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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The label on the can and the info on the website say that Cetol should not be applied in direct sunlight. I couldn't find anything to this effect on the labels for Pettit or Epifanes or teak oil and wasn't successful in finding it on any of their websites. Does anyone know whether this is ok? I'm in the Pacific Norwest (Vancouver) and just now we have lots of sun (hooray).

I am doing up a list of the important steps and pros and cons of applying varnish, cetol, and teak oil and such information is pretty critical for scheduling (must wait for cloudy days or set up tarps: a con).

I probably missed the info on various websites so if anyone can actually point my to something, that would be great.
 

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Pretty big difference between YOUR direct sunlight and ours, down here in the tropics. I'd think that the moisture content of the air would be a much more critical thing, up your way. I don't remember ever having a problem doing varnish in direct sunlight in Frisco, when I was a kid, but that as a half a century ago and "old timer's disease" may be creeping up on me.
 

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Application of 'any' coating system in bright sunlight (radiant heating) will cause the finish to BUBBLE due to the 'off gassing' due to the topmost layers 'skinning over' or rapidly curing and trapping the off gassing of solvents, etc., .... all the while the deeper portion of the coating is relatively cooled (conductance) by the undersurface.
This ultimately can cause a 'porous and bubbly' MESS. Best to apply the initial coat of virtually all coating systems in shaded conditions that do not over-heat the undersurface and which provides the solvents adequate time to 'flash-off' and the coating to 'flow-out and self-level'.
 

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Back to the Cetol thing . The can says don't thin , I thinned it once, it wouldn't dry I believe them now . Also the can says don't sand in between coats , but I do that (very lightly w/ a 3M Schotch pad) actually in between the first and second I don't sand, 2nd coat gets a light once over . I only go 3 coats , the can says that .(3coats) I use Cetol Light If you want to see my Cetol , go to the Westsail section at the bottom of Resources . A lot of people don't like Cetol I really don't blame them . I do however varnish down below .
 

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What is the difference between Cetol and varnish?
The chemistry. And, it's quite a huge difference.

FWIW we have been using Cetol on our boat for the last 12 years. The Cetol Natural Teak base agent is very good looking when applied to stripped, prep'd wood. The clear coat with UV inhibitors holds up quite well. I used 3-4 coats over the base coat and reapply a clear coat at roughly 6 month intervals here in southwest Florida. I try to do my major "brightwork" during the cooler winter months but it's all but impossible not to work in the sun. If one works in the early morning, as soon as the dew of "off the Rose" (so to speak), the Cetol clear goes on quite nicely and one can easily get two coats on in a single day without sanding between coats. If the material dries between coats, gently scuffing the finish with a Scotch "Scrubbie" pad is necessary to get good adhesion. With routine re-coating and fast action to repair minor damage (I have a couple of discarded nail polish bottles with brushes in the caps, one with base coat one with Clear for "fixing" dings) the finishes will easily last several years at a time.
 

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What is the difference between Cetol and varnish?
Personally, I do not like the Cetol at all, other than for it's ease of application. It colors the wood somewhat and though it looks good from a distance, it does not close up. A good varnish job has depth and a glow that Cetol cannot achieve, but admittedly it is a great deal more work.
However, as with most things, with brightwork, you certainly get out of it what you put in.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the various replies. I particularly like hearing about people's personal experiences with products, especially long-term. These are very in helping to make decisions about using or not using.

I was happy with the Cetol on my toe rail but, unfortunately last year I wasn't able to give it the necessary on-going maintenance that it, and ALL coatings, need. As a result, I've had to clean right back to the wood and was thinking about using a different product. I'll probably go back to it though and promise myself to do regular maintenance. We'll see.

Any other personal experiences with sunlight on varnish, teak oil or Cetol are welcome or tips on what to do or NOT to do when working with any of these are still very welcome since I haven't bought any product yet.
 

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If you apply varnish in direct sunlight, it skins over very fast, but leaves the varnish underneath the skin not dried. Then you tend to get ugly wrinkles as the unset varnish softens the previous coats.

There are two ways around this : don't varnish in direct sunlight (this includes covering the work area with a tarp), or adding some thinner to the varnish helps as the coats will go on thinner.

The good news is that on a hot sunny day, I can do two thin coats in one day.
 

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I live in the PNW and use cetol, I have never had problems with direct sunlight. If applied within a day I do not sand in between, it is not needed and it has never lifted. It does not look as good as varnish, but is much quicker to use, and is more tolerant to temperature and humidy issues durring application compared to varnish.

One option I have used is to varnish those parts that can be removed. If done indoors it can make for a good winter project, and varnish is much easier to use in a controled evironment.
 
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