Durability in Wood Finishes
Making sure our finishing efforts are long lasting and affordable.
¶ The use to which the wood is put absolutely determines what constitutes a serviceable, durable finish. Wood trim which is never touched by human hands, never rubbed with elbows, never sat upon, scuffed with feet or ground by heels is often durably finished by no more treatment than stain, filler and wax or oil coats. Under other conditions of service stain, shellac and wax are quite enough. But when it comes to floors nothing short of stain, filler, shellac and three coats of varnish, waxed to finish, can be considered really durably and economically finished,and this in spite of common practice to the contrary which puts on only two coats of varnish. The durability of finish must include not only the preservation of color but also the preservation of the wood from damage by moisture.
¶ In the matter of cost the wood finisher is in position to and does give customers just what they pay for. By cutting down the number of finishing operations and coats he cuts down the cost. In the excitement of price competition, however, he ought not to lose sight of the technical limitations, of the fact that a certain number of operations are necessary to produce clear colors, brilliancy and durability. Then the protective coatings of varnish, wax, paint or enamel on top of the color and surfacing coats cannot protect the color from fading or abrasion and the wood from moisture unless adequate in number and quality of material.
¶ To express this thought in another way, we may say that a schedule of working operations which reads, "stain, fill and wax", cannot possibly be as durable on some surfaces as one which reads, "stain, fill, shellac, varnish and wax". But the first schedule is much cheaper and may be adequate for a surface which is well protected and which is not subject to wear by abrasion, washing, etc. It all comes down to a question of what is the minimum number of coats and operations for the purpose of decoration and of durability for the particular kind of wood trim at hand.
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