Stains and Sealers Information

Technical Tidbit – The Truth About Oils Employed in Wood Sealers

Technical Tidbit (TT11)

The Truth About Oils

Oils are the predominant technology employed in wood sealers now and in years past. Whether the formula is conventional alkyd technology or the newer water reducible oil technology, the performance characteristics have yet to change. Many would argue that oils are tried and true and proven good old fashioned technology. That is a good argument and correct. Oils are most definitely proven, proven to fail.

Oils in conjunction with wood deteriorate rapidly with exposure to sunlight.

Oil based coatings or formulations employing oils in them will not yield long term performance in exterior applications. It is that simple. The only segment of the coatings industry that has yet to make a significant move away from oils is the wood sealer market. Granted, it is difficult to formulate more durable wood sealers employing alternate technology which is why oils are still predominantly used in formulations.

“The greatest challenge in formulating with alternate technology is attempting to maintain a uniform wear pattern while providing a finish that is easy to maintain.”

Oils provide uniform wear and easy maintenance because they erode so quickly along with the wood. This characteristic makes the use of oils convenient for the applicator but oils offer no long term protection from the elements.

In addition to poor performance, there are also environmental concerns with the use of oils because of the solvents associated with them. To combat the environmental issues, water reducible oils were developed and solvent free systems were introduced. True, these products are better for the environment, however, they offer no improvement when it comes to the issue of exterior durability.

Here are a few facts about oils:

  • Oils deteriorate rapidly with exposure to sunlight.
  • Oils promote mildew growth.
  • Oils become hard and brittle over time leading to cracking, peeling and flaking.
  • Oils have longer dry times.
  • Oils have a shorter shelf life.
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