Outdoor Finishing Tips

Tips to Retaining Color

Cedar Siding Modern HomeThere’s always the low-maintenance option of letting your western red cedar outdoor projects weather to a beautiful silver grey. But if that doesn’t suit your personal palette, there’s a wide range of finishing products you can apply to retain, or alter, your wood’s color. Here’s how:

Begin With a Finish

Ideally, you want to apply a finish to all six sides of your wood before installing them… or better yet, opt for factory applied finishes. That way, you can rest easy knowing your Real Cedar was treated by pros. But hey, if you’re an ambitious DIY improver who likes to take more of a hands-on approach to outdoor projects, then more power to you! Bear in mind though: If left unfinished and exposed to the elements (even for just a few weeks), Real Cedar’s ability to hold paint or stains will be compromised, so don’t delay. As for what procedures to follow for particular finishes, here’s what WRCLA recommends:

Type of Finish Coat Recommendation
Natural and semitransparent stains Apply the oil based stain to all surfaces
100% acrylic solid color stains and paints Apply an alkyd oil, stain-blocking primer (preferred) to all surfaces. High quality water based stain blocking primers may also be used.
Bleaching oils Apply the bleaching oil to all surfaces

Know Your Product’s Lasting Power

Western Red Cedar has a reputation for holding finish exceptionally well, and for good reason too. After all, Real Cedar is pitch and resin-free, which means there’s nothing to interfere with the bonding of your finish. That said, no finish lasts forever. So when it comes to choosing a finish for your Real Cedar project, it’s good to know the expected lifespan of your product. Here, then, is a breakdown of the four more most common types of WRC finishes:

Finish On Planed Smooth WRC On Textured WRC
Suitability Expected Life (yrs) Suitability Expected Life (yrs)
Paint High Up to 10 High Up to 12
Solid-color stain Moderate 3 to 5 High 4 to 6
Bleaching Oil Moderate 3 to 5 High 5 to 6
Semi-transparent stain Moderate 1 to 3 High 2 to 4
Water-repellent preservative and oil High 1 to 2 High 1 to 2

Search and Destroy Contaminants

Dirt and mildew are among the most common causes of discoloration. Thankfully, both culprits are relatively easy to combat. With surface dirt, cleaning with a mild non-phosphate detergent solution from time to time should be enough to restore and retain your wood’s beautiful color. But, when it comes to restoring color that’s been altered by mildew, there’s a little more involved. First, you have to kill the mildew with an oxygen bleach solution or commercial mildew remover. Then rinse, allow to dry and make sure mildew is completely annihilated before coating with some sort of mildew resistant finish.