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Author Topic:   Stain vs. Varnish
gizzi posted 01-26-2004 04:35 PM ET (US)   Profile for gizzi   Send Email to gizzi  
What is your oponion on using Stain verse using varnish on bench seats that have been stripped and/or sanded. (Looks like I got benches that have been coated with something in the past and are pretty weathered). One guy told me varnish may look nice but once people start stepping on the benches to get off or on they will get all scratched. That you have to constantly have upkeep, as opposed to staining them and redoing it again at the end of the season.....

Any opinions ?

(The benches will be in the sun most of the day)



Dick posted 01-26-2004 08:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Every woodworker probably has a different opinion on this so I will state mine.

You didn't mention what kind of wood we are talking about so I will guess it is mahogany.
Stain is great to color wood but adds no protection.
A finish such as Watco oil with a good paste wax finish may work.
The best is the Whaler way varnish, many coats of varnish. Sure it will get scratched and etc but a touch up once a year will keep it looking new.

If it is teak, doubtful, use teak oil only and keep it oiled. Very low maintainence.


andygere posted 01-26-2004 08:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I agree with Dick's advice and add the following comments. The biggest cause of varnish failure is UV degradation. Buy the best quality marine varnish you can find (I like Captain's or Epiphanes), use many coats (like 5 or 6) and when it gets scratched, wet sand it out with some 400 paper and add a touch up coat. But above all, keep it covered. If left uncovered in the sun, even the best varnish will eventually shrink, crack and let water in, which is when the whole varnish system fails. If you want a really durable system, seal the wood in a good quality epoxy such as MAS or West System, then fishish with 5-6 coats of varnish. This way, even if some water penetrates the varnish, it won't darken the wood and make a real mess of it.

By the way, if covering the whole boat is too big of a hassle (if mooring kept, etc.) I've seen some very simple but effective covers for 13 Whalers that just cover the thwarts and steering console.

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