Manufacturers of oil-based products are continually reformulating their products, in order to conform to the new standards. Some have developed alternative formulas containing alkyds, an EPA-friendly combination of oil and acrylic, to substitute for the oil-based products. Others are experimenting with nanotechnology and modified acrylic formulas that have oil-base-like characteristics, yet are, essentially, acrylic.
Because new and better products are being introduced to the market every season, it is important, tho growing increasingly difficult, to research all new offerings. The sealant that was the best to use on your deck last time it was sealed, may very well not be the best to use next time.
Within both oil and water-based categories, there are essentially four sealant types:
• CLEAR sealants that allow natural greying to occur
• TONERS that are slightly tinted, highlight the grain for a natural appearance
• SEMI-TRANSPARENT sealants that partially cover the grain with color, and
• SOLID (opaque) sealants that cover the grain completely.
Expensive woods like cedar, Western redwood, or exotic varieties like Ipé, or the Brazilian hardwoods, are usually covered in a sealant that allows the natural beauty of the wood to show, while chemically treated wood and older, damaged wood is typically covered with a product that will effectively mask the stains. Most brands offer a broad range of colors from which to choose.