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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Western Red Cedar Care & Maintenance

Outdoor Cedar Care & Maintenance

As written by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association

The surfaces of finished Western Red Cedar decks, siding and trim boards exposed outdoors inevitably become dirty and may also be discolored by mildew, algae and moss. These natural elements slowly erode any previous applied finishes and as a result, all exterior cedar requires regular cleaning and maintenance to perform and look its best. The degree of maintenance required depends on local conditions, the type of finish used and end use of the cedar building materials.

 

DISCOLORATION OF FINISHES ON WESTERN RED CEDAR

Western Red Cedar enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a wood that takes and holds a range of finishes for extended periods. Nevertheless, the usual lifespan of a finish will be shortened by degradation and discoloration. The causes of discoloration often require remedial treatment.

Western Red Cedar skirl bevel siding, also commonly called wavy cedar siding

DIRT

Dirt is the most benign cause of discoloration. A periodic cleaning with a mild, non-phosphate detergent solution will usually restore the surface finish.

MILDEW

Mildew is a common form of discoloration of paints and stains caused by staining fungi. Re-staining does not solve a mildew problem. When it is time to refinish, clean off the mildew with a mild bleach solution (oxygen bleach is preferred) or commercial mildew remover. After the wood has been thoroughly rinsed and allowed to dry, refinish with a coating that contains an effective mildew-cide.

Tip: A simple test for the presence of mildew on the coating can be made by applying a drop or two of a fresh solution of liquid household bleach (containing 5 percent sodium hypochloride) to the stained area. The dark color of mildew will usually bleach out in 15 to 30 seconds.  Discoloration that does not bleach is due to other factors and requires further investigation.

EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING

Discoloration due to extractive bleeding is usually caused by moisture. To stop stains caused by extractive bleeding, the moisture source must be eliminated. Mild staining is often washed away by rain over a period of weeks. In sheltered areas of a building where the stain persists, it may become darker with age and more difficult to remove. If washing with a mild detergent solution does not work, applying a mild oxalic acid solution has been proven to be effective in removing water, tannin or iron stains. Commercial cleaners are also available. If the stain remains, prime the area with an alkyd primer and top coat with a latex coating.

IRON STAINS

Iron stains may appear in two forms: the reddish brown discoloration caused by rust, and blue black discoloration caused by the reaction of iron from nails and other metal objects with extractives from the Western Red Cedar. To prevent these stains, use only hot-dipped
galvanized, aluminum or stainless steel nails when fastening cedar. To clean areas affected by iron stains, use a commercial cleaner from your local home building center. In situations where the stain has penetrated the wood surface, light sanding or brushing may be required.

WATER STAINS

These often occur in combination with extractive bleeding and mildew growth. These stains can be difficult to remove. Scrubbing the wood with a dilute oxalic acid solution is sometimes effective. Scrubbing the cedar with a dilute oxalic acid solution is sometimes
effective.

Caution: Handle oxalic acid solution with care as it can be harmful – carefully follow the
instructions.

CHALKING

Chalking, the release of pigment and degraded resin particles, results from weathering of the paint’s surface. It is a degradation of the paint film, not the cedar. Chalking is a common cause of fading in tinted or colored paints.

PEELING, BLISTERING OR FLAKING

Paint failure such as peeling, blistering or flaking is often associated with moisture build up behind the paint and poor adhesion of the paint film to the underlying wood. This problem is exacerbated if paint is applied to weathered wood.

Knotty Western Red Cedar decking is the most economical

Photo and Craftsmanship by Apex Construction, Anacortes, WA

REGULAR MAINTENANCE EXTENDS THE LIFE OF BOTH FINISH AND DECKING

A deck that dries after wetting will last longer than one that stays damp. Ongoing maintenance practices for cedar decks include: allowing proper water drainage; keeping the surface free of dirt, leaves, tree needles and other debris; moving planters, benches and other deck accessories from time to time to permit the deck beneath them to dry thoroughly and ensuring that the ventilation under the deck is not inhibited.

Before Your Next Project, Be Sure To Visit Us!

We Ship Nationwide!

www.CedarCountryLumber.com

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