Project Guides

How Borates Protect Wood

How Borates Protect Wood

What is it about boron that makes it so effective for preserving and protecting wood?

About Borates

For the past 25-plus years, the most accepted and effective method for preventing infestations of wood destroying insects and decay fungi in log homes has been by impregnating the wood with a solution containing the element boron. Boron salts are referred to as borates and the most commonly used borate utilized for this purpose is disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT), the active ingredient found in Armor-Guard™, Shell-Guard® and Shell-Guard RTU.



The reason for using this material instead of borax or boric acid is because it has a much higher boron content per pound and is significantly more water soluble than other boron-containing compounds. But what is it about boron that makes it so effective for preserving and protecting wood? In the case of wood consuming insects, like termites and wood-boring beetles, boron disrupts their digestion process by killing the bacteria that allows the insects to digest cellulose.There is also some evidence that boron interferes with the insects’ metabolic systems. These modes of actions do take some time, and it is not unusual for insect activity to continue for several months after being exposed to a borate treatment. However, once eliminated, the wood will be protected from future wood consuming insect infestations as long as the boron remains within the wood’s cellular structure.

In the case of decay fungi, the presence of boron disrupts the cellular production of enzymes that allow the fungi to extract nutrients from the wood. As opposed to insects, a borate treatment will kill decay fungi rather rapidly, usually within a day or two.



Pressure treating wood with preservatives dates back to the 19th century when railroad ties were impregnated with creosote under pressure. Since then, a number of chemical formulations have been used for pressure-treating logs and dimensional lumber, but most have been discontinued due to their toxicity or health and environmental hazards. Due to their low mammalian toxicity and environmental friendliness, borates are now being used by a number of pressure-treating companies for treating both logs and dimensional lumber. The one limitation of borate pressure-treated lumber is that it cannot be used for wood in contact with the soil, since the moisture in the soil will extract out the water-soluble borate within a few years.


A number of log home manufacturers dip their logs in a solution of borate before they are shipped to the customer. Although there are set standards for the “Dip Diffusion” process, very few companies actually meet these standards, since it requires dipping green, unseasoned logs in a hot, concentrated borate solution and then storing the logs in a covered building for a minimum of two weeks. Most log suppliers simply dip their logs in a borate solution for a few minutes then allow them to dry. Although this procedure does not meet set standards, it has been used for over 20 years and as long as the borate concentration in the dipping solution is maintained at or above 10%, we rarely hear of this process not providing adequate protection to new logs.


Back in the late 1980s, Perma-Chink Systems developed the very first borate preservative that could be applied to wood in the field during or after construction. Since then, hundreds of thousands of log and conventionally constructed homes have been borate treated using the technology originally developed by Perma-Chink Systems. What made this possible was combining the borate with a combination of glycols that allow the borate to penetrate into the wood rather than remaining just on the surface. In addition, the glycols increase the efficacy of the boron allowing less applied product to be just, if not more effective than higher concentrations of borate water solutions alone. This technology is incorporated in both Shell-Guard RTU and Shell-Guard Concentrate.


Pure borate/water solutions like our Armor-Guard® are also used for topical applications, but since they do not contain anything that aids in the penetration of the borate into the wood, we recommend that they be used only on new, un-infested logs and be reapplied any time the home is stripped of its existing finish.

The one limitation of any topically-applied borate is that it must be applied to bare wood. If there is anything on the surface that inhibits the absorption of water into the wood, the borate solution will remain on the surface and no protection will be imparted to the wood itself.


The success rate of properly applied borate treatments is truly astounding. In the 20 years that we have been involved with borate treated wood, the number of reported complaints is miniscule, and most of them involved insects that do not consume wood for nourishment like carpenter bees, parasitic wasps, house ants, and other pests that are not included on the label. We occasionally get calls about a continuing beetle infestation after a borate treatment, but it’s almost always within a week or two of the product being applied and that’s just not long enough for the borate to completely eliminate an active infestation of wood boring beetles. However, once the borate has had time to work and the activity ends, that’s the end of the infestation and they never return.

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Sealing Grayed Wood

Sealing Grayed Wood

The gray color is an indication that the surface wood has been photo-oxidized by ultraviolet (UV) light and the wood fibers have lost their integrity.



Although there are solvent-based products that can be applied to grayed wood surfaces they only last about six months or so. If you truly want to protect your home, you will have to remove the grayed wood, and if you like the gray look, use one of our gray colored stains. If you are not willing to clean the surface down to bare wood, the best recommendation we can give you is to leave the surface alone but make sure that all chink joints, checks and other places that may allow water entry are well sealed.



Ultra-2 Gentry Gray

Ultra-2 Gentry Gray

Ultra-2 Stone Gray

Ultra-7 Smoke

Ultra-2 Rustic Gray

Ultra-7 Smoke

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Oil Based Stains Versus Lifeline Water-Based Stains


Following are some comparison points of Lifeline™ finish systems to typical oil-based products.


Most oil-based finishes contain some type of organic solvents that evaporate into the air when they dry. These components are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). When VOCs are in the vapor state and interact with NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) in the presence of ultraviolet (UV) light, ground level ozone or smog, a health hazard to humans, forms.

Some oil-based products are promoted as being “green” since they are made from renewable plant oils like linseed or soybean oil but even these products require mineral spirits or turpentine (high VOC, disposal regulated products) for clean-up. Although Lifeline water-based finishes also contain some VOCs, they are at a much lower level than oil-based products and clean-up requires only soap and water. That’s why environmental organizations promote the use of water-based products whenever possible.


One of the requirements of oil-based finish systems is that the wood must contain less than 18% moisture content before they are applied. Everyone knows that oil and water do not mix. A film of oil will repel any water and water vapor that’s contained in the wood, as well as what hits the surface. On the other hand, if even a minor amount of water is present on the surface of the wood during the application of an oil-based stain, the coverage, adhesion, and penetration of the oil will be compromised with a resulting decrease in durability and performance. This prevents the use of oil-based products on even slightly moist logs or green wood. Recommendations typically include waiting at least three days after stripping or cleaning walls before applying the first coat of any oil-based product.

Lifeline is a film-former that behaves like a semi-permeable membrane allowing water vapor to escape from the wood but preventing liquid water from penetrating into it. That is why Lifeline can be applied to logs containing 30 to 35% moisture content. In addition, Lifeline may be applied the day after cleaning, as long as the wood cells at the surface are not filled with water.


Most oil-based finishes require heavy applications, especially for the first coat on bare wood. Recommended application rates ranging from 75 to 150 square feet per gallon are not unusual. This translates into a lot of oil-based product required to stain a home.

Let’s look at 2400sqft of wood surface that needs staining. If we assume an average coverage rate of 100sqft/gallon, it means that it will take 24 gallons of an oil finish to apply one coat. If two coats are necessary it may take an additional 12 or more gallons to finish the job for a total of 36 gallons. That’s a lot of product.

Lifeline stains have a much higher coverage rate than oil-based products since they do not soak or penetrate into the wood, are specifically designed with low viscosities to maximize the coverage rates, and are easy to apply using airless sprayers. Other than Lifeline, very few stains that we’ve seen and evaluated- including other water-based products- have an initial coverage rate of 350 to 450sqft/gallon on bare wood.

When we compare the amount of Lifeline required to cover 2400sqft to the oil-based example, we end up with 6 gallons for the first coat and 4 gallons for the second coat for a total of 10 gallons of Lifeline stain, verses 36 gallons of the oil-based product.


Without a doubt, some oil-based penetrating stains are easy to apply. Some even recommend the use of garden sprayers with no mention of back-brushing. On the other hand, multi-coat oil-based products can present a challenge to the applicator. Virtually all multi-coat oil-based stains require at least 24 hours between coats. Another problem with oil-based finishes is their drying time. Most stay tacky for a week or so after application. If a multi-coat product is used, it is difficult to avoid ladder marks while applying the second or third coats. Of course dirt, dust, leaves, bugs and other flying debris tend to stick to the finish until it finally dries.

Lifeline finishes do require some knowledge to be applied correctly. They are a bit more susceptible to runs, drips and lap marks than oil-based products, but that is why we try to provide product training especially to homeowners through our literature and seminars. To professionals, Lifeline offers some distinct advantages such as being compatible with most airless sprayers and fast drying times which allows multiple coats to be applied the same day.


The only effective way to clean oil-based products from hands and equipment is with turpentine or mineral spirits. Although the labels of some oil-based products claim soap and water clean-up, we have yet to see one that does not make a mess when these directions are followed. The disposal of used turpentine and mineral spirits in a responsible way is a real challenge to both homeowners and contractors.

Water-based products like Lifeline are easily cleaned up with soap and water. The effluent from washing hands and equipment presents no environmental issues and application equipment like sprayers and brushes can be easily and thoroughly cleaned in preparation for the next job.


On sun exposed walls, the life expectancy of even the best one- or two-coat penetrating oil-based stain is two to three years- at most. Since they are made to penetrate into the wood, they leave very little protection on the surface where it is needed most. Multi-coat, film-forming oil-based products exhibit better performance than the penetrating products, but the new VOC requirements have had a detrimental impact on them. They are not the same products they were five or seven years ago.

For those products that contain extracted plant oils like linseed, tung, or soybean oil, mold growth is a real concern. Although they may claim to contain mildewcides, the level of mildewcides is rarely enough to overcome the susceptibility of these organic oils to biological growth.

Another characteristic of film-forming oil-based finishes is that they darken with age. This is due to the oxidation of the oil components contained in the stain. As previously stated, film-forming oil-based products do not allow water vapor to escape from the wood. They are not breathable. If water does enter the logs through fissures and checks, there is a good chance that the finish will begin to peel off as water vapor builds up pressure under the finish.

Performance is where our Lifeline products differentiate themselves from oil-based and other water-based stains. There is no question that some water-based products perform no better than the poorest quality oil-based stains. But our Lifeline systems are designed for performance, and we have yet to discover another transparent stain system with the equivalent performance of Lifeline finishes with our Advance Topcoat.

When we talk about performance what exactly do we mean? From a technical perspective, we discuss terms like vapor permeability, adhesion, UV resistance, etc. But to a homeowner, performance comes down to how long will it be before the finish looks so bad that it has to be reapplied. We all know that it is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question since so much depends on environmental factors. But we can say that in side by side comparisons, our Lifeline systems have lasted longer than all of the competitive products that we have tested.



  • Low VOC, low environmental impact. Considered the product of choice by environmental organizations.
  • For best results, we recommended moisture contents of 20% or less.
  • Can be applied the day after cleaning as long as surface is dry to the touch.
  • High coverage rates. Low viscosity allows application of thin coats.
  • Fast drying. Wait 2 to 4 hours between coats. Topcoat provides a hard protective surface within hours.
  • Clean-up with soap and water.
  • Ultra-2 or Ultra-7 and Advance are warranted for three to five years.
  • Advance topcoat helps retain color for years.
  • Advance adds addition water repellency and UV protection to the finish system.


  • Not friendly to the environment.
  • Wood must contain less than 20% moisture content.
  • Must wait at least three days after cleaning.
  • Low coverage rates, takes much more product to stain a home.
  • Slow drying. Wait at least 24 hours between coats. May stay tacky for weeks.
  • Clean-up requires turpentine or mineral spirits.
  • One coat products last one to two years.
  • Film forming products darken with age, especially around knots.
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Log End Seal

Log End Seal

Although it is a sealer, Log End Seal is designed to allow moisture already in the wood to slowly escape.

About Log End Seal

Some of the most vulnerable areas of a log home are the corner log ends. This is because the cross section end grain is exposed and the ends often stick out beyond the walls, allowing sunlight, wind, rain, snow, and ice to wear away the stain and expose bare wood. Logs can safely absorb large quantities of water before reaching moisture content levels that will be inviting for decay fungi.

log ends

The exposed end grain acts like small straws sucking water into the log, giving rot and decay an opportunity to start eating away the wood. In addition, wood cracks and checks are prone to start at the ends. If left unprotected long enough, log or log corner replacement may eventually be required.

Being aware of the susceptibility of log ends to weathering, rot and decay, we developed Log End Seal™, a clear polymer finish that prevents water from penetrating into log ends and provides a layer of protection against log end damage. Although it is a sealer, Log End Seal is designed to allow moisture already in the wood to slowly escape. This helps reduce those large checks that often form on log ends.

To prevent excessive moisture absorption, Perma-Chink System developed Log End Seal, a product unique and specially formulated to protect log ends. Although Log End Seal is a fairly simple and easy product to use, there are some tips that can help you avoid problems especially in the fall when cooler temperatures slow down the curing process.

Application Process

The basic steps of applying Log End Seal:

  1. Sand log ends with 60-grit sanding disc or paper
  2. Apply Lifeline finish
  3. Apply Log End Seal
  4. Apply Advance Topcoat

Let’s take a more detailed look at the individual application steps.

Step 1: Sand log ends with a sanding disc or sandpaper (60-grit). Log End Seal requires application in one (1) thin coat. In order to attain a thin coat, the log ends need to be sanded fairly smooth. If the ends are not smooth, the rough surface texture will prevent a thin coat application. This will result in thicker film, and will take longer to cure.

Step 2: Apply the Lifeline finish on the sanded ends, ensuring complete coverage. Allow time for the finish to dry before applying Log End Seal.

Step 3: Apply one thin coat of Log End Seal to the log ends, after the Lifeline finish has dried. Log End Seal white until it is fully cured, and if it gets wet during the curing process, the white color can last for several weeks. If Log End Seal is applied in a thick coat and gets wet, it may take several weeks or months for it to become completely clear and transparent. This is the most frequent cause of complaint from our customers. Eventually it will cure and become clear, but in the meantime, the log ends on your home will have a white haze.

applying log end seal

Tip: Choosing the right application tool can help prevent applying too thick a film. Rather than using a standard paintbrush, a paint pad or sponge brush works best. Since Log End Seal is thick and viscous, some people prefer to apply Log End Seal with a wide-blade trowel. Any of these tools will work as long as the Log End Seal is applied in a thin coat.

Step 4: Finally, apply a single coat of Lifeline Advance™ to help protect the Log End Seal surface to remain clean and dry.

Coverage Rate: When applied correctly, one gallon of Log End Seal goes a long way. One gallon covers 30 to 40 square feet, which equates to 100 eight-inch diameter log ends, or 180 six-inch diameter log ends.logendseal2

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Removing Dried Finishes, Sealants, Borates and Cleaners From Surfaces


Let’s take a look at some specific products and situations.


If you are working on small areas at a time, it’s not difficult to carry a damp rag with you and wipe off any product that gets onto surfaces that you don’t want stained or topcoated. But if you are using an airless sprayer and overspray gets onto surfaces like windows, gutters, or doorknobs, there is a good chance that the product will dry before you get a chance to wipe it off. If the stain or topcoat has been on for less than an hour, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol may remove it, but if it has had enough time to start curing, it will probably require something stronger. The most effective group of products we’ve found for removing dried finishes are automotive glass cleaners available at most automotive supply stores. There are several brands of aerosol foam cleaners that work, but be sure that removing bugs, grime, and tar is on the label. If it is, it will probably do a good job. You need a foam type product to assure that it does not quickly run off of the surface. If you are attempting to remove the stain or topcoat off a painted surface, be sure to test a small spot to make sure that it does not discolor or remove the paint as well.


Both of these sealants contain an aggregate that gives them their texture. If you get either one on a smooth, slick surface they can be easily removed with a damp rag. But if you get a clump on a rough surface like bare or stained wood, the aggregate and polymer will get imbedded in minute nooks and crannies on the surface, and it becomes very difficult to completely wipe it off without smearing it over a wide area.

If the wood is bare, once stained the spot may stick out from the surrounding area, since the sealant residue will change the porosity of the wood. It is sometimes better to allow the Perma-Chink or Energy Seal time to partially cure and then try to roll it off with your thumb and fingers.

Once Perma-Chink or Energy Seal fully cure, they become very difficult to remove from just about any surface. The best way to remove them from hard, smooth surfaces is to scrape or cut them off with a razor knife. If they cure on bare or stained wood, they are almost impossible to remove without doing some damage to the surface and the finish.

Cured Perma-Chink and Energy Seal are impervious to most solvents, but if you want to soften them for easier removal, you can use a paint stripper containing methylene chloride. You’ll need to put on a thick coat and since it needs to be left on the sealant for at least four to six hours, it’s best to cover it with plastic film to keep it from drying out. When the sealant softens, you can try removing it with a scraper or stiff nylon bristled brush. Do not use a wire brush. No matter which method you’ve used to remove Perma-Chink or Energy Seal, if the surface was stained, you’ll need to do some touch-up work. Sand the spots with 60 or 80 grit sandpaper then touch-up using a rag rather than a brush.


Since neither of these smooth-surfaced sealants contain an aggregate they are much easier to remove with a wet rag, as long as it is done quickly. Once they cure, you’ll need to use the same techniques as removing cured Perma-Chink or Energy Seal.


Wet Log End Seal is fairly easy to remove using just water, but once it cures it becomes just about impossible to remove without physically grinding or sanding it off. The problem is that since it is a soft polymer, it will quickly fill sandpaper or a sanding disk. Probably the best tool to use is a Wood Shark. If the teeth of the Wood Shark do become filled with polymer, it can be burned away with a blow torch and the Wood Shark can be reused indefinitely.


Borates (Shell-Guard® Concentrate, Shell-Guard RTU and Armor-Guard®), Wood ReNew and Log Wash are all very water soluble, but if not adequately rinsed off of glass or painted surfaces, they can leave a white haze. The best thing to use to remove any borate, Wood ReNew or Log Wash residue is pure warm water. Don’t add any ammonia, soap, or detergent. Once the residue is washed off you can use a commercial glass cleaner to remove any streaks.


Both of these products are two-component epoxies that are not water soluble, so just soap and water won’t have much effect on them. You can use white vinegar to clean up the individual components, or even mixed material before it cures.

To remove cured M-Balm and E-Wood, you have no choice but to grind or sand it off. That’s not difficult with E-Wood putty, but since M-Balm soaks into the wood surface, sanding will still leave the wood impregnated with epoxy and prevent that area from properly taking a stain.

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Pressure Washing

Pressure Washing

Generally speaking, pressure washing is the quickest and least expensive choice.

Pressure washing (also referred to power washing) is the function of using highly pressurized water to remove mildew, mold, dirt, pollen, UV graying, etc. You’ll hear different recommendations whether or not pressure washing your logs is the best cleaning method.

pressure washing log video

One fallacy is that you’re saturating and “damaging” your logs with water as a result of pressure washing. This simply isn’t true. On hard, sound, rot-free logs, you’re only introducing water into the top fibers of the wood.

pressure washing log

The time it takes to pressure wash and the results generated are often directly associated with the type of finish being removed as well as how many coats have been applied. While some older, obsolete linseed based oil stains are more difficult to remove than newer products, practically everything can be removed with proper pressure washing techniques and good finish removers. Some of these older type products will often need S-100 or StripIt stripper applied first in order to soften the bond to the wood.

finish remover



Traditionally, newer, recently peeled logs have a greater surface hardness and can withstand highly aggressive pressure washing (if needed) easier than a log wall which has been fully exposed to direct sun for 20 years. You might notice your upper and lower fascia boards have aged and darkened at an accelerated rate compared to your logs. Because these areas are often made from softer (i.e. pine) wood, they are more likely to absorb water leading to more prominent mildew growth. These areas can easily resemble new wood once cleaned.

wood stripper

Pressure washing of new constructions can also easily remove the UV graying of the logs that can start occurring just weeks after the logs are stacked, particularly if exposed to direct sunlight.


In addition to log and wood sided structures, other areas where pressure washing can be utilized include driveways, stone walkways, pool decking, stone walls, fencing, gutters, downspouts, roofing and other areas. Concrete slowly builds up a browning/green appearance over time which usually consists of grease, dirt, mildew and algae which can easily be cleaned.

fence cleaning

Pressure washing can be done in practically any temperature and weather conditions, although chemical strippers, which are often applied prior to cleaning, work much better in warmer weather.


Pressure Washed


After Pressure Washed with Lifeline Finish


Whether you hire a professional or undertake the project yourself, pressure washing with wood cleaners from Perma-Chink Systems can bring back the beauty of your logs, preparing them for a fresh coat of stain and protective clear topcoat finish.


Pressure Washed


After Pressure Washed with Lifeline Finish

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Media Blasting Versus Chemical Stripping


Both methods of removing a finish have their positive and negative attributes, and the results depend as much on the competence of the person or persons doing the work as much as the method used.


Although media blasting can be accomplished by a homeowner, it does not lend itself well to a do-it-yourself project since it requires the rental of an industrial-size air compressor as well as the Blaster Buddy unit. Although the objective of media blasting is to strip off the existing finish, it also removes the top layer of wood in the process. Since media blasting can be a very aggressive procedure, in the hands of someone inexperienced with media blasting, a lot of damage can be done to the surface of the wood in a very short period of time. That’s one reason that media blasting is best left in the hands of professionals who have had some prior experience. In general we take the position that media blasting should be considered carefully and evaluated as a secondary method, rather than the preferred method of removing an existing finish. We often receive calls from homeowners who are virtually in tears after seeing what media blasting did to their beautiful log home. They call us wanting to know what they can do to restore the logs to their original smooth surface. The sad news is that the only way to restore the surface is lots of hand sanding. Of course, when properly accomplished by an experienced individual who knows what they are doing, media blasting followed by Osborn brushing can result in a fairly smooth surface. However, this is more the exception than the rule.


  • Does an excellent job removing most paints and stains
  • Fairly quick and cost effective
  • Avoids water getting into the home, but dry dust and blasting media will most likely penetrate into the interior of the home
  • Since the blasting media consists of either recycled crushed glass, or organic materials like corncob grit or walnut shells, there is little chance of well or water contamination


  • Media blasting changes the surface characteristics of the wood
  • In addition to roughening the surface, it increases the surface porosity
  • Many people consider a media blasted surface unattractive and the only way to restore the wood to a smooth surface is with lots of hand sanding 
  • Prelude™ should ALWAYS be used as a primer on media blasted surfaces
  • Having enough blasting media on hand is critical. You don’t want to run out in the middle of a wall since it may take two or three days to have additional material shipped to your location


Chemical stripping refers to the use of finish removers used in conjunction with a pressure washer. Since chemical strippers only soften an existing finish, they must be used along with a pressure washer to actually remove the finish from the wall. As opposed to media blasting, chemical stripping is much more user-friendly since all it takes is a general purpose pressure washer (available at most do-it-yourself outlets or equipment rental locations) and either our S-100™ or StripIt® Finish Removers.

A pressure washer is quite a bit easier to handle than media blasting equipment, and although aggressive pressure washing can still do some surface damage, it’s fairly easy to fix with a light sanding or an Osborn Buffing Brush.

The main advantage of chemical stripping is that the use of proper procedures can result in a beautiful, smooth, clean surface. So why do some stain manufacturers recommend media blasting over pressure washing? Media blasting significantly increases the porosity of the surface, thus giving an inferior finish better adhesion since the rough surface gives the finish more surface area to grab onto.


  • Does an excellent job when correct procedures are used
  • User-friendly. Takes little expertise and no special equipment is required
  • One wall can be refinished at a time
  • Results in a more attractive surface


  • Water will get into the home
  • Need to protect plants and shrubs from chemicals
  • May take more than one application to completely remove an existing finish
  • Must thoroughly rinse any applied chemicals before applying finish


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Cleaning Bare Wood Surfaces


When properly used and applied, their use will result in the best possible appearance and performance of a Lifeline™ finish.


Log Wash™ – A general purpose, low-pH cleaner concentrate for removing dirt, grime, pollen, stains from surface mold and mildew from bare wood surfaces and existing finishes. Log Wash will also remove some types of brown stains and lighten the color of bare wood. Log Wash is not effective for removing grayed, oxidized wood fibers. Whenever bare wood surfaces are left exposed to the elements for more than seven days, the surfaces should be cleaned with a solution of Log Wash before the first coat of finish is applied. Wood ReNew™ – A concentrated powder that is dissolved in water and applied to bare wood. When used with a pressure washer, it will remove gray, oxidized surface wood as well as dirt, pollen, mold and mildew. Although Wood ReNew usually lightens the color, it can occasionally darken the wood depending on the wood species and the types of chemicals previously applied. Wood ReNew is the product of choice for removing mill glaze from new wood surfaces.



Step 1: If the wood has not grayed, wash the surface with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution and a pressure washer no more than seven days prior to staining. Apply and clean from the bottom up and rinse from the top down. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry.

Step 2: If there are signs of gray weathered wood, use Wood ReNew according to the application instructions along with a pressure washer.

Step 3: If after Steps 1 or 2 there are still dark streaks or discolorations on the surface, use a solution of Oxcon™ oxalic acid on the entire wall according to the directions for use. Be sure to dilute the Oxcon concentrate with four parts water. Apply the solution from the bottom up, begin washing it off starting at the bottom then rinse thoroughly from the top down. Be sure to completely rinse the Oxcon solution off the wall and allow the wood to dry before staining. Never use Oxcon unless it is absolutely necessary.


New log siding must always be cleaned, since it presents an especially difficult challenge to a finish system. Typically used in high exposure locations such as dormers and gable ends, siding is often manufactured from lower quality wood than logs, and frequently green wood. This makes siding more susceptible to twisting, warping, and cracking. Since siding does not have the high thermal mass of full logs, during the summer months its temperature can range from 70ºF to 160ºF or higher during the course of one day. This puts a lot of mechanical stress on the siding and its finish, resulting in small fissures forming on the surface. Rainwater can then enter these fissures and get into the wood, behind the finish. Log siding is typically milled quite smooth and often has a mill glaze on the surface, which if not removed, prevents the proper adhesion of the finish.

Step 1: To remove mill glaze and prepare siding for the first coat of finish, clean and pressure wash the surface of the siding using Wood ReNew no more than seven days prior to staining. Apply the solution of Wood ReNew and pressure wash from the bottom up, and rinse from the top down. Allow the siding to dry before staining.


Step 1: If the surface of the wood has been sanded or media blasted, it is not considered clean. Wash the surface with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution and a garden hose (pressure washing is not required) no more than four days prior to staining. Apply and clean from the bottom up, and rinse from the top down. Allow the wood to dry before applying the first coat of Lifeline pigmented stain or Prelude™ Clear Wood Primer.


Step 1: If a finish has been removed using a chemical stripper, there may still be some types of discolorations present on the wood. Cleaning with a two cups per gallon Log Wash solution and garden hose, or pressure washer, will remove many types of tannin (brown) stains and even out the color of the bare wood surfaces. If the surface feathered during the finish removal process, and the feathers were removed by sanding, or with an Osborn brush, it will be necessary to clean the surface again with Log Wash. Use a two cups per gallon solution and apply and clean from the bottom up, then rinse with a garden hose from the top down. Allow the wood to dry before applying the first coat of pigmented stain.

Step 2: If, after the finish has been removed, there are areas of grayed wood fibers, apply Wood ReNew according to the directions and clean the surface with a pressure washer. Rinse well and allow the wood to dry before applying the first coat of pigmented stain.


Step 1: Add 1 gallon of water to your sprayer then add approximately 2 cups of Log Wash. If you add the Log Wash first, the sprayer will fill with foam. Be sure solution is mixed well.

Step 2: Spray the surface with the mixed Log Wash solution. Start at the bottom and work up. Allow 10 to 15 minutes contact time. Do not allow the surface to dry.

Step 3: If necessary, scrub the wall starting at the bottom and work up then rinse from the top down until you see no more foam running down the wall.



Step 1: Use Wood ReNew to remove grayed surface wood.

Step 2: Only measure out enough Wood ReNew to add to a few gallons of water (0.8 cups per gallon) at a time. You need to use whatever you mix up within 1 to 2 hours.

Step 3: Pour the Wood ReNew into a pail that contains the water. Do not mix Wood ReNew in a sprayer.

Step 4: Mix the Wood ReNew with the water using a paint mixer and an electric drill.

Step 5: Stir for about five minutes or until no undissolved granules are visible. Allow the solution to thicken for 10 minutes before using.

Step 6: Apply the Wood ReNew solution to the wall with a mop, broom, or car wash brush. Start at the bottom of the wall and work up. Allow the solution to remain on the wall for 10 minutes.

Step 7: Pressure wash starting at the bottom of the wall. Work on 2 or 3 courses of logs at a time. Hold the wand at a 30 to 45 degree angle to avoid feathering the wood.

Step 8: Once the entire wall is pressure washed, rinse the wall starting at the top and work down. At this stage water volume is more important than pressure.

Step 9: Never judge the effectiveness of Wood ReNew or any other cleaner while the wood is still wet.

Step 10: Once the wood dries, many of the dark discolorations will disappear. This is the same wall that appears in the previous step after drying for three hours.cleanwoodsurfaces2



No matter what product you use to clean bare wood, nothing is more important than making sure you have adequately rinsed the surface. Any chemical residue remaining on the wood can have serious consequences later on. We always recommend using pH strips to make sure that the surface of the wood has been sufficiently rinsed, preferably to a pH of between 6.5 and 7.5. pH strips are available at most pool supply dealers, aquarium supply shops, and Perma-Chink Systems, Inc. They are not expensive and are very easy to use.


Interior walls and ceilings must be cleaned prior to finishing. If your home is completed, you are somewhat limited in the available cleaning methods since the use of a pressure washer is typically not an option. If you want your interior walls smooth, sanding may be your best and only choice. As opposed to exterior surfaces, you can sand interior wood surfaces using 120 grit sandpaper or Osborn brush.

Although your interior wood surfaces may appear to be clean, they are never clean enough to apply a finish to them without first washing them with an appropriate cleaning solution like Log Wash.

Step 1: Mix one half or one cup of Log Wash Concentrate with one gallon of warm water, if available, in a pail.

Step 2: Apply the Log Wash solution to the wall with a rag or sponge starting at the bottom and work up. Allow the solution to remain on the wall for at least 10 minutes.

Step 3: Using a clean rag or sponge and a pail of clean water, wipe the Log Wash solution off of the surface. Frequently rinse the sponge or rag in the pail of water and occasionally exchange the water in the pail with clean water.

Step 4: Allow the surface to completely dry before applying the first coat of finish.


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Spot Cleaning and Stripping

Spot Cleaning and Stripping

With the introduction of some of the newer technology products and better methods of application, occasional spot cleaning and stripping can be accomplished without creating a problem.


Years ago the most commonly used finish removers contained sodium or potassium hydroxide. They were fairly effective for removing most types of paints and stains, but due to their extremely high pH, they darkened the wood as a result of alkali staining. If only a section of a wall was exposed to these products, it was almost impossible to obtain a consistent final color over the entire wall. That’s where the use of Oxcon™ came into play and why the use of oxalic acid became known as a Blonding Agent. Oxcon’s low pH helped brighten the wood back to its original color, but if it was only applied to sections of a wall, the resulting color would end up significantly different than the remainder of the wall. The solution to this problem was to apply Oxcon to the entire wall to even out the color of the bare wood and avoid a blotchy appearing finish. Today’s finish removers are mostly based on organic solvents, and one of their most advantageous features is that they don’t change the color of the wood. When removing an old, tired oil finish, it is not unusual for pressure washing with just water and a mild cleaner like Log Wash™ or Wood ReNew™ to remove any residual pigments and extenders on surfaces directly exposed to the sun and weather. But underneath roof overhangs and shaded areas, the stain may still be in pretty good shape. There is nothing wrong with using S-100™, StripIt® or other organic solvents only on those spots where the finish is still adhering. Since they don’t change the color of the wood, you may not be able to see where these products were used.


Wood cleaners are a somewhat different story since they are designed to both clean and brighten the surface. It is rare that anyone would want to clean a section of a wall without cleaning the entire wall. Once a wall has been cleaned with Log Wash, Cedar Wash™, or Wood ReNew, there is nothing wrong with going back and spot cleaning areas that are still showing signs of dirt or discolorations with the same product. Log Wash, Cedar Wash, and Wood ReNew are not interchangeable! Never attempt to clean part of a wall with Wood ReNew or Cedar Wash and the rest of the wall with Log Wash. Since Wood ReNewand Cedar Wash are alkaline, and Log Wash is acidic, there is a very good chance a chemical reaction will occur and the resulting color of the wood will differ. If Wood Renew has been used to remove grayed wood on an area of a wall, there is nothing wrong with using Log Wash afterward as along as the Wood Renew is completely rinsed from the wood surface, and it is applied to the entire wall to ensure a uniform color. Chlorine bleach solutions are not recommended by Perma-Chink Systems and should never be used for spot cleaning. The more the surface is exposed to bleach, the more damage is done to the wood fibers, and the greater the chance that discolorations or adhesion issues will arise sometime in the future.


Now that most of the log home industry has followed our lead and stopped recommending chlorine bleach solutions for preparing logs and siding for a finish, the next most problematic surface preparation product that we encounter is oxalic acid. The use of Oxcon oxalic acid should be limited to eliminating inorganic discolorations, such as metallic tannate stains, strap marks, rust stains, and water stains. Although the label clearly states “Do not spot-treat since this method of application can cause blotching”, there are some steps that can be taken that will allow localized discolorations to be spot treated while avoiding the risk of creating blotches on a wall. The first step is to make sure the wall has been well cleaned using Wood Renew or Log Wash. Log Wash is preferable since the use of Wood ReNew will occasionally darken the wood a bit. If that occurs, a Log Wash solution (two cups of Log Wash per gallon of clean water) will typically brighten the wood back up. Once the surface is clean, bright and dry, a solution of Oxcon may be applied to those areas that show signs of metallic tannates or water stains. Make sure the Oxcon is diluted to the recommended one part Oxcon to four parts water ratio, and don’t leave it on the wood for more than 10 to 15 minutes. And whatever you do, don’t allow it to dry on the wood. Now comes the most important step in the process, rinse, rinse, and rinse again. You want to be sure that ALL of the Oxcon is rinsed off of the wood. The best way to verify adequate rinsing is by using pH Strips. Oxcon is fairly strong acid. If the pH of the rinse water on the wall remains below 6.0, it is a good indication that some oxalic acid is still present on the wood. Once the surface is dry, if the spot treated areas are the same color as the surrounding wood, you are ready to apply the first coat of finish. However if the treated spots stand out from the surrounding wood, you may have to go back and apply Oxcon to the entire wall to even out the color.

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Restoring Stain Project

The First Step to renewing your log home is cleaning the surface. On new wood surfaces brush or wipe off any extraneous debris that might be present. On the log surface where the build-up of fungi is under the surface of a stain or finish - power wash, strip or sand off this coating and wipe it down with a damp cloth or sponge prior to the application. There are several ways to clean dirty, weathered wood. The most common types of surface cleaners offered by Perma-Chink Systems:
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