Tips for Re-finishing Your Western Red Cedar

For the best results, thoroughly inspect your Western Red Cedar siding, trim and/or decking first for any damage, mildew and dirt.  Make any necessary repairs, then clean the Cedar with warm water and phosphate free soap.  If necessary, a stiff bristle (non-metallic) brush can be used.  If there is mold or mildew (brown or black spots) it needs to be killed with a commercially available mildew killer/cleaner or warm water and oxygen bleach.  Should water staining be evident, scrubbing the wood with an oxalic acid solution can be effective for removal.

Western Red Cedar Siding Cleaning Tips

If there is old paint or solid color stain that is peeling and cracking, you will likely need to remove the old finish prior to removing any mold or mildew.  First, scrape away all loose, cracked or peeling finish.  In severe cases, all the of the old product must be removed and must be done so with extreme care as to not damage the wood underneath.  Should old paint or solid color stains not require full removal, you can feather the edges of the product to the bare wood by careful sanding.   The removal of any mold or mildew can then be done.  Thoroughly rinse with clean water and allow to dry completely.

The use of a pressure washer is not recommended for cleaning Western Red Cedar or to remove old finish, as it may raise the grain and/or damage the Cedar which will make re-staining or re-painting difficult.

If the Cedar has greyed and you would like to restore it back to its original color, that can be done fairly easily using commercially available wood brighteners after you have sanded the exposed surface of the Cedar.  Next, treat any mold or mildew and/or water staining.

After you are certain your Cedar is completely dry after it is cleaned, it is time to refinish.  When choosing a product for refinishing, it should be the same type as the original finish.  Old latex should be replaced with latex, and old oil based finishes should be replaced with new oil based finishes, with the exception of latex being able to be put on top of old oil based finishes.  Always follow the manufacturer’s directions no matter which product you choose and make sure that it is specifically formulated to help control extractive bleeding and is approved for use on Western Red Cedar.

how to prep to stain western red cedar

Caution:  Film forming finishes such as lacquer, shellac, urethane and varnish are NOT recommended for use on Western Red Cedar in exterior applications and should be removed with great care.

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One comment on “Tips for Re-finishing Your Western Red Cedar

  1. […] For help and tips to re-finishing your Western Red Cedar, please visit our blog on that subject by clicking HERE […]


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