For years there has been debate about the optimal permeability characteristics for the many types of wood coating now available. Some coatings stand accused of 'trapping' moisture; others make claims of allowing 'breathing' but may not control movement. The question therefore stands, 'is there an optimal band for moisture transport, for a given set of conditions?'. This paper reviews the evidence of past and more recent work and sets out to consider whether the issue can yet be resolved. A new Performance Standard for wood coatings is now nearing completion. It is thus vital that the question be answered to enable realistic performance criteria to be included in the specification.
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