Rating Exterior Finishes:
Prowell’s products are fully exposed to the elements in a way unknown to the wood siding of a house or a front door or a garage door, etc, and consequently expecting them to accept any finish with the same forgiveness and lifeline is leashing yourself to a maintenance schedule every few years that is at odds with nature, and a rather painful recurring expense. We’ll review the various exterior finishing options below, with their advantages and disadvantages.
When, and when not, to Finish:
We do not offer stain samples. Well, perhaps occasionally, if the scope of the commission warrants it.
Single Gate: $630
Two Panels: $800
Six Panels: $2,100
Gate and two Panels: $1,275
Driveway Gate: $1475
*Inquire for pricing on Garden Gates beyond 47″ with and Driveway Gates beyond 12′ overall width.
WOODRX COLOR CHART
WOODRX COLORS ON OUR GATES
(Click the image)
Jorge applies the first of two sprayed coats of WoodRX Ultra to Driveway Gates #27 (Tint: Chestnut)
The first of two eventual coats to Bench #4 (Tint: Teak)
Francisco illustrating a combination of a sprayed application followed by back-brushing. Arbor #19 .(Chestnut)
Prior to the sprayong application, the gates are detailed with a light spray-over to expose blemishes such as gule stains or light scratches.
ECO WOOD TREATMENT is a non toxic wood stain, treatment that chemically reacts to the cedar to create an aged aesthetic. This is a mildly distressed procedure that results in light silvery grey patina that eliminates the normal two-year aging process that ocurrs when frech cedar is exposed to the elements,
As the coloring wears off over the next couple of years, the underlying cedar is gradually exposed and gradually graying itself until the transformation is completed, and unnoticed.
The advantage is an obvious one: You simply do not have to wait two years for the brightly-milled cedar to become a stately silvery gray.
*The process does not involve pigments; there is no finish layering the surface of the cedar. The dilution simply reacts to the tannins within the cedar,
Single Gate: $525
Two Panels: $675
Six Panels: $1,750
Gate and two Panels: $1,050
Driveway Gate: $1250
The same day Eco Wood Treatment was applied at the finishers
Three days exposed to the elements and the pre-weathered finish reaches its darkest patina.
Fence panel style #11 as unfinished cedar.
The same panel illustrating the aging patina from one sprayed coat of Eco Wood.
Leave your products alone to weather and age to an unfettered silvery grey. Their lifeline is far beyond what any warranty can claim and that lifeline will not be extended one day by the application of any finish whatsoever.
In part because of the species of wood and the grades of that species and the age, or maturity of that grade spec’d by Prowell to insure a minimum number of growth rings stipulating the maturity of the tree at the time of harvest.
But moreover, a thorough understanding of wood and joinery and design. Designing a product that mimics the techniques and species employed by the Japanese and Norwegian temples built in the 3rd and 4th century that stand today! If the wood is allowed to freely breath throughout the year, under any conditions, be it Duluth, MN or Ft Meyers, FL, and that wood is the right wood, the application of finishes is as superfluous as fertilizing a lawn.
Be mindful of the maintenance and cost you’re committed to with a finish. All those little grids and pickets refinished by a finishing contractor every few years and be particularly mindful of those finishes that, when ignored, such as paints and marine varnishes, will crack and peel and require scraping and sanding and on and on.
In the spring of 2013 we visited a site featuring Panel Style #1 originally installed in 1996. Allowed to weather with no detrimental affects to the integrity of the product.
No finish, listed below or above, will prolong the life of a Prowell product by a single day.
This is due to both the species and grade of wood spec’d from the mill, as well as the methodology of both the joinery and design that encourages a stress-free environment for dimensional movement.
Yes, we’re repeating ourselves.
Finishing on site
Wood Gates built from even the highest standards of western cedar are not to be confused with decks or house siding or front doors or even garage doors (These have one whole side insulated from the weather, as well as the overhead roof and jambs. Decks and siding planks are fastened to joists or studs every 16″ and exposed on only one face). Prowell’s products are fully exposed to the elements on all six sides. Because our cedar comes from the coastal Northwest, and then inventoried in the shop of coastal Northern California, it will invariably want to breath once it finally leaves the shop and is exposed for the first time to the full climate. Some areas will see more dimensional adjustments than others, such as Florida compared to San Diego.
Prowell’s products are designed to specifically allow the seasonal expansion and contraction of the cedar experienced most dramatically in the first weeks of exposure to the elements. But . . . solid finishes such as paint or solid-body stains or 3-part layered sealants and exterior varnishes will not always cooperate with the wood’s inherent need to acclimate to your specific micro climate. While the cedar is adjusting and breathing during those first weeks, paints and solid stains and marine varnishes will not necessarily stretch with the same pliancy. They may, in 15-20% of the time, even see bubbling and checking and blemished results in the finish.
The solution? If you prefer a painted or solid-body stain finish, it’s best to wait 4+ weeks once your product arrives and has been installed. Allow it to breath, acclimate itself in its full exposure, and then apply your solid finish to a much higher degree of success. If it rains and takes on moisture during that time frame, allow it to dry in the clear weather for several days prior to applying your finish–lest the absorbed moisture becomes trapped by the finish and has no means of escape.
A few notes regarding the application process for exterior finishes.
Although sealing or staining or painting your Prowell product does not prolong the life of the high-grade cedars by a single day, it is often an understandable aesthetic preference.
Excerpted from the Prowell Installation Manuals:
A few tips for those who will be finishing their own products:
When applying your finish, start with one side, brushing the bottom rail with the grain and then the vertical stiles with the grain to avoid the brush strokes over-lapping.(This is particularly important with WoodRx, which is water-based and dries very fast). For all horizontal rails, not allowing the brush stroke to dry before brushing the vertical stile. Do not apply stain to the edges of the pickets or upper pattern on this side or the stain will run down the opposite side and leave run marks penetrating the bare wood before you are able to finish the opposite side. For those with solid lower panels, do not stain the edges of your open slots until the back side is addressed. Once you turn to the other side, you can then apply stain to the picket faces and edges, knowing the run-off will not absorb against the already stained surface. Check, when finished, the direction of your brush stroke to smooth out any over-laps.
Spray finishes: All of the above recommended products can be applied with compressed air sprayers for a more even finish without the risk of runs.
WoodRX sells an accompanying sprayer, available direct from them or through Home Depot.
PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM CERTAIN FINISHES
TOP COAT FINISHES
A typical gate finished with Sikkens 2-part Cetrol-1, and 23-Plus. The top coat shown only four years later has begun to crack and weather.
If not refinished on schedule, the checking and yellowing will only become worse until the process involves scraping, sanding, and stripping.
TOP COAT FINISHES
Here we have a Prowell knock-off of Gate style #93. Identified by the missing Prowell stamp; the placement of the upper slots; and the copper cap on top.
Additionally, the use of an un known 2-part exterior finish with a top sealer coat.
Illustrating what happens to sealer coats if not meticulously maintained on an annual basis, forever.
An example of a product being painted before the wood has fully acclimated to the local climate. This job was in Atlanta, which has a very different climate than the Prowell Shop, therefore resulting in an initial adjustment where the wood swells and shrinks to find the natural stability of Atlanta’s humid environment.
Because paint is not a penetrating finish, it can potentially refuse to stretch with the adjustments of the cedar during the first few weeks on site. The result is a bubbling effect, seen here.
Occurring with enough frequency that we cannot offer paint as a pre-finish option.
Once every few years we get a letter from a concerned homeowner whose gate is host to a blackened discoloring. A fungal bacteria randomly deciding upon the cedar gate as a suitable home. Because there is a heritage among so many species of fungus that associates wood fiber with tasty buffets, the tendancy is not surprising. Eventually, however, these colonies come to realize that the fiber they prefer–fir, pine, poplar–is instead embedded with a genetic tannin oil that to the fungus, is as poisinous as a man-made chemical insecticide. Cedar, redwood, and teak all possess this natural defense mechanism, and in time the fungi spread the word among themselves that that particular gate, this western cedar gate, is best vacated. Left behind is the carnage of decomposed fungal skin that ultimately washes away in the rain. The gate does not suffer any damage to its wood fiber beyond a temporary blemish to its beauty.
The image on the right was was of many our homeowner sent during the year following her gate installation. her efforts to eliminate the problem included a list of off-the-shelf products such as Goo Gone, Hydrogen Peroxide, dish detergent and water, and a 50/50 mixture of Clorox and water. To no avail. Efforts that spanned almost six months and then one day, returning from vacation, the black spots were gone.