Fact or Fiction: Linseed oil is food for mold; therefore, you should never use a stain with linseed oil in it.
Answer: It may surprise you! Our resident stain expert Jim Barnes plays some Fact or Fiction to give you the lowdown on the pros and cons of linseed oil to help you decide.
Fact or Fiction: Linseed oil contributes to mildew growth.
Answer: Sort of fact…and sort of fiction.
In properly formulated oil-based stains, like Sashco’s Transformation Log & Timber Stain, mildew and algae growth is no worse than on any other modern stain. These formulas contain mildewcides and algaecides to prevent or significantly reduce these problems. That said, it’s true that linseed oil can be a food source for these molds. The mildew growth can be severe when not coupled with these mildewcides. When homeowners buy straight linseed oil from hardware stores, dilute it with some mineral spirits and Japan drier, and make their own “stain” mildew growth is not uncommon. This practice is still common enough that most contractors have or will come across this scenario. Unfortunately, homeowners who DIY stain this way don’t have access to the modern mildewcides and algaecides that most manufacturers who use linseed oil include in their formulas.
Fact or Fiction: Linseed oil is just another oil and isn’t anything special.
Linseed oil is rare among drying oils because it remains soft and flexible for a long time after drying. Most drying oils get hard and brittle. In moderate quantities, it is used to soften alkyds and other oils commonly used in semi-transparent stains. The final formulation remains flexible enough to move with the wood as it expands and contracts with moisture and temperature variations. The stain doesn’t crack under normal wood movement and can keep water out for years when properly formulated. There are many oil-based stains on the market precisely because oil stains provide unparalleled beauty, penetration, ease of use, and the ability to reliably re-stain woods. Often, water-based stains can’t match all of these benefits. Linseed oil plays a critical role in this.
When we come across opinion pieces that declare anything as the root of all evil, it is good to follow the money: what are the writers trying to sell? It is easy to point to the worst-case DIY linseed stain and cry out, “The sky is falling!” The reality is it’s somewhere closer to Earth.
Is linseed oil a problem in some stains? Yes, absolutely.
When we see severely blackened mildew on a home, does that mean its stain contained linseed? Nope. It might, but plenty of cheaply formulated stains and coatings, both oil and water-based, don’t protect well against mildew and algae. Algae by itself can appear black, especially when dirty, and many stains don’t protect against algae at all. (Sashco is unique here. We’re the only company in the log home market that includes algaecide in all of its stains.) Any sun-exposed area that looks like mildew should be suspected of being algae.
Do we have to take extra care when re-staining a home with severe mildew? Yes. We want to kill the mildew spores, preferably with oxygen bleach (or regular bleach and LOTS of rinsing). Using a high-quality stain with mildewcides and algaecides is essential for keeping mildew at bay in the future.
Is media blasting good enough to remove severe mildew? When the blasting is sufficient to remove all the visible discoloration, it can be. That level of blasting isn’t always desirable, so it is sometimes preferable to pre-treat the mildewed surfaces with an oxygen bleach before blasting. Will leftover linseed oil in the wood cause future mildew? If the stain is properly formulated with mildewcides and algaecides, there shouldn’t be any problems if the wood has been prepared (blasted) down to the “freshly sanded” color.
So to sum up:
- Linseed oil is fine when properly formulated with mildewcides and algaecides.
- Any stain will support mold and algae growth when cheaply formulated without mildewcides and algaecides.
- Routine maintenance is key to keeping mold and algae at bay.
Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. Learning from others in the biz is the best kind of learning. This month, we’re featuring Tony Christensen with Kbartee Renovations.
Spring is upon us, which usually means business picks up. Tony with Kbartee Renovations has been in full swing through the winter, too. We’re grateful for the time he spent with us, sharing more about his business here in Sashco’s home state of Colorado.
How did you get started in Log home finishing?
I graduated college with a degree I wasn’t going to do anything with and was looking for work. Scott Stropko (Sashco’s Western Territory Manager) was a good family friend and he asked if I liked working outside. I said yes. He hooked me up with Jim Davis out of Wyoming and I started four days later. I worked with Jim for 3½ years and decided that I didn’t want to travel as much anymore, so another business partner and I broke off on our own. I worked with my business partner here in Colorado for 11½ years. Then, about 18 months ago, I decided to split off on my own. Life. is. great! Every day I pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I have an incredible job and I get to work in some incredible places. When I decided to be sole proprietor, it was a little scary. I never thought I’d be this busy. It’s mind blowing. I’m so grateful. There wasn’t a day during COVID that I didn’t work.
What is your favorite part of this work?
Restoration. I like working on older homes. I like it when homeowners haven’t liked their home for a while, but didn’t know they could get it the way they wanted. I simply apply expertise and elbow grease. I love taking a home, transforming it, and seeing how happy the homeowner is at the end. We’re restoring their dream. Their smiles make it all worth it.
What is your least favorite part?
Weather: It’s hard to work around the weather. But then, I had more working days in January and February of this year than I have in March and April because of spring snows. It’s also difficult to manage expectations for people who don’t know that we’re booked so far ahead. They call in June wanting their home done by end of the summer.
What is your advice to a newbie?
I wish Sashco offered the Zero Failures Business Focus class when I started out 13 years ago. I’d be so much further ahead. I would tell people that your word and your reputation are everything in this industry. You better have an incredibly good work ethic and be able to work with lots of different personalities. Be willing to learn. Soak up everything. It’s paramount to do good work and maintain high-quality relationships in this industry. If you get a bad rep with homeowners, that’s also a bad rep with distributors and others in the industry. When you screw up (not if, because it will happen), be willing to fix things and learn from it. Don’t just cut and run. You learn who you don’t want to be before you learn who you do want to be.
What does the future look like?
I’ve had opportunities recently to merge with another company or purchase another company, but I really like where I am now. I like having the smaller crew. It’s part of the appeal with homeowners, too. I’m the owner, I will be on the jobsite 85-90% of the time, they’re dealing with me from A to Z. I’ve gotten really good at selling that. There are people who I know want to grow. That was me at first. I have two guys working for me and they’ve caught on really fast. Eventually, I know I will need to ease back and let those guys take some things over. In 5 to 10 years, maybe they’ll want to buy me out and I can go buy my cattle ranch.
Speaking of cattle ranching, what is the meaning of Kbartee?
Kbartee is a brand my wife’s grandmother sewed into her wedding dress. It’s a K, a Bar, and a T. As a gift for our first wedding anniversary, my wife registered it. I wanted something different for a company name and this just fit. It will be the brand for our cattle ranch someday.
Thanks again, Tony, for the time. Hit Tony up to talk shop!
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Roof leaks? No thanks. This month, we have a fun story courtesy of one of our resident paid geeks (aka Senior Chemist) Jim Barnes about an unconventional roof leak fix, along with a shameless plug for our Through the Roof!® roof and gutter sealant, just in time for fall and winter storms to hit.
Why use caulk? What is its purpose? We’ve got some caulking tips for you!
In this month’s “Here to Help!”, we’re sharing our best caulking secrets.
Want our top tips to make sure your home’s stain is applied correctly? You got it! In this month’s “Here to Help!,” enjoy tips that will have you staining like the pros!
Technical Report | The Role of Coating Breathability in Preventing Rot in Log and Timber Structures
It’s common knowledge that moisture trapped in wood will, over time, lead to rot. Because significant rot can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, it’s imperative to use a coating (stain, paint, varnish, etc.) that will both prevent most moisture from getting into wood in the first place, and also provide an escape route for moisture that does get into the wood. Voices on the internet and elsewhere would tell you that this has more to do with the breathability of the coating itself. Breathability is important, because no matter how carefully built, properly stained, or well-maintained a structure is, some liquid water will eventually get past the outer defenses and into a building. But the breathability of a coating is not the primary factor in preventing rot. So, what is?
- A discussion about the breathability of water-based stains and paints, as well as certain types of oil-based stains
- Why breathability of stain or paint is not the primary factor in prevention of rot — elasticity is
- Visibility of the wood underneath stain or paint is necessary in order to inspect and catch potential problems early on
- Review of the general breathability of different types of coatings (paint, stain, urethane, etc.)
“When it comes to stain principles, I have developed a few rules by which I live…Understanding this will help you sleep well at night.” What are these peace-proven principles? Our very own log home expert and Southeast Territory Rep extraordinaire, Paul Peebles, spills the beans in this month’s “can’t miss” training article.
Call us crazy, but we’re betting this troublesome trio probably wasn’t part of the vision when you imagined your dream log home. Good news! Protecting your log home dream is possible. Check out this month’s “Here to help!” article for tips on how to save money, protect your home, and prevent big-time headaches!