Tips for Historic Home Renovations: 108-Year-Old Cabin Restoration Project Proves 'Green' Renovation Possible

| 10/7/2013 3:00:00 PM

May is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Preservation Month. Because many historic homes are built with aging and perhaps brittle or discolored wood, Sansin Corporation — a company specializing in eco-friendly, “water-borne” interior and exterior stains — offers five tips for historic home renovators to keep in mind when tackling a DIY historic home renovation project, such as Frank Robinson's renovation of a 108-year-old cabin in Alberta, Canada.

Preserving Historic Places, Naturally

Wood — our most renewable resource — is often a showcase of historic homes, and something that many renovators, including Robinson, want to protect naturally. Many also want a coating to protect and even reinvigorate the wood, yet not mask the innate beauty of the grain. But homeowners aren’t willing to sacrifice stain quality and longevity in order to “go green.”

Water-Borne vs. Oil-Based Stains

Oil-based paints are traditional coatings for wood surfaces and have a history of great performance and durability. Because of environmental reasons, water-based acrylic latex products have replaced oils in many areas. Oils, however, still have some benefits over water-based products, including penetration and sometimes stain-blocking and durability, as well as water resistance and possibly even flexibility.

Water-based products have low toxicity and low-volatile organic compound benefits (VOC). They also tend to be somewhat more stable with respect to discoloration from ultraviolet light. However, many renovators find them difficult to work with, since they tend to raise the wood grain, create an uneven surface, streak, and dry too fast.

That’s why Sansin developed water-borne alkyd formulas that combine the benefits of both technologies: the low VOCs and environmentally friendly benefits of water, combined with the durability of oils. A water-borne alkyd wood finish uses water as the vehicle to allow oil to penetrate deep into the wood. Water-borne means the formulation comprises pure alkyd and water — and doesn’t use acrylic or synthetic resin.

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