    Some final thoughts: disclaimers
    I'm not sure if this was mentioned in video – epoxy has very little/no uv protection. It MUST be coated over with uv protective varnish.
    The table will still flex in humid/dry changing weather. It may check more. It will probably crack first at the breadboard ends. There is little you can do about this.
    Using epiphanes is a very good choice because it is a soft and flexible finish. I would not try to do "better" with a two part varnish. Those are hard and durable but they do not flex. If this was a veneer core plywood table it may be stable enough for hard varnish.

    Thanks for the great vid>>>
    More like this!!

  14. Wow what a great finish.
    I bought and used the wrong stuff on mine. Was more of a waxy liquid. Now after two years it's all flaking off and he rain is warping the planks.
    Gonna be a pain in the proverbial to remove, refinish the wood and then apply the proper stuff.
    Love the matte look!
    I'll have to see how much the stuff he used will cost me.
    Table is 2m x 1.2m then there are 2 two seater benches and 2 single chairs all with backs and arm rests.

  15. I am wanting to build a grape trellis using cedar post and wanted to use a outdoor varnish/sealer to make it look good and last.  Which one of the following would you use CPES, Epifanes, or total boat epoxy.  They are just post like a fence post but wanted them to look nice.    If there is another product please let me know what you would use and how to apply.

  16. Wow, that is the A game. I hope it lasts a long, long time. If you aren't into all that investment, we've had success with a pressure washer and then, once dry, brief sanding. Then use a translucent stain and wipe off the excess. Like you said, this simple version needs to be done every year.

  17. I've done the same.. but used West System's epoxy instead of varying it. I agree on the Foam brush.. but use a foam roller to apply the expoxy/varnish and then tip with a foam brush… this eliminates the bubbles and provides a clear finish. Another thing is GLOSS will has much longer than a matte finish. You might also apply a wax like a car wax to the finished product with a micro fiber cloth every 3 months.. because it's dirt that causes issues with water attached to it.

  18. another great video. it looks like a LOT of work but it also looks amazing in the end. so well worth it. Also wanted to mention how satisfying it was to see the air bubble out of the wood and through the epoxy at 1:48 :-))))

  19. Someone explain to me why diluting down the items with what is supposed to remove the epoxy it is a good idea??

  20. Did the epoxy have a dye? It looks great. I have neglected a outdoor cedar table I made a few years back also and am looking to freshin in up.

  21. Drained motor oil. It's free. It repels water, fungus and bugs. It's actually not flammable once applied. And no prep work needed.

  22. This guy has a dream patio. Man, imagine having his patio overlooking mountains in the Northwest! Great video!

  23. The problem with your method is that you are locking the breathe out of the wood. It's fine for a stable environment but anything in the garden or subject to atmospheric changes will bust your method to pieces. The changes in temperature will cause any wood to expand or contract ane you epoxy will crack allowing all kinds of moisture and contaminants in.
    You make a good video but you really need to brush up on your wood science knowledge.

  24. You are all wrong. In my first woodwork class in high school (Australia) the teacher told us there that the wood finish that would stand up in outdoors didn't exist. He was wrong too. Marc's technique is typical of marine brightwork finish…epoxy base to stabilise the wood and stop it splitting which allows water entry, but is not UV stable. Epoxy yellows and flakes very rapidly in sunlight unless protected. Epifanes is typical of the UV stabilised coatings and is highly regarded, but needs many coats to have any chance and is mighty pricey. Even then be prepared to sand and recoat regularly…even yearly. This may be acceptable on your prized yacht but not for a utility piece of outdoor furniture. The system outlined here would cost more than the table even without a labour cost. NEVER use an oil based finish, it will go black.

    OK, smart arse, what's the solution? I have found this type of decking finish http://www.feastwatson.com.au/consumer/products/exterior/product-details/4775 to last up to 5 years on tropical hardwood in the Australian sun albeit with some deterioration before needing a moderate sand and recoat. It is a water based acrylic coating that is film forming but the film is quite robust and is easy to recoat. WRC will split and crack much more and probably would be better left to grey naturally.

  25. I have almost zero knowledge of woodworking but I have a table my husband just put together that, at this point, has one coat of medium darkness stain/sealant on it. Can I do this method on top of it? Should I try to sand it down to take some of the stain off? TIA for any suggestions!

  26. Hi Marc thank you for making this video. It was very informative and helpful as I'm planning on getting married this October and idea we're hoping to do is to have our guest sign a picnic table instead of a wedding book. Watching this video helped me understand in approaching a picnic table and things I should consider prior before presenting it to our guest. If you have any recommendations I would very much appreciate your input. I just subscribed to your channel and will be reviewing other videos for reference.

  27. How many finish is minimum needed for a wooden house to make it indestructible?? Is 5 really needed or 2 is fine?(Amateur)

  28. I vacillate between sealing up outdoor wood with a varnish and using an oil type finish .
    Over the years i have used more and more oil type finishes that break down in the elements into a thin powdery substance .
    These type of finishes are incredibly easy to recoat as they only need to be brushed off and re applied with a huge bristle brush that require zero skill.
    Using a varnish with a lot of solids can involve a lot of preparation .
    Both are excellent and it just comes down to personal preference .

  29. There has got to be a lifetime industrial outdoor wood finish that requires no maintenance. What do million dollar yachts use?

  30. Do you have plans for that table and bench. I really like the look! I love your videos even though I am really a beginner. It gives me something to strive for!

  31. A couple of comments from someone who has maintained natural wood surfaces on boats: 1) even with the sealing, filling and 5-7 coats of spar varnish, if the table stays outside, it should be cleaned, sanded and recoated every one to three years with the Epiphaned, depending on conditions, if not, you will find it gradually descending to an unacceptable place again, but now with cracks partially filled with epoxy. 2) when applying a crack-filling coat of epoxy, you can save substantial material and substantial sanding time by applying with a flexible squeegee and a little pressure, the more leveling you want to do, the stiffer the squeegee.

  32. All due respect… It's great you showed the many steps of doing a project right. But may I get real for a moment? That's a cheap table. Knotty cedar. Blech. Hardly worth that labor. Had it been teak or mahogany, I could see it. But those canned epoxy and cancergunk products cost an arm and a leg. I bet you spent more on the products than that table cost/is worth. Plus you exposed yourself to horrific carcinogens, dust, back pain, yikes. Now I got no prob with that if the piece had been worth it. But…. I just don't get it. Had you done a light sanding and 1 or 2 coats of marine spar varnish, your results would have been just fine, and it would have lasted as long, I'll wager. So… Yeah! I'm being a party pooper! Sorry! Again tho, all respect to you for showing the right products and doing them right.

  33. What I like best about this, the child was inserted and you let him help. I see tons of parents tell their kids no, it's too hard or your too young, so the kids lose interest. Who knows, your son may end up growing up to be a contractor because he was inspired as a kid to learn how to handle wood. Good for you.

  34. n00b question about the gloss vs matte: What's the virtue of using the matte product? Can you just lightly sand the coat of the gloss and get the same effect?

  35. Mark is a very talented guy and seems to be a great father too. I've been following the channel for years now with an encore two years ago cause I got sort of annoyed cause back then I was trying to learn woodworking and it felt too comercial. I mean, it felt like everything was sponsored and to be honest most of the stuff he uses is out of reality for most of the people. I also moved from a house to one apartment which limited my access to tools but then I started watching the videos again not as instructional videos but just for fun. For the entertainment and God, it's so much better. I can sit and watch and just apreciate it.

  36. thanks for the video, i am following a pretty similar approach for a glue lam exterior beam. you wern't kidding about it taking time.. seems like you need to wait a few days or more sometimes for the epifanes product to harden enough to sand it efficiently, otherwise it just gums up and makes a mess. how'd the finish end up holding up?

  37. i saw in one of your latest videos this did not work at all maybe you should take it done so people don’t follow it.

  38. This finish didn't hold up as expected, due to a number of factors. So before you try it, be sure to read the update in the description above.

  39. I worked in a hardware store years back and almost NO ONE re-varnishes outdoor wood when it needs it. You know those glistening teak and mahogany decks on those mult-million dollar yachts? The best $100+ per gallon varnish needs to be applied sometimes twice a year to maintain that look. You put on 5-8 coats and the weather strips off the top 3 or 4 coats in a matter of months. Then you scuff the entire deck and re-apply 3 or 4 more coats. Sad but true.

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