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Penetrating Epoxy. Meet The Chemist Behind The Technology

Steve Smith is a Qualified Practising Chemist

steve smith chemist behind clear penetrating epoxy sealerHello. I’m Steve Smith. 35 years ago I invented a product that helps wood to endure, to resist the slow deterioration that happens under paint or varnish, and even to glue the remaining wood fibres back together when rot is just starting.



The History Of Smiths Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES)™

Originally used by boat owners, then home-owners, then by painting contractors, architects, restoration and preservation experts and now by their sons and daughters as well, the popularity has grown as it spread to Canada, Europe (Where it was sold as Lignu™) and Australia. I originally named it Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer™ or CPES™ for short. In 2014 I found others were beginning to use my product name, or parts of it, on other entirely different products and representing them to do the same or similar things. I then branded everything with my own name Smith, so when you see Smith’s Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer™, you know you are getting the original and GENUINE product. The CPES label shows deteriorated wood being restored, with the use of a companion product Smith’s Fill-It™ Epoxy Filler. It is also sold as MultiWoodPrime™. That label shows that it bonds paint or varnish to sound wood, and you can depend on it to do that. I originally had only one label, but eventually learned that different basic functions should be communicated with different labels. Originally my customers told each other what the product did, and they used it because they knew what it did. As its popularity grew, I had to find a way to tell new people what my old customers already knew.

Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer CPES

Restoration of wood and priming for paint or varnish may sound like two different jobs, but are they really?

Wood Needs To Breathe, Micro-porous Coatings Are needed

Wood needs to be able to pass water freely, so that damp spots don’t develop under cracks in paint. Rot starts there. Wood that can easily maintain a balance between its internal water and atmospheric humidity is said to be able to breathe. That’s one of two vital requirements.

A strongly Bonded Surface, That Flexes With The Wood, Is Required

The surface fibres of plain wood are not strongly bonded to those in the next layers down, and split away easily. Yet, it is only the surface fibres of wood that paint or varnish sticks to. By gluing those surface fibres to the ones below, I create a strongly bonded surface, and THAT holds the paint or varnish. That’s the second requirement. Part of that is that everything has to be able to easily move with the natural expansion and contraction of the wood; hard products of any kind just won’t work, as they will crack when the wood naturally moves with changes in temperature and humidity. That’s part of this second requirement: Flexibility, like natural wood.

Restoration of deteriorated wood and bonding paint or varnish to wood both have those same two requirements. Smiths Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer does both jobs. The wood can still breathe and move naturally after treatment. No other product does that, whether epoxy or anything else.

How Does Smiths Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer Allow Wood To Breathe And Flex While Bonding The Fibres Together?

Smiths Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer is made largely from the natural resins of wood itself. No other product is made that way. Those are really big molecules, and the very small water molecules move through them about as easily as through natural wood. It is not easy, but it is how I decided this product ought to be made. I had good reason to chose this path. Here was my thinking, at the beginning:

Wood is a Natural product

Wood is a natural product, made by trees. The fibres in wood are bonded together by flexible resins. I knew that the tree made those resins and oils that somehow hardened to a tough, flexible glue that held those fibres together but still allowed water vapour to pass. When damp wood can dry out naturally it resists rot. I thought that if I could make something from those kinds of materials that could be applied to wood, then slightly damaged areas could be restored.

It turns out that the main reason paint fails is that the wood rots in a thin layer under the paint, but it would be thirty years before I would discover that.

Making Paint And Varnish Last Longer

My customers in the early years quickly learned that varnish lasted a lot longer when they put Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer on the wood first. A few years later it was obvious that paint stuck better and lasted longer, and so did the wood. One of the reasons is that wood treated with my product is as flexible as natural wood. The proof is in a paper published at The mechanical tests are in Section IV. The proof that the treated wood can still breathe is also in that paper. I’d like you to read the whole thing to get a full understanding of how it works.

Finally, here’s an application note about how to use it when you are Priming for Paint or Varnish.

If you want to find more about the science behind CPES it’s here.

What else do I do?

I perform work as a consulting scientist, see here for details.

One of the fruits of that consulting work is now being bought to market to Cure Zinc Whisker problems in data centres.

Copyright Steve Smith 1972 – 2015, All rights reserved

Reproduced with kind permission from here.