It’s no secret- staining the wood is supercritical. Staining protects wood from sun damage and slows the aging down. This is why choosing good timber oil for staining is important.
And that’s where the debate begins, which timber oil is better? Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil (ATO) has been the topic of this debate for a long time, especially the 3400 and the 19400 ones.
Here is a comparison between the two to help you decide.
A One-Minute Summary
If you’re in a hurry or just want the gist of the entire thing, this is for you. Here is a quick breakdown of the whole thing you can read in one minute. If you want a rush brief or just prefer to make things quick, go through this table.
|Feature||ATO 3400||ATO 19400|
|Base and carrier||Oil and alcohol (mineral spirit)||Oil and water|
|Finish and color retention||Semi-glossy, good||Not mentioned, better|
|Drying time||24-48 hours||24 hours|
|Area coverage||400-600 sq. ft on smooth surface, 250-350 on rough surface||250-350 sq. ft|
|Ease of Application||Easy||Easy|
And that’s that with the quick summary, it is time for the bigger picture. Let’s get to the detailed comparison now.
Differences And Comparisons: ATO 3400 vs. 19400
You can only compare two products properly when you know all about them. The key features might help you with making a quick decision, but if you want a proper pros-and-cons style comparison, you’ll have to go deeper.
If you’re wondering “what is the difference between Cabot 3400 and 19400?”, this is for you. In this part, the article will focus on comparing the key features of both products but from a more in-depth angle.
- Base and Carrier
Timber oils (and other wood staining products) have different bases. Timber oils are a mix of coloring agents (or pigments if you like that) and “carriers”.
The pigments are mixed with the “base” that coats the surface you’re staining.
The pigments activate when you put the timber oil on the surface. The base helps it cover everything properly and the carriers (the solvents mixed with the pigments) help with activating them.
Base will tell you what you’re getting yourself into. You can guess the drying time, coverage, and sometimes the ease of application level from it (fair warning: estimations aren’t always correct).
Cader’s ATO series have different bases. The 3400 series is oil-based and uses alcohol or mineral spirit as carriers. This is different than other wood stains because it was designed to use less VOC elements. Cader has cut down on the VOCs and increased the number of base oils in the mix.
The 19400 series is a little different and has a more modern take on timber oils. It uses oil as a base like most Cader timber oils but the carrier here is water.
There is no mineral spirit or alcohol present, and the amount of VOC elements is less than the 3400 series.
- Finish and Color Retention
Timber oils don’t just tint the surface they cover. They coat it with a different layer (water and weather repellent), and that usually adds a sheen over the original one. That’s what you know as “finish”.
In simple words, the finish is how your wood surface will look once it is done.
Color retention depends on multiple factors. What wood you’re using, if it was pre-painted, how good does it age without timber oil coating- these are some of the factors. Timber oils add a tint on top of that. Color retention tells you how well that added color ages with time.
The 3400 series doesn’t have any specific finish according to Cader’s official website. But the timber oil has an oil base and that makes a glossy finish the first guess. That isn’t exactly off the mark. According to user reviews, the timber oil dries to a semi-glossy finish.
The 19400 series is more discreet. There is no finish listed on the website and no user review mentions it. But the before and after photos (from customer reviews) indicate a more matte finish.
As for color retention, the 3400 is a good choice if you prefer lighter colors. It doesn’t age much so the colors practically stay the same. That’s a big plus for lighter tints.
The 19400 series does an amazing job of retaining color. The darker shades age faster and turn into a deeper color within 6 months. Shades like Mahogany flame and Jarrah brown make an especially good tint for darker woods.
So yes, in terms of color retaining, the 19400 does a better job.
- Drying Time
Drying time depends on the base of your timber oil, but it can be different depending on the product too. Thick oils take more time to dry and thin oil dry quicker.
Oil-based staining products take more time to dry compared to water-based staining products.
The 3400 series timber oil is the classic case of slow drying. This oil-based thick stain takes almost 24-48 hours to dry before you can reapply another coat.
This oil-based thick stain takes almost 24-48 hours to dry before you can reapply another coat. If you’re using this under a roof or any kind of shade, then drying can take longer.
The 19400 series have a much shorter drying time. This timber oil is thinner than the 3400 series, so it dries faster as expected. It takes around 24 hours to dry up. Drying time can be more if you’re using it under shade.
- Area Coverage
Area coverage will tell you how much area you can cover with one unit of timber oil. The unit is usually a gallon. So, if you check the area coverage before buying timber oil, you’ll know how many gallons you will need to cover your whole target area.
Thinner timber oil usually seeps through wood more, so you need more of them to cover a surface. Which means they usually have a low area coverage. Thicker timber oil may be easy to over-apply but you can easily wipe off the excess.
And since it seeps through wood less, you won’t need much of them.
Cader’s ATOs pretty much all follow this rule. The 3400 series is the thicker timber oil and it seeps less. You can cover around 400-600 sq. ft area with one gallon. The number is a little less for rough surfaces though, you can cover around 250-350 sq. ft area if the surface is rough.
The 19400 series has lower area coverage. It can cover a 250-350 sq. ft area with one gallon of timber oil. So, if you’re using this one, you’ll need more gallons than the 3400 series.
- Ease of Application
Ease of application actually depends on multiple factors. The stain consistency, brush using liberty, even adherence- all of these matter in applying timber oil.
The 3400 series surprisingly has a foot forward in this department.
Oil-based staining products can be hard to control for the most part. Application is one of the reasons people tend to avoid this.
The 3400 series timber oil is a little hard to apply but it is easier than most oil-based timber oil. And it is surprisingly easier to apply compared to the 19400 series.
Which Oil Should You Pick?
That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re okay with working with lighter timber oil and want something you can easily control, go for the 3400 series.
If you want something with less VOCs and darker tints, go for the 19400 series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Cabot Gold is more of an interior use timber oil, but the ATO is more suitable for outdoor woods. The finish is different too. Cabot Gold timber oil dries to a glossy finish that looks like interior hardwood. The ATO dries to a semi-glossy finish.
Depending on the weather of the place you’re living in, Cabot Australian Oil can last 1-3 years on a deck.
No, you can’t. Cabot strictly recommends putting only one coat of their ATO on the wood surface. Unless you want things to backfire, you should stick with the instructions.
And here you go, you have your side-by-side Cabot Australian timber oil 3400 and 19400 comparisons. Each point has been discussed in detail. Hopefully, this can help you decide which timber oil is better for you.
Note down what you want and pick the timber oil that checks off the most points on your list, and you’ll be all set.