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Thread: Outdoor White Oak

  1. #1

    Outdoor White Oak

    My daughter wants me to make some smallish tables that will live outdoors. Iíve got a nice piece of white oak that Iím considering but wondered what it would look like if left outdoors unfinished. If anyone has a piece that fits this description, Iíd greatly appreciate a picture of what naturally weathered white oak looks like.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    IMG_2131.jpeg New with some kind of oil.
    IMG_0605.jpeg Now, five years later.

    You can power wash and put on more oil and it looks good again for a while.

  3. #3
    Here's a white oak bench I made 10 years ago. I finished it initially with something - I can't remember. That lasted 2 seasons, and started flaking off over the following 3 seasons.

    Most of it is still sound, but you will notice that the edge has some rotting. Sapwood on red and white oak is prone to decay. The top was intentionally split down its length, but there is some splitting/peeling from weather at one end.

    IMHO, you are best off investing in covers. Nothing lasts forever. Also, while the bench is sound, it's not particularly clean at this point. So, if you want your furniture to remain inviting, just cover it (as much as is practical) when not in use.


    IMG_9374.jpg
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 05-06-2024 at 8:23 AM.

  4. #4
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    Nealy every species goes a silver gray color and there will be light surface cracking and erosion. UV rays are the killer, that why houses are painted. Paint blocks the sun longer than anything else.

  5. #5
    Thanks Prashun & Todd for the pics. I REALLY like the look of the freshly oiled bench. If just a quick pressure wash and oil recoat are all that’s needed I might go that route. Any recollection on the type of oil? BLO, tung, Danish - ?

  6. #6
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    It matters a lot where you live, and where the piece will set.

    Sitting in the shade where mold is prevalent is problematic for any material.

    Sunshine and a dry climate helps, but then as mentioned the UV exposure degrades and discolors.

    I have not had good luck at all with 'film' based finishes (including epoxy) - but I am in a region where mold is the problem. Oil finishes do a little better for me.

    Something happens with old barns where the wood surface oxidizes and thus protects for hundreds of years. But the patina is old barn look. And they still rot with moisture/shade present.

    I had a deck that I cleaned with mildewcide and recoated with oil every year... but I never kept that up so after a decade its like everything else.

    I have white oak on a bbq that has held up well. But as mentioned it is covered when not in use. Right next to it is another bbq that is Tigerwood. After a few years BOTH washed out to the silver gray color (a lot of IPE decks do this same), and you can not tell a lot of difference. It is my conclusion that whatever is left outside will at worst case rot out, and best case turn silver gray.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Krawford View Post
    Thanks Prashun & Todd for the pics. I REALLY like the look of the freshly oiled bench. If just a quick pressure wash and oil recoat are all that’s needed I might go that route. Any recollection on the type of oil? BLO, tung, Danish - ?
    Boiled linseed oil will actually promote mold growth, because it's made from flax seed. That is of course if they haven't added a mildewcide in it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Krawford View Post
    Thanks Prashun & Todd for the pics. I REALLY like the look of the freshly oiled bench. If just a quick pressure wash and oil recoat are all that’s needed I might go that route. Any recollection on the type of oil? BLO, tung, Danish - ?
    Use an outdoor oil product designed for the purpose, such as Sikkens.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    I've used Penefin outdoor oil and Cabot's Australian Timber Oil for WO on outside projects. The natural color never lasts long. It goes to gray/black after a while anyway. A re-coat just preserves the gray. And a note, to be careful of glue squeeze out. I had some joints on a bench where the glue spots (epoxy) stayed natural while the rest of it turned gray.
    < insert spurious quote here >

  10. #10
    It will turn silver. Washing and oiling will delay the decay and possibly splitting.

    On outdoor furniture you can also epoxy any end grain - especially the feet.

    Don't underestimate the persistence of sun and the seasons to turn this grey eventually. Also, don't overestimate your own (read, MY OWN) stamina for "a quick pressure wash and oil" bi-annually...



  11. #11
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    ANY organic oil will support mold growth if you live in a climate where that's an issue. Mildewcides work for a few months but not long enough to stop the mold over the course of a year. Ipe' is one of the most rot resistant woods available. That's what I chose for my deck. I finished it with Ipe' Oil. It looked gorgeous until the following spring when it was covered with a grimy mix of what looked like dirt and black mold. Rinse, repeat, for about 5 years trying various oil products. None survived a year w/o mold growing. And removing the grime and mold is not an easy task. TSP, bleach, deck cleaner, I've tried quite a few products. None work very well. Deck and fence cleaner followed by a serious power washing has worked the best. Twice a year, requiring more than 8 hours each time. I hate it.

    On the other hand, this is the black locust bench that sits on my deck, before I changed it to Ipe'. It's finished with Epifanes. The finish lasted two years before it started to split and water got under it at those splits and caused it to start lifting. Sand, spot finish then finish the whole thing again. A year later more trouble. After the third finish repair, I decide a cover was the best option. I think it's been about 5 years and two covers later now, and the bench looks as good as the day I first covered it.



    No finish will survive outdoors, exposed to the weather, w/o constant maintenance. But it will survive if you cover it when not being used and keep the feet off the ground.

    Your other option is torrified wood and no finish. It'll still need cleaning, but it probably won't support mold growth.

    John

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    I probably used BLO, and it is in a shaded, humid area.

    I think the power washing and oil got it back to silver minus the mold and looking pretty good but not like the original photo.

    John's suggestion of a cover is probably the best idea.

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