Wood Gates are a different breed of woodworking from regular house trim or even exterior doors. The extreme exposure that a gate is subjected to requires special finish considerations. They are completely exposed to rain from all sides, including the bottom, if the gate is in a garden setting with sprinklers nearby. Also, the brutal effects of the sun can quickly lead an ordinary wood finish to fade, change colors, crack and deteriorate. Even marine finishes can break down under these conditions, sometimes leaving the homeowner with costly maintenance. If the setting is near the water in the coastal areas, these effects can be even worse due to the ocean salts and heavy fog.
There are several steps that I take to ensure that your gate will have the best possible finish, That means not only that it will last as long as possible, but that the regular maintenance, which all exterior woodworking needs, will be easy to accomplish without aggressive and expensive preparation and re-finishing.
Here are the two basic types of finish and my methods to achieve each:
If your new wood gates will have a painted finish, I will provide the first coat of high quality primer, plus caulking, if needed This means each component of the gate will be primed prior to assembly so that every one of the invisible edges and end-grain will be sealed. Also, all the secondary pieces, such as the jambs, stops and trim will be pre-primed on all sides and ends prior to installation. This pre-finishing step in critical to the longevity of your gate — if any hidden edges were left raw wood, moisture can seep in and cause excessive swelling and create areas where the painted finish quickly deteriorates.
The gate will be installed with this pre-primed treatment leaving it ready for your painter to finish the job. I recommend a second coat of primer after light sanding, then 2 coats of high quality water-based enamel. I suggest a water-based finish paint because an acrylic/latex coating will be more flexible, which is what you want in an exterior gates that needs to expand and contract without affecting the coating.
Natural Wood Stain
Sansin Exterior Wood Finish is a 2-part water-based finish which has a beautiful furniture-grade look and feel. It is expensive and a little tricky to use, but provides a durable and flexible coating that retains it’s color well, even in full weather exposure. Plus, it is long-lasting and easy to maintain without aggressive prep work. When staining a rustic or aged gate, I can achieve the shadows and highlights that I want by blending colors and feathering multiple coats with a “dry-brushing” technique that I perfected. For contemporary hardwood gates, I can tone down the natural redness of the “mahagony” to a warm brown woodtone or I can accentuate the rich red grain patterns seen in this kind of hardwood.