Finishing Western Red Cedar to Preserve its Natural Color

Left untreated, your Western Red Cedar (or Alaskan Yellow Cedar) will naturally weather to a silvery grey.  Especially in coastal areas where a “beachy” look is desired or by those concerned with applying finishes, this is a beautiful, natural choice.  Due to the unique inherent properties of Cedar, as long as proper installation and maintenance procedures are followed, it will perform satisfactorily for many years left untreated.

Should your desire be to maintain the natural color of freshly milled Western Red Cedar (or Alaskan Yellow Cedar), a finish should be applied as soon as possible.  Ideally, this would be done prior to installation.  This helps protect the wood from moisture absorption and UV degradation, as well a job site dirt pick-up and mold and mildew.  Read more about this process HERE

Used to preserve the Cedar’s natural color and appearance, transparent or semi-transparent solvent borne penetrating stains are recommended.  Transparent stains are similar in composition to semi-transparent stains, but contain fewer pigments which provide color. Generally speaking, the more pigment in the stain, the more ultra violet light protection it provides.  When choosing a product, remember, “you get what you pay for”.  Quality stains will have fungicides included to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew to help protect your Cedar, as well as higher quality UV protectors.

We currently offer in our store, and recommend Ultra Premium Penofin Red Label Stains.


Depending on whether you use a transparent or semi-transparent stain, they will require re-finishing.  Service life will vary greatly depending on product used, the amount of pigment and UV protectants, intensity of sunlight, moisture and the surface texture the stain was applied to (stains last longer on textured surfaces than on smooth ones).

To date, some manufacturers have developed water based stains with moderate success, however they do not last as long or perform as well as the traditional solvent borne stains.  As our market place continues to move toward using products that are more environmentally friendly due to consumer demand, we expect to see some amazing things coming our way soon!

Film forming finishes such as lacquer, shellac, urethane and/or varnish are NOT recommended for use on Western Red Cedar (or Alaskan Yellow Cedar) for exterior use.  Regardless of the number of coats applied, the finish will eventually become brittle, crack and peel, leaving the wood exposed.  They are also extremely difficult to remove.

For on-site application, penetrating stains may be applied by brush, sprayer, pad or roller.  Since the stain is generally thin and watery, it is recommended to always back brush and do not allow the stain to pool on any surface.  During application, be sure to stir the stain to prevent the color pigments from settling.  The drier the Cedar, the more stain it can absorb.  Use caution when staining “green” or unseasoned wood as too not over apply stain.  Over application can cause surface film that becomes sticky that dirt adheres to.

It is recommended that all four sides of each piece of Cedar are stained before installation.  A second field coat of stain is recommended, but only if the wood will accept a second coat.  For “green” or unseasoned wood, or that to be installed horizontally (such as decking), it is generally best to wait a few months to apply that second coat in place.

Cedar Sofit Stain Recommendation

Before your next project, be sure to visit us!

We ship nationwide!


950 B Fountain Street, Burlington, WA

Howell Deck – Hat Island

We recently received these pictures of our customer’s project out on Hat Island.   They purchased the 2×6 Knotty Alaskan Yellow Cedar Decking from us last summer and recently completed the main floor deck.  As there is no ferry service to Hat Island, the customer arranged transportation with a local barge company to get him, his truck and his decking over to the Island a little bit at a time.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar is an ideal choice for decking in the Pacific Northwest climate. Naturally resistant to rot and decay, it was used by West Coast Indian tribes for canoes and totem poles.  In today’s market place, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is sought out for boat building, structural framing, siding, decking and roofing.  Due to its ease of work ability, it is also used for intricate carvings and in making musical instruments.

We hope you enjoy these beautiful pictures of the Howell’s lovely new deck and the view from their little piece of heaven out on Hat Island.


2x6 knotty alaskan yellow cedar decking installation

Knotty Yellow Cedar Decking for Sale

Alaska Yellow Cedar handrail

Alaskan Yellow Cedar Decking and Railing is ideal for damp climates

Weathered Alaskan Yellow Cedar Decking

This Alaskan Yellow Cedar was not treated and will be left to grey out, which is perfect for this beautiful Island setting.  The integrity of the wood is not compromised in any way if left untreated.

In addition to Alaskan Yellow Cedar and Western Red Cedar decking, we also offer hardwoods decking, such as our Red Balau “Mahogany”, as well as man-made composites including Azek, Timbertech and Zometek.


Before your next project, be sure to visit us ~ we ship nationwide!


950 B Fountain Street, Burlington WA

Why Are Cedar Prices Going Up?

You may have been surprised by the recent and/or impending price increases on Western Red Cedar lately.   This has been caused by a large trade dispute between Canada and the U.S. that has been going on since the 80’s on all softwoods imported from Canada.  Not only is this effecting Western Red Cedar, it also affects Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Douglas Fir, Pine and a host of other softwoods.

“Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute” Wikipedia

The Canada–U.S.A softwood lumber dispute is one of the largest and most enduring trade disputes between both nations.[1] This conflict was given rise in the early 1980s and its effects are still seen today. British Columbia, the major Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the United States, was most affected, reporting losses of 9,494 direct and indirect jobs between 2004 and 2009.[2]

The heart of the dispute is the claim that the Canadian lumber industry is unfairly subsidized by federal and provincial governments, as most timber in Canada is owned by the provincial governments. The prices charged to harvest the timber are set administratively, rather than through the competitive marketplace, the norm in the United States. In the United States, softwood lumber lots are privately owned, and the owners form an effective political lobby. The United States claims that the Canadian arrangement constitutes an unfair subsidy, and is thus subject to U.S. trade remedy laws, where foreign trade benefiting from subsidies can be subject to a countervailing duty tariff, to offset the subsidy and bring the price of the commodity back up to market rates.

The Canadian government and lumber industry dispute this assertion, based on a number of factors, including that Canadian timber is provided to such a wide range of industries, and that lack of specificity makes it ineligible to be considered a subsidy under U.S. law. Under U.S. trade remedy law, a countervailable subsidy must be specific to a particular industry. This requirement precludes imposition of countervailing duties on government programs, such as roads, that are meant to benefit a broad array of interests. Since 1982, there have been four major iterations of the dispute.

For more information on why there has not been a resolution on this, and pricing is going up, we invite you to read this story from Global News published last Fall.

There is, unfortunately, little information regarding what is being done to come to an agreement on the importing of softwoods from Canada; the current deal has expired, and the marketplace is bracing for significant price increases.  Most companies implemented some price increases on February 1, 2017.

Because of this, we are doing our very best to honor any price quotes to the best of our ability, however, all material is subject to prior sale and pricing is subject to change on a daily basis as this shakes out.

We Ship Nationwide!


UPDATE – May 2, 2017

Here is a great article on who the 20% imposed tariff would affect the most and the approximate cost on a new home published by The Hill

UPDATE – August 1, 2017

Canadians are “Hopeful” for a softwood deal with US this month.  Read more HERE

UPDATE – November 7, 2017

Canada to dispute decision on the softwood agreement with the US.  The U.S.          International Trade Commission will make a final rule on the issue by Dec. 18.  Read more HERE





Cedar Shingle Grades and Definitions

Old Growth Western Red Cedar being harvested to be made into Shingles

In North America shingles and shakes are typically made from California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), and in some cases, Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis); while in Scandinavia and Central Europe they are more commonly made from Pine (Pinus sylvestris).  Shingles are made from blocks that have been edge cut using a circular saw, where as shakes are split. Shingles can be used on roofs, as well as sidewalls.

Shingles are manufactured by clamping blocks of wood into a carriage that slides back and forth across a blade, tilting and moving the block closer to the blade with each pass to automatically form a tapered cut that is thin on one end and thicker on the other. The thickness at the“butt” (the thicker end of the shingle) is generally about 3/8”, but does vary. The final correct thickness for shingles is based using a stack of shingles, rather than a single piece.

Western Red Cedar Shingles
At Cedar Country Lumber, we offer a wide selection of shingles made from Western Red Cedar, as well as Alaskan Yellow Cedar, that will help you achieve the look you desire in a wide range of price points; from custom cut, dried and colored shingles to utility grade shingles that are much easier on the pocketbook, but perform admirably in any climate.

In today’s market place, Western Red and Alaskan Yellow Cedar Shingles are available in 3 common lengths

  • 16” ~ Also known as “Fivex”
  • 18” ~ Also known as “Perfection”
  • 24” ~ Also known as “Royals”

After the shingles are cut, when using the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau’s Certi-label grading system, they are graded into three main categories

  • Number 1 ~ Also known as “Blue Label”
  • Number 2 ~ Also known as “Red Label”
  • Number 3 ~ Also known as “Black Label”

Number 1 ~ the highest grade of shingles are 100% heartwood, 100% clear and 100% edge grain. Western Red Cedar Shingles in this grade are sometimes referred to as “Blue Label”, which is a Registered Certi-label trademark. These are available in 16”, 18” and 24” lengths in either Western Red Cedar or Alaskan Yellow Cedar. Our No. 1 Shingles are also available with a pressure impregnated fire retardant or preservative treatment.

Number 2 ~ a perfectly acceptable grade for many applications. Some flat grain and limited sapwood are permitted, however, there is not less than 10” clear on 16” shingles, 11” on 18’ shingles and 16” on 24” shingles. Western Red Cedar Shingles within this grade are sometimes referred to as “Red Label”.

Number 3 ~ a utility grade for economy applications; commonly used on sheds and utilitarian buildings or for starter courses for higher grades. Within this grade, there is not less than 6”clear on 16” and 18” shingles, 10” clear on 24” shingles. This grade of Western Red Cedar Shingles are sometimes referred to as “Black Label” due to the grading system put into place  by the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau.

Sidewall Cedar Shingles

Rebutted & Rejoined Cedar Shingles ~ Shingles that are sawn and re-manufactured on all four sides to ensure square butts and parallel edges for superior appearance on sidewall applications. Rebutted and Rejoined Shingles are available in Number 1 and Number 2 grades and are available in all three lengths (16”, 18” and 24”). These Shingles are commonly referred to as “R&R’s” and are predominately provided Kiln Dried and packaged in cartons, rather than bundles.

#1 R&R Western Red Cedar Sidewall Shingles

craftsmanship by Ravenhill Construction


Pre-stained Western Red Cedar Shingles


If desired, Western Red Cedar R&R Shingles can be provided with a sanded or machine grooved face, as well as pre-primed or pre-stained in nearly every color and hue imaginable.  There are also 6 “off the shelf” colors of pre-stained shingles that you can choose from.


Pre-stained Western Red Cedar Shingles

craftsmanship by Impel Construction


Fancy Cut Western Red Cedar Shingles ~ manufactured from #1 Western Red Cedar shingles into a variety of shapes that are 3” & 5” widths cut from 18” & 24” lengths; offered in 8 different shapes, with an endless variety of custom cuts and finishes available. These shingles add unique charm and character to gable ends, balconies, fences, entry ways, interior and exterior walls. To find out more, please click HERE

Western Red Cedar Fancy Cut Shingles


Because Western Red Cedar and Alaskan Yellow Cedar is only grown in the Pacific Northwest where Cedar Country is located, we are YOUR premium source for Cedar Shingles and Shakes. We ship nationwide from one bundle or carton to full truck loads and extremely competitive pricing ~ even with freight.

Before your next project, be sure to visit us!

Toll Free 866.757.6343

950 B Fountain Street, Burlington, WA



Alaskan Yellow Cedar Building Materials

Custom Milled Yellow Cedar T&G

In this photo – Custom Milled Alaskan Yellow Cedar T&G for a customer in New York

 A slow growing tree found along the Pacific Coast from Oregon through Canada, and up into Alaska, Alaskan Yellow Cedar trees can grow very tall, which makes it an ideal wood for large timbers used in timber frame construction.  It is also commonly referred to as Nootka Cypress.

Large Custom Cut Alaska Yellow Cedar Timbers

In this photo:  Custom Cut 8×8″ x 30′ long Alaskan Yellow Cedar Timber

We ship very large Alaskan Yellow Cedar Timbers anywhere in the US.

In this photo:  The 8×8″ x 30′ long Alaskan Yellow Cedar Timber is being loaded on to a flat bed truck for transport to our customer in upstate New York

Highly aromatic, and slightly harder than Western Red Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is an excellent choice for most building applications where a lighter hued wood is desired. Naturally resistant to rot and decay with good dimensional stability and work-ability, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is readily available in decking, custom and standard siding patterns, shingles, shakes and dimensional lumber.

Custom Milled Yellow Cedar T&G

In this photo – Custom Milled Alaskan Yellow Cedar T&G for a customer in New York

We are pleased to share this photo collection with you where our Alaskan Yellow Cedar dimensional boards were used to make a stunning fence in the Seattle area. This beautiful fence will provide years of service, and beauty, to this customer’s property.

These awesome photos were shared with us, along with this quote
“We are so excited about the cedar. It is BEAUTIFUL” ~ Erika

Alaskan Yellow Cedar Boards Used for Fencing

Yellow Cedar Fencing


Before your next project, be sure to visit us!  We ship nationwide!

950 B Fountain Street ~ Burlington, WA

Toll Free 866.757.6343

Rain Screen Siding Installation Q&A

What is Rain Screening?

In the quest to finding better moisture management and energy efficiency, more architects and builders are installing exterior siding using rain screen installation methods. Basically, rain screening is a system, not an actual “thing”, that is used to create an air gap between the exterior siding (cladding) and a water resistant barrier that is installed over the sheathing of the structure.

By creating an air cavity between the moisture barrier and the exterior siding, this double wall construction uses the outer layer (the exterior siding) to keep the rain out, while the inner layer (an air/moisture barrier) provides thermal insulation and prevents excessive air leakage. It also allows any moisture that may pass thorough the siding to easily drain away, as well as accelerates evaporation of any residual moisture within the walls.  In the event that any water does collect behind the exterior cladding, the air gap allows it to dry, which prevents moisture build up and rot.

Rain screening is created by attaching vertical furring strips that are generally 1/4 – 3/8″ thick, by 2 – 3.5″ wide, using plywood or other treated wood strips, plastic mats or other rain screen system creating materials, over a water resistant barrier, such as tar paper.  Flashing is then installed over any penetrations and all vulnerable areas where water may pool or collect to allow it to evaporate and/or drain away.  Finally, the exterior siding is installed by adhering it to the furring strips, thus creating the air gap behind for air flow.

Be sure to contact your local building department for specific codes on rain screen installation in your area and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure the success of your project.

In these photos, 1×6 Alaskan Yellow Cedar dimensional boards were used as exterior siding over rain screening.  Simply beautiful, durable and eco-friendly.  Alaksan Yellow Cedar, also referred to as Nootka Cypress, has almost always been identified by the species label nootkatensis (so named for the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Canada).  However, the genus of the tree has been changed many times with the most recent being in the Cuypressus genus.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar Rain screen Siding



Alaskan Yellow Cedar used as siding over rain screen

photos and craftsmanship by Kreider Construction of Anacortes, WA 

Although rain screening installation costs more than more traditional U.S. exterior siding methods, it can prevent costlier problems, such as rot and decay, later on.  It also can add green benefits to your project due to the thermal insulation properties, as well as adding to the longevity of the structure and the building materials used, thus reducing waste.

Toll Free 866.757.6343    Fax  360.757.6343

We Ship Nationwide!