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Aquatic Wood Coating Brings Environmentally-Safe Wood Finishes to Michiana

Photography Provided

Woodworking is an awe-inspiring form of artistry. From the time the craftsman chooses a piece of wood, he has an idea of what he will do with it. Based on that concept, he fashions something unique, whether that’s a table, a lap desk or even kitchenware like a bowl or spoon. After the final nail has been pounded in and the edges have been sanded, the project isn’t done — not until it is finished or coated with paint or a transparent stain that will enhance the woodgrain and add some color.

Since the early 1900s, oil-based stains have been widely used, and preferred, by woodworkers around the world. There are dozens of different natural-looking colors to choose from, from ebony, which is a dark black-brown, to pine, which is a pale beige. Since these stains dry slowly, it has an even look to it. However, oil-based finishes also have drawbacks, like fading over time, being less environmentally-friendly and having odorous fumes that can linger for months after application.

Water-based finish is a relatively new kid on the block in the woodworking world. Although it doesn’t provide as much protection from the elements and requires more maintenance, it has plenty of benefits. Water-based coating lasts longer, is much less flammable, dries faster and cleans easier.

Aquatic Wood Coating, a business in Millersburg, specializes in water-based finishes.

“We provide a finishing service and we distribute retail and wholesale exterior and interior paints,” says business owner Lavern Yoder. “What sets us apart from an average finish shop is that we are all water base.”

Yoder, who was in the furniture coating business for 16 years before starting Aquatic Wood Coating, was made aware of water-based options when the environmental movement gained momentum in the 2000s and 2010s.

“I knew that water-bases were going to be coming in,” Yoder says.

After exploring his options, he decided to partner with Dave Bontrager and Anthony

Yoder to start a business that would only sell water-based products.

“We have basically no VOC, no formaldehyde, no cyanide, no bad chemicals that are in your regular coatings,” Lavern says.

Since water-based stains are free from those toxic chemicals, they do not outgas like oil-based finishes.

“Our mission, our goal is to give people a nice finish with no smell and without having nose burn and eye burn when they get their piece of furniture or kitchen cabinet,” Yoder says.

On top of that, water-base and oil-base stains have the same color variety. As an added bonus, water-based coatings don’t yellow over time.

“They may have a different touch and feel to it,” Yoder says. “As far as the color itself, if you see a nice stain you want at [a big box store], we can match that stain color.”

The guys at Aquatic Wood Coating can also coat furniture and cabinets for customers.

“That’s a service we provide. We can do any stain, paint, or specialty finishing,” Yoder adds. “[Customers] can get furniture or anything finished.”

If the project is too large to be brought to the workshop, Yoder is partnered with contractors who can coat the project on-site.

For DIYers, Aquatic Wood Coating offers a wide variety of finishes for interior and exterior use.

“They’re good for cabins, porches, fences — any kind of exterior furniture.  The interior house paints have just the regular — latex house paints, primer, and house paints,” he says. “If we don’t have it, we have resources where we can get it or they can buy direct.”

They also have a paint sprayer available to rent for those customers with larger projects.

Interacting with a satisfied customer is Yoder’s favorite part of the job.

“If they walk into their house and there’s no smell — from either the kitchen cabinets or the furniture — I like to see the smile on their face,” he says. “I like it when a customer comes to me and explains what they are looking for and I want to give them everything they are looking for.”

Aquatic Wood Coating’s storefront is located at 10120 W. 500 S., Millersburg and they are open between 6:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday or by appointment. To connect with the business to get your project finished or to see the furniture they sell, call them at 260-593-0145 for more information.

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