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Spar Urethane vs. Water Sealer for Raw Cedar?

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Forum topic by wilschroter posted 07-15-2019 12:36 PM 3416 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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wilschroter

158 posts in 1438 days


07-15-2019 12:36 PM

I’m finishing up a set of 12×12” vertical cedar columns to put outside my house and I’m a little stuck on the best way to treat them for maximum protection against the Midwestern elements.

One suggestion was spar urethane but I’m told it turns the product an amber/yellow tone. Mine are already stained a dark red-oak with an oil-based stain so I’m not sure that would show up.

The other options was a “water sealer” but I haven’t tried that.

In either case I’d love to use my HomeRight sprayer to apply. I did that for spraying a ton of poly a couple weeks ago and couldn’t be happier with the results.

Any help here would be much appreciated.


13 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6557 posts in 3406 days


#1 posted 07-15-2019 12:43 PM

If by chance you mean box store spar urethane, I’d use whatever is next on your list. Anything “urethane” isn’t going to do well in the UV rays outside. Should you want to stay with a spar varnish, any of the true spar varnishes (think boat store, names like Epifanes and others) you will be faced with the amber coloring that they have, and they get darker over time.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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John Smith

2776 posts in 1075 days


#2 posted 07-15-2019 01:23 PM

already stained a dark red-oak with an oil-based stain

what kind of red oak stain did you apply? how many coats did you apply?
do the instructions on the product suggest a clear coat over it to maintain the finish?

is the cedar rough sawn with a fuzzy surface ? or smooth sanded.
what is your vision of the final results.
when it comes to a Marine Spar Varnish type of finish, the surface must
be smooth to accept several (8-15) coats. just one or two coats will not work.
varnish is a UV tolerant finish – it must be sanded and re-coated every year or two
to maintain the UV blocking properties.
if the wood is rough sawn with the fuzz , I would recommend a good quality
exterior solid clear stain. the cheaper you go, the more maintenance it will take
to maintain the look you require.
cedar is one of those woods that moves tremendously with the elements.
so you must apply the appropriate finish to move with the wood.
visit a local “paint store” to see what they have with a 25-30 year warranty.

I am beginning to think that you are looking for a product that you can apply
that will last 20 years without maintenance.
I would keep a couple of gallons of the stain you like on hand to maintain your
columns to the look you want to keep. (it is called home maintenance).
you have this same question posted in other threads. soon, you will become bewildered
and overwhelmed with all the responses and options of putting finishes on top of finishes.
IMHO, don’t put anything over it – just keep applying what you have when needed.
[you may be overthinking this just a little].

.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

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wilschroter

158 posts in 1438 days


#3 posted 07-15-2019 01:26 PM

Thanks John you’re helpful as always. This is rough sawn cedar already stained with a dark oil based stain on the rough side, which is what I’m trying to protect. My main focus right now is just keeping it as weather proof (moisture) as possible since it won’t get a tremendous amount of sun.

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bondogaposis

5889 posts in 3264 days


#4 posted 07-15-2019 01:27 PM

Don’t use spar urethane, it doesn’t hold up. Instead use spar varnish from a marine supplier. If it is rough then use a stain, I’ve had good luck with Australian Timber Oil.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LesB's profile

LesB

2664 posts in 4356 days


#5 posted 07-15-2019 04:56 PM

I agree with John Smith.
You could have used or in the future use a deck stain (most places can do color matching) which will last longer than just a wood stain.
Do not apply a clear top coat or you will regret it when it comes time to refinish the rough surface.

-- Les B, Oregon

View PPK's profile

PPK

1813 posts in 1722 days


#6 posted 07-15-2019 07:56 PM

Don’t use a urethane building finish of any sort. That’s my opinion. It’ll flake off of the cedar in time. I’d use a penetrating oil stain instead. It’ll need to be re-applied periodically, but it won’t look like crap like the urethane will when it starts peeling. In other words, i agree with Bondogaposis!

-- Pete

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wilschroter

158 posts in 1438 days


#7 posted 07-15-2019 08:03 PM

@PPK I’ve already used a dark oil based stain. What else would I use on top of that?

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John Smith

2776 posts in 1075 days


#8 posted 07-15-2019 10:22 PM

Wil – exactly what brand of stain did you use and how many coats ?

.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6630 posts in 1487 days


#9 posted 07-16-2019 12:58 AM

21 years in an all cedar sided home. The siding was on the smooth side, and the corner boards were on the rough side. I had to finish it twice in 21 years, and it had about 8 years of good left when we sold it. The colors actually didn’t fade, they just started looking dirty, and power washing didn’t remove it.

Behr Solid Color stain. The last time we coated it would now be just over 20 years ago. Now they have Solid color stain, Premium, premiere, and probably more. Back then they had the plain we got, and some premium something or the other. We used the plain stuff, and never saw reason to spend more money.

This was 2 coats, and essentially it was much like painting it, but paint wouldn’t hang on the rough stuff for a year, much less 15. It was distinct color, as in SOLID color. People near us used Olympic, and had to recoat every 3 years. He asked me several times what I used, I guess he liked staining his house.

-- Think safe, be safe

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Woodlearner

2 posts in 29 days


#10 posted 10-27-2020 01:21 AM

This is great information. I only wish that I had researched this topic more before potential mess that I’m in currently. I took on an absolutely huge project using cedar in my new covered porch. The vast majority of the cedar beams are under the covered portion. Decorative for the most part. The expanded porch beyond that is supported with 8×8 cedar posts. And the porch rack is wrapped with 1×12 cedar. With 1×6 tongue and groove spruce on the ceiling. And well – I (with head hung very low) thought that Spar Urethane was the best for it all. And we put so much care into sealing each piece of lumber before we even put it up so it would be well sealed on all sides before install. I used ridiculous amounts of Helmsman Spar Urethane because somewhere in my mind I figured if anything can handle marine exposure – than it can certainly handle the harsh weather of Middle Tennessee. Meanwhile I’m about to throw up thinking of all the money and time I’ve potentially wasted here. Honestly I can’t even imagine how I can fix this issue. Just hoping for some encouragement and kindness to soothe my self inflicted wounds at this point. I have spent so much time trying to make this something special for my family for years to come – and in all my research on so many other aspects of the project – I failed to research the best way to seal this beautiful wood. So … I guess the best I can hope for is any encouraging words of hope that there might be a way out of this in the future. Like maybe putting on a different product after a few years etc. Anyone willing to make recommendations – other than scolding me for missing this critical step in the process of building and woodworking? Constructive solutions gladly welcomed.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2776 posts in 1075 days


#11 posted 10-27-2020 07:48 PM

woodlearner – welcome to the forum:

sorry to say, but there is no cure, remedy or corrective action
that can save an exterior project from Helmsman Spar once it has been applied.
it is water under the bridge. if you become an active contributing member here,
you can warn others of the catastrophic experience you will endure.

some people just wait until the flaking stops, then, power wash the remnants off.
and do more very thorough research before applying any new finish to the project.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Woodlearner's profile

Woodlearner

2 posts in 29 days


#12 posted 10-31-2020 10:15 PM

So John, I am about to select the exterior wood clear stain as per your recommendation. This is for the nine 8×8 cedar posts which have not been sealed in any way yet. I would like to know your favorite brand? They get virtually no direct sunlight covered by a large overhang and on the north side of the house. 2 sets of them (4 posts) function as massive door jambs which have fir doors hanging in them. These posts will get a lot of hands touching them over the years. And I would like them to honey up with that golden and darkening hue on them. And at least try to get them to somewhat match (at least for a little while) my porch rack and beams that look gorgeous (unfortunately with the spar urethane on them.) I value any suggestions for these beautiful 8×8 posts.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2776 posts in 1075 days


#13 posted 11-01-2020 03:54 PM

EPA has been the ruin of many products that I used to recommend highly.
with today’s products being so competitive, you would have to actually
go into a “paint store” (not Home Depot or Lowe’s) and talk with a trained
paint tech about your situation and actually read the information on the product.
other than that, all I can recommend is high quality marine spar varnish.
but – ALL clear coats can be a high maintenance item, depending on your local
atmospheric conditions. in the sun, UV will break down the coating over time.
in the shade, mildew and mold can get into the wood and cause problems.
so you can see how hard it is for anyone to recommend a clear coat to anyone these days.
(and I have never worked with cedar [rough or smooth] – so that puts me at a disadvantage).
quality latex and acrylic paint hold up the best with less maintenance.
sorry I can’t be more specific to your question.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

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