Our pieces are unstained, this allows a full range of finishing possibilities, including the option of allowing the product to weather naturally.
Since the wood that we use is of the highest possible quality, and without blemish, it does not need a colored stain to hide any imperfections.
All of the wood that we use is extremely rot resistant and will last approximately 20 to 30 years with minimal treatment.
A Note on Treating Cedar
Admire an old, unpainted barn in New England, that has weathered for 100 years or more, and it's easy to see that quality woods, made for outdoor structures, will not only survive but also develop a beautiful patina with age.
We use the finest grade of clear, kiln-dried western red cedar in our products. Western red cedar is the natural and best choice for long lasting garden structures. Please see the Materials section of this website for a further explanation of the benefits of western red cedar.
Our cedar products will "gray out" and last a lifetime, without the necessity of applying a finish. You may occasionally treat the end-grain and top surface with a clear penetrating preservative, if you desire. This will help keep small checks from developing.
If for aesthetic reasons, you choose to stain the structure, our cedar has excellent properties for accepting various types of stains and finishes. As a general note, the more colored pigment a product has, the more it will prevent the wood from weathering.
Two basic types of finishes or treatments are used for cedar: those that form a film or coating on the wood (film-forming finishes) and those that penetrate the wood surface. Film-forming materials include paints, solid-color stains, latex-based semi- transparent stains and varnishes. Penetrating finishes include preservatives, water repellants and pigmented semitransparent oil stains.
For solid color coverage, we strongly recommend the use of either a latex stain or an oil-based stain rather than paint. Solid-color stains are thinner than paints and will not crack or peel, as paint will. If you use a latex stain the use of an oil-based primer is required. For a more translucent finish, semitransparent oil stains are suggested. Semitransparent oil stains are finishes that penetrate the wood without forming a film, allowing much of the wood grain to show through.
You can preserve the original color of the wood by applying a semitransparent oil-base stain of the same color as the wood. The pigment in the stain protects the wood from weathering and extends the life of the preservative.
Many finishes contain wood preservatives in addition to water repellants. The preservatives restrict the growth of mildew and other fungi, which may happen in moist, shady locations. Black discoloration is usually caused by mildew. Power washing, bleach and some commercial cleaners remove black discoloration. Temperature is important. Don't stain a cool surface that will be heated by the sun within a few hours or at the end of a cool day when heavy dew will form at night. The temperature must stay above 40°F (4°C) for 24 hours for oil paints and above 50°F (10°C) for latex. Working in the shade will give the best results because longer drying time means greater penetration of the stain.
This is a basic treatment for any wood that is exposed to weather. In time, your arbor will turn a beautiful silvery gray.
Storm Stain Wood Stabilizer 20024, manufactured by California Paints, is an excellent treatment. This clear, penetrating sealant is recommended for outdoor cedar structures. It will resist mildew and other fungus and repel moisture.
Storm Stain Wood Stabilizer 20024 contains zinc naphthenate. Zinc naphthenate will penetrate and actually harden the wood, while allowing the structure to "season".
Applying a coat of bleaching oil, with a fungicide, will also protect the wood from checking and fungus staining. Some bleaching oils have a light gray stain added to them. Cabot Stains produces a very good bleaching oil.
Staining the arbor a color is an easy process. We recommend a full-bodied, colored latex stain. It comes in a variety of colors. This product will not peel, but it is necessary to first apply an oil-based primer to the wood. Cabot Stains and Benjamin Moore produce very good solid bodied stains.
Staining of the arbor is preferable to paint, as paint will require greater maintenance over time. Colored oil stains are also fine to use. California Paints makes an excellent line of oil-based stains. It is not necessary to apply a primer prior to using an oil-based stain.
We recommend any number of high quality oil-based stains. These are penetrating finishes that will not crack or peel. As with any colored exterior application this finish will require recoating approximately every seven years.
We do not recommend the use of clear coat finishes such as exterior polyurethane or varnish. These are film-forming finishes with no pigment and require repeated maintenance.