In recent years, wood-framed buildings have attracted much attention. Not only is it a sustainable and renewable material, but it absorbs large amounts of carbon during its growth cycle, and innovations associated with this material also allow it to be applied to taller and taller buildings. When it comes to wood, however, you are exposed to a wide variety of species with different strengths, nuances, potentials, limitations and suitable uses. In addition to woods that are hard, heavy, and comparable in strength to concrete, there are other softwoods that are suitable for other purposes.
Wood, being a natural material, is porous and adapts to the temperature and humidity conditions of the environment in which it is inserted, absorbing substances such as oil, dirt, etc. that enter it. Without proper surface preparation, wood can dry, crack, lose its natural tone and deteriorate. Exposure to drastic changes, such as high humidity and drought scenarios, can eventually cause it to swell or rot.
Maintenance is critical to the proper functioning of all types of buildings, but it is even more important when it comes to wood. The right finish prevents wood from rapidly deteriorating, extending its lifespan and showing its natural characteristics. Availability and conditions of use of each finish may vary by country. Here are a few commonly used finishes and take a look at their main features and uses.
The word varnish is often used incorrectly in various wood finishes. Varnish creates a clear layer, like a film applied to the surface, that covers the pores of the wood and accentuates the wood’s grain and natural color. It is a drying oil and synthetic resin based product. There are several types on the market, such as marine varnishes that are very resistant to water and moisture, and UV-blocking varnishes that are very practical for outdoor structures. And other varnishes that change the tone of wood through dyes.
Varnishes are versatile and are widely used on exterior walls, structures, framing and interior parts. When the varnish layer starts to peel off the wood and no longer has the effect of protecting the wood, it must be sanded and painted again.
2. Dyeing or impregnating agent
Impregnants work slightly differently. Unlike varnishes, they penetrate the wood and open the pores, nourishing the fibers and allowing the wood to “breathe”. This makes them look more natural, especially to the touch, but even in the most transparent version it ends up blurring the piece a bit. Because it penetrates into the wood, it is a very waterproof finish. Easy to apply and maintain, the stain won’t come off as it can be absorbed by the wood instead of forming a protective film.
Its use is similar to varnish, and it is also widely used for deck or patio decking.
3. Oily finish
Oil-based finishes are very popular among carpenters because they tend to accentuate the character of the wood well without changing its color and texture. They are made from natural products and are very easy to use and maintain. While moisturizing and waterproofing, it changes with the wood. On the other hand, it is not weather resistant and needs to be reapplied regularly. While the most common oils are linseed and tung, it is also possible to use “crude” or polymeric oils that have been heat-treated to make them dry faster and more weather resistant.
In general, oils are mainly used in areas with less sun and rain, but they can also be used to protect cookware, such as tables and spoons. In these cases, mineral oil is generally recommended.
4. Shellac paint
Shellac is a natural finish made from the secretions of the lac bug (Kerria lacca), a beetle found in the forests of India and Thailand. As a varnish, shellac dries quickly to form a hard, strong and flexible film that can be used for varnishing floors and furniture. It is rarely used today because it is not resistant to water and alcohol. It is usually purchased in small pieces and needs to be diluted with alcohol before use.
Even so, there are carpenters who use shellac to finish fine furniture.
Waxes are sold in liquid, paste or solid form and are derived from various minerals, plants and animals. The most common are honey bees and carnauba. As a finish, the wax does not penetrate into the wood, but stays on the wood, preventing oxidation. Therefore, water based wax for wood, if used alone, does little to protect the wood. Interestingly, it can be applied to already oiled areas, giving the surface a soft sheen and a pleasant feel. For use in locations not directly exposed to severe weather.
When discussing wood veneer possibilities, it is important to consider the future use of the part, where it will be installed and its expected lifespan, and whether veneer is needed at all. There are also construction methods, such as acetylated wood, that do not require a finish. Even so, the service life is very long. Also a veneer slab of cross-laminated wood panels will be different than a park bench or furniture in an indoor setting. It is important that the architect is aware of the possibilities of the different varieties as well as the function of the work in order to find the most suitable solution for each situation.
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