I jetsetted down to the fairest Cape over the weekend, and as we started too decent for the landing the harsh reality of the extended drought became crystal clear. Dry river-beds traversing brown mountains, which is hugging empty farm dams. It’s a totally different landscape to the one most South Africans are used to when we visit Cape Town. Cape Town has a challenge in how they are going to deal with #DayZero. Finger pointing and blaming somebody else is not going to fill the taps, but I am off my point now.
Driving with my rent-o-car, which was the size of a shoebox, up the coast towards Hermanus, I came to realise just how different Capetonians are to folks from the rest of South Africa. Firstly, they drive differently to the rest of us. They are quite comfortable in their old Land Rovers, which they obviously cannot fix or replace because the cost of living is a little higher down there. I cannot confirm, but I think they have a different set of rules when it comes to road usage. They are not wrong, they just drive different, and they get to where they want to be.
Secondly, Capetonians have a different dress sense to people from the mainland. Slops and jeans to a fancy restaurant is fine. Wearing your grandfather’s best Sunday hat to the beach is cool. Again, maybe recycling clothes is a way to beat the cost of living in Cape Town. I don’t think they dress wrong, they just dress differently.
Lastly, they speak differently to how I was taught at school. A different Afrikaans and a different English, not wrong, just different, and very difficult to understand.
Its clear we are all different, raised differently, and different ways of doing things, and this brings me to how we treat and seal timber. Being in the timber and hardware industry for most of my adult live I have been asked what the best product to seal timber with on many occasions, and the answer is almost certain to be different in each situation.
A few things to be cognisant of when getting the right product for your timber:
- The type of timber that you want to seal, a hardwood like saligna, of a softwood like pine. Not all sealants are suited for hardwoods.
- Has your timber been treated or sealed before, and if it has, with what? Different products, oil-based or water-based products will not sit on top of each other, and thus your timber will have to be cleaned and sanded down to get the full protection of the new sealer.
- Do you want a gloss finish or a matt finish? Having a colour pigment in your sealer will help protect against the elements, so consider not using just a clear sealer.
- Is your timber inside or outside, and how long can you wait for the sealant to dry?
Different sealant brands can give you a product for each of the points above. Each manufacturer has datasheets the length of N2 down to Cape Town, and as difficult to understand as the driving skills of Cape Town’s locals, but if you can answer some of the questions above, your choice will be narrowed down and the decision much easier.
At the end, I think the preparation at the beginning of the process is the most important. The right product will not work if the preparation has not been done correctly. Sand down old sealants and try and get to raw timber. Some water-based sealants disintegrate over time, and thus much less sanding is needed. Remember when sealing your timber, especially new timber, to seal all the sides, not just the front facing areas. For example when resealing a garage door, make sure you paint it on the inside also, and a normal house door needs to be sealed on all six sides. The same is true for new decking, all six sides needs to be sealed, and is easier to do before you install the deck. If you have an exciting deck, don’t just try seal the top, try and get to the bottom also.
Two coats is better than one, and three is better and two. Only apply the second and third coats when the previous one is dry. A light sand after each coat will give you a glossier finish. If your timber is exposed to the elements, a reseal every year is recommended.
So whether you choose a water-based product or a polyurethane-based product, Silkwood, Gripseal or Woodoc, be sure to read the instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer on the tin. Each product is different, with different characteristics, different applications and uses, but used correctly and applied correctly, they will enhance your timber and protect it for years to come.