Lifespan and Recoating Frequency of Waterlox Products

In general, all Waterlox products are permanent coatings. This means that they will not disappear on their own. With wear and tear, eventually all coatings will disappear and require some form of maintenance in their lifetimes.

Interior Projects

All of our interior products will produce long-lasting results. On projects like ceiling beams, fine/decorative furniture or other seldom/never used surfaces, the coatings are essentially permanent. They will not dry out or evaporate over time nor need to be recoated. On high traffic or heavily used areas, like kitchen countertops, floors, etc., recoating and maintenance will depend on the care and use as well as the owner’s personal preference. Waterlox finishes tend to wear very nicely and settle into a nice patina. They also will maintain a high level of protection even when worn (to a certain degree) due to the penetrating nature of the coatings.

In general, the lifespan of an interior coating on a well-used surface will be 7-10 years. Many people will go much longer (15-20 years or more), others will recoat more frequently (every 2-3 years). Most of that depends on the personal situation and aesthetics.

Outdoor Projects

Even when an exterior surface is not used, it is still taking a beating from the elements. While there may be no direct/regular human contact with the exterior surface, the sun, wind, rain and other elements will wear down a coating. The lifespan of our exterior products (PURE Tung Oil and MARINE Finishes) will depend mostly on the specific exposure that surface sees. Sun exposure will be the most damaging, but even non-sun exposed surfaces will wear out with exposure to wind, rain and the elements.

Sun Exposed Surfaces

On sun exposed surfaces, the lifespan of our finishes is usually 1-3 years. In full sun environments, especially where it is seeing midday sun, the lifespan will be much closer to the 1 year mark. If the surface sees early morning or late evening sun only, or if it is in a relatively shady area (under a tree), the lifespan will be much closer to 3 years or more.

Non-Sun Exposed Surfaces

The use of Waterlox products on non-sun exposed surfaces will generally be much longer and will depend more on use and wind/rain exposure. A porch ceiling or front door on a covered porch may last many decades.

Lifespan of each Product Family

Some Waterlox product families will last longer than others. Assuming wear and tear are equal and the products are used in the proper setting (interior vs. exterior), the film-forming finishes will tend to last longer than the TRUETONE Buff-In Tung Oil Finish or PURE Tung Oil.

PURE Tung Oil
PURE Tung Oil can last many, many years and it is easy to maintain. Of the Waterlox product offerings, it will probably require the most frequent maintenance or refreshing. PURE Tung Oil will dry into a “film” unlike mineral oil or some other oils that require weekly or monthly reapplication. Therefore, it is permanent, but it will wear/wash off with use. The more its used, the faster it wears off and the more often it will need to be replenished. When the surface no longer beads water or the wood appears dry/starved, it is time for reapplication. Visit the PURE Tung Oil page for more information on how to apply and how to maintain a PURE Tung Oil surface.

TRUETONE Buff-In Tung Oil Finish
The Buff-In Tung Oil Finish is mostly tung oil, so it has a lot of the same benefits of PURE Tung Oil, however, it contains an additional resin component that improves the cross-linking of the film to add additional chemical/water resistance and a slightly increased lifespan. As with PURE Tung Oil (and any finish), the more it is used, the sooner it will need to be refreshed. Again, when the surface no longer beads water or the wood appears dry/starved, it is time for reapplication. Visit the Maintenance of Buff-In Tung Oil Finish guide for more information.

The URETHANE products will create a durable and waterproof surface on the wood. The actual film on the wood surface will take all the wear and tear. This surface will slowly wear away and it may also become scratched or damaged. Urethane products, in general, will tend to show wear and scratches. Dirt may get trapped in the scratches which may make them more difficult to clean and highlight the damage as well. Most often, a urethane finish will be recoated for aesthetic reasons when it becomes overly scratched or worn. This can be every few years for commercial settings or closer to a decade or longer for residential settings. A thorough cleaning and light sanding is all that is required to refresh a Waterlox URETHANE surface and with short dry/cure times (about 8-12 hours), there is a quick turnaround time.

Although the ORIGINAL is solvent-based and the H2OLOX is a water-based product, the final dried film is almost exactly the same. This means that they tend to wear the same. Both the ORIGINAL and H2OLOX finishes are resin-modified tung oil finishes. They have similar durability and protection as a urethane, but they have a greater flexibility. The flexibility of the coatings seems to make Waterlox ORIGINAL and H2OLOX finishes wear nicer than a urethane finish. Scratches are less obvious and they can even self-repair as the surface is used. Sure a scratch on a brand new floor will stick out regardless of finish, but ORIGINAL/H2OLOX finishes tend to only get better with age. Also, because the ORIGINAL/H2OLOX penetrate into the wood more than a urethane coating, a high level of protection is still maintained even when it appears that all finish has worn away. A thorough cleaning is required and a light sanding/buffing is recommended when reapplying Waterlox ORIGINAL or H2OLOX products. See the Refreshing and Recoating a Waterlox Finished Surface for more information on that aspect.

UNIVERSAL Tung Oil Sealer and TRUETONE Colors
These products are not to be used by themselves and they require an additional finish on the surfaces. If the existing surface is worn to raw wood or color has been removed, spot treatments of these products can be used to reseal/recolor the wood before the finishes are reapplied. See the Refreshing and Recoating a Waterlox Finished Surface guide for more information on that subject.

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