Why are your products unfinished?
Applying a finish is a highly personal choice. Many customers do not want a finish, while others wish to do it themselves or select a color or type to match existing decor.
Do I need to finish my furniture?
Western Red Cedar performs quite satisfactorily when left unfinished and allowed to weather naturally. It can have a long service life without a finish coating in many environments – as long as good maintenance practices are followed.
Some customers choose to leave furniture unfinished as they:
1) Prefer the rustic look and feel that results from natural weathering
2) Do not have the time (or patience!) for the effort required to apply and maintain the finish
3) Have concerns for personal health or environmental impact of applying or having a finish
What will happen if I don’t use a finish?
As your furniture weathers, it will lose its cedar color and turn a shade of gray. In very dry climates, it weathers to a silvery gray color. In most climates of varying exposure to moisture and sun, the weathered color is not likely to be uniform, and in some cases may develop into a blotchy dark gray.
The appearance resulting from natural weathering is usually only surface deep (approx. 1/16th of an inch) - the wood itself is largely unchanged beneath and remains sound.
In addition to the coloring, the wood will take on a rougher "rustic" texture. In locations where the furniture is exposed to prolonged direct hot sun, small superficial vertical cracks, or "checks" can develop on exposed edges facing the sun, such as the front edge of chair arms. These are not harmful to the integrity of the furniture and typically appear and disappear during the course of the day.
How do I finish my furniture?
Any finish selected must be intended for outdoor use. The most important consideration in choosing a finish is ensuring it allows the cedar to "breathe" and not trap moisture beneath it which will promote decay and cause blistering and bubbling. Urethane or varnish types of finishes should be avoided because of this.
If you choose to finish your furniture, it is recommended that it be allowed to stabilize and acclimate in its surroundings - in a dry, shaded location. After 7-10 days, apply your desired finish. For best finish results, apply as soon as possible after this adjustment period.
Our experience is that a semi-transparent penetrating oil-based finish with UV protection is the best choice for outdoor cedar furniture. Without the UV protection, the cedar will continue to "weather" in terms of color. In damp areas, a finish with a mildewcide and/or fungicide is also beneficial. Remember, you get what you pay for - use a top of the-line product for best results. Be sure to carefully read the application instructions for the finish selected.
Since the finish will need to be re-applied on a regular basis (1-3 years is typical depending on the environment), use a product that can be reapplied over the dry finish without excessive scraping and sanding, such as a semi-transparent penetrating oil-based finish. Some deck or siding finishes are not suitable for furniture.
If you choose to use paint, cedar should first be coated with good quality stain-blocking primer otherwise the cedar will always “bleed through” to the top coat.
Is any maintenance required?
Your furniture will benefit from periodic cleaning to keep its best appearance. Even if the choice is made to not apply any finish, dirt or mildew should be removed periodically to maintain the natural appearance.
Metal, such as a wire brush or steel wool, should NEVER be used to clean your furniture. The deposits from these can react with naturally occurring compounds in the furniture resulting in dark blue-black stains on the surface.
While Red Western Cedar has a well deserved reputation for holding a range of finishes for extended periods, any finish applied will need to be renewed periodically, as the normal life of a finish will be shortened by discoloration from outdoor exposure, not a failure of the finish.
Discoloration is most often caused by dirt and mildew. Both of these are simple to deal with if addressed when needed.
Dirt: A periodic cleaning with a stiff non-metallic bristle brush and mild detergent solution is all that is usually needed to remove surface dirt, dust, and debris.
Mildew: Mildew and its staining effects on both the finish and the wood is a common source of discoloration of finishes. If this occurs, it will be necessary to kill the mildew with a commercial mildew remover, and then refinish with a product that contains an effective mildewcide.
Can Wild Coast Woodworks apply a finish for me?
Absolutely! Our goal is your satisfaction and will be happy to apply a suitable finish before delivery. You will need to maintain the finish after delivery.
Please contact us for details on this service.