Since the beginning of Meadowbrooke Gourds, we have been crafting birdhouse gourds. Over the course of many years, we have tried many different finishes. In the past, we used alcohol-based leather dyes (which fade), transparent paint (which peels), and now an oil-based dye and polyurethane coat.
During the spring of 2014, we noticed we were having a larger problem with our birdhouses than we thought. We were getting a few calls about the finish peeling and we noticed this same finish peeling on the birdhouses we had placed outside over the previous year. At this time, we decided to stop birdhouse production to figure out the problem.
After eight months of testing with different types of finishes, we concluded that weather and the fact that gourds are very porous was the issue. The truth is every finish had some signs of deterioration. When it rains, the water will run into the inside of the gourd. The inside of the gourd does not have a protective finish, therefore water would absorb into the gourd causing it to expand slightly. After the gourd would dry the gourd would contract back to normal and the outside finish would eventually start to come away from the gourd shell. Over time this would eventually cause the gourd to peel. Leaving your gourd birdhouse out over the winter could do the same thing, as the gourd would freeze and thaw.
After many discussions and phone calls to birdhouse customers, we came to the conclusion that the best answer to our birdhouse issue was communication. Educating our customers on how to make the finish last as long as possible and passing that information on to their customers. We want the end customer to know that this is a natural product and will need some care and maintenance to keep its beautiful color.
We hope the facts provided below will be helpful to all our birdhouse customers.
- Our birdhouses will last 5 to 10 years without any care, but the finish will not.
- Put birdhouses outside only for the nesting season.
- Once a season, recoat with the polyurethane which will help extend the finish.
- Avoid hanging in direct sunlight if possible, this helps with overheating and color fade.
- When possible minimize exposure to rain and snow, we found that freezing and thawing can deteriorate the finish.
- Squirrels can be a problem if allowed to chew on the gourd.
- It’s best to recoat with poly before the old poly coat peels very much.
- If the color fades or peels, the birds won’t mind they like them better without any finishes.