My friend Erik wrote this excellent guest post on using and maintaining wood in your outdoor and indoor woodworking projects. Enjoy!
How to keep your wood healthy and durable
There are plenty of tricks for extending the life of your wood, whether it is outdoor
or indoor. For homeowners ready to invest into flooring, or perhaps a new patio,
there are preventative measures that work much better to keep healthy wood.
Before you go investing in basic wood materials for your project, be sure to check on
some more durable products like Teak. Teak wood is a Southeast Asian hardwood
originating regions of India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Burma, but it’s also harvested
in many other parts of the world like the Caribbean.
There are plenty of good reasons to purchase Teak Wood. These would include
water & insect resistance, and sustainability. Teak has been known to keep termites
and other wood destroying bugs at bay. And the denseness of the wood makes it
nearly impossible to rot or damage from wetness.
In North America and Europe, Teak was originally used to create boat decks because
of its nonskid attributes. Constantly hammered by the sea and rain, boat decks can
be quite a dangerous place to work, particularly if it’s slippery. Over the years, teak
was slowly introduced into home improvement; Builders slowly began using teak
for window frames, patios, doors, hardwood floors, decks and more.
If you’re an avid supporter of sustainability and reducing earth’s carbon footprint,
teak is highly beneficial. Because of its durability, teak doesn’t need to be
repurposed for quite some time. Similarly, staining can and should be done once
every 4 years or more. Over-maintenance can actually diminish the wood’s value.
Investing in highly durable wood is one of many preventative actions you can take
against wood damage, and it’s typically the greatest. But for some people, it’s not
quite affordable or practical.
For those of us looking to improve or maintain any wood products, there are plenty
of reasonable options. First and foremost, anything hand crafted or factory made
should always have some sort of finish applied. The same goes for hardwood floors;
finishing and re-finishing are excellent ways to keep your wood looking as new as
ever. This is especially true for outdoor products like fences or patios. However,
these should be stained as well. Coats will last anywhere from a year to 4 or 5 years
depending upon the climate you live in.
For regular cleaning, it’s wise to invest in a product that won’t harm your wood. It’s
advised not to use vinyl or tile floor care products on hardwood floors. Similarly,
self-polishing acrylic waxes have the potential to damage wood, all the while
creating an unsafe and slippery surface. The same goes for wood dusting products;
you should never use these on your floors. However, there are many safe materials
for dusting that should be used on coffee/end tables, and many other similar wood
furnishings/surfaces. Dusting without these will lead to quicker turn around for
Room temperature is crucial as well, particularly for hardwoods. Low humidity
during the cold months can increase gaps and cracks in flooring. If you suffer from a
loss of heat, perhaps it may be smart to invest in a humidifier.
Obviously, avoiding spills, and making sure your wood products are constantly free
of dirt or grime will keep them looking new. There are plenty of organic substitutes
for harmful materials. Here’s an excellent resource for preparing your own.
Before you start a home improvement project, it may be worthwhile to allocate
funds towards a more durable wood like teak. And, it’s important to take other
preventative measures (i.e. fabric glides on furniture legs) to protect your wood
thoroughly. In any case however, proper wood maintenance will lead to lower costs
in the long haul, with an overall improvement in viability.