Poplar is a popular choice for wood intended to be painted — and for good reasons: It has a good base color and close pores that allow it to take paint well. Little to no priming is needed for the paint to flow across the surface of this wood smoothly, and the price makes it an economical choice. All of that means that Poplar is great for interior work, but it is not an ideal wood for exterior use.
So what exterior-rated species can be used? Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, or Mahoganies are top choices, but wood lovers hate covering up these premium species with paint.
Now that you understand the dilemma, let’s examine the solution.
Most species that boast weather-resistant properties could also be said to have paint-resistant surfaces. The same natural oils that prevent deterioration due to weather can also interfere with the binders in the paint. That beautiful grain you’d hate to cover up anyway combines with open pores to leave a spotty surface, when painted. Other markings, such as knots and pronounced early and late growth rings — added character marks that give the wood its natural appeal — also lead to an uneven painted surface.
The only viable option would be to buy materials with consistent color and grain patterns, and little to no knots or other defects. Of course, those grades of lumber are more costly than the others, so getting premium species that will be painted anyway becomes quite cost-prohibitive. Whether it’s just a coincidence or Nature’s secret safeguard against our painting its prettiest specimens, these higher-end species generally get reserved for clear-coating.
By-Products of Clear Lumber
For each board foot of clear lumber, we probably end up with 2 or 3 board feet of what’s often seen as inferior boards — inferior for clear coating, that is. These boards are structurally sound but aesthetically flawed in ways that won’t show through when painted. They may have wilder grain patterns, inconsistent coloring, kiln sticker stain, or other surface-level blemishes.
While they won’t work for many projects, they’re perfect for an exterior painted project! This is the perfect wood for your exterior painted job! While these boards will still have the same paint-resistant counterparts as their higher-grade counterparts, an experienced painter will ensure that proper priming, filling, and sealing takes place, promoting longevity of the paint job.
While we don’t necessarily carry “paint-grade products” at J. Gibson McIlvain, we can certainly help you find a bargain if you let us know your intention to paint the wood. Why are we so passionate about this? For one thing, we wouldn’t want you to spend more than you really need to, and we side with Nature in wanting to prevent gorgeous grains from being covered up with paint.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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