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Well my first major project order I have been waiting on was cancelled so I got annoyed and threw together an octagon picnic table. First thing I've built and it turned out great other than the lumber I had to use ( I ordered it as pick up and had to make best with what they gave me). I didn't want to use treated lumber and just used your standard box store lumber mix of pine/fir/ect. I have it all done and sanded down but need some good advice on what exactly to use to seal it properly.

I've looked around online and there are tons of people swearing by certain products but I figured I'd come here for advice. Right now I was looking at getting a marine varnish but read it might get sticky if its in the heat, not sure if that is true or not. What is everyone's opinions on the best way to properly go about sealing the table up and the process in doing it? I plan on putting it on the stone patio I made if that matters at all.
 

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Hey, Eric; what's the year round climate like where you are?
Here it's warm and dry for July and August, and rains a lot the rest of the year. Nothing works as advertised. I'd mentioned before that I had this conversation with our Parks Maintenance guys.
They tell me that they've tried everything on the market on their park benches and tables, and nothing lasts longer than about three years. :(
 

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Hey, Eric; what's the year round climate like where you are?
Here it's warm and dry for July and August, and rains a lot the rest of the year. Nothing works as advertised. I'd mentioned before that I had this conversation with our Parks Maintenance guys.
They tell me that they've tried everything on the market on their park benches and tables, and nothing lasts longer than about three years. :(
I live in Western, NY about 2 hours from Buffalo. Generally summer is about 3 months. It is fairly dry and generally 75 degrees would be the average. . Spring lasts about a month and a half-2 months with the other months being a mix of bordering seasons with winter which is pretty cold.

Our climate is mostly dry, with some heavy cloud bursts, and extremely hot for 3 months of the year. No wood looks good after 3 years. Even the plain board fence we have has to be treated every other year.

Go for what you like, and be prepared to do it again next winter.
The table will be under a bunch of Maple Trees so it won't be in direct sun. Have you guys ever tried using the Marine varnish?
 

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I recently built an outdoor bench to sit on from time to time. Minwax advised their gel stain to suit and then 4 coats of their Helsman. I live in southern Missouri. I'm sure you will get lots of opinions.
 
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I find it hard to believe that marine varnish would melt in the sun. Lets face it, a boat is in the sun every day of its life. Can you imaging people using a product that stuck to their feet and bodies everytime the walked across or laid down on a deck?

The only way I can picture that happening would be for the varnish to be applied way too thick in the first place.
 

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I built a picnic table & sideboard out of pine; applied some penetrating oil stain when it was done. Worked just fine. When we moved 3 years later, I was asked to paint the set to match our patio, so it went gray with latex. Paint got re-applied as needed, and the set lasted 20 years in Southern California.

Treated lumber? Marine varnish? Waterproofing? HA!
 

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Right now I was looking at getting a marine varnish but read it might get sticky if its in the heat, not sure if that is true or not. What is everyone's opinions on the best way to properly go about sealing the table up and the process in doing it? I plan on putting it on the stone patio I made if that matters at all.
I honestly doubt there is a way to get any sort of perfect long lasting finish on any outside wood.

But from my years of experience in the boat building and repair business, I can tell you that varnish will not get "sticky" in hot weather. I don't know who came up with that one.

Like moist finishes, marine spar varnish needs an essentially perfect surface to work its' best. Then you need to put 7 coats on the wood...yes 7. That's just for the first time to give it a good build up.

Then after that you should add a coat every year after a light sanding.

Another excellent alternative is Cetol, also used in the marine environment. We usually use Cetol on Teak and it has a slight yellowing effect.

Sun is the enemy of any wood finish, so if you are in shade most of the time I think you can expect success with either of the above. The trouble is that it is a long and time consuming process.

On many outside cedar decks - I suppose in a way similar to your table - I have used the Danish oil. However, it doesn't last anywhere near as long as the manufacturers claim and is hard to keep clean once it gets dirty. Varnish or Cetol makes for a harder, more durable surface finish than does the oil.

I doubt there is any one perfect answer to your prayers.
 

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"...quality house paint"
-Herb

Are you talking pre latex era? The old Linseed oil based stuff? The stuff that was better'n Kevlar...
Man, you couldn't get that stuff off if you wanted to.

'Better Living Through Chemistry' or something. ;)
 

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"...quality house paint"
-Herb

Are you talking pre latex era? The old Linseed oil based stuff? The stuff that was better'n Kevlar...
Man, you couldn't get that stuff off if you wanted to.

'Better Living Through Chemistry' or something. ;)
Yeah, probably banned now a days. it took a good primer underneath to keep from blistering and peeling in the hot sun.

Herb
 

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Recently, I modified a spool that once held electrical cable. We added boards to the top of one end to make a round table 32 inches wide. I sprayed Thompson's Water Seal using a garden sprayer. That stuff just makes the water stand on top in bubbles. If need be, I can spray it again later as needed.
 

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I think they changed the formulation a few years back, Mike. I seem to remember there being an issue with one or more of the ingredients. Maybe solvent?
Perhaps someone remembers?
 

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I think they changed the formulation a few years back, Mike. I seem to remember there being an issue with one or more of the ingredients. Maybe solvent?
Perhaps someone remembers?
I used to love that stuff but I don't think it works as good any more. It's water-based now - wasn't it an oil before? Or is there different kinds of it available?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well I only sanded the top of the table and the seats I am curious how poor it will look without sanding some of the more visible parts of it and staining it. I hit it with an orbital sander with 150, and again with 220 sand paper. Other than knots and a few spots where the grains are separating a little its extremely smooth. I bought Minwax Penetrating Stain (Natural) and Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. I guess we'll see how it goes. I've already had a few people ask about them so I think if I start building them for other people I might spend the little extra and use treated lumber, it'll probably off set the cost and time of staining and sealing everything. If I remember I'll post some pictures up before I start staining.
 

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Treated lumber also needs a sealer over it otherwise it will degrade and lose its effectiveness. The old stuff, CCA, was fairly toxic and prolonged skin contact wasn't recommended. The new stuff, ACQ, is supposed to be much less toxic but I don't know if you are still supposed to avoid prolonged contact with it. To be safe I would still coat it with something.
 
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