Marine wood finishes are a great way to protect wood, without all of the hassle and maintenance of using varnishes. They dry to a relatively hard and forgiving finish that provides good UV protection.
The question of when to use a marine wood finish really boils down to the substrate, the type of application (e.g., is it a deck, a railing, a handle, a table), and the desired finish. Marine wood finish products perform just as well exposed to the elements up on deck as they do on interior wood surfaces.
Products such as Sikkens Cetol Marine and TotalBoat Marine Wood Finish are designed to be applied directly to bare, clean wood that has been sanded smooth, or over previously applied Cetol Marine or TotalBoat Marine Wood Finish coatings that are in good condition. Previously oiled or sealed wood needs to be cleaned first, as marine wood finishes such as these will not adhere properly. Previously varnished surfaces must also be stripped back to bare wood for proper adhesion of marine wood finish products.
The question of whether to use a marine wood finish also depends on finish sheen and the type of wear and tear the substrate will be exposed to. Because of how easily a marine wood finish can be repaired, many boaters use it on toe rails, grab rails, doorways, and other areas that are subject to abuse. Gloss finish products are not advised for decks, steps, stairs, or other places people walk because these areas can be incredibly slippery even when a little bit of water spray or condensation is present.
Marine wood finishes are not exclusively for marine or boating use. These versatile coatings also work great around the house on items such as outdoor furniture, trim, and other surfaces that can take advantage of their durable finish, color tone, UV stability, ease of application, and easy maintenance.
Above: TotalBoat Natural Teak Marine Wood Finish applied to a mahogany bench seat.