APC: What is the most significant change to the stain category over the past year?
Bill Gradisher: More water-based formulations are in all exterior wood care products to reduce VOCs. Another notable change is in the exterior trim of houses. Homeowners and contractors are becoming very creative in this area. In 2014, we expect more windows and doors to be stained with clear stains, semi-transparent or solid stains. Also, we’re seeing an increase in the use of stencils on the edging of decks. We’ve seen a movement toward the use of two- or three-toned effects rather than just one tone. We’re also seeing an increased use of exotic hardwoods. These woods such as ipe, mahogany and iron wood are very durable and naturally resist decay. They are being used more to create a natural wood look; however, they are harder to prep and coat than other types of wood.
APC: What are some of the newest developments?
BG: Finishes today can be used the same day the wood is cleaned and prepared. Products using higher solids and needing one coat rather than multiple coats are speeding up the time it takes to complete exterior projects.
APC: What about stain products do we see changing in the near future?
BG: The subject of VOCs heavily affects the coating industry today. Companies that proactively developed products that meet or exceed governmentally regulated VOC levels, yet maintain the same high level of quality wood finishes that consumers expect, will lead the industry. The VOC subject is also leading the industry to develop more waterborne systems.
APC: What are the main trends in this category?
BG: Outdoor living has been a growing trend since the 1970s, when pressure treated wood made an outside living space affordable. We expect this trend to continue to grow in 2014 and beyond, as homeowners continue to treat their outdoor spaces as an extension to their living rooms.
APC: What do you see as the contractors mind-set when it comes to wood care and finishing?
BG: When contractors and DIYers think wood care, many times they think stain. Although stain is an important aspect of preserving and maintaining wood, an equally important component is the exterior preparation procedures. The two primary methods for performing wood surface preparation are pressure washing (in conjunction with specific chemical solutions) and sanding. Wood should be sanded only after cleaning. Sanding produces optimum surface cleanliness, porosity and uniformity. It’s important for contractors to understand the benefits of these two actions so they can adequately inform their customers. APC