How to

The importance of sealing plywood in your home

Sealing plywood not only protects it from water and wear and tear, but also allows the natural beauty of the timber to shine through. Queenstown-based builder Josh Lysaght talks us through how he did it in his tiny home. Josh built this tiny home himself – with help from friends along the way – but the process wasn’t without its learning curves. 

Building on a trailer has a lot of considerations that don’t come with building in or on the ground, but it was pretty cool to design some things as you go,” Josh shares.

The warmth and practicality of plywood was the perfect choice for the ceiling, drawers and steps in the small but perfectly formed interior. It contrasts beautifully with the smart black of the kitchen cabinetry and joinery, with the clever negative detailing with white walls adding a modern touch. He also chose a particular Euro Poplar Ply as “it’s very light and great for bracing and strength”.

He says that sealing the plywood was incredibly important “because certain timbers can be very porous, allowing even dirty fingers to mar this lovely light coloured ply”. It also makes it super easy to dust and wipe clean.  

The same products and techniques can be used when you’re sealing plywood in your own home and it will complement the surrounding Resene paint colours you’ve chosen for other areas. Having the right gear and undertaking each step properly will mean you get the best result every time. 

“At the end of a project like this, everyone wants to be able to sit back and enjoy what they’ve made and it’s important to know that what you’ve made is durable, hardwearing and is going to stand the test of time,” says Josh.

Assemble everything you need for your project before you begin - products and equipment. This way you won't be caught short and the process will be as seamless as possible.
Take the time to apply plastic masking film to protect your other surfaces. Josh has used Scotch pre-taped painter's plastic dispenser, which sticks as you hang it. Easy!
Cleaning the plywood surfaces is an essential pre-sealing step. You want to remove anything sitting on the top that could potentially impact the quality and finish of your seal.

Before you begin, remove any items or furniture that might get stained or dusty. Use Resene drop cloths and apply plastic masking film to protect your surfaces from splatters and stains. Pre-taped masking film makes life easy – simply hang and stick. 

Use a water spray bottle to dampen a lint-free cloth and use it to very thoroughly clean and wipe down all the plywood surfaces you plan to seal. This is an important step to make sure it is clear of all dirt, dust and other contaminants that could impact the finish of your seal.

Seal the deal

Resene Aquaclear is a waterborne clear coat and has a whiter and cloudier finish than oil-based products, which tend to impart an amber hue. This means it is ideal to apply directly onto lighter timbers or as a finishing coat over wood stains. It’s also crucial to finish interior timbers to help protect them from UV rays, make them easier to clear and help them last longer.

Give your Resene Aquaclear a good stir with a Resene paint stirrer, then decant into a PAL Speedbrush tray. Using a speed brush is twice as fast as using a paintbrush. Use the same water spray bottle and clean your Speedbrush so it’s free of dust.

Start from the top and work your way down, so kick things off with the ceiling. Use an extension pole to get to any hard-to-reach spots. Make sure you wear protective glasses, gloves and a mask throughout this process.

Give it a good stir with your Resene paint stirrer and then decant the Resene Aquaclear into a PAL Speedbrush paint tray. This will make using your PAL Speedbrush incredibly easy.
Get the job done twice as fast by using a speed brush to apply your stain, but be sure to give the brush a clean before you use it.

Once the ceiling is done, move on to sealing the steps. Wipe away any excess product, then it’s time to stain the drawers. Once dry, use a PAL Pole Sander head to sand the ceiling and a hand sanding pad on the steps and drawers. Wipe down all surfaces to remove sanding dust before applying the second coat of Aquaclear, then repeat all of the steps for at least three coats. 

One of the other benefits of Resene Aquaclear is it is easy to recoat, which works out well as three to four coats will have it looking its best.  

Once dry, remove all the masking film and you’re good to go!

Use a PAL Pole Sander head to sand the ceilings and a hand sanding pad to sand the more accessible areas quickly and easily.
At least three coats will be required for best protection, and Resene Aquaclear’s advanced formula makes recoating incredibly easy.
The warmth and practicality of plywood was the perfect choice for the ceiling, drawers and steps in Josh’s tiny home.

Top tip: 

If your timber is looking a little faded or you want to add some colour, apply Resene Colorwood wood stain before applying Resene Aquaclear, or add a little Resene Colour Enhance into Resene Aquaclear to add a touch of colour.  

Resene Aquaclear comes in four finishes – gloss, semi-gloss, satin and natural – so you can vary the sheen level on different surfaces if you wish. The gloss finish will be easiest to clean and best for high wear and tear areas, while the natural finish will give the most natural matte look.

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