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Posts Tagged ‘finishes’

Should I Use Polyurethane on My Pergola or Arbor?

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Question: I just bought a brand new pergola kit from, and now I’m looking to add a finish to the wood.  I’m used to working with indoor furniture and woodworking and use polyurethane on most every project that I work on.  I’m wondering if polyurethan works for an outdoor project as well?

Answer: That depends.  First and foremost, there are two different types of polyurethane, one made for indoor materials and another that is specifically formulated for an outdoor application.  The outdoor version has special additives that make it suitable for withstanding the rigors of outdoor life, especially UV rays.  The second aspect of this decision is regarding the wood.  If your pergola or arbor is made from an oily wood like Shorea or Teak, then polyurethane won’t work.  A poly finish on one of these woods will act like a sealant on the wood, and then the oils will need to come to the surface at which point the poly cover will bubble and peal.  It will then be very difficult to remove.  So, if you bought a pergola kit made from Cedar or Redwood, you’ll be OK.