Cedar weathering question

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Forum topic by Craftsman on the lake posted 03-20-2012 11:24 PM 2461 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Craftsman on the lake

2781 posts in 3407 days

03-20-2012 11:24 PM

I need to replace the raft. I live at the lake and our raft is end of life. (Hence the name Crafstman on the Lake) I’m going to build a new one, got the plastic barrels, etc.

Here in Maine we have high access to pressure treated lumber. Our rafts and decks survive forever even without treating them each year. I have a 30 year old pressure treated deck on top of our boathouse down by the water that is never treated, I just pressure wash it each year and it’s like the day I put it on.

The question: In roaming Lowes the other day I saw some very nice deck boards of cedar. A little more expensive but the color and grain looked much nicer than the southern yellow pine stained green by the pressure treated stuff. If I put the deck boards of cedar instead of the other stuff will I have successful longevity of maybe 5-7 years? I’ve never used cedar before outside. The raft will be out of the water and will only get wet with rain or raft play. I probably will never get around to treating it at all. Sort of like getting around to waxing the car. Not gonna happen. It will also be beached and exposed during the winter.

Thanks in advance to those experienced with cedar.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

6 replies so far

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3323 days

#1 posted 03-20-2012 11:51 PM

I built all my raised gardens out of 2x cedar. The two oldest are 4’x20’ using 2×8’s stacked 2 high so they’re about 15” tall. I stained them in spring of 2008 when I built them and where the stain has worn off some I see gray steaks but other then that they’ve held up to four Wisconsin winters buried by snow most of the time. The inside that is in constant contact with the dirt is holding up pretty well too, doesn’t show any signs of rotting. Probably will throw a coat of stain on the outside this year. So much for HD’s 6 year Behr stain…

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4370 days

#2 posted 03-21-2012 03:17 AM

I would think that cedar would do a great job.

I might also suggest some wood sold by Home Depot. It is also a treated wood but it’s treatment is made by Thompson’s water seal. The wood is a more natural color and not green. I used some to make benches and light poles on my deck.

Click for details

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2662 days

#3 posted 03-21-2012 03:36 AM

Craftsman, with pine holding up as well as you state, cedar should workout just fine for you. Now cedar is not as strong structurally as pine, but I’m sure that you could overcome that little detail.

Below I posted a photo of my cedar picnic table that I built some 12+ years ago that has never had any type of preservative applied to it. It’s been setting out in the Texas weather all of that time, and is still good and tight. We get some pretty harsh summers here.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18250 posts in 3645 days

#4 posted 03-21-2012 03:50 AM

The cedar should last a long time. It will turn gray if left unstained. In the wet, naturally weathered cedar is slicker than ice!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Craftsman on the lake

2781 posts in 3407 days

#5 posted 03-21-2012 03:59 AM

thanks everyone, looks like cedar it is.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Rick's profile


9439 posts in 3002 days

#6 posted 03-21-2012 04:57 AM

In Ontario, Canada Pressure Treated Wood has been banned from use IN or Touching the water. The Chemicals apparently Leach into the water and disrupt if not kill some of the Aquatic Life. It’s also absorbed by Fish that mght be eaten by us. The Chemicals they use are not exactly “User Friendly”.

CEDAR: We had a Construction Company for many years and built a LOT of Cedar Decks. It’s the ONLY wood I’d recommend for Exterior Use. It is by it’s Nature “Water Resistant” and will not Rot due to exposure to water or Snow. We also built a few Docks and Swimming Rafts, all Cedar. A couple of them were left natural. I don’t see that as a problem, They just turn over time into a Pleasing Silver/Gray Tone.

FINISH: Very Important! The ONLY finish we would use at the time was ”Olymic OIL Based Stain”. It, by itself is also a Water Repellant. It wears well and the only thing it does is Fade (Soak in More) over time. A New Coat right over the Old is usually all that is needed to restore it right back to it’s Original Colour and Finish. Checking or Lifting was very rare and a quick, easy Scrape or Sanding got rid of that.

I’m not a fan of any Behr Products in general. Curt mentioned it above. Not sure if it is OIL Based or LATEX Based.

Latex Based “Stains” IMO are NOT really Stain. They are closer to a Latex Paint. BIG No No for use as an Exterior Stain. They WILL Crack and Peel. Refinishing means Total Removal or your putting New over Bad.

I tried a can of Minwax Latex based “Stain” on a small piece of Pine Furniture. Went on just like Paint and did an excellent job of Hiding the Wood Grain. Threw the can away!!

Karson mentioned (Deleted On Edit)

ONE Caveat. A friend who builds Decks started to get very sick. They traced it back to Cedar Sawdust and Inhalation. From what I’ve read it can be Toxic.

Hope this helps.


PS: We always did a “Portfolio” of our Projects. BRAGGING TIME!!! ....LOL…. This IS one of the few that was left Natural. 100%, #1 Cedar. It’s about a Month after Construction here. The Customer felt it would Age Nicely and Blend in with the House Colours.

Thank God My Partner and Friend of 35 Years. Had the Framing Square Down Pat! He called ‘em out and I cut ‘em. He’s no longer with us, but the Memories always will be!!


-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

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