Durable Outdoor Finish?


(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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