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Timber Treatment

General considerations

Regardless of species, in an external environment the appearance of all timber will change over time through exposure to UV light, rainwater and natural water soluble tannins leaching out from the timber.

Timber species with 'Class 1 Very Durable' classification can be successfully used in exterior settings without the support of preservative treatments, but where the original colouration of the timber is the preferred appearance over a longer period of time, the application of a supplementary treatment will help to retain the colour for longer. Without additional treatment, over time the timber will naturally devlop a weathered silver-grey colour.

For the majority of products containing timber, Furnitubes use a West African species – Iroko hardwood - defined as ‘Very Durable’ by the Timber Trades Federation. Untreated Iroko will show signs of fading within 3 months - and after 12 months the natural colouration will have disappeared in most situations. If the original colouration is preferred to be retained over a longer period of time we recommend that pre-treatment measures are undertaken at the outset.

Treatment options

Timber treatments broadly fall into two categories – film-forming coatings and penetrative finishes. Film forming coatings sit on top of the timber surface essentially like a paint, and will break down over time due to UV and / or mechanical wear (such as people sitting on them) and flake to expose the bare timber beneath. For these reasons we do not recommend using film-forming coatings on our products.
By comparison, penetrative finishes permeate into the grain to retain the natural colour of the timber for longer than untreated timber, whist also protecting against warping, splitting and cracking.

Furnitubes’ standard supplementary treatment for Iroko is a UV protective finish in a tinted ‘teak’ colour that complements the natural hue of Iroko, so not only protecting against fading of but also supplementing the colouration. Other finish colours are available but are less well-matched to Iroko.

Finish application

Iroko is rich in natural oils, which may inhibit supplementary treatments from penetrating freshly machined timber and can sit on the surface as an unattractive deposit that may not properly dry. In an ideal situation, Iroko would be allowed to naturally weather in an external environment for around 3 months before application of a finish, so that the grain opens up and naturally occuring extractives are allowed to leach out, allowing treatments to penetrate more effectively. This isn’t practical in most applications though, especially on products that have many timber parts fitted to steelwork frames for example. In these situations we sand the surface to open up the grain and cleanse with thinners prior to applying a 2-coat finish treatment.

Ongoing maintenance

Applying a UV protective finish to Iroko will give a richer colouration over a longer time compared with untreated timber, as shown in the examples below. In our experience, Iroko typically benefits from re-treatment on a bi-annual basis. The amount of work involved in restoring the timbers depends on their condition at the time, and the desired appearance to be achieved. As a minimum, a thorough clean and / or light sand is recommended. For a deeper clean, specialist restorative treatments can be used. Due to the many factors that can affect the appearance of timber placed in the external environment – including its natural colouration at the outset and the degree of exposure to the elements - we strongly recommend that maintenance coats are tested on a discrete area of a product to ensure the desired effect is achieved prior to the work being undertaken on the whole product.

Freshly machined

Freshly Machined Iroko

Untreated timber

Iroko can range from a yellow to golden or even medium brown, sometimes all evident in a single board. It has a medium to coarse texture, with open pores and generally machines well to a smooth finish, except where interlocked grain may cause localised tearout.

UV protective finish

Our standard teak colour application gives a matt-sheen finish, which darkens and enhances the natural beauty of the wood.

2-3 months

3-6 month Iroko

Untreated timber

After exposure to the elements, and in particular UV light from the sun, the natural colouration in iroko will soon begin to desaturate.

UV protective finish

A treated surface may begin to dull slightly, but will retain far more colouration than untreated timber.

6 months

6-9 month Iroko

Untreated timber

Depending on the degree of UV exposure, the colouration in any natural timber can be almost entirely lost within 6 months, meaning it may have little resemblance to the original freshly machined material.

UV protective finish

UV protective finished surfaces continue to show good colouration.

12 months

12 month Iroko

Untreated timber

Most timber in most situations will fade to a silver-grey within 12 months. Restoring natural colouration in weathered timber requires either exhaustive sanding down or the use of specialist restorative cleaners.

UV protective finish

The finish will continue to dull down over time, but typically will not require re-coating until at least 2 years after first application.

Address: 3rd Floor, Meridian House, Royal Hill, Greenwich, London SE10 8RD

Telephone: +44 (0)20 8378 3200

Email: sales@furnitubes.com

© Copyright Furnitubes International Ltd, 2010-2016

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