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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Builders Group
      Protecting cedar - OT, mostly     



04/22/2020 01:20PM
So I thought this group might be the right group to ask.

Working on an outdoor project - more of a sculpture than anything else, really - the main attraction is a decent sized cedar log - photo below.

So what I'd like to do is end up with it finished in something - varnish, epoxy, or ?? that will allow it to live outside and look good - exposed cedar grain and all, mostly as you see it now. Obviously nothing lasts forever, so if you smart folks tell me that I'd be lucky to get 3 or 4 years even with a bazillion coats of miracle polyspackylester before deterioration, then I will rethink my plans. But if I can take my time, layering on many coats, and could get a decade or more - I think I can work with that.

Thoughts on feasibility & the right coating?

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distinguished member(1744)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/22/2020 07:38PM
Here's my thoughts.

First, keep searching the internet for more answers.

My experience is nothing will keep wood looking like it was just cut forever. With our wood canoes, we can keep the wood looking beautiful with spar varnish which is more flexible than polyurethane and has UV inhibitors in it. Plus we store them out of the sun so they last forever if you take care of them.

With wood outside. Oil or varnish will keep the wood looking nice but only for so long without re-treatment. I'm trying to keep my cedar arbor looking nice by using Watco oil on it but eventually it will get the best of me. Spar varnish will last a few seasons but it too will eventually succumb to the sun and break down, turn yellow, and flake off. Epoxy is not the answer, it's won't last any longer than varnish.

With your particular project, you might want to look at a high quality deck stain/oil and plan to reapply yearly.

distinguished member(693)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/23/2020 08:07AM
Will it be in the sun? I’ve yet to find anything that keeps Cedar from graying in the sun. If you get a great uv inhibitor varnish or polyurethane and are Dillingent about applying a new coat at least 1x a year it might not gray? Not sure.

I have a bench I built about 10 years ago on my deck that never sees sun. Didn’t finish it at all and it’s still beautiful golden yellow. Sun is the problem with cedar.
04/25/2020 08:17AM
Thanks for the input - this idea of mine may require a re-think.

Regardless, appreciate the sharing of knowledge!
04/27/2020 06:47PM
Be wary of linseed oil. I used some on a piece of cedar, the critters thought it was food and chewed it up.
distinguished member(693)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/29/2020 07:44AM
sns: "Thanks for the input - this idea of mine may require a re-think.

Regardless, appreciate the sharing of knowledge!"

I wouldn’t let this deter you! So you make something cool and it might gray. There are worse things. I’ll bet it still looks cool even if it grays.

Try it. -but get some UV inhibiting polyurethane and put a coat on every year!
distinguished member(1147)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/29/2020 10:39AM
I'm not sure this will help, but I built a bench a few years ago for a cabin, and I coated it with Australian Timber Oil. It has a yellowish hue, but its been sitting out in the elements up north for three years now, and it still looks really good. The bench is pine timbers, so it may not be relatable to what you're doing, but its been as maintenance free as you can get.

The hue may not be what you're looking for, and maybe it reacts differently to live edge cedar, but it may be worth testing it out to see if you can live with it.
distinguished member(529)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/02/2020 09:42PM
If it were me, I would go with an epoxy sealer coat, then a good spar varnish. It would require touch ups yearly, and maybe a sand and recoat with varnish every 3 years or so. That is just a guess, but a lot depends on the weather conditions it will face. Looks cool though, I think it is worth trying.
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