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Author Topic: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?  (Read 9965 times)

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Offline FrankLad

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"Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« on: July 10, 2008, 10:19:16 PM »
We had originally planned to let our lapped cypress siding turn grey and weather naturally.  Our sawyer's house is this way - never treated the cypress siding - and it looks fantastic.

However, we quickly realized that ours would not weather evenly - especially where we have 2' overhangs, the area under the porch, places like that.  Spots where rain water is bouncing up from the deck are starting to look not-so-pretty.
(No gutters as of yet... still looking into a solution for square-cut eaves)

A friend of ours told us about a fella he knows around the area who had cypress and bugs got it... had to be completely replaced and all.  Not sure what to make of stories like that, with all the good things I've heard about cypress, but it was still a tad unsettling.  At any rate, I then had two reasons to look into putting something on our exterior wood.

Our next plan was to use exterior LandArk, in a medium brown shade (clear just wouldn't look good at this point).  Folks at LandArk recommended FIRST spraying a Boracare or comparable product to break mill glaze and act as preventative for critters before putting their stain on, then top-coat with clear.

So it would be Boracare -> Brown LandArk -> Clear LandArk

This is something we've been kinda saving up funds for (LandArk is $80-something a gallon, and we'd need quite a few).

That brings me to this...

I recently started messing with the vinegar + steel wool ("sweet n sour") mixtures, for smaller projects like wood picture frames.  Today I tried it on a scrap piece of cypress siding and the grey tone is very appealing!

Call me crazy, but I then started wondering if I could switch my plan to this:

Boracare -> Vinegar+steel wool -> Clear LandArk (just as a protective top-coat... if necessary)

The vinegar mixture would be very affordable, give a pretty look, and be safe to breathe (well, LandArk wins in this area as well)   ...even seems to me like the vinegar mixture would offer some amount of protection to the wood.

Am I crazy, or can I treat our exterior siding with that method?  Are there any side-effects of using the vineger+steel wool mixture?  I'm REALLY hoping I can go this route.

As always, thanks for the input!!!


Offline FrankLad

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2008, 01:24:53 PM »
The LandArk, even clear, may darken the vinegar'd (grey) boards a pretty good bit.  Wonder if I even need LandArk as a topcoat.

Would borate -> vinegar mix be sufficient?  ie. Apply the borate, let it soak and dry, then apply the vinegar a couple days after.  Wondering also what kind of annual upkeep would be required going this route.

Thinking out loud.

Tried a 50/50 Vinegar+steelwool / Water mix and it looks incredible on some test planks.  Very pretty grey, and the cut-in-half mix is nearly identical to the straight mix once it dries on the board.


Online Don P

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2008, 09:14:27 PM »
Boracare should have a water repellant coating over it to keep it from leaching out over time.
Then there's always a but  ::). I restored one old cabin that we borated, it had never had a finish and wasn't going to get one, in no uncertain terms  :D. I borated until I could see crystals on the surface. They're my telltales, when I inspect and don't see them we'll hit it again. One nice thing about no finish is it will always be easy to reapply the borate.

My only concern with an acid is what it will do to the fasteners, I'd keep it as dilute as possible if you go that route.

My experience with landark is limited to once. Its been about a year and it needs recoating in the tough places. I think any other finish would be about the same there but the price isn't lovely  :-\.
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Offline FrankLad

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2008, 10:41:45 PM »
Thanks a lot for the feedback, Mr. Don!

I tried a mix today of 1/4 vinegar to water and it looks good on some test pieces, and should hopefully be dilute enough so as to not cause major harm to the fasteners.

When it comes down to it, I plan to strain the mixture - to remove any bits of the 0000 steel wool - and apply with a hand pump sprayer.

How does the Boracare affect color, typically?

Also, as the vinegar mixture isn't really a sealer, would it make sense to apply it first and then coat with Boracare, adding Boracare as necessary later for maintenance (and thus foregoing the LandArk or other top-coat)?  I understand in theory Boracare should be applied to bare wood for maximum penetration, but would this type of finish allow otherwise?

Thanks!


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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2008, 08:38:23 AM »
I wonder if you got some test strips and something like baking soda if you could neutralize the "stain" and still get the desired color. I'm talking way outta my school on that. Baking soda is supposed to "age" wood also. I tried it once and it didn't do anything for me.

I don't think the order of applying the borate will matter with that stain since it isn't doing anything to seal the wood against absorption. Since the borates travel by diffusion, on the wet wood, it might be cost effective to use the stain as a wetting agent, applying the borate right behind the stain onto the wet wood. Borates penetrate deepest in green lumber where the cells are still full of moisture, the "salt" moves through the water from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. In already dry wood if they hit a dry area and have a chance to crystallize that seems to form a pretty effective wall that you don't pass, that's my guesswork. When I've used straight borate without glycol on dry wood that wall seems to be the surface. At the other end I kept the old cabin wet for about a month using glycol based borate before I saw crystals forming on the surface. That can be brushed off if objectionable. There is no color if you do that. If you put a finish like Landark over the white crystals it looks bad and you'll end up sanding it all down and doing it over... trust me on that one  :D

In your scenario there is no water repellent so there will be moisture cycling where the wood gets splash. wetting and drying cycles can drive checks deep. A finish can trap moisture behind it, raise the moisture level to decay levels and contribute to rot.

Life sure gets tedious don't it  ;D
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Offline FrankLad

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2008, 10:00:40 AM »
Haven't heard that bout the baking soda but since I'm at a point where I'm experimenting, it is worth trying.

I didn't realize the diffusion process of the borate works better in wet wood.  Makes a lot of sense now, though, reading your explanation.

Sure appreciate your responses on this!

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2008, 11:27:02 AM »
All that's left now are the fascia boards, and I'll be done with the house spraying.  I'm very happy with the gray color it gives.  Nice results, in my opinion!

I should have some pictures up before the weekend.


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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2008, 02:00:59 PM »
Here's how our house currently looks, after applying the vinegar mix:


We're happy with the way it turned out!  It made a dramatic difference.  The only places that had started greying before this were the bottom 4 or 5 rows of siding on the deck side, where rainwater was splashing up.  Most everywhere else was still amber colored.

Here is a closeup shot of the siding, on the non-deck side of the house:


Here is what it looked like before:


I'm also planning to spray the deck and railing as well.


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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2008, 05:10:17 PM »
Wow, that looks good  8) Keep us posted on how its looking as time goes by. I've used grey stains twice in the past few years and am less than thrilled with the results. That's the look the homeowners were wanting.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2008, 07:52:08 PM »
Hey, I like that too!
Just call me the midget doctor.
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Offline Raider Bill

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2008, 09:42:41 AM »
Tell me how this is mixed? Do you soak the steel wool in the vinager mix then strain? How much steel wool do you use say per gallon.
My friend Jimbo is building a cabin and is looking for a cheap way to get that gray look with bug repleeant and proper sealing.
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Offline FrankLad

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2008, 11:45:20 AM »
Here's the "formula" that worked for me:

  • Add 1 steel wool pad (0000 works well) for every 32 OZ of vinegar.
  • Let sit overnight
  • Strain the vinegar into a new container, removing as much steel wool particles as possible
  • Add water - 1:1 ratio
  • Apply to wood using whatever method you prefer (I used a cheapo 1-gallon garden sprayer)

For a 1-gallon mixture, simply add 2 steel wool pads to 64 OZ of vinegar in a bucket.  The next day, strain that out into a clean bucket and add 64 OZ of water to it, giving a gallon of solution.

As with anything, try it on a scrap piece first.  Also, results vary depending on species.  From my testing, the above solution works fine on cypress, syp, and ewp (we have eastern white pine T&G under our porch).  However, it may darken oak a bit more.

Let me know if you have any other questions - I'm happy to help.

Offline FrankLad

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2008, 09:38:22 AM »
Wow, that looks good  8) Keep us posted on how its looking as time goes by. I've used grey stains twice in the past few years and am less than thrilled with the results. That's the look the homeowners were wanting.

Thank you!  We've had a couple of good heavy rains and I was curious what that would do to it.  Looks good so far, but I know time will tell as far as how it looks long-term.  If I notice any drastic changes, I'll report.


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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2008, 02:59:55 PM »
Jimbo's at this point now. He's asking what he should use after the sweet and sour treatment for water repellent. We discussed mineral spirits and linseed oil but I wondered if that would work seems it would conflict.

His logs are very dry and checked. maybe 2 years.

At this point I believe he is going to apply, stain, then timbor mix let dry good then some kind of water repellent.

Any suggestions? Updates?
The First 60 years of childhood is always the hardest.

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2008, 03:19:56 PM »
Mix melted paraffin wax in with the mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil, and you will get a good water repellant.

Used to also mix in Penta to give this concoction a preservative as well, but cannot get the Penta anymore...unfortunately

10% Boiled linseed, 2% melted paraffin, and the rest Mineral Spirits suggested.

 
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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2008, 03:37:30 PM »
I'll have to try that vinegar on some T-111, which is what I'm probably going to side my barn with. I like the look, if I can get use to a barn that smells like a salad!  :D
I hope my ship comes in before the dock rots!

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2008, 03:48:13 PM »
John,
For a more exotic smell use balsamic ;D
The First 60 years of childhood is always the hardest.

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2008, 08:40:37 AM »
Ha ha!

The vinegar scent was one of the concerns we had at the outset, but it goes away quickly.  :)

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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2008, 08:43:35 AM »
Frank,

What did you do for water repellant?
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Re: "Sweet N Sour" House Finish?
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2008, 11:07:50 AM »
Hi Raider Bill!

I have not applied anything but the vinegar mix to the siding.  I've purchased some Boracare with intentions to apply that as a type of treatment (mainly for potential bug issues... I'm still uncertain if that's a real cocern or not) but I'm wanting to build some gutters first, as the only area that sees water are the lower siding planks, due to bouncing rainwater from the deck.

If I do apply some type of repellent, it will be some exterior LandArk.  It is a very safe oil mix compared to others, and also contains a mild mildewcide.



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