Applying stain over creosote


Old 03-25-07, 10:14 PM
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Applying stain over creosote

Does anyone have experience in applying stain over creosote? What surface preparation is required? Presumably the stain should be oil-based? The surface is the exterior walls of a house clad (I think) in cedar.
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Old 03-26-07, 05:09 PM
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Are you sure its creosote? Creosote is what they use to protect rr ties and telephone poles, not houses.
Old 03-26-07, 05:18 PM
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Sure is. Don't know why it was used.
Old 03-26-07, 09:05 PM
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Call several major stain manufacturers and talk with their technical rep. There is simply not enough definitive info on the internet to accurately answer your question through independent internet research. The problem with penetrating stains is that they offer no protection from moisture penetration. That is the most crucial point--protection from moisture penetration and finding a product that is compatible with the penetrating creosote. My research came up with nothing. Hopefully, someone more knowing than I have an answer.

Go 1-on-1 and speak with technical reps on the phone or in person. After you speak with about a half dozen manufacturers you will get an education and figure out who knows what Steve Martin said in that movie that I can't say here, that they don't know ("S- from Shinola"). You look for people with knowledge, not sales skills. It's my uneducated guess that you can find an oil-based sealer compatible with creosote, you just need to talk with the right people. If they have sold someone such a product, call or go see the results.

Too, it would be more helpful to know about water absorption rate on wood and condition of wood. Condition of color and your dreams of best results of restoration would also be helpful.

You can post a link of a picture at or similar photo site and post a link so we can have a look-see.
Old 03-29-07, 03:58 AM
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Are you positive it's creosote?
I believe creosote quit being sold to consumers ~ 30 years ago. It was right up there with lead on the EPA & OSHA "hit list".

Anyhow - assuming it is creosote - there isn't any real trick to coating it.
Any linseed oil based exterior semi transparent stain will work as long as the surface has weathered to the point that it no longer feels "oily".
Avoid using anything with alkyd or tung oil content. Definitely avoid using anything latex.

When I worked for Glidden in the late 1960's, they had an interior/exterior line of pigmented (linseed oil) wiping stains. For interior, the stain was used right out of the can like any other stain. For exterior, it was mixed 50/50 with a clear mixing liquid (probably if the truth was known the clear was simply boiled linseed oil repackaged) to make a semi transparent stain.

{{Being low man on the totem pole @ the time in the store, it was my job to do all the seasonal "dirty work". On of thse jobs was to pour off cans of interior stain - Modern Red Mahogony and clear mixing liquid into quart containers and relable them as Redwood - for picnic tables and gallons for use as Redwood Barn and Fence Stain.
A lot of that Barn & Fence material found it's way onto creosoted surfaces.}}

If it's a creosote substitute, then I'm afraid you're on your own.

I should add also - that you won't be able to change the color much, if at all.

Twelevepole's suggestion is a good one. Call or check around the local paint stores. There should be some "old fart" that recalls what they used to use, and what's a good substitue for it now.
I'd start with looking for - hang on a sec while I check - yep-
Cabot still makes a linseed oil based exterior stain. Olympic does also (personally I destest working with Olympic - but that's just me - it's a fine product otherwise)
Old 03-29-07, 03:42 PM
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I think Cabot used to make a cresote based stain but I've not used any of it in over 30 yrs. While it was hard to find I know you could still buy cresote 20 yrs ago.

Assuming the cresote is well weathered I would think it would be ok to use an oil base stain over it. I doubt you could use any stain much lighter in color than what you have now.

How old is the cresote stain job? What condition is it in? Color?
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