What finish for an oak porch swing?

I have an unfinished oak porch swing that I'd like to finish.
It will be hanging in a porch that only gets late afternoon sun.
I don't think I really need to stain it. I'm just looking for something to protect the wood and keep it looking good. Minimal work applying the finish would be a major plus.
Many thanks for any suggestions.
D.D.
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With a spar urethane, you would have cracking and flaking of the finish in a year or two requiring sanding and refinishing. I would use a premium deck finish that is also for outdoor furniture. It too will require an occasional reapplication, but there is no sanding and the application is easier than urethane.
Check out http://www.nam.sikkens.com/product.cfm?product_id#&product_category Þck In an independent laboratory test of deck finishes, Sikkens came out at the top.
Preston

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Preston Andreas wrote:

Bigtime. I used that minwhacks spar urethane stuff on a mystery wood park bench. Looked really beautiful. For about two years...
I sanded it out, but did not completely strip it. I roughed up the finish a bit with various grades of steel wool and built up a new finish one thin coat at a time over a couple of weeks until I had poly'ed the hell out of it.
Looked really beautiful. For about two years...
Now it looks like utter hell. Cracking, flaking, and lots of discoloration.
I think I'm going to sand it and paint it, or else strip it entirely and throw some Thompson's on it periodically.
After what I've been through trying to keep this bench looking like new, I think if I had an oak swing I'd be tempted to do absolutely nothing to it at all. I have a glider with oak slats that's starting to get quite a lot of lichen building up on it, but it still holds weight after 15 years of raw exposure to the elements. I expect I'll have to rebuild it soon, but 15 years is not unreasonable. Dead trees outside are meant to rot after all. That's where dirt comes from.
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Silvan,
Two points - from your OWN words, 1} "spar urethane" 2} "really looked beautiful . . . for about two years" 2a} "poly'ed the hell out of it"
A good quality Varnish is NOT a urethane. While it may be a polymer of 'modern' materials rather than the 'traditional' resins, it is STILL a VARNISH. Typically, they come it two 'styles' - WITH UV additives for outdoor use, and WITHOUT for indoor applications. The 'traditional' SPAR varnish had natural UV protection.
Any varnish used in an outdoor application needs to be 'freshened' periodically. When wooden boats were in their heyday, the 'workboat' was almost always painted, while the 'yachtsman' had a crew to not only work the boat, but maintain it. Varnishing the 'brightwork' was probably an almost continuous 'cycle'
Today's boat owner, wooden or fiberglass with a lot of 'fancy trim', may typically look at this as a 'Rite of Spring'; something to be done prior to the seasonal launching. {there are a lot of other tricks, covers, etc. that he may go through . . . have about 3 hours to discuss it ??}. This chore may be annual, or something done less frequently, depending on the 'sun load' from the location.
Bear in mind, a top quality 'varnish job' has a MINIMUM of 6 coats. It is unconsciously 'inspected' by eye {and by touch} almost every time you go aboard. Some high-end, custom-built yachts may have 12 coats. Other than the obvious 'depth' to the finish, this also makes 'freshening' prep much easier. Rather than a complete stripping down to bare wood, a light sanding with 220 paper followed by a wipe down with mineral spirits is all that is needed. A thin coat of slightly thinned varnish completes the job. Another technique is to LIGHTLY draw a scraper over the surface. A long curl of old varnish *should* peel right off.
The real key to all this is to do the job BEFORE the surface reaches the, ". . . cracked, yellowed-lined, completely deteriorated . . ." stage.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop

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Thanks for the note but... I have used a Spar varnish for an out door bench swing that set out in direct sunlight in Houston TX... So it did get quite hot but not sticky. On a side note though, I did put on thin coats and oddly the flying wasps ate the finish off the wood.... Go figure. I then painted the darn thing.
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Note he did say "if indeed a spar varnish". Spar varnish was devoloped for spars and masts. Since they bend and flex a lot, spar varnish is quite flexible. Sice not a lot of people have wooden sailing ships these days, most manufacturers have changed the formulation so what is said to be spar varnish is actually regular varnish.

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Thanks for all the responses, everyone.
Right now the porch swing is hanging unfinished. In the future I'll consider painting it or trying the deck finish.
D.D.
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