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    Chris - 15 / Jul / 2024

    A guide to translucent exterior joinery

    Choosing the right translucent coating for exterior joinery is crucial for balancing aesthetics and durability, with different needs for dimensionally stable and non-dimensionally stable woods. Film-forming coatings provide surface protection but may peel over time, while non-film-forming coatings penetrate the wood, offering flexible and breathable protection that enhances the wood's natural beauty and longevity.

    A guide to translucent exterior joinery
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    Choosing the Perfect Finish: A Guide to Translucent Coatings for Exterior Joinery

    Translucent coatings for exterior joinery can sometimes lead to a bit of a debate. However, what is obvious is that choosing the correct coating is essential for enhancing both aesthetics and durability of wood. Exterior joinery comprises of different elements requiring specific protection against environmental factors. This blog explains the difference between 'dimensionally stable joinery', made from woods like sapele or engineered products like Accoya, and 'non-dimensionally stable joinery', often made from pine or fir. Each has its typical usage outside and this has an impact on which coating type to use.

    It's also important to understand the difference between film-forming and non-film-forming coatings. Film-forming coatings, like paints, create a protective surface layer making paint suitable for windows and doors, however when used for cladding this type of paint can crack or peel when exposed to excess moisture. On the other hand, non-film-forming coatings, such as oils and stains, penetrate the wood, providing internal protection and allowing the wood to breathe and move naturally, but this is certainly not what you want with windows and doors as they will jam and warp. 

    The final thing to consider is the pigment load in coatings; this is crucial for both visual appeal and functional protection. Pigments enhance wood colour and protect against UV radiation, preventing fading and damage. You should never use a completely translucent finish; without pigments in the coating, the system will fail very quickly – despite having UV blockers. This blog will explore these factors to help you choose the right coatings for your exterior joinery, ensuring lasting beauty and durability.

     

    Dimensional Stability in Joinery: Understanding the Differences

    When it comes to wood joinery, the terms "dimensionally stable" and "non-dimensionally stable" refer to how much a piece of wood changes in size and shape due to environmental factors such as moisture and temperature. Understanding the differences between these types of joinery is crucial for selecting the right materials and construction methods for your woodworking projects.

    Dimensionally Stable Joinery

    Dimensionally stable joinery refers to wood and wood products that maintain their dimensions relatively well under varying environmental conditions. This stability is a result of several factors:

    • Material Selection: Certain types of wood, such as cedar, mahogany, and teak, are naturally more stable due to their lower tendency to absorb and lose moisture. Engineered wood products like Accoya and Tricoya are also designed to be more dimensionally stable.
    • Kiln Drying: Wood that has been properly kiln-dried has a reduced moisture content, which minimizes expansion and contraction.
    • Construction Techniques: Joinery techniques that accommodate wood movement, such as floating panels in frames and the use of mechanical fasteners that allow slight movement, contribute to dimensional stability.

    Applications and Benefits

    • Precision Fit: Dimensionally stable wood is crucial for applications where precise fits are necessary, such as in windows and doors.
    • Durability: Stability enhances the longevity of the joinery, as the wood is less likely to warp, crack, or split over time.
    • Consistency: Provides a consistent appearance and performance, which is vital for high-quality woodworking projects.

    Typical uses

    Windows, doors and facades

    Most suitable paint

    The Hydrolux system is perfect for windows and doors because it provides excellent durability and weather resistance, ensuring long-lasting protection against the elements. Additionally, its quick-drying properties and low VOC content make it an environmentally friendly choice that facilitates efficient application and reduces downtime.

    Non-Dimensionally Stable Joinery

    Non-dimensionally stable joinery refers to wood that is more susceptible to changes in size and shape due to environmental factors. This instability can be influenced by several aspects:

    • Wood Species: Some woods, like pine and fir, are more prone to absorbing and releasing moisture, leading to greater dimensional changes.
    • Improper Drying: Wood that has not been adequately dried or has been exposed to varying moisture levels after drying can be highly unstable.
    • Poor Construction Techniques: Joinery methods that do not account for wood movement, such as rigid gluing of large panels, can exacerbate instability.

    Challenges and Considerations

    • Warping and Cracking: Non-dimensionally stable wood is more likely to warp, crack, or split, especially when exposed to changes in humidity and temperature.
    • Fit and Finish Issues: Components may not fit together as precisely, leading to gaps or misalignments over time.
    • Maintenance: Requires more frequent maintenance and adjustments to address the effects of wood movement.

    Typical uses

    Cladding, garden furniture, benches, gates etc. would all be examples of non-dimensionally stable joinery. Water will ingress into the timber from all sides and cause the wood to move. This is inevitable and inherent in the design. As a paint manufacturer, when you cannot prevent the water from entering the timber, designing products that enable the water to escape quickly becomes important.

    Most suitable paint

    Ankolux Aqua system is ideal for cladding, benches, and gates because it offers superior UV resistance and weatherproofing, ensuring these outdoor surfaces remain protected and visually appealing over time. Additionally, its environmentally friendly, water-based formulation provides excellent adhesion and durability, making it a sustainable and reliable choice for various exterior applications.

    Film-Forming Water-Based Coatings

    Film-forming water-based coatings create a protective layer on the surface of the wood, acting as a barrier against moisture, UV radiation, and physical wear. These coatings, which include paints and varnishes, are ideal for applications where a durable, hard finish is needed, such as windows, doors, and trim. They offer excellent resistance to weathering and can significantly extend the life of exterior joinery by preventing water ingress and providing UV protection.

    However, film-forming coatings have some drawbacks. They can crack or peel over time, especially if the underlying wood expands and contracts due to moisture fluctuations. This can lead to maintenance challenges, as peeling paint can expose the wood to elements, resulting in rot and further damage. Proper surface preparation and application are essential to maximize the longevity and performance of film-forming coatings.

    Non-Film-Forming Water-Based Coatings

    Non-film-forming water-based coatings, such as oils and stains, penetrate the wood instead of sitting on the surface. This type of coating allows the wood to breathe and move naturally, accommodating the expansion and contraction that occurs with changes in moisture and temperature. Non-film-forming coatings are particularly well-suited for non-dimensionally stable joinery, such as cladding and decking, where flexibility is crucial to prevent cracking and peeling.

    These coatings enhance the wood's natural beauty by highlighting its grain and texture while providing internal protection against moisture and UV damage. Although they might require more frequent reapplication compared to film-forming coatings, they are generally easier to maintain. Non-film-forming coatings can be refreshed without extensive surface preparation, making them a practical choice for many exterior wood applications.

    The Importance of Pigment in Translucent Water-Borne Coatings

    Pigments play a crucial role in the formulation of translucent water-borne coatings, contributing to both aesthetic and functional properties. While these coatings aim to showcase the natural beauty of wood by allowing the grain to be visible, pigments are still essential for several reasons.

    UV Protection and colour enhancement

    One of the primary functions of pigment in translucent water-borne coatings is to provide protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays from the sun can cause significant damage to wood, including fading, discoloration, and degradation of the wood fibers. Pigments absorb and block these harmful rays, preventing them from penetrating the wood and causing damage. This protection is vital for maintaining the longevity and appearance of exterior joinery, which is constantly exposed to the elements.

    Even in translucent coatings, pigments are used to enhance the wood's natural color and provide a more uniform appearance. They can enrich the wood's tones, giving it a more vibrant and aesthetically pleasing look. This enhancement helps in highlighting the natural grain and texture, making the wood appear more attractive and finished. The use of pigments allows for a range of color options while still preserving the transparency that reveals the wood’s innate beauty.

    Consistency, uniformity and improved durability

    Pigments ensure consistency and uniformity in the finish of translucent coatings. Natural wood can have variations in color and grain patterns, and pigments help to even out these differences. This uniformity is particularly important for large surfaces or multiple pieces of joinery that need to match in appearance. By providing a more consistent look, pigments enhance the overall visual appeal of the coated wood.

    Pigments contribute to the overall durability of the coating. They improve the film's mechanical properties, making it more resistant to wear and tear. This added durability is essential for exterior applications where the coating needs to withstand harsh weather conditions, physical abrasion, and other environmental factors.

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