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Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • How to Repair Peeled Spots

    We occasionally get calls about repairing spots of finish that have peeled from logs, handrails, etc. In most cases the peeling is associated with checks or small fissures that have opened up after the finish was first applied. When this occurs rain water soaks into the bare wood on either side of the check and when the sun beats on the area the water turns to vapor which has enough force to push the finish right off of the surface. If the peeling is limited to a few small areas, touching them up is not very difficult.

    Before we get started on the best way to perform the repairs there is one thing we need to cover. If you have leftover products that's over two years old you need to obtain enough fresh stain and topcoat to accomplish the repairs. Using old product is risky and unnecessary. Give us a call and we'll see if there is anything we can do to help.

    Following are the recommended procedures for touching up peeled areas:

    1. Sand the peeled areas with 60 to 80 grit sandpaper. Do not use a finer grit. We want the stain to have something to grab onto. Be sure to sand off any surrounding stain film that looks like it may have lost its adhesion.


    2. If it's just a few small areas wipe down the sanded spots with a damp rag. For larger spots or multiple areas on a wall it's best to wash the entire wall with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution. Allow the wall to dry.

    3. If the peeling is associated with checks that 1/4" or more wide, seal them with Check Mate 2 after sanding and cleaning but before staining. This will help make the Check Mate 2 less visible.

    4. Using a rag not a brush, apply one or two coats of stain to the bare wood. You want to apply enough stain to match the color of the surrounding wood. Since the coarse sanded area may be more absorbent than the original surface one coat of stain may be sufficient to match what's already there. Using a rag helps avoid lap marks and gets some stain down into any unsealed checks as well as small cracks and fissures.

    Stain top coat

    Once the stain has been applied and the color matches the surrounding wood, one or two coats of Advance Topcoat can be applied with a brush or rag. Lap marks are not much of a concern since the Advance is clear and colorless.

  • Peeling Issues on Logs and Siding

    While we call our pigmented finishes "stains" in reality they behave more like water-based paints than they do like traditional oil-based stains. The word stain itself implies that the wood fibers become "stained" with the pigments contained in the products whereas water-based finishes form a film that covers the wood fibers without actually coloring or "staining" them. If water gets behind the film there is a chance for the finish to blister, lose its adhesion and peel off. Most people seem to understand and accept that a "stain" can a behave in the same manner. This not only applies to water-based products like Lifeline but can also happen with oil-based finishes if the surface is not properly prepared or the finish is not correctly applied.

    Most peeling issues are associated with finishes on new logs or new log siding. When the finish is first applied the surface of the logs or siding is intact [Figure 1]. Later on fissures and checks may develop especially on the sunny walls, which allow rain water to get into the wood behind the finish[Figure 2]. Gravity plays a role in this since most peeling occurs below the checks and fissures. When the sun comes out and beats on the wall the water turns to water vapor and pushes the finish right off the surface [Figure 3].

    Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

    New logs or siding. Checks and fissures have Sunlight heats up the water

    Finish has been opened exposing bare turning it to water vapor

    applied to the wood to water which pushes the finish

    surface but checks and penetration. off the surface on its way

    fissures have not out of the wood.

    yet developed.

    Two additional factors play a role in the susceptibility of a finish to peeling. The first is vapor permeability. The more vapor permeable a finish is the less likely it is that it will peel. However even vapor permeable finishes like Lifeline can peel when applied too thickly or if too many coats of finish are applied. That's why we recommend thin coats of finish and maintenance coats of Advance topcoat only as needed! It is much more important to keep the surface clean than it is to apply an additional coat of topcoat every two or three years. Every coat that is applied will further reduce the vapor permeability to the point where water vapor can no longer escape from the wood without the risk of pushing some of the finish off.

    Surface preparation will also contribute to peeling issues if something like bleach was used to clean the wood or if the surface was sanded too smooth before application. The presence of mill glaze, dirt, sanding dust, or other contaminates may also prevent adequate adhesion of the finish to the wood. Proper adhesion of the first coat of finish will not be attained if the application is made to wet or damp wood.

    Once the checks and fissures have opened and a new coat of finish is applied, peeling rarely becomes an issue. That's because during the application process the finish now has an opportunity to get into them forming a water resistant barrier between the surface of the cracks and the bare wood [Figure 4]. One of the reasons for back-brushing is to work the finish into the cracks and fissures thus preventing water penetration into the wood. But if the wall has been recently washed, make sure that there is no water remaining in the checks and fissures and the wood around them is absolutely dry before you apply the first coat of finish.

    Figure 4

    Finish applied after the checks

    and fissures have formed

    prevents water from

    penetrating into the wood.

    Some factors that can contribute to peeling include:

    Surface improperly prepared Contaminates like oil or wax Mill glaze Sanding dust Sanded too smooth Inappropriate products used Bleach solutions Caustic Strippers High pH cleaners Inadequate rinsing Application errors Spraying without back-brushing Product applied too thick Application at too high or too low a temperature Product applied to wet or damp wood Freshly opened fissures/checks Exposed to rain and direct sunlight

    For information about repairs, see "Repairing Peeled Spots".

  • How to Remove Existing Finishes

    For the best performance and longest lasting beauty LIFELINE finishes should only be applied to bare wood surfaces or an existing LIFELINE finish that is still in good condition. To remove an existing finish there are basically three options, pressure washing along with a chemical finish remover, media blasting and sanding.

    Media Blasting

    Crushed recycled glass blasting media is an option, however we advise do-it-yourself homeowners to use the chemical finish removers along with pressure washing because the process can easily accomplished by an average homeowner and since it is less susceptible to surface damage. Blasting can make an attractive finished surface when done properly. When performed by an experienced professional, media blasting can effectively and efficiently remove the most stubborn existing finish. We do recommend that you first inspect a home that has been media blasted before making your final decision about which method of finish/stain you want to use.

    Media blasting consists of using corncob grit, walnut shells, glass beads, baking soda, dry ice or recycled crushed glass to abrade the finish off the wood. We prefer corncob grit (ground of corn cobs) since it is very efficient, relatively inexpensive, and safer for the environment.

    Media blasting with corn grit

    How to remove existing finish pic1 media blasting w corn grit

    Once a home has been media blasted there are two steps that are often overlooked but need to be followed:

    Blow off as much dust and debris as possible using compressed air. Wash the wall down with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution no more than four days prior to staining. It is not necessary to use a pressure washer, a garden hose will do. Clean from the bottom up and rinse from the top dawn. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before applying a color coat or Prelude Clear Wood Primer. This removes all of those loose wood fibers and dust that may still be remaining on the surface and ensures better adhesion of the finish to the wood.


    Sanding can effectively remove an existing finish but it is time consuming and a lot of work. The use of sanding disks rather than sandpaper can save you both time and money but you need to be careful not to create swirl marks in the wood. When sanding exterior surfaces never use anything finer than 80 grit sandpaper or coarse sanding disks.

    Water-based film forming finishes require some wood texture for good adhesion, especially on exterior surfaces. Osborn Buffing Brushes work great for removing raised wood fibers (feathers) that may have resulted from aggressive pressure washing but they are not suitable for removing finishes.

    A sanded wall is not clean! Always wash down sanded walls with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution no more than four days prior to staining. It is not necessary to use a pressure washer, a garden hose will do. Clean from the bottom up and rinse from the top down. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before applying the first coat of finish.


    Using a Chemical Finish Remover

    It is always best to use finish removers supplied or approved by Perma-Chink Systems. Never use finish removers containing potassium or Sodium hydroxide. They disrupt the chemistry of the wood and can lead to discolorations appearing under the finish. Before purchasing any finish remover be sure to obtain a sample and test it o your existing finish to see how well it works. Finish removers do not dissolve finishes, they only soften them enough to allow the finish to be removed with pressure washing.

    Tools Before you start have all of the tools that you will need at hand and be sure that they are clean and in good working order. These may include:

    Paint Brushes Paint Scraper Stiff Nylon Brush (never use a wire brush!) Airless Sprayer* Wet and Dry Rags Water Hoes Gas Powered Pressure Washer with an Output of 2 to 3 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) Tarps Recommended Safety Equipment Such as, Eye Protection and Rubber Gloves


    Most quality airless spray equipment will handle our S-100 Finish Remover. On the other hand for applying Smart Strip you will need a professional grade airless sprayer with an output of at least 0.54 GPM. In either case there are a couple of minor modifications that have to be made before using them. The first thing is to change the tip to a 0.021 tip orifice. If a smaller diameter orifice tip is used it will take longer to apply the proper amount of finish remover and the tip may block up. In addition, since a small orifice produces a fine mist there is a greater chance of wind drift onto surfaces that you may not want to strip. Once the stripping process is completed it's of utmost importance to replace the 0.021 tip with a 0.015 or 0.017 tip for applying our stain and topcoat. the second thing is to remove any sprayer strainers, screens, and/or filters. Our finish removers somewhat thick and viscous so having to pass through screens and filters will impede the flow of products through the sprayer and may eventually block it.


    Before you start be sure to remove downspouts and cover or mask off any areas that you don't want to strip. Finish removers will soften both stains and paints. you may wish to protect window and door trim with plastic sheeting. If you do get some finish remover on an area that you don't want to strip, immediately wash it or wipe it off with a wet rag. If you have a deck or porch floor that you want to protect it's best to cover it with a tarp. Although neither S-100 nor Smart Strip is highly toxic to plant life, it is best to either cover the plants or wet them down prior to starting then rinse them off when stripping is complete.


    Application and Removal

    Step 1. Thoroughly read the label and be sure to wear the proper safety equipment and eye protection. Starting at the bottom of the wall apply the finish remover with a brush or airless sprayer according to the directions for use. Be sure to follow the directions pertaining to the application rate; if applied too thinly the finish remover may not work and you will have wasted your time and money. Be sure to give the product time to work. On hot, dry days work on small sections of a wall at a time so that it does not dry out.

    how to remove existing finishes pic4 after step 1

    Step 2. Allow the finish remover time to soften the finish. It may take 30 minutes or several hours depending on the existing finish, product, and temperature. If you see that the remover is beginning to dry, mist it with a light spray of water. In colder weather conditions it may take many times longer for the finish to soften than it does in warm or hot weather. On cool days you can apply the finish remover to the entire wall late in the afternoon or early evening and leave it on overnight. Neither S-100 nor Smart Strip will damage the wood or cured Perma-Chink sealant even with prolonged contact.

    Step 3. Once the finish has softened use a pressure washer to remove the chemical stripper along with the finish. The use of a 15 degree fan tip works well. Start at the bottom of the wall and work up. You don't want to wash away the chemical stripper from those areas you are not ready to strip. Hold the pressure washer wand at a 30 to 45 degree angle from the wall (3A). The objective is to "peel" the softened finish off of the surface, not blast it off with a lot of water pressure (3B). This will help avoid gouging the surface and severe feathering. If there are some spots of remaining intact finish try scraping them off with a paint scraper or a stiff nylon brush before they dry.

    how to remove existing finishes pic6 after step 3 how to remove existing finishes pic7 after step 3

    Step 4. Once the entire wall is completed, begin the rinsing process starting at the top of the wall and work your way down. Rinsing off all remaining chemical residue and bits of loose finish is very important for the long term performance of the new Lifeline finish system.

    Step 5. If after rinsing there are still remnants of finish remaining on the wall, repeat the process until all of the existing finish is removed. It is not necessary to reapply the stripper to the entire wall. Only use it on those areas that need it.

    Step 6. Once the entire wall is completely bare rinse the entire wall starting at the top and work your way down. Allow the wall to dry before making your final evaluation.

    Step 7. If pressure washing the wall has feathered the surface you may wish to lightly sand it or use an Osborn Brush to remove the feathered wood fibers. Never use sandpaper or Osborn Brushes finer than 80 grit on exterior surfaces. Sanded or brushed surfaces MUST be washed with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution and the surface allowed to dry before the first coat of finish is applied.

  • How to Seal Checks in Logs and Siding

    It is virtually impossible to prevent logs from developing cracks and checks as they age and dry. That's because as a large piece of wood seasons, mechanical stresses build up until the surface stress becomes so great that the wood cracks. We call these stress cracks "checks".

    Do checks need to be sealed? Upward facing checks can collect water increasing the interior moisture content of the log. If they continue to collect water and the wood remains damp, they can eventually result in internal wood decay as well as provide nesting sites for carpenter ants and other insects. It is not necessary to seal checks on the bottom half of round logs since they do not collect water but for a uniform appearance you may want to seal them too. It is not usually necessary to seal checks or fissures that are less than 1/4" wide since they can't accumulate that much water.

    If your home is new and the logs or siding are green, it may be best to wait a year or so before addressing the checks. This allows the wood to reach an equilibrium with its environment and by then most of the larger checks will have opened. On seasoned wood or an older home that's in the process of being refinished you can seal the checks either before or after applying a stain.

    Check Mate 2 Checks and splits in logs present a different set of dynamics than those typically addressed by a caulk. They open and close as the log's moisture content varies throughout the year. The opening width of a check may change as much as 50% from summer to winter. Most sealants are designed to cope with a different set of conditions and are ill suited for sealing checks. Check Mate 2 is specifically formulated to meet the particular requirements for sealing checks that appear in logs and log siding.

    When initially applied 3/8" thick in a check the Check Mate 2 bonds to the sides of the check. As the check opens, the Check Mate 2 stretches to maintain a water-tight seal. The only role the Backer Rod plays is to maintain a Check Mate 2 thickness of 3/8" during the application.

    How to seal checks in logs and siding pic1 after checkmate 2 How to seal checks in logs and siding pic2 after checkmate 2


    1. Begin by cleaning any dust, dirt, oil, solvent or previous sealer out of the check. Previously applied caulks can usually be easily pulled or scraped out with a hook knife. If the check is upward-facing and has allowed water penetration, pour some Shell-Guard RTU into it. This will kill any decay fungi present and prevent further deterioration of the log due to rot. If the wood within the check is damp from cleaning, rain or a borate treatment make sure the check has time to dry before applying Check Mate. You can speed up the drying process by blowing the water out of the check with a leaf blower. The last thing you want to do is to trap any water within the check. 2. For sealing checks 1/4" wide or larger, Check Mate 2 should be always used in conjunction with Backer Rod. Insert the Backer Rod into the check and use a trowel or other implement to push the Backer Rod about 3/8" to 1/2" deep. If you push it deeper than 1/2" the cured Check Mate 2 will be too thick and may rip away from the sides of the check. If the Backer rod is placed too close to the surface the Check Mate 2 may end up too thin and split. 3. For a neat, clean appearance you can use masking tape to mask off the wood on either side of the check. Be sure to remove the masking tape right after you tool the Check Mate 2 smooth. If you remove the masking tape after the Check Mate 2 has begun to dry you will pull the top layer of Check Mate 2 off along with the masking tape. 4. Cut the tip of the Check Mate 2 tube to about the same diameter as the checks you plan to fill (a little smaller diameter is better than one too large). Fill the space between the Backer Rod and log surface with Check Mate 2 using a standard caulk gun. The Check Mate 2 must have good contact with wood on either side of the check and be sure the crack or check is completely sealed from end to end. 5. Tool the surface smooth with a trowel, spatula or wet finger and remove overflow immediately with a damp cloth. Don't forget that the masking tape must be removed while the Check Mate 2 is still wet. 6. Check Mate 2 will dry to the touch in about one hour but complete curing may take several days depending on application thickness, temperature and weather conditions. The color of Check Mate 2 as it comes out of the tube is always lighter than the final cured color. NOTE: Newly applied Check Mate 2 Clear is white but turns clear when cured. 7. Clean tools and hands with soap and water.

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