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Hey everyone, I am relatively new to woodworking and I wanted to ask you a few questions. I have started creating garden benches for personal use. While they are rough around the edges, they do look nice. I use SPF 2 x 4’s and then prime them and I also use two separate coats of quality gloss paint as a finish.

Now I have recently been told that despite the two coats and the priming, I am using the wrong wood for these benches. Friends tell me that they are ‘not going to last’. This makes me less excited about designing them and hesitant about possibly selling them (at cost mind you). Despite the fact that people like how they look, no one is going to want a bench that does not last.

So is this true? Would I be better off using treated pine for these benches? And for those of you that have used treated pine before, do you still paint and prime? While there may be better woods available, I really have no idea how to find them or finish then. I also suspect that the cost would be much higher than what I am paying now. Any thoughts?
 

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The reason your friends are skeptical is this----

Wood exposed to the elements expands and contracts a lot----this will stretch and crack the glossy paint---allowing water to enter--causing the paint to peal and blister.

You need to use a stain the breaths and will allow the wood to go through its natural movement without blistering the finish---

time to learn more about wood ---and finishes---
 

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Head Light Bulb Changer
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In your instance I think SPF is great for learning. Light, soft, and easy to cut/mill. Saves on saw blades and router bits. It won't hold up the the elements, though. I say use it to practice your skills and when you get more experience switch to a harder wood. Even Doug Fir or SYP would be a step up.
 

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Nail Driving Fool
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I'd say skip the paint and use a good exterior oil base house stain.

SPF will hold up in the elements if properly protected. Just look at how many SPF 1x is used for exterior trim and facia boards. Of course this is ideal conditions where as you have permanent ground contact with a bench.

Treated would be better but it needs to dry out a bit before you stain it.

Have you considered using redwood or cedar?
 

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Head Light Bulb Changer
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Just look at how many SPF 1x is used for exterior trim and facia boards.
And look at how much of it has failed. It's junk for exterior IMO. EDIT - In my area, the climate just KILLS white wood (that's what we call SPF around here), hence my reluctance to use it.

I do agree that the OP needs to explore different finishes. Spar varnish is a good one to try out.
 

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Forget the pine.

Long-term durability of quality outdoor furniture should not rely on an applied finish.....IMHO.

Go with something like White Oak or Black Locust or Teak or Spanish Cedar with a good penetrating oil finish....Waterlox.

Your creations will be heirlooms, not quickly obsolete.

* Also important to design for durability.
pitch all horizontal surfaces for drainage.....never expose endgrain on a horizontal plane....etc.
 

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If money is the issue....

use ground contact rated Treated SPF, purchase way in advance and sticker it properly while it dries (and contorts itself into something akin to curly fries), then use solid stains.......

best of luck.
 

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Nail Driving Fool
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If money is the issue....

use ground contact rated Treated SPF, purchase way in advance and sticker it properly while it dries (and contorts itself into something akin to curly fries), then use solid stains.......

best of luck.

:laughing:

So true.

You forgot the part about it splitting out even with pilot holes when dry.
 

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Home Repairs
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Hey everyone, I am relatively new to woodworking and I wanted to ask you a few questions. I have started creating garden benches for personal use. While they are rough around the edges, they do look nice. I use SPF 2 x 4’s and then prime them and I also use two separate coats of quality gloss paint as a finish.

Now I have recently been told that despite the two coats and the priming, I am using the wrong wood for these benches. Friends tell me that they are ‘not going to last’. This makes me less excited about designing them and hesitant about possibly selling them (at cost mind you). Despite the fact that people like how they look, no one is going to want a bench that does not last.

So is this true? Would I be better off using treated pine for these benches? And for those of you that have used treated pine before, do you still paint and prime? While there may be better woods available, I really have no idea how to find them or finish then. I also suspect that the cost would be much higher than what I am paying now. Any thoughts?
Head over to the LumberJocks or WoodTalk woodworking forums. You will meet some pretty friendly people that will jump all over your questions.
 

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This is one of those areas that there are a few different opinions. Here's my take:

If you want a wood to last exposed to the elements, you need to keep the moisture out, keep fungi and molds form growing on / in it, and protect the fibers from degradation due to sunlight. That can all be done using site applied wood preservatives, followed by a sealer (once dry) - 1:5 or 1:10 spar varnish / mineral spirits, followed by painting with a good exterior paint. If you don't want to use paint, use TWP100.
 

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This is one of those areas that there are a few different opinions. Here's my take:

If you want a wood to last exposed to the elements, you need to keep the moisture out, keep fungi and molds form growing on / in it, and protect the fibers from degradation due to sunlight. That can all be done using site applied wood preservatives, followed by a sealer (once dry) - 1:5 or 1:10 spar varnish / mineral spirits, followed by painting with a good exterior paint. If you don't want to use paint, use TWP100.



Good ideas. May I add,I would also use a consolidation material on the most vulnerable portions (end grain) Abatron makes such a product.
 

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Good ideas. May I add,I would also use a consolidation material on the most vulnerable portions (end grain) Abatron makes such a product.
End grain is always a problem, especially with ground contact. For the ground contact parts like legs, you can always use something like Titebond III to glue on some ground contact rated PT, or any of the other rot resistant woods. If they're decorative, so much the better - it can be a trademark design detail.


Even just stained SPF not in ground contact will look good / last for a few years, but the stain has to be kept up. Sunny locations can be the worst for a lot of the degradation processes. Follow good deck detailing practices, and it really helps.
 

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The Dude
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Depends on your location. Here, cypress is less expensive than cedar, the 1x material is rough cut on all 4 sides so it's thicker than cedar 1x (Mostly I've seen s3s cedar 1x, planed on one side and both edges), and that stuff grows out of puddles.

I replaced some siding on a house with a water issue in the garage. 30 year old house, cypress 1x board and batten siding that had NEVER had a finish applied to it, and it was still just fine. The section I replaced years ago still looks like the day I hung it.

Also it was less expensive than cedar 1x. The cedar 16' 1x12 was $25 each, the cypress was $16. Both grow locally. When I picked them up it was completely saturated. When I drove a nail, water squirted out of the hole when I drove it home. It had snowed the night before day 2, and the boards froze solid. They were HEAVY!!! Not so heavy dried out, but not as light as cedar.
 

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Also it was less expensive than cedar 1x. The cedar 16' 1x12 was $25 each, the cypress was $16. Both grow locally.
I can get pine and hemlock cheap here from local mills. Cedar is pricier, and Cypress (which I'd really like to work with for some things) is a special order. If I was you, I'd use cypress for everything I could.
 

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The Dude
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I can get pine and hemlock cheap here from local mills. Cedar is pricier, and Cypress (which I'd really like to work with for some things) is a special order. If I was you, I'd use cypress for everything I could.
The cypress I bought was 1x12 for board and batten siding. Not so sure it can even be bought in other sizes here I haven't looked. I think it's cheaper than cedar here because it grows very well in the MS river delta - alluvial flood plains.

I've seen fallen logs of this stuff last for years with no signs of deterioration other than bark loss. I suspect that if you dropped a local cedar and cypress next to each other the cypress would last longer than cedar.

There's another tree that grows around here that is very rot and moisture resistant - black locust? I think people plant it where the ground stays wet and half flooded to dry the hole out.
 

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The cypress I bought was 1x12 for board and batten siding. Not so sure it can even be bought in other sizes here I haven't looked. I think it's cheaper than cedar here because it grows very well in the MS river delta - alluvial flood plains.

I've seen fallen logs of this stuff last for years with no signs of deterioration other than bark loss. I suspect that if you dropped a local cedar and cypress next to each other the cypress would last longer than cedar.

There's another tree that grows around here that is very rot and moisture resistant - black locust? I think people plant it where the ground stays wet and half flooded to dry the hole out.
Locust is incredibly rot resistant. Best fence post material out there.

I hear people are growing more black locust now.
I have been dying to build a deck with it.

Not sure where I would even get it though.
 
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