A Clear Coating for Purpleheart

Advice on a clear coating that won't darken purpleheart. February 19, 2006

Does anyone know of a clear finish (such as tung oil, lacquer and etc) that I can apply to purpleheart which will keep the light vibrant purple color without darkening it? Tung oil darkens it and the same goes for osage. Any help would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Use water-base, lacquer or shellac to avoid the immediate darkening effect. The wood will still oxidize as it ages and change color. Purpleheart turns brown.

From contributor M:
You are going to need a UV-inhibitor to keep the purpleheart purple. It will eventually turn brown. I've seen it happen in a matter or weeks or a matter or months, depending on whether or not the final product sits close to a window. Sunlight (actually, UV rays) will brown it, which to me defeats the purpose of purpleheart.

You have two options. Find (the tricky part) some UV inhibitor to add to your spray topcoats - I'd go with lacquer, preferably a pre-cat or a conversion varnish due to the incredibly higher durability of these products. ML Campbell makes a fantastic inhibitor, but you have to win the Powerball jackpot before you can afford it. Second, you can try this on a test piece, but I've read from some hobby sites that you can rub the piece with sunscreen, like SPF 45. Let it dry for several hours and then topcoat it. I don't know if this would work with spray lacquers, most of the guys on that site use rub-on finishes. You could I guess use a wipe-on poly over the SPF 45.

From contributor S:
Paul’s right – the first choice is water borne clears. Water won't wet the wood out like solvents do so you won't have as many deep vibrant hues coming from the wood that solvent would penetrate and bring out. Purpleheart in itself holds a deeper color.