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Ask the Expert: What is the Best Way to Prep Wood for Staining and Restoration?

Sponsored by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

As homeowners enter the final stage of building their new or restored log home, their excitement about finishes grows. After years of planning and waiting, soon they will see how their dream home looks when it’s completed. But beyond just good looks, finishes and stains are the wood’s primary protective barrier against the elements and insects.
Proper surface preparation before applying a finish is a critical step to ensure its adhesion and longevity. Ignore it, and within a few years your home will no longer reflect your beautiful vision. Fortunately, the best way to prep wood for staining or restoration is easy and affordable. Here’s what you need to know.

Remove the Debris

Dirt, pollen and other environmental debris along with oils — occurring naturally in the wood or from aerosols — can all prevent a finish from adhering to the wood’s fibers. A successful, long-lasting finish hinges on meticulous debris removal. With logs, however, appearances can be deceiving. They may look clean and smell fresh, but you never know what they were exposed to before arriving to your property.
How the wood was processed is something to be considered. If the logs went through a sawmill, it’s likely that microscopic pieces of metal are embedded on the surface. Over time, if these pieces are exposed to water, they will get rusty and create black spots on the wood, marring your home’s beautiful appearance.
Here's how to get your wood ready. (And what not to do!)

Beware of DIY Imposters

There are recipes for all sorts of do-it-yourself wood cleaners using everything from dish soap to laundry detergent, but after spending so much time and money on your dream home, do you really want to risk compromising your investment just to save a few dollars?
Even worse, these treatments (e.g. chlorine bleach) can create irreparable damage to your wood. They also get into the ground where they harm the vegetation and environment. Most log homeowners find these DIY treatments often have greater costs associated with them than they realized.

Premium Care

Instead, opt for a general purpose, low-pH cleaner capable of removing dirt, pollen, and stains from bare wood and existing finishes. We offer Log Wash™, which is a unique product on the market. This non-toxic cleaner is eco-friendly, affordable, and easy to use. One gallon costs a mere $40 and is enough to clean the surface of a roughly 3,000-square-foot home.
Before and after using Log Wash
Sometimes, logs need specialized care. If the wood has been exposed to the elements for a long time there may be some mold, mildew or graying from UV damage. In these instances, you want a product that gently removes the damaged stain off the fibers. Our product is Wood ReNew™. For inorganic stains such as the type that result from metal belts securing the wood during transport or oxidation, Oxcon™ will do the trick. We will even send you sample sizes so you can test their effectiveness.
Before and after using Wood ReNew™

For wood species that contain high levels of wood extractives and resin oils, such as red cedar, southern pine, spruce and cypress logs, we highly recommended Cedar Wash™ as a cleaner.
Learn more about cleaning bare wood surfaces here!

Final Steps

Just as you don’t want any debris on your logs, you don’t want any residual log wash either. With Perma-Chink log cleaners, simply use your garden hose. It’s that easy.
The purpose of any log wash cleaner is to thoroughly remove the debris and discolorations before applying the stain. To ensure success, logs should be dry before treatment. The ideal temperature range for best results is 40°F - 90°F. Never apply a cleaner to a hot surface because it reduces effectiveness. During the summer, the surface temperature of logs can reach 160°F or more.
All our log cleaners are formulated to work as a system with our stains and finishes for maximum protection, longevity, and beauty. It’s a small investment with a huge return. One that safeguards your vision and dream for years of enjoyment and peace of mind.

Follow along! Join Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. in this exclusive Ask the Expert series to get answers to all your top questions about staining, sealing, maintenance and more!

Sponsored by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

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