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.
If there is old paint or solid color stain that is peeling and cracking, you will likely need to remove the old finish before removing any mold or mildew. First, scrape away all loose, cracked, or peeling finish. In severe cases, all the old products must be removed and must be done with extreme care not to 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 that has mold or mildew on it by careful sanding. Clean it thoroughly, rinse with clean water, and dry completely.
A pressure washer may be used for cleaning your Western Red Cedar; however, great care should be taken. Use a low setting so that the grain is not raised or damaged is caused to the wood.
If your Wester Red Cedar lumber 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 following the manufacturer’s directions after you have sanded the exposed surface of the Cedar.
After you are certain your Cedar is completely dry after it is cleaned, it is time to refinish. When choosing a refinishing product, 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.
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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