Wood Truck Bed Finish

      The advice in this thread about wood species and finish products for a wooden truck bed, applies equally well to any outdoor deck. October 26, 2005

What finishes stand up to the sun well? I do not want to use a marine varnish because I will have to strip it in a few years. Does tung oil hold up to the sun?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
No, tung oil doesn't hold up well in the sun. Most "tung oil" you purchase these days is a mix of tung oil, some type of thinner and a bit of varnish. The key to not having to strip any marine varnish is not letting it get to the point of failure, i.e. flaking off. If you use a good marine varnish (not purchased at the local big box, $80+ gal type), you can expect to get two or more years, depending on how much exposure, before having to re-coat (notice I didn't say strip). TWP (Total Wood Protection) is also an option. It's not as warm as varnish, but it's a very durable product. Definitely has a longer maintenance cycle than a good marine varnish.

There are also single component water based urethanes that hold up quite well. Spar vars work okay if you don't mind sanding and reapplying every 4-5 years.

Would teak hold up well using teak oil? Do you know of any woods, such as Goncolo Alves, that hold up with nothing applied? I have a couple of people asking for truck beds, but want something that they do not have to refinish every 5 years.

Have you checked with West Coast Marine for a product that's going to last longer than a regular spar varnish? How about an automotive coating for an alternative to the varnish? Five years is a rather decent lifespan for an outdoor finish.

An unfinished wood you could look into might be locust. I can't remember if it's black or yellow locust, but one of them is said to last about 20 years as a fencepost, untreated.

I'd go with Sikkens Cetol or Chemcraft D-Dur.

Truck bed = deck on wheels. Use a suitable timber (Ipe, Jarrah, Ekki) and don't bother coating it.

A lot of marine woodworkers/finishers around here use a west marine epoxy first, to stabilize the wood for less movement, and coat with the finish of their choice, usually some type of good varnish. Lots of work, but it will extend your maintenance cycle. I agree that ipe would be a great choice. Relatively inexpensive (compared to teak or jarrah), tough as nails (very dense and heavy). Lots of the homes I work in here in the SoCal area use it for decking. Around here, sealant of choice is TWP. You can add a hardener/catalyst for even more durability. But you could just leave it raw.

We use apitong for our truck beds. No finish lasts a really long time.

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