Finish for Cypress Driftwood

Old 11-03-15, 07:16 AM
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Question Finish for Cypress Driftwood

Hi - I am not a woodworker in any sense of the term, but I have a nice piece of cypress driftwood that I would like to place in a natural area of our yard. The wood was already in great shape, but I've cleaned it up and touched up a few rough spots with fine sandpaper and steel wool. My question is how to best finish it. When it's wet, it looks great just like it is. When it's dry, it loses much of its depth and appearance. I don't want to change the wood color if possible, but looking for something that will enhance or simulate the "wet look". Once again, it's going to live outside. Any recommendations are appreciated. Thanks.
Old 11-03-15, 08:12 AM
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I think you've got two choices. Easiest is to just let it be natural. Nothing to do up front and no maintenance in the future. More work is to apply a finish. As with any wood outside it will take maintenance if you want to keep it looking nice and I find that something with a finish that's being neglected looks worse than natural wood. But if you want to apply a finish I'd look at marine finishes like an oil based spar varnish.
Old 11-03-15, 09:06 AM
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Spar varnish/poly doesn't always fare well when left exposed to the sun/rain. I'd consider using a translucent or toner deck stain.
Old 11-03-15, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for the prompt feedback, definitely some things to think about. I'm not crazy about putting on a finish, but there's a huge difference in appearance between wet and dry. When it's just sitting there dry, it loses a lot. I'd like to capture that depth of color when it's wet, but I don't want to create a maintenance headache. Thanks again for your help.
Old 11-03-15, 01:34 PM
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Wipe some mineral spirits on a spot - if that approximates the 'wet' look you like, I'd lean toward the spar urethane. As Mark said, you will be reapplying periodically.
Old 11-03-15, 01:47 PM
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No way you I use any form of Spar, Varnish, or poly on it.
It's just going to peel and be imposable to get off without a whole lot of work.
Cypress is naturaly rot resistant.
If anything just apply Teak, or Tung oil.
Not going to make it look "wet", but will help keep water from soaking in.
Understanding Oil and Wax Finishes - Woodworker's Journal

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