Why Cedar ?
Have you ever thought to yourself, “How can I make a positive impact on the environment?” If you are one of the many people asking this question, a positive place to start is to use natural products, such as cedar. It has been used for centuries to protect and beautify our residences and commercial structures. There are, of course, other products out there. But none can match the low environmental foot print, beauty and benefits of natural cedar.
Wood products require much less energy to produce than concrete, steel, aluminum and PVC. An independent comparison of the energy needed to obtain, manufacture, transport and install building materials for identical wood frame, steel frame and concrete houses proves wood is environmentally superior to alternative materials. More fossil fuels are saved with less air and water pollution. As well, the manufacture of wood materials use 53% less energy than steel and 120% less energy than concrete.
“Why else should I use cedar for my projects?”
Use cedar for its long-lasting beauty. No other softwood has the rich beauty or long-lasting performance of cedar. Cedar heartwood is naturally resistant to decay and insects and also is one of the few woods with its own preservative oils. Because of its high insulating properties, Cedar used as a siding , paneling or roofing keeps homes warmer in winter and cooler in the summer saving money and energy.
Use cedar simply because it’s a pleasure to use.
Cedar is a favorite with builders because it is lightweight but strong. It is easy to saw, nail and drill. Cedar has little or no messy pitch or resins. Because of this cedar is easy to paint, stain and glue. Another beautiful thing about cedar is that if you don’t want to stain and just keep it natural it will still last for years. Unlike unnatural products cedar ages with grace.
How do I protect my wood?
Staining your wood with a solid, semi-transparent or translucent stain will prolong the life of your cedar structures.
When is it safe to stain?
The weather is usually the deciding factor with staining. With most stains the drier the wood the better, however there are some water born stains that can be applied when the wood is wet. It is best to check the product specifications before applying any stain.
How often should I stain?
There are 3 basic types of stain. Solid, semi-transparent and translucent. The life of each type depends on the weather and the exposure (southern, northern). Generally speaking a solid stain will last approximately 5 -7 years. A semi-transparent stain 3 – 5 years. Translucent stain 1 – 2 years.
How can I prevent my posts from rotting?
It is very difficult to prevent any natural product from rotting once it is set in the ground. However, drainage or drain rock around the post will help prolong the life of the cedar. You can and should use Pressure Treated fence posts, which are chemically treated to prolong their life, but even then, their life span is dependent upon how they are installed and the type of ground/drainage they are set into. There are a small number of Treatment products available designed to supplement Pressure Treating or to preserve un-treated posts, but they are either prohibitively expensive or largely ineffective.
Find out the differences between grades of cedar with this useful chart…
Kiln Dried vs Green Lumber ?
As you may have thought there is a difference, but not only that, there is a huge value in the long run to have a controlled and regulated drying process instead of the alternatives. These alternatives which can include air-drying or completely voiding the process all together and installing green, wet cedar outside as a siding, or as a fence panels will yield different results every time.
Being able to expect the same look or product in a years time when it has had a chance to be baked by the sun for months, or else soak up a ton of water from the rains that we get in our region is a farce. It will twist, warp, and split as the water wood see’s direct hot sunlight, or dry and then expand when the rains come. The moisture content of the wood you use will directly affect the usability and the end product, it will greatly increase or decrease the stain’s lifetime on said material. The more moisture content in said wood, the greater the dilution you will get in your applied stain taking away it’s potency and even voiding your warranty.
To go with a cedar product that has been kiln dried to 11% moisture content still gives you the workability as cedar remains a softwood even when dry. In older homes I have renovated and worked on, it is quite hard to drive screw’s through old dry Douglas fir, but the opposite is true with old dry cedar. This kiln dried cedar may take a period to acclimatize with the outside air, or inside moisture levels respectively, but it will be a far better product to work with. It is generally a more uniform product and the workability with stains and paints is far greater as there is no moisture to speak, the grain of the wood is better suited to accept stains at this point rather than the wet alternative.
You will loose some of the cedar’s natural “red” color when you kiln dry the stock, however the use of stains will generate your desired color back and often with the uniform tone difference that you want in a stained wood.