The holidays are over, and the winter months are ahead. But once the weather warms, many people turn their attention to improvement and construction projects. Whether you are adding a room or closet, re-doing a floor, building or upgrading a deck or adding railings or fencing you may want to consider using wood to complete the job.
Wood is a natural, organic material that, in its raw form, comes from trees but can be produced from any type of woody plant. The earliest use for wood occurred thousands of years ago when people realized it made a great fuel. At the time it was also used to make tools and weapons, furniture and paper. Today it is one of the most popular construction materials.
Using wood as the foundation for your project ensures reliability and strength. Even though it durable, it is lightweight and easy to work with during construction. It is also more cost effective than other alternatives. But wood is susceptible to internal and external elements, so you need to know the best ways to protect it.
If your project is an external one, the wood will swell when wet and shrink when dry even if it is pressure treated. This can lead to splitting and cracking and an unsightly appearance over time. Be prepared for these inevitabilities and either seal, stain, or paint your wood. You need to take similar precautions when using wood on the interior so that your wood stays dry. Any treatment methods will protect it against bowing, warping, fading, or termite damage.
Staining your wood not only protects it but enhances its natural beauty and provides a finish to your project that will last for years. Wood stains are either oil or water based and come in a variety of colors to match your particular design. They may also contain a water repellant and ultraviolet ray stabilizers. Any stain will offer protection, but you should consult with a professional before you make a purchase. Retail construction cost per square foot calculators can be a good place to start.
You can seal rather than stain your wood. This option provides you with a variety of choices as well and you need to be careful that the sealant you choose has no harmful chemicals. For the best finish and maximum water resistance, choose one that is eco-friendly and medium to high gloss. Sealing your wood works best for exterior wood as most sealing materials have overwhelming odors.
There are products that provide a combination of sealant and stain in one. This guarantees the higher level of protection that you seek but the color and finish choices are limited. These products are also thicker and very viscous, so they can be a little more difficult to apply. However, they are longer lasting and do not need to be maintained as often as single applications. Another advantage to a combo product is that if the finish dulls after a number of years the original sheen can be restored by washing the wood with bleach and this will not damage the protective coating.