How to treat (or not treat) Western Red Cedar siding? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-24-2019, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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How to treat (or not treat) Western Red Cedar siding?

Hi all so we decided to go with to do Western Red Cedar T&G for the exterior siding on our addition (it's not the clear and it has some knots). We didn't use any furring strips and just attached it directly to the plywood and waterproofing membrane. Our guys who are helping with the build said because we get very little rain here in So CA that they didn't think it was necessary to use the furring strips. The side it's on faces east and gets a lot of morning sun and some early afternoon sun. ** Our question is about whether to leave it alone and let it just "gray out" or to stain and/or seal it. We like the idea of using a stain that has some color, we feel like it will make the wood last longer and protect it. Just wondering how long we should let the cedar sit if we do decide to add any stain or sealer to it? We've had rain recently on and off and we want to make sure we let it dry out before doing anything. Also because it's new siding should we pressure wash it before we add a stain or sealer? Thanks in advance for any tips, advice, much appreciated!
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-24-2019, 11:32 AM
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Hi all so we decided to go with to do Western Red Cedar T&G for the exterior siding on our addition (it's not the clear and it has some knots). We didn't use any furring strips and just attached it directly to the plywood and waterproofing membrane. Our guys who are helping with the build said because we get very little rain here in So CA that they didn't think it was necessary to use the furring strips. The side it's on faces east and gets a lot of morning sun and some early afternoon sun. ** Our question is about whether to leave it alone and let it just "gray out" or to stain and/or seal it. We like the idea of using a stain that has some color, we feel like it will make the wood last longer and protect it. Just wondering how long we should let the cedar sit if we do decide to add any stain or sealer to it? We've had rain recently on and off and we want to make sure we let it dry out before doing anything. Also because it's new siding should we pressure wash it before we add a stain or sealer? Thanks in advance for any tips, advice, much appreciated!
It would be an option to not treat the wood and let it naturally weather. The siding would last longer though if it were sealed and re-treated annually. Also the shakes are probably laying flat right now. With exposure to sun and rain they will curl up more than if the wood was sealed.

The only time you would pressure wash siding is if it's old and perhaps painted where you were trying to remove dirt or flaking paint. On new wood it would may be counterproductive. Since the siding has been rained on if you have some of it close to the ground it may have dirt splattered up on it. If so this would need to be cleaned off. It might be possible to brush it off with a broom but if not then go over it with the pressure washer.

If you are going to seal the wood it would be best to do it immediately before it gets rained on any more. It's only because if the wood is dry it will accept the sealer better. If it should get rained on let it dry for a week or so before treating it.
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-25-2019, 01:53 PM
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My house is sawn cedar shingles. We left it to weather naturally and over many years, it's turned a nice gray except where it's shaded by an overhang. If I had it to do again, I'd use Cabot's Bleaching Stain immediately after installation. It accelerates the bleaching and makes it more even. Keeping up with a regular cleaning and recoating is unachievable IMHO.



https://www.cabotstain.com/products/...ing-Stain.html
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-25-2019, 02:19 PM
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There is some reading here:

https://www.realcedar.com/siding/finishing-choices/
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post #5 of 19 Old 03-25-2019, 06:45 PM
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Hi JPSD,

It's more a choice now that you have already mounted it...of whether you want it natural or finished...

I won't allow siding on my projects (Arizona desert or Pacific Northwest coast) go onto anything but a "rain-screen" mounting system, as do most architects I work with mandating for their projects. Mainly for the reasons of durability and getting the siding to last as long as possible...but there are other reasons too depending on the wall design...

Its already on the building so you can't now put a finish on the other side. Wood siding that is left "raw" is fine if "raw" on both sides...but...finishing just one side can lead to issues quite often. This is especially true of "plain sawn" siding, whereas "rift-sawn" or "quarter sawn" siding is more forgiving with only one side finished. Fortunately you have a Cypress species and they are relatively stable in characteristic naturally...

If your not apposed to the "natural look" I would let it gray...there is not need to power wash it, and if you want the color uniform, a bleaching method now can be employed more effectively than later...

Good Luck,

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post #6 of 19 Old 03-25-2019, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Jay - I'm curious why only treating one side can lead to problems? Thanks so much for your feedback!
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-25-2019, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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This is great thank you!
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-25-2019, 08:48 PM
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The OP says he's using western red cedar (Thuja plicata) T&G, not shakes.


One big disadvantage to leaving WRC raw to silver is that it's very attractive to any paper wasps.
You will see their little vertical patches where they chew off the weathered surface wood.


Linseed oil finishes attract some species of crustose fungi that causes the wood surface to become freckled black and blotchy.


As crude as it sounds, what's common here is to spray a coating of hydraulic fluid on the wood.
Seems to hold the color, no mold and wasps won't go near it. Quite waterproof and also economical.
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post #9 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 12:19 PM
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As crude as it sounds, what's common here is to spray a coating of hydraulic fluid on the wood.
Seems to hold the color, no mold and wasps won't go near it. Quite waterproof and also economical.
That reminds me of my first experience on a construction site, a family friend moved the house from a farm he purchased into town and added an extension to make a duplex. The house had greyed siding so he wanted to paint both it and the new siding so it would all match up. He hired me, a green 14 year old, to spray a greenish paint he picked up at the local paints store, a mixture of several gallons of mis-mixed paint they had.

The paint needed thinning so he went out to his farm and brought back a can of diesel fuel, we got the sprayer working and I painted one side the first day.

Came back the next day and the sulphur in the diesel fuel was all crystalized on the wood, his reply to that was, "Too bad, but that is how it is going to be," we had thinned the entire batch of paint.

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post #10 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 12:19 PM
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Hi Jay - I'm curious why only treating one side can lead to problems? Thanks so much for your feedback!
Because the two sides will absorb and release moisture at different rates. Wood will expand and contract unevenly on one side compared with the other, leading to cupping, other distortions, and cracking.
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post #11 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 05:46 PM
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Hi Jay - I'm curious why only treating one side can lead to problems? Thanks so much for your feedback!
Hi JPSD,

I think "Tool Agnostic" covered the primary reason already...

Uneven expansion - contraction is not really good for wood in general and having only one side of a piece of wood finished exacerbates this. This is on a spectrum however, and your wood is a variety of Arborvitae which is in the Cypress family or woods (there are no actual "Cedars" in North America...that's a misnomer that keeps getting repeated) thus, it is a very stable wood even in its lowest grades...

Nevertheless, If I had been your designer-facilitator we would have discuss all these details some time ago. At this juncture, when I come on to a project (in my work) like this, I would make the recommendation to leave the wood raw and natural. My reasoning is the lack of rain screen and not having access to the opposite side of the boards now.

I am currious though...???...I don't use a lot of "industrial modern materials" in my architectural designs...like "house wraps!" Since your G.C. chose to use this, did they place any kind of backer material on the "house wrap" at all...or just the siding directly onto the house wrap?

Let me know if I can go into more detail on anything?

Regards,

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post #12 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 06:02 PM
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House Wrap ( like Tyvek) is modern building code here for condensation protection.
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post #13 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 06:19 PM
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House Wrap ( like Tyvek) is modern building code here for condensation protection.
Actually "house wrap" is indeed part of IBC (international building code) which is in both the United States and Canada...as well as...the individual "local codes" that have regional specifics they often add...

I have to deal with this on a regular basis because of what I do for a living...

It does not...have to be used...and we don't on any of our projects...
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post #14 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 08:11 PM
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Here, it is code. Might be related to the great swings in temperature with high humidity.
My outdoor remote sensing thermometer is in a home brew Stevenson screen affair.
Calibrated against a dozen laboratory thermometers.
Range in the last couple of years? -37C up to +47C. Unpleasant extremes.
What that was in full sun on the exterior house walls, I have no idea and care even less.


Treating one side of wood.
Have a trained lutheir explain why that's the case in $60,000 violins or even $20,000 guitars.
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post #15 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 08:33 PM
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...Here, it is code. Might be related to the great swings in temperature with high humidity. ...
I'm sure it is...

As stated, it's part of IBC and is in most local codes as well...

However, it does not apply to all architectural forms or systems of thermal envelope. There are many acceptations both historical/vernacular and contemporary that can also be built that do not require a "house wrap system." These are allowed in all areas without exception that I have found yet. In a few there are more stringent demands, yet that is why I use my own PE for projects which exceed and/or superseded IBC...

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...Treating one side of wood...Have a trained lutheir explain why that's the case in $60,000 violins or even $20,000 guitars. ...
Agreed...there are always exception to any rule very often...Most (not all) Luthier do often only finish one side...

However, with most situations (again not all) it is ill advised to only finish a single side of a piece of wood. Be it a siding on a house, or a table top. I'm sure this has "work around" options in some examples, and doesn't effect all wood the same, as I suggested with this species of siding the OP has selected...

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post #16 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 10:07 PM
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I'll go with the code that our home construction industry follows and the advice of formally trained lutheirs.
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post #17 of 19 Old 03-26-2019, 10:56 PM
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I'll go with the code that our home construction industry follows and the advice of formally trained lutheirs.
As you should...its the same one I follow...

But perhaps you have missed the point...IBC...or any "code" for that mater, does not govern explicitly for all system and only sets, within the construction industry...minimum standards...not maximum.

As such, Log, timber frame, stone, brick, cobb, earth ship, adobe, plank slab (just to name a few)...do not require...by code..."house wraps" when we are dealing with either historical or contemporary version of these vernacular systems...

Beyond stick framing with wood sheathing which does require...(with few exceptions)...some form of a house wrap barrier with set degrees of permeability, there are others that, under code do not. Of these modern systems, domed OPC masonry, brick, sip, mass permeable, are just a few that not only do not require "house wrap" under code, but would not work if one was ever attempted...Which is why an architect or a PE would never spec one on them...and...they are built throughout both Canada and the United States...

As to what Luthier do with finishes...of that I agree entirely...

If one is building certain types of instruments. It would be foolish to go against the history and wisdom of those methods...Just like it would be ignorant to go against other known systems of wood use with just as long a history of their application in good practice...

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post #18 of 19 Old 03-27-2019, 12:45 AM
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With our conventional building systems and the climate we face,

wood construction and house wrapping are straightforward code sense.
That includes all houses with brick or stone feature accent walls.
I can see examples from where I sit (if the blasted wet snow blizzard ever quits.)
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post #19 of 19 Old 03-27-2019, 05:44 PM
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With our conventional building systems and the climate we face, wood construction and house wrapping are straightforward code sense...That includes all houses with brick or stone feature accent walls.
I can see examples from where I sit (if the blasted wet snow blizzard ever quits.)
I fully agree...IF...we are speaking of conventional..."modern day stick built"...architecture. Some for of protection from driven moisture should be included in the design. It doesn't have to be a "house wrap" in all cases however, and there are other (I would suggest better) systems available...

In such cases the "brick or stone" is faux and/or just a nonstructural veneer...not real stone or real brick work...

As to "house wrap" on any of these, I must say too many lay-folk are getting confused by the "industry hype" and believing that...code requires...a house wrap. IT DOES NOT...it does require (to minimum standards) a degree of what many call...air tightness. However, this is now contributing to all manner of issue with "building sickness," and extra costs in "air to air" exchange systems that seldom work as intended. Thus, "permeable" super insulated thermal envelopes (what we design and build with) are becoming more and more common place. These also meet IBC, and tend not to have the issues of "air tight" systems.

We just got pounded with a snow storm here in New York on Friday, but its gone now...thank goodness. March seems to be going out like a "Lion" and not a Lamb...LOL
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