How to look after Sapele Wood

Introduction to sapele

Sapele is from the same wood family as mahogany and the same genus as utile, therefore it shares many of the same characteristics as these other two kinds of wood. Sapele timber has interlocking grains that produce both light and dark ribbon stripes that are present throughout the boards. Due to these attractive features, Sapele is regularly quartersawn to enhance its appearance. As an African hardwood, sapele is a durable and stable wood once dry and is subsequently regularly used for the construction of doors, therefore often painted because of its fine grain. It’s also extremely resistant to rot, warping and insect damage, making it popular among carpentry & framing professionals for outdoor use.

How to clean sapele

When cleaning sapele it is not necessary to use harsh kitchen or bathroom cleaners, in fact, this could cause more harm than good and even damage the wood or finish. Instead, sapele can be thoroughly cleaned by combining warm water and gentle soap with a damp cloth. Soak the cloth in the soapy water and gently wipe away any residues or dirt and then leave to air dry.

How to treat sapele

Although Sapele is a strong and durable wood with resistance to rot and water damage it can benefit from some extra protection. Using the right type of treatment can also help to enhance the appearance of sapele. Water-based coverings are not recommended for sapele wood because of the capillary resins restricting the absorption of the covering meaning a decrease in protection. Instead, solvent-based or oil treatments are best.

How to paint sapele

Before painting sapele, it is advised to gently sand down the wood, the aim of this is just to roughen the surface. After this, a light coat of teak oil cleaner will remove any ingrained dirt and impurities. Allow the cleaner to dry overnight, you can use a primer to help with the longevity of the paint and then apply the colors of your choice allowing each coat to dry before applying another. Once the color is dry, apply a few layers of varnish as a form of termite control measure and protect it from the elements like dust and moisture. Although this wood is sturdy and not prone to infestations, added protection will only improve its longevity and will make it last for years.

How to stain sapele

One way to finish Sapele is to stain it. In order to add colour to sapele wood with a stain, it is important not to apply an oil pigment stain straight onto the raw wood. This is because an oil pigment stain will actually reduce the shimmer in the ribbon and therefore dull the wood colouring. Instead, you should use an amber dye and thin it to around 20% and then apply the first coat and wait to dry. After the dye has dried, apply a washcoat of dewaxed shellac (a washcoat is a very thin layer of sealer). Once the sealer has dried you can then use an oil stain in your desired shade, after the stain has dried, a protective topcoat is a good idea, an example being a spray lacquer.

How to restore sapele

Restoring sapele doors is not only an eco-friendly option but also a cheaper option, and it is also fairly easy to complete. All you need is sandpaper or wire wool, a stain and varnish. Begin by gently sanding down the wood using a fine sandpaper (or wire wool), once this has been completed use your choice of stain to restrain if this is necessary. Once you are done the sapele can be finished with a clear coat of varnish.

Speak to an expert if you need more information regarding the care of your sapele timber.