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Re: Stand and Canopy finish

Ray wrote:

> Now I want to finish the stand  and canopy myself. I just did not care for
> the standard finishes that were offer. I do not know whether it was my
> interior design background or my need to be diffferent, but I chose to
> it myself. So I need your help to make sure I do this right and do not
> endanger my fish, with a toxic finish. I have looked at a stain called
> (it is semi transparent) and that would be finished  (sealed) with a
> polyurethane finish.  I have also  been shown an enamel finish, which can
> latex or oil based. The problem is, I have also considered a black satin
> finish, similiar to lacquer but I do not think that this is a safe finish
> the aquarium.

You don't tell us what the base material is that the stand and hood  are
built from - are they high quality hardwood, plywood, or MDF? Your choice of
final finish can depend to some extent on what you are starting with - it
would be a shame to hide a high quality hardwood under a colored finish but
MDF begs for an opague finish material (not that I'd recommend MDF for use
near an aquarium).

I have built several stands and am in the process of making a full hood in
oak for my 130G tank. The best surface finish for anything which is going to
be exposed to water is a two part marine grade epoxy designed for boat
builders. They can be "clear" or any color you wish but this is not
accomplished with a "stain" on the wood, it is accomplished by encorporating
the color into the epoxy. I would recommend that you use a finish of this
type for the interior of the hood. Make sure that you get one which has a
high resistance to UV. High levels of UV light can and will break down any
finsish, given enough time, and in a high humidity environment (like the
interior of an aquarium hood) this process is accellerated. Count on
re-surfacing the interior of the hood every couple of years (sanding down
the old finish first). A "spar" varnish would be O.K. on the outside of the
hood and on the stand, and you can use stains underneath spar varnish
providing it is a type which uses a similar chemistry. The main issue is
making sure that the various finish layers will bond to one another and not
separate. Polyurethane is NOT something I'd recommend - sure it looks great
and it is easy to use and you can even get water based ones today but they
are not designed for the rigours of a finish used around water. Latex based
(or anything which cleans up with water) finishes are not going to be
suitable - oil based finishes, while trickier to use for a beginner, are
much more resistant to moisture.

For my new oak light hood, I'm using 2 part epoxy on the interior of the
hood and I'm not really concerned with reflectance as I will be installing
compact fluorescent fixtures into it and they have very efficient relectors
as part of the fixture. The exterior of the hood will be given five coats of
spar varnish (with all of the sanding and fussing involved).

James Purchase