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Build Outdoor Projects That Last

Outdoor projects and the harsh elements of Mother Nature have never gotten along. Luckily, there are ways to smooth this relationship. The best defense is to choose a trusty outdoor finish to protect your wood and keep it looking great. Read on to discover handy tips that will help you pick the best finish, ensuring high-quality outdoor projects that will last for years to come.

Choose the Right Wood
When building outdoor projects, most of us think about things like using the right kinds of fasteners, waterproof glue, and durable finishes. But not everybody thinks about using the proper wood.

Before you start building, make sure that you are using a wood that’s up to the task. For help, read this previous edition of Kreg Plus; you’ll learn how to select the right wood to ensure longer-lasting outdoor projects.


Focus on the Finish
Humidity and temperature changes cause outdoor wood to expand and contract more than it would indoors. Sun, moisture, heat, and cold are the “enemies” of outdoor projects. While the right finish can block out the rain and snow, over time these elements will take their toll on outdoor projects. Whether they’re on the patio, deck, or front porch, it is possible to have wood projects outside the home look as good as they do inside the home. It all comes down to finishing.

3.	Types of Finish
Wood finishes for outdoor use can be broken down into three categories: paint, varnish, and oil.

Paint protects wood with a thick barrier, blocking out ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, along with mildew and fungus. Although exterior paint offers great protection for outdoor projects, it doesn’t do much to show off the natural beauty of the wood. If this doesn’t bother you, paint makes a good choice for protecting projects like porch swings, Adirondack chairs, and benches.

Film-building (varnish) finishes are a good option if you’re looking for protection, but still want to enjoy the natural beauty of your wood. Often sold with names like spar varnish, marine varnish, or exterior polyurethane, these finishes build up in layers on top of the wood to form a barrier that keeps moisture out. That makes these finishes similar to interior varnish, but the exterior versions have UV blockers and are more capable of withstanding outdoor extremes.This type of finish will usually last for three to five years. When it does start to wear, reapplying it will probably require sanding off the old finish before applying fresh coats.

Penetrating oil is similar to an interior oil finish, or even a wood stain. Rather than forming a layer on top of your wood, it penetrates into the wood to prevent water from soaking in. Typically sold with names like deck stain, water sealer, or outdoor oil, this finish often has added “water repellants” and UV blockers. Penetrating oils are easy to apply; you simply spray, brush, or roll them on. They tend not to last as long as film-building (varnish) finishes, though. Over time, the oil dries out. Every couple of years, you will need to clean the wood and apply a fresh coat, but you won’t have to remove the old finish.


Finish Color
Choosing a finish color is important, too. The darker the color is, the more protection it will provide from the sun’s harmful UV rays. But, be sure to keep in mind that the darker the color you choose, the more it may mask the natural beauty of your wood grain. Often times, you can find a happy medium that offers good protection and a nice look. For example, cedar looks good with a subtle red or brown tone.

The Right Fasteners
When you’re building outdoor projects with Kreg tools, be sure to use fasteners from Kreg, too. We carry a wide variety of hardware that will help you create the sturdiest outdoor projects possible.


Rust-resistant Blue-Kote™ Screws feature three anti-corrosion layers and provide rust-resistance up to 400% greater than zinc-plated screws.

Kreg Stainless Screws are specially designed for excessive exposure to water, and other exceedingly corrosive environments, such as ACQ-treated lumber.

Kreg Jig® HD Screws are optimized for use with 1½" and larger stock. They feature a Protec-Kote™ finish with three anti-corrosion layers for long-term moisture resistance.


Kreg Jig HD and Kreg Deck Jig Kreg Jig HD Kreg Deck Jig

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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
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2014 August Home Publishing

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