The power and protection of colour in woodcare

Much is made of colour indoors but, used externally, the use of different shades can create exciting environments, help underpin an organisation’s branding and identity, create a sense of space and leave a beautiful lasting legacy. Sharon Smith, brand manager of premium woodcare brand Sadolin, gives the complete picture on transforming, energising and protecting wood through colour:

Modern formulations mean premium woodcare products can deliver exceptional colour choice to make a positive impact on architectural projects – with the reassurance for specifers of a long lasting finish.

Think about colour in woodcare and the traditional look dominates – namely the usual woodtone shades, such as oak, mahogany and teak.

However, in recent years, the trend has started to move towards a more colourful approach. Modern formulations, attractive finishes and the development of new tinting technology now means a wealth of shades can be selected, to stunning effect.

Inspiring and long lasting protection

When specifiers look at introducing colour outdoors, the main areas to consider are the finish – whether to go for a translucent or opaque look – making the right choice of shade and the formula of the product. The final factor is the preparation of wood, which can make or break a project.

One of the most common queries technical teams receive is clarification on the difference between translucent and opaque finishes in woodcare.

In short, translucent woodcare products enable colour to be introduced, but the natural beauty of the wood to still shine through, with the grain remaining clearly visible. The colour can be the more traditional woodtones, but other shades can also be selected for an eye-catching finish.

A more solid, uniform colour is achieved from opaque finishes. These can vary from subtle pales shades, right through to the darkest hues – and any colour in between and they can be used to help obliterate unsightly, slightly imperfect wood.

The choice of woodcare colours are almost unlimited – particularly with opaque products – and architects guides and colour cards can provide a good starting point to inform specifiers on the wealth of shades and options available. Sample pots offer an effective way of seeing proposed colour ideas in-situ.

Along with the choices in shade and finish, advanced formulations also have a part to play, to ensure the colours specified stay in place for the long term. Premium woodcare products offer the benefits of both acrylic and alkyd technologies, meaning the best of both worlds for specifiers. The use of alkyds offers exceptional penetration and bonding qualities to make the products really absorb well into the wood. This is then complemented by the use of acrylics, which ensures that the look stays in place for the long term, due to their durability and flexibility.

Getting the right look – the power of preparation

The old adage that ‘preparation is everything’ really applies within the field of woodcare. To get the best from colour in terms of its intensity, the final finish and also the longevity of the project, it’s important to get the canvas right.

Poor preparation could potentially cause coatings to fail prematurely, resulting in peeling, flaking and moisture entering the gaps and damaging the timber.

Preparation even extends to new wood. Although new timber may look clean, it usually isn’t, so a very light abrasion is recommended – and it should be made in the direction of the grain, rather than across it.

Dusting off is also important as it ensures the coatings adhere to the surface and not to the dust.

The final step is to degrease or clean the surface, irrespective of whether it’s softwood or a hardwood. Durable timbers such as teak or oak can contain high oil/resin contents or they may contain very high levels of extractives. It is important dirt and grime is removed from the surface prior to coating, otherwise that could cause problems with adhesion.

If the surface has a previous coating system that is in good order, sometimes the requirement is only for a maintenance coat. Premium woodcare products are designed to naturally erode and if the surface is in good order, then all that is required is a simple clean with water and detergent, followed by a rinse off with clean water. Once dry, then the surface is ready. However, if there is uncertainty over what the previous system was, it’s a good idea to lightly abrade the surface in the direction of the grain, before dusting off and cleaning the surface.

If you are looking at a system that is in poor order, then it is not likely to be good enough to put another woodcare product over the top. The best option therefore is to remove the old coating and prepare the wood to create a clean, dry and sound surface.

Before introducing your selected colour, the final steps to consider in the preparation process – and to ensure a successful outcome overall – are the use of wood preservative treatments and woodfillers. A preservative will stop the rot setting in untreated areas, while woodfillers tackle the indentations in wood that could blight the look and feel of the finished project.