Our front door has an oak front stoop that I have tried every
possible wood stain and polyurethane sealer on the market. No matter
what I use it starts cracking very spring and I have to sand it down
and do it all over again.
Does anyone have a product that can stain and seal oak so this is
Sealer and stain affect only the outer millimeter or two of the
timber. It cracks because winter dryness and summer humidity
penetrate throughout its thickness. If you want to use a timber
threshhold this will recur unless you find some way of impregnating
the timber with a resin (that solidifies in place, as formerly used
for impregnated bamboo fishing rods. Or you could choose a
threshhold timber with a high natural insensitivity to changing
humidity, e.g. bamboo.)
How DID polyurethane become so doggone popular? I used it myself in
on my dining room parquet floor and it only lasted a few years in the
heavily traveled parts. At the time, I thought I should have used
varnish of some sort.
"polyurethane varnish" has the same problems.
"Phenolic Varnish" has other problems, and "alkyd" and "natural"
varnishes have their own too. Polyurethane and Phenolic etc refer to
the resin used to form the varnish film and are the two most popular,
although not the ONLY.
SPAR varnish is not necessarily the right product to use here either,
because real "Spar" varnish is designed to stay flexible (on marine
spars and masts, which are subject to bending that cracks normal
varnishes) - and is NOT necessarily superior in wear or UV resistance.
Simply put, it cornered the market based on far better performance in
virtually every paint and varnish category.
Odds are you simply brushed on a couple of light coats of polyurethane
varnish (yes, polyurethane is varnish by definition). If you had
followed the directions on the container you would have found
recommendations for many more coats with sanding and wiping in
between, for a highly durable finish. Your poor results are not the
fault of the product, but insufficient and/or improper application.
Non-newsgroup-readers, my friends, should start HERE, below:
Which btw, is what everyone used before polyurethane was invented, and
which looked nice.
For the record, the places where the polyurethane was worn off because
of foot traffic could be recoated without doing the whole room, and
there was no evidence of where the boundary was.
OTOH, the instructions said to wait so long and then rough up the
first coat with steel wool, so the second coat would stick. I waited
the prescribed time and used a floor buffer with a 20" steel wool pad,
and little pieces of the steel wool got stuck in the still soft first
coat. To get back to where I was, I would have had to let it dry for
another day or two (since plainly it wasn't dry then) and scrape
(sand) the floor again. I didn't want to that, and I had improved the
floor from how the previous pig tenant had left it, so I just
polyurethaned over the first coat, with little bits of steel wool
stuck in the probably still soft first coat. When I was done, it was
much better than the previous art student/pig had left it, but it was
not the Amberson or Pratt mansion ballroom like I had planned.
Non-newsgroup-readers START HERE:
When I moved to a house, it had wall-to-wall carpeting with, I'm sure,
just plywood underneath, and I actually like the carpeting better than
hardwood or parquet, but I wish I had gotten my refinishing right,
wish I had waited longer than the directiosn said for the second coat,
in my apartment in Brooklyn, since I lived there 10 years after I
scraped (sanded) the floor in the dining room. (It was a 6 room, 2
1/2 bathroom apartment, with a hall big enough to be another room, and
even the half bath had a shower (maybe that makes it a 3/4 bath). IIRC
the apartment was 1400 square feet. Cedar closet, potato and onion
bin in the outside wall, built-in ironing boards (large and small),
bathrooms with windows, bathtubs so big I could float in them without
touching the bottom or sides (after I raised the overflow level, which
I was careful to put back to normal before I moved out), cedar closet,
dumbwaiter, but no longer anyone in the basement to take deliveries
(no concierge), no more elevator operators, no more switchboard
operator in the lobby, replaced by mailboxes for each apartment, built
into the wall.
There was a gas dryer in the basement but not a tumble dryer. Sheets
and shirts, pants, etc. could be hung from metal rods inside the
dryer, which was 7 feet high and 6 feet+ deep and each drawer was
about 6 inches wide, and had no sides, just rods inside, and natural
gas heated air was blown or more likely just rose from the burner near
the floor across the sheets and other clothes. When these were used,
there was always a concierge in the basement to makes sure the drying
clothes didn't get too dry or too hot.
Six-story elevator buildings. The 10 apartments that faced the avenue
(as opposed to the service street in the back) had maid's rooms with
their own full bathrooms, except on the first floor where they were
designed to be doctors' offices, etc. and also had entrances straight
to the outside, without going through the lobby and hall. I guess
maybe the people who had no live-in maids could go to the basement and
do their own drying, or maybe they were expected to let the concierge
do it, or hire a maid for the day. I think there were washtubs too.
Built in 1930, with 49 apartments, 6 floors, the building looked from
the sky like HI (with no serifs on the letters) with a
first-floor-only hall between the H and I. H and I were almost two
separate buildings, and the building as a whole was a block deep.
The Vice President of Standard Brands, McGonigal (sp?), used to live
in my apartment but left 10 or 20 years before I got there in 1972.
Dumont, the president of Dumont Television (a maker of fine
televisions) and the Dumont Television Network, and the inventor of
the image orthicon tube (the counterpart to the picture tube. The
picture tube in a tv takes the current and makes a picture on the
screen. The image orthicon tube takes light from what is being viewed
by the lens of the tv camera, and converts it to the electrical signal
which represents the picture). Dumont lived in the apartment above
mine, but also left 10 or 20 years before I got there, and instead
there was Miss Tieke, a woman in her 80's whose apartment was
beautiful, with a grandfather clock whose chimes she turned off every
night before she went to bed.
Miss Tieke and others from that period didn't have security deposits
on deposit with the landlord. These were people who paid their bills
and everyone knew it. She was in her 80's and eventually moved to an
old age home.
In the back was Mesdames (or Misses or maybe one of each) Hussey and
Van Dyne. I thought they were roommates but eventually I found out
that one was the nurse and hired companion for the other. They
eventually both got old and moved together to an old age home in
Flushing, Queens, near Archie Bunker.
And the Rutlidge sisters.
49 apartments total. I didn't meet everyone the first few years I was
there (out of 11), so some of the most interesting tenants moved out
before I could meet them.
Too late now but every brand of poly I've used says to sand *IF* more than
"X" time has passed. I don't like to sand so I apply subsequent coats as
soon as the previous is reasonably dry; in the case of floors, "reasonably"
is 2-4 hours depending on ambient temperature and humidity... as soon as I
can walk on it and not stick.
This would have been 1973. Maybe they sometimes had bad directions
back then??? I read the directions several times, including again
after I was unhappy. I still might have misread them, but I don't
This is like a couple other things that happened long ago. After 40
years I no longer have a direct recollection of all that happened. Now
I tend to remember what my memory of it was, and it's too late to get
past that level back to the original memory.
Now you know why old surviving stoops are made of stone!
There will not be any finish you can put on a stoop that will stand up
to the weather exposure and foot traffic that a stoop will get. There are
products that have UV inhibitors in them to slow down UV deterioration of
the finished wood. There are also marine products like spar varnishes but
they are not intended to be walked upon.
Stain will not prevent cracking of the finish although it may make the
stoop look nicer by coloring it.
I suggest that you use something that can be easily repaired each year
or two. Keep in mind that boats with film finishes are typically scrapped
down every few years and refinished. This is not an easy or pleasant
experience. You might consider using a non-film finish. This will make the
wood look nice and provide some protection for the wood itself. There are a
number of products on the market and they are considered semi-transparent.
You can still see the grain of the wood but they are not so transparent as
to look like varnish. I would stay away from an epoxy finish since those
are very hard to repair or strip once damaged.
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