Out of all finishes, paints and solid color stains will provide your Western Red Cedar with the most protection against ultraviolet light and moisture degradation. Paints of all types (water-based, latex, acrylic enamel, and solvent-based) are suitable for Western Red Cedar; however, those with high elasticity will generally perform best. Solid color stains have fewer color solids than paint and will provide good protection while allowing some of the Cedar’s natural characteristics to show through.
Western Red Cedar owes its beauty, color, durability, and resistance to decay and insects to the presence of natural tannins produced during normal growth. These natural extractives in Western Red Cedar are water-soluble and may lead to discoloration of finishes on exposed surfaces. This discoloration is not caused by the stain, the paint, or any manufacturing process.
To minimize the potential for a failing finish, distractive bleed and/or discoloration, only apply a finish to Western Red Cedar when the moisture content of the Cedar has stabilized and dried. Most primer, stain, and paint manufacturers recommend that the Cedar is dried to at least 15%. When opting to use an opaque finish for your project, the BEST Western Red Cedar product choice is one that is kiln dried at the time of manufacture.
Upon arrival at the job site, it is important to take care of how your Cedar will be stored. It should be stored in a climate-controlled area, off the ground and free of moisture and dirt, away from direct sunlight. Maintain low interior humidity levels (this is the most common source of extractive discoloration) and ensure proper ventilation during drywall installation, texture spraying, painting, or any other process which increases the humidity inside the building. Your Cedar should only be installed over dried panels and studs.
Be sure to choose high-quality primers and finishes recommended for use on Western Red Cedar containing mold and mildew inhibitors. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for storage and application. While either alkyd-oil or water-based primers can be used on Western Red Cedar, alkyd-oil-based primers generally provide the most protection against extractive discoloration.
Opaque exterior finishes will perform best when applied over a coat of alkyd-oil primer that has been applied to all sides of the Cedar, including the back and sides PRIOR to installation. In some cases, certain coatings are “1 coat only” applications. However, a second field coating is recommended after the paint, or solid stain has cured for best performance. Generally speaking, stains and paints will last longer on a textured surface rather than smooth.
Suitability and Expected Service Life of Exterior Finishes applied on Western Red Cedar Siding & Tim as compiled by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Expected life will vary depending on exposure and the quality of products and techniques used for application, especially in extreme climates.
Many of our Western Red Cedar exterior products such as sidewall shingles, siding, and trim are available pre-primed, with low minimums, to save you money and time on the job site! Some products may also be eligible to be custom coated with the paint or stain of your choosing before shipment. Please let our Sales Representative know when inquiring about our products if you will be finishing your Cedar with an opaque finish so that we can discuss all your options. Please visit our blog on that subject by clicking HERE 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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