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I am an owner builder with reasonable experience with carpentry and cabinetry. I am currently working on a large addition to my house which includes making most of the cabinets and furniture. 

My current project is the ensuite cabinets and builtin vanity which will all be solid timber - dressed Tasmanian blackwood. The vanity bench with inset sink has a 50mm slab as the bench top. I am looking for advice on the best finish for the timber , particularly the vanity top with water plashes form the sink. I've ensure the bathroom is well ventilated with a run on exhaust fan the goes for at least 10-15 minutes after the light is turned off.

I am assuming a 2 pack polyurethane of some description although the more I read online the more conflicting information I find.

Woodsolutions Answer +

We agree with your choice of 2-pack polyurethane (or a single pack flooring grade polyurethane) for the benchtop. Make sure you seal all round – top and bottom, and the edges of the hand basin cut-out, before you install the blackwood slab. It’s also important to allow the benchtop to ‘move’ slightly with changes in humidity. Dale Glass Industries (DGI) have an informative guide to the installation of timber benchtops, available on the net here: https://www.dgi.com.au/installation-guide.


We have a few pieces of tallowwood which will be used as a external feature post on our front porch as well as a few posts on our alfresco area.

We would love to keep the tallowwood as close to its natural colour as possible, what finish do you suggest we use?

Woodsolutions Answer +

It’s hard to keep the natural colour of wood in an exposed location. A clear coating with ultra violet absorbers is the best option, but the wood will still change colour somewhat due to the effect of UV light. Also varnish-type coatings tend to become brittle with age and fail by cracking and peeling, so you will need to be aware of the maintenance requirement. Our Technical Design Guide no. 13, titled “Finishing Timber Externally”, covers the topic in detail. Copies can be downloaded here: https://woodsolutions.com.au/publications


I am a chartered fire engineer, and have been asked to comment on a plywood floor, being laid down over an existing floor (existing commercial building).

The client wants to stain the plywood (with Cabot’s Cabothane) and the Certifier wants to have a non-slip sealant added as well (Berger Jet Dry True Grip Clear), to achieve P4 slip resistance.

So, I am wondering, do stains and sealants have to be considered when assessing against BCA Spec C1.10., or can they be ignored, and you just consider the timber / plywood itself (in its natural state).

I have emailed Cabot’s and Berger (I have MSDS for both, but nothing with ‘smoke development rate’ or ‘critical radiant flux’).

Can you provide any guidance?

Woodsolutions Answer +

BCA Clause 1.10 (c) exempts “a paint, varnish, lacquer or similar finish, other than nitro-cellulose lacquer” from the requirement to comply with Specification C1.10, and therefore those finishes are exempted from the requirement to have specific fire hazard properties.

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