Intarsia Wood Color Changes

by Judy Roberts 5 Comments

Intarsia Wood Color Changes

Three years ago I
used General Finishes 
“High Performance Polyurethane Water Based Top Coat” on the aspen for the puffins. It’s still as white as it was 3 years ago.
Yea! So far so good! However the Red Wood has Turned Brown.

I have a unique opportunity to have most of the pieces created for the patterns hanging in the building. Some are from 1988. I can see how wood colors change over time. Some wood gets lighter and some get darker. I have found most red colored wood turn brown faster. I was using WRC for faces however it gets darker as it ages. I use Basswood for flesh tones. Yellow heart keeps it’s color very well. Osage Orange and Padauk turn dark very fast. Purple heart inevitably turns brown. One way to prevent color changes in woods is to keep it in the closet.

So, I’ve been trying some other finishes on the red woods and Poplar. It’s a little unconventional because it’s meant for protecting artwork. Both are Krylon products that are UV-Resistant. The UV-resistant Clear Coating Acrylic dries fast ...but more sanding between coats. They have a UV Archival Varnish that doesn’t need sanding between coats. I used the varnish on this last set of patterns. I used 4/0 steel wool between coats, especially on the Aspen. I applied four coats.

What to do? 

When you pick your wood for projects use wood with interesting grain patterns to have some sort of visual interest to fall back on once the color changes. 

Be sure to use at least three coats of finish to block out as much air/vapor as possible. Using a simple rub-in oil finish or paste wax offers very little resistance for the wood; you’re after a film-building finish.

Keep the wood out of direct sunlight, or areas of high light (which I have in my showroom).  Meanwhile I’ll see how long the green poplar hummingbird stays green.

 



Judy Roberts
Judy Roberts

Author



5 Responses

John A. Huggins
John A. Huggins

March 02, 2021

Once trick I learned awhile back to ward off purple heart turning brown too soon is to first sand the wood to replenish its best purple color, then place the wood in a regular oven preheated to about 120 degrees F for about an hour. The temperature and somewhat slow baking of the wood tends to color-fast the purple color for about 2x-3x the length of time before it begins to change color. Not a forever trick, but one that extends the beauty of the purple color. This same trick may work on redheart, padauk and other colored woods, although I have not tried them yet.

Ron Martin
Ron Martin

February 02, 2021

I tried treating some wood with UV protection spray but it turned dark in time any way.

Vyron Kuver
Vyron Kuver

February 02, 2021

I was using Valspar Premium Finish with Micromist spray {satin}. It is clear and does not have the yellow that you see in a lot of finishes. It seemed to help hold the reds and green and keep the bright colors longer. I was getting it from Lowes and they have discontinued it. I see that they have Valspar clear in large gallon cans, but would rather use the spray. If anyone knows who might carry it now or has tried it please let me know?

James leroy
James leroy

December 09, 2020

i love the look of the real wood but any more im going to paint some piices and use translucent stain, way to much work on pieces like the eagle the beak and feet were osage orange and now they look like cherry, paid good money for that wood and could have used poplar and painted.

james leroy
james leroy

December 09, 2020

totally agree, i used Osage orange for your eagle pattern looked great just finished but now brown, think i will give coat of paint and if some one asks i will tell them how it faded.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.