The Science of Sealing Wood with NuKlear

I. Wood Coating Introduction
II. Review the Condition of the Wood
     A. Checks & Splits
     B. Upstanding Knotholes
     C. Dirt & Oil
III. Types of Wood
     A. Pressure Treated
     B. Hard Woods
IV. Coating Performance Requirements
     A. General
     B. NuKlear Qualities
V. Pre-Application Requirements
     A. Weather
     B. Surroundings
VI. Cleaning
     A. Sodium Percarbonate Wash
     B. Rinsing and Neutralization
     C. Drying and Testing
VII Installing NuKlear
     A. Test the Coating
     B. Sprayer Recommendations
     C. Spraying and Sealing the Wood
     D. Coating the Support Structures
     E. Curing
     D. Potential Problems
IX. Crystal Nu for Commercial Applications


Wood Coating Introduction

Over the years multiple methods and formulas have been used for sealing and protecting wood from environmental attack. Most of them have provided some measure of prolonged wood life. Today, with increasing material and labor costs coupled with dwindling resources, it is more essential than ever to provide a protective system that is both effective and safe.

Creating an effective system is an art of solving paradoxes.

The coating must be hard to resist rain,
hail and foot traffic.
The coating must be soft and flexible to expand as the wood moves with temperature changes.
The coating must be a solid film to prohibit
water from entering the wood.
The coating must be porous to allow water to escape from the wood.
The coating must be toxic to mold, algae
and other micro-biological entities.
The coating must be non-toxic to humans, pets and other higher life forms.
The coating must block the sun from
damaging the underlying wood.
The coating must be transparent so the natural beauty of the wood can be seen.

We believe that NuKlear is that system.

This document has been prepared with the professional installer in mind. Folks for whom it has to work every time. It details a method of preparation and application that achieves the ultimate synchronization between NuKlear and wood chemistries.


Review the Condition of the Wood

Always record the condition of the deck before you start. Any wood not in good condition should be pointed out to the property owner. Before beginning, replace all deteriorated wood including boards that may have interior rot associated with oil treatment. Accept no job if the deck has rotten boards unless the owner replaces them. Cleaning and sealing unsound decks can be very dangerous to your business.

The contractor must find the best coating method for each type of wood that is to be used on the deck. The coating method will change slightly from one wood to another so care must be taken in the initial steps before a deck is coated.

  1. Checks & Splits

Boards that have perpendicular checks must be replaced because the boards are showing the first signs of permanent damage. These boards will fail to hold a coating. One or two boards could destroy your credibility with your customer. They also could be the source of a future accident from a board failure to carry a load. These boards are the first stages of a rotten board that has a dry rot core.
You can determine these boards because the deck will be springy when walking or jumping on the deck boards. If the deck design is not sound, be sure to tell the owner. Repair of poorly designed decks may cause you to share the liability in the event of an accident. Be sure in these cases that the owner signs off the liability to himself if he insists on you repairing his deck and modifying the design.

  2. Upstanding Knotholes

If knots on the deck are protruding, you know that the wood is old and damaged or the deck was cleaned improperly with caustic and was never neutralized. Sand down the knots until they are flush with the deck surface.

  3. Dirt & Oil

Extremely dirty decks should be given a preliminary cleaning with an oxygen based cleaner. This will remove excess organic dirt and mold or fungal growth. Any areas that have oil stains should be remediated using WonderMicrobes or an orange-based cleaner. Do not use detergent or other surfactant products.


Types of Wood

  A. Pressure Treated -- CCA

The treated woods are saturated with water and anti-rot salts. These woods can not be sealed with the non-breathing coatings such as conventional acrylics. These coatings have a tendency to flow on the surface of the wood and crack and peel when the wood starts to move during dynamic temperature and daily moisture changes. Consequently, the coating must have tiny breathing pores so water vapor can escape and permit the treated wood to slowly cure without major cracking and checking. The curing process must be fast enough to cure the lumber and trap the protective salts into the wood. It must release the water slow enough so that the stress of drying relieves the fiber stress slowly in order to stop extreme checking and violent cracking. Since decks and lawn furniture are mostly treated lumber, encapsulation of this lumber is extremely important for the well being and safety of the average family. However, penetrating aqueous coatings must be practical for all woods no matter what type.

Be extremely careful when working with CCA treated woods. Sanding and cutting operations will release arsenic particles that are easily absorbed by the lungs or even through the skin. Always wear a dust mask and collect all dust for proper disposal in the trash.

  B. Hard Woods

The hard woods are more difficult for a coating to penetrate and inundate the fibers because of the hardness and the tight packing of the fibers. These woods must be very clean and the wood temperature must be higher to permit proper penetration of NuKlear deep into the substrate. Good penetration means excellent wetting of the fibers. These woods are normally very acidic so the coating must have sufficient time to soak in and attach to the fibers. Some kiln dried hard woods are so hard and dense that the coating must be heated to assure penetration into the cell wall fiber. Decks made from these woods can not have snaps in temperatures because they will reject the coating. We observe this when the coating is poorly established into the fiber of the cell wall of the wood. Preliminary tests should be run back in the shop to see what technique gives the best penetration results. With hard woods caution should always be taken because you may not know the degree of cure of the wood. The harder the wood the more difficult it is to penetrate to the fibers. In those cases pre-testing is necessary. Contact your distributor and they or the NuKlear laboratory will test it for you. They can make the adjustments to assure the proper application for the wood and its condition.


Properties of a Good Wood Sealer


NuKlear Specific Attributes

Once the coating soaks in adequately, the reaction usually only takes several seconds but can take several hours to occur. When all the free water is expelled from the fiber the coating can handle -40 degree Fahrenheit without any problems. The time to react with the fiber is dependent upon the temperature and humidity. With temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit in a drying atmosphere penetration will be in seconds.

Note: The attachment to the fiber will take longer because the coating must dehydrate the water in the fiber for attachment to occur. This dehydration process is very similar to how paper is made. The water and pulp mixture is dehydrated and the hydrogen bonds in the fiber reestablish themselves and paper is made. In the case of the coating, the polymer dehydrates the fiber surface of its water of hydration and leaves the fiber and polymer to coalesce to each other. Once this physical phenomenon has occurred, then, with the help of catalysts, a chemical condensation reaction occurs expelling the water and establishing a link between the polymer and the wood fiber in the wall of the wood cell. The time for every reaction to be finalized can take several seconds to several hours. Within a week the coating is finally established and it can be said that it is stable. Even shocking the coating with hot water at -40 degrees will not bother the coating, blister it nor even damage the bond.

NuKlear also comes in a Fire Retardant version. The NuKlear FR also has high and low viscosity versions. They are used the same way as described in this document. These coatings are to be used for thatched, asphalt shingled, and shake shingled roofs. Decks can be coated as well, but testing on the substrate is required before doing an entire deck.


Preparing for your NuKlear Application


The conditions to be sure to have before doing a deck coating project:


Consider the environment that you are working in. Try to prevent over spray from returning to already painted surfaces, and near by ponds, lakes or rivers, or vehicles. Use backer boards that are designed to absorb over spray and runs on the board.

  Safety Precautions

Be sure all electrical boxes are turned off. Then secure all electrical appliances with grounded wire to prevent shock or shorts from occurring.

Be sure all furniture, tools or toys are off the deck before you start. Do not place them where any chemical or rinse from the operation can spatter or over spray on to them. Clear away anything under the deck as well.

Before using ladders, lifts or scaffolding be sure the ground will support the base of these implements. Be sure that they can be secured and no electrical lines are in the way.


Cleaning the Wood

Use the following caustic wash technique on all wooden decks whether pressure treated or not. Use this method for new wood or old wood. This technique minimizes failures and stops a deck from failing without reason. Anytime we are not sure about the wood on a deck we should do a test to make sure the coating is bonding properly. If the coating is not penetrating like it should, then we can correct the coating before we start the job.

Additional items to prevent damage to your deck.

  Oxygen Bleach Wash

  Drying the Deck


Installing NuKlear

  Test the coating in a small area.

Before starting test the coating in an obscure portion of the deck to determine how well it soaks into the wood. Brush on a small amount and observe how well it soaks into the wood. Poor or inadequate penetration is evidenced by puddling or fish eyes. Based on your observations add various amount of Refresher to the NuKlear in order to control the level of penetration. The Refresher is added at 4 ounces per 5-gallons up to 16 ounces per 5-gallons for the really hard woods. Usually, 8 ounces per 5-gallons is adequate.

If you're working at high temperatures watch how quickly the NuKlear dries. If necessary add additional distilled water to the NuKlear to slow down the drying process.

  Sprayer Recommendations

NuKlear can be sprayed with a low pressure sprayer such as a Deckmate or garden sprayer that is capable of producing 100 psi. NuKlear can also be sprayed with an airless sprayer capable of 2000 to 3500 psi. Recommended nozzle size is in a range from 411 to 517.
The first number is the one half the spray pattern and the second number is the orifice.

  Spraying and Sealing the Wood

Spray three to four boards at a time and back brush with a paint pad. Keep the coating thin as possible with no puddling. The first coat will absorb readily within 5 to 10 minutes.

When a drying appearance starts to show spray the second coat on the first set of boards and the first coat on the second set of boards at the same time. Back brush the coating on both sets simultaneously. Then apply the second coat to the second set of boards and the first coating to the third set of boards remembering to back brush.

Repeat this operation all the way across the deck until you arrive at the other end of the deck.

This method is called a shingling painting technique and it permits multiple coatings of NuKlear without surface defects. If the coating needs to be applied multiple times again, then back-brush thin coatings of NuKlear down by only wetting the surface slightly. You will see a build of the coating. If the color is where you want it, then use the clear version for additional coats to avoid making the color too dark.

The pigment stain is in the coating and each lay will only darken the coating. Do not touch up with colored NuKlear because it will give a darker color than the surrounding touched up areas. The result is spots and blotches, a very unnatural look. The appearance of the deck should look uniform in color and texture up close or at a distance. When a rich color balance is achieved, then the deck is correctly coated.

  Coating the Support Structures

The deck superstructure i.e. rafters, flying jacks, and trellis beams can have one heavy coat, but be sure that this coat soaks in to the fiber so that there is a uniform color and texture. The wood grain and knots must be sharp and clearly obvious to the eye. Do not coat too heavy for fear of runs and streaking. If you find that the coating is not penetrating deep enough into the wood add Refresher to the NuKlear.


NuKlear will normally dry to the touch and be resistant to light rain within one hour of the final coat installation. This time will be extended at cooler temperatures or higher humidity levels. NuKlear takes about one week to reach full hardness. When fully cured NuKlear is resistant to scratches and normal traffic.

  Potential Problems.

  1. If a milky color appears it is because water is under the coating. Wipe the area down with Refresher and after it has dried and recoat with NuKlear. Keep the coating thin so the water moisture can evaporate through the coating. The resultant coating will prevent moisture from coming through the surface of the coating.
  2. If hand railings receive lots of wear form hand traffic or bird droppings use a thin coat of Crystal Nu 40%, moisture cured urethane, to stop the abrasive or chemical wear from hand oils and pounding rain.
  3. Decks that use Cedar or Cypress sometime become too tacky to deal with in a normal manner. Use Crystal Nu 40% to kill tack and give a tough skin coating to the NuKlear.
  4. Applications using Cape Cod White, Adirondack Blue or Green NuKlear must be checked to see if they are penetrating into to wood properly. This heavier pigment loading must have Refresher in them to be sure that the pigment is penetrating into the fiber portion of the wood or they will float on the substrate.
  5. When the coating wears away, then the pigment is gone as well. Consequently, penetration of the pigment into the fiber is very important. Pigment for the most part resists penetration because of the charge of the pigment particles. However, once the pigment is into the film of the wood it can be very stable with the polymer vehicle. All our NuKlear pigmented products carry the stain in the polymeric phase, hence the wood is never stained. When you remove the coating, the stain is removed as well. Once the color is obtained stop adding additional layers of NuKlear pigmented version and go to the clear version so the color is fixed at the desired level.


Crystal Nu Aliphatic Moisture Cured Urethane

For commercial deck for public areas and restaurants Crystal Nu 60% can be applied over the NuKlear to give a high gloss and a very tough wearing surface. This rubberized tough coating will give the high abrasive resistant surface that is needed for high traffic areas. The coating is self-cleaning and dirt-free requiring minimum care.

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September 26, 2013
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