Cedar home nightmare

humnbrdOctober 9, 2012

Well, I have been stewing for over a month now, so I thought I would throw this out there for all you stain experts. In a nutshell: Our 12-year-old Western Red Cedar home (we live in the Pacific Northwest) had not been restained in about 8 years. The wood was darkened in several areas from weather exposure, but still in very good to excellent condition. Per the manufacturer's directions, we contracted out to have the old stain stripped with a product called "Safe-Strip" by Gemini, and then stained and backbrushed with TWP 116 Rustic semi-transparent stain.

The results were a mixed bag, but the worst part was the lap siding on one side of the house. The boss was off at another jobsite, and he left one worker to do the entire eastern side of the house in one afternoon. The results were horrible...shiny, dark areas from what we believed was overapplication of stain. We had the contractor come out to take a look, and he told us it was as good as it would get because we had let the house go too long between stain jobs.

The folks at TWP told us it did not sound like the siding was the problem, but most certainly an application problem. We were advised that the darkened areas, which are almost black now in some places, would crack off like a crust over the winter. This could be followed by a light pressure wash in spring, versus stripping and restaining the entire thing (I would rather eat worms than go through this he** again.)

What say you? How would you go about fixing this mess? I will post pictures, if at all possible.

Thanks in advance.

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That could also be caused by an uneven stripping job. There are too many variables to pin down one cause from one picture.
If an oil stain was used it is VERY easy to get this from applying it unevenly, and believe me, Mr. Contractor should know this because of course he, and his man, read the label before applying it, right?
No, probably not. He has been buying and applying this stain for years and knows everything. Well, if he isn't good with the Low VOC product, he can get the same results I see in these pictures.
I suggest you let it weather some, strip & re-do just that side.
No need to eat any worms, just do your homework before buying a real-wood sided house. They come with use/care/maintenance issues not found with other types of siding.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 1:46PM
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Have you asked on the paint board? They may have some good ideas for you.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:01AM
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That's what I get for posting at 2:00 AM. Sorry! Going to bed now. LOL

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 5:03AM
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Jumps' advice is pretty accurate.

>>> I LOVE the snarky comment on the contractor "knowing everything" simply 'cuz they've used it for years (may or may-not be true....just sayin'....;-))

The wood will obviously have areas of varying porosity.
A full sanding will improve it MARKEDLY, but that's obviously tedious. One alternative is cobb-blasting.

Your expectations and $$pocketbook will determine how far you wanna go...


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:45AM
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Well, ya know...we chose this contractor after having 5 contractors(maybe 6 - one did not even bother to submit a bid)come out. When we brought up stripping with oxygen bleach (we finally gave that up and went with Safe-Strip), we got a lot of blank looks. Same with TWP stain - everyone wanted to use SW or BM, or better yet, "just paint it." The contractor we finally went with actually owned a cedar home, and was recommended to us by a local cedar company.

The Safe-Strip worked pretty well, but a wood brightener might have helped. Paint guy said no, it would just create problems because of the knots and would not lift the darker areas. No one was familiar with Safe-Strip, and things were getting pretty heated after they went through gallons of the stuff and were here twice as long as anticipated. We had them come back at one point because you could see a distinct line on the west side of the house where they had left off and restarted.

Faron: Can't sand - it is rough-sawn cedar. Media blasting: meh... maybe, if it was a log home.

Jumpilot: I don't know that TWP 100 series is low VOC. We originally asked for the 1500 series, and found out after the fact that he had used 116. Didn't even know that was an option in Washington state.

And you are right about maintaining semi-transparent on cedar. We did not know it would be quite an issue. We looked at other cedar homes by this builder, and noticed many were in much worse shape than ours - the stain had gone from cedar colored to a dark chocolate brown. That is one of the reasons we went with TWP. We read that the stain does not darken, has synthetic oils that do not promote mold/mildew issues, and does not need to be stripped when reapplied - just pressure washed, then restained.

I will post another picture. It seems to me that the "flashing" would suggest stain that had not been absorbed into the wood. If it is just sitting on the surface of the wood, wouldn't it make sense that it could be "washed off" if the wood expands and contracts over the winter? Kinda like a crusty scab that eventually falls off?

Sorry for the long-winded post.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 4:22PM
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...and another.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 4:28PM
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And the "just sitting on the surface" would most likely be from using a VOC product and applying it like it's not. I've seen numerous cases of this first hand when I was the Cabot rep.
Washed off? Hmmm. I don't think so. I more like the sanding idea, but be careful if you're not going to do the whole side.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Hey there Hum!

Sorry 'bout the wood! I thought it looked smooth...oops!

The "scabby" effect of varied-sheen/flashing areas??
* Naaaaah...that would ONLY happen if their were SERIOUSLY thick layers.
* Your stain actually looks pretty good IMO.
* NO stain product on Earth will be perfectly even...for long.
* There will always be some variation.
* Low-VOC or normal VOC....has NO effect on whether it'll be more likely to layer-and-peel. How heavily it's applied/brushed-in DOES.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:50PM
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Thanks for the input, everyone. I don't think the photos truly represent how bad the stain looks up close and personal. It is now almost black in certain areas where the grain is raised, and if I scrape my fingernail over it, I can see the "normal" wood beneath.

Well, the rains are upon us now in the Pacific Northwest, so nothing I can do about it until next year. Sure is ugly, though - drives me nuts.

Thank you again for your expertise - I do appreciate it.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 11:07AM
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