4 steps to oil or stain your cedar patio
You have been studying with scrutiny and discovered that cedar is one of the best wood species for your patio. But you hit a snag. Most of the finishing products you know that worked properly on your old pine or spruce patio now have a hard life on your new cedar patio. Result, you are at your 3rd full stripping and are about to put the ax in your patio! Hold on!!
Cedar is a wood containing an oily sap (tannin) that repels most conventional stain products. However, this feature is also what makes this wood resistant to fungi, insects and other rotting agents. In addition, cedar wood is naturally stable and will be much more resistant to cracking and deformation. So, with the right finishing product, you’re still in good hands with your cedar patio.
In this article, I will introduce you the 4 steps that will make you comfortably enjoy your cedar patio. Note that these steps are important to follow. You will not want to live your old nightmare again!
To provide maximum protection and maintenance to your cedar patio, you will need to carefully follow a few steps.
1- Wait the right time to stain your patio
There are conditions to be preferred when applying exterior finishes. If you wait longer or shorter, you will need to adjust your surface preparation and application method to avoid problems such as peeling or graying. In addition, better conditions will improve the durability and the long-term aspect of your patio.
The state of the cedar
Livos Canada recommends that cedar be left to dry for about 6 months before applying an eco-friendly oil to cedar. Since the number of words is limited in an application step form, I would like to lay out some details in this article.
Ecological oils protect your patio by saturating the pores of the wood with oil. In the case of green (undried) cedar, it already has a certain degree of saturation in tannin. Oil saturation will therefore occur much faster and problems due to supersaturation may occur. To avoid waiting 6 months and thus risking to see the cedar become gray, it is best to apply a thinner layer of product in the first year and a normal application each two years from the following year.
In terms of weather, Mother Nature must also be at the rendezvous. Allow 2 to 3 days of good weather, without intense sunshine. After a period of rain, it will be necessary to wait a minimum of 2 days of good weather before applying the oil or the stain. Using a hygrometer, make sure the wood moisture is lower than 20% and ideally around 15%.
2- Prepare the surface of your cedar patio
You’re expecting good weather ahead? Be aware that once your cedar patio is sanded, it must not have anything that settles on the surface. No more barbecue, boots full of dirt or dew! If you plan to sand one day and put your finishing product on the next day, installing a tarpaulin is strongly advised to avoid problems with the morning dew.
Bleaching of the grayed wood surface
A cedar patio that has been exposed to the sun for over 1 or 2 years will probably have had grayed. If this happens and you decide to use a bleaching product, be aware that the product should be rinsed thoroughly so as not to apply the oil or stain to a contaminated surface.
The presence of molds, mosses, algae, grease stains and even bleaching agents are all contaminants that can prevent the oil or stain from performing well on the wood. It is important to decontaminate the surface of your cedar patio with a cleaning product such as GLOUROS 1806 before proceeding to the sanding step. Indeed, the sanding would have the effect of inlaying the contaminants even more deeply.
Whether old or new, your cedar patio requires sanding. This removes glazing from the wood planing in sawmills and opens the wood grain. Most of synthetic stain products need a progressive sanding up to grain 80. However, if you choose to apply natural oil such as ALIS 579, begin with 80 grit and then grit 100. To reduce the long-term product consumption, you could continue to sand using 120-grit or even 150-grit sized paper.
Remember that cedar is a soft wood and that coarse sanding will easily reveal imperfections. When you are done with sanding, take a close look at the heads of nails and screws. You will probably need to push or screw them in to avoid any painful hooking.
Quick but important, this step enable a surface nice and tidy before the application of the product. Use a vacuum cleaner or a broom.
3- Apply a protective coating on your cedar patio
This stage is the most rewarding of all. Depending on your preference, apply a translucent or semi-opaque oil finish or a finish between translucent and opaque using a conventional stain.
Choosing a protective coating
More environmentally friendly, water-based stain is suitable for pine, while natural oil-based stain is more suitable for cedar. It is necessary to favor a natural oil-based stain that is rich in pigment. The increased amount of pigment is ideal to prevent the wear from traffic and UV rays. If you want to match the exact color of your home, it may be necessary to choose a conventional stain that offers a wide range of colors.
The right application tool
A brush. This is the best application tool. The brush bristles should be made of natural silk when applying natural oil and synthetic when using a stain.
The roller can be used to apply a natural oil or a stain finishing product BUT it must be followed by a brush application. Therefore, if you are accompanied by a helper, it can be faster for one person to apply with the roller while the second spread out the coat evenly with the brush. This is the ONLY advantage of applying to a roller.
The paint gun should be used by an experienced applicator. DIYers be careful!
Number of layers
It is recommended to apply 2 coats of oil or stain on your cedar patio. As for natural oil, the second layer must be thinner because they are impregnation products and must not accumulate on the surface like synthetic stain. This saturation principle of the natural oil enable lower consumption for the second layer and the subsequent maintenance layers.
Waiting time between coats
Depending on the chosen product, you may have to wait between 6 and 24 hours between layers. However, you must let the surface dry at least 48 hours before walking on it. And if you want to wash your cedar patio, wait at least 30 days for the new coating to harden. Always take the time to read the label and follow the manufacturer's advice to the letter.
4) Maintain your cedar patio
Maintenance of your cedar patio is necessary if you want to keep it beautiful throughout its lifetime. This includes cleaning and application of a maintenance coat. Depending on the type of product, it may be possible to have to sand the surface again before applying the maintenance layer.
It is recommended to clean your cedar patio once or twice a year and to follow the manufacturer's instructions. To neglect this precaution could generate incompatibilities with the maintenance layer.
The maintenance coat
One burning question. How often should a maintenance coat be applied? It depends on the quality of the product, the weather conditions, the pH of your cedar wood and the presence of contaminants at the time of application. Take a breath! It also depend of the exposure to UV rays and weather, the structural arrangement of your patio, the amount of applied product, the quality of the sanding, your tolerance to wear of your patio and so on!
The real answer unfortunately is; it depends.
It is not impossible to have to reapply a maintenance coat each year under certain harsher conditions and to see the finish stand okay up to 4 years under certain more ideal conditions. However, it is more common to observe a durability of 2 years.
If you choose to apply a lower quality product or if you decide to delay maintenance, you may also need to sand again before applying a new coat of maintenance. It is good to know that this step is not necessary with the ecological oil ALIS 579 - Terrace oil. You just clean and reapply a thin maintenance coat.
The mix of tung oil and linseed oil in the ALIS 579 product performs very well on cedar, as it has a high impregnation power and penetrates more deeply than a conventional stain. To learn more about natural oils, discover ALIS 579 oil, an oil-based stain that respects the health and the environment, ideal for cedar surfaces and with multiple benefits. In addition, discover step by step how to apply ALIS 579 natural oil to your exterior wood surfaces.
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