What type of stain should be use for house exterior cedar?
April 12, 2017 8:12 PM   Subscribe

We have cedar features on our duplex. Our neighbors and I have found a company to refinish it, but need to decide on the finish. It was previously treated--I presume with a stain. I'm thinking translucent or semi-transparent stain is best but I am not sure.

We have a duplex. This photo is my neighbor's side. Part of the exterior finish is wood: some cedar posts and beams, some faux shingles of some unknown wood and a cedar pergola in the back. (I presume what I think is cedar is cedar but I don't know for sure.) As you can see it's all quite weathered and the color varies. We'd like to finish it so it's looks exactly the same... but newer. The contractors intend to (gently) power wash with a Benjamin Moore cleaning product. Then... what to stain?

They are proposing Benjamin Moore Arborcoat: this comes in solid, semi-solid, semi-transparent and translucent. My thoughts are that:

* It should be translucent--I don't see how rough, unfinished cedar should be finished with anything that is solid in color, nor varnish-like. But what do I know. Perhaps what I'm after is really "semi-transparent".

* I'm nervous when I read "resists blistering, peeling". I wouldn't have thought a stain could crack or peel. At our previous home, we stained a new fence using Messmers. From their FAQs: "...does not form a surface film when properly applied and is not subject to peeling and flaking." We really liked that--but I don't know what its Benjamin Moore equivalent would be.

* Color: Assuming transparent, I was thinking a cedar or teak color might be best--but I don't know how strong the color would come out.

Would appreciate guidance of type of stain and color candidates plus anecdata. We're not looking to change the look--we like the current look of our home. We just want to make it look less worn.
posted by NailsTheCat to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like BM paint. I don't think you need to worry about the wording on "blistering and peeling". I think that's just KYA stuff. It's stain, there's no film to blister or peel. They're just using "resist" instead of "won't".

The transparency and color are going to be a personal choice. But my 2 cents, that natural finish doesn't complement the combination of the brink and the stucco. I'd go with a semi-opaque with a color that ties all three elements together better.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:05 AM on April 13

I used Sikkens brand stain on my cedar plank siding to good results.
posted by slateyness at 5:43 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]

Ditto on the Sikkens. We've been using it on pine and cedar for more than 30 years with good results. However, keep in mind that it does only come in a red iron oxide colour (that's what gives the stain the UV protection) and that does tend to darken with time.

Here's what a 33-year old building looks like with Sikkens stain applied roughly every five years. The gazebo on the right is only about a decade old, and so has been painted twice, if I remember correctly. Both structures are pine, though the roof of the gazebo is cedar.
posted by bonehead at 7:07 AM on April 13

Also, if it helps, in that picture, the lighter roof addition was put on only a few years ago and has only a single go round of stain on it (two coats, I think). The same with the trim around the windows. The end of the structure, a deeper mahogany kind of colour, is the original structure. It's also in a bit of shadow here, so it's a bit darker in this photo than in plain sun.
posted by bonehead at 8:06 AM on April 13

It's a matter of taste, of course, and there's nothing wrong with going for the transparent/translucent stain look. Just in case you're interested in seeing how full-coverage paint would look, though... I live in an area with a lot of 100+ year old houses with cedar shakes/shingles just like yours. Many of them have been painted over with a solid color at some point, and it looks quite nice when done well. Here's one example of the look I'm talking about; here's another. If you Google for "painted cedar shakes," you'll find lots of examples.
posted by ourobouros at 2:36 PM on April 13

Thanks so much everyone for your replies. One thing I've realized, particularly from ourobouros's links, is that perhaps we may want not want to use the same treatment for the shake / shingles (thanks for the terminology) as the cedar pillars. I shall reflect. (Life is so much easier with askmefi in your back pocket.)
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:55 PM on April 13

Post job report:
* I called Benjamin Moore for more information and the gentleman was very helpful. Persuaded me that semi might be better than translucent, mainly because of the pigment's longevity.
* We plumped for the Benjamin Moore semi-transparent, natural cedar tone.
* After power washing, the shakes / shingles were dramatically lighter.
* It looks great. We're pleased about the shakes most of all. The posts... maybe would have been better with translucent... but the homogeneous color was more important perhaps and it will weather out fine.

Thanks everyone for your help.
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:06 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]

« Older 19th century Asian-American scientists?   |   Missing cat + smell of something dead nearby. How... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments