Intarsia Wood Color Changes

by Judy Roberts

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


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.