Knowledge Hub

Knowledge Hub

The Knowledge Hub is a free resource for homeowners, with expert advice on Cedar protection, maintenance and restoration.

Cedar is a miracle timber if ever there was one – stunning to look at, extremely durable and a superior insulator – and if looked after properly, it will last the lifetime of your home.

Every month we will be sharing articles with tips, knowledge and advice on how to care for your Cedar and keep it looking beautiful for years to come. To stay informed, sign up for our quarterly newsletter.

No spam, no sales pitches, just top-quality advice and a lot of love for this amazing timber!

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15 Feb 2024
Cedar is a miracle timber if ever there was one. It’s a better insulator than brick or concrete, it keeps noise out, is highly durable and - as every Cedar homeowner can attest - it looks stunning and unique.

Cedar is a miracle timber if ever there was one. It’s a better insulator than brick or concrete, it keeps noise out, is highly durable and – as every Cedar homeowner can attest – it looks stunning and unique. 

At TimberTech, we genuinely believe that Cedar is a remarkable cladding material. 

In this article, we want to share what makes Cedar such an effective cladding, and highlight some little-known facts about this amazing timber. 

If you own a Cedar home, or are looking to buy a Cedar home, rest assured that Cedar is one of the best claddings around. 

1. Cellular Structure 

Cedar is designed to move, with deep pores that allow moisture in and out without damaging the stability of the timber. 

This means that in the summer, when the hot sun is sucking moisture from the timber and causing it to contract, Cedar can move with minimal cracking. 

And in the winter, when Cedar gets wet and starts to expand again, it does so without cupping and warping, which are problems that come with other timbers. 

2. Deep Pores

Those deep pores we mentioned, they are also genius at holding stains and oils. 

This is important for extending the life of the timber and keeping it looking fresh and vibrant. 

New Zealand has strong UV rays that will break down any type of coating applied to a house and suck out the natural oils, eventually drying out the timber and leading to roughening of the surface and fine cracks (which is called “surface checking” in the industry). 

Regular oiling will prolong the beautiful look and weather resistance of your Cedar by penetrating deeply through the Cedar’s open cellular structure and replacing the natural oils lost over time. 

3. Ease of Maintenance 

Like any building material exposed to the elements, Cedar needs maintenance both to protect the internal structure of the house, and to keep it looking cosmetically beautiful. 

This isn’t a downside, just an unavoidable part of owning a house. 

With Cedar you don’t have to constantly maintain the whole house, just the areas that are exposed to the sun. 

For most Cedar homes, this means recoating sun-exposed areas every 2-3 summers. The sheltered faces of a Cedar home are very low-maintenance and will only need recoating 2-3 times over a 15-year period. 

4. Durability & Insulation 

Cedar is a superior insulator compared to other weatherboards, letting the house breath over summer, and keeping the warmth in over winter. It also dries very quickly because the timber is so porous and rich with pores. 

On a side note, regularly maintaining your Cedar will help improve the energy efficiency of your home. Adding oil to the boards keeps them flat and stops the cold getting in, and the heat getting out. Boards that have been oiled will also cause rain to bead from the surface and keep the internal structure of the house dry. 

Cedar also has its own mould and fungal inhibitors within the timber to stop rot and nasties from getting established. 

5. Cedar Just Looks Stunning 

Let’s put the amazing properties of Cedar to one side and talk about how good it looks.  

A well-maintained Cedar home has a timeless look. As the timber ages, it will naturally weather, getting etched by the sun, rain and elements to have a beautiful rustic look. 

Colour wise, Cedar can be anything from blonde-yellow to deep Mahagony red, which lends itself to a unique aesthetic quality. There are no two Cedar weather boards that are the same. Some have lots of grain, some are very plain, but when oiled, each will have a different appearance. 

Because the oil is translucent, it works with the underlying tones of the Cedar. And because stains and oil come in different colours, the final colour is always a unique blend, and always interesting to look at. 

Want to Know More?

To learn more about Cedar, visit our Knowledge Hub. This is a free resource for homeowners, with expert advice on Cedar protection, maintenance and restoration. 

If you would like to see more beautiful Cedar homes, view Our Work.

And if you have any questions, please reach out. We are always happy to help!

15 Nov 2023
Let's get to the point. Is DIY Cedar maintenance possible? Absolutely. Furthermore, the process is relatively straightforward. But there are some factors to consider before attempting DIY.

Let’s get to the point. Is DIY Cedar maintenance possible?

Absolutely. Furthermore, the process is relatively straightforward.

Cedar maintenance is all about protecting the timber from the elements, most importantly, the harsh New Zealand sun. If you have a long, hot summer, the natural oils in the boards will be sucked out by the sun.

Your job is to replace the oil that the sun is extracting. Without oil replenishment, the boards will dry out over time and begin cupping.

A general DIY Cedar maintenance plan would involve soft washing your house once every few years and applying a coat of oil to sun-exposed faces every 2-3 summers.

Seems straightforward, right?

So is changing the oil on your car, but very few people have the time or are willing to get their hands dirty. The same goes for Cedar.

Here are some factors to consider before attempting DIY maintenance.

1. Convenience

We have a customer in Northland who is 83 years old and had previously maintained the Cedar on his family home for decades – and did a great job of it. Now that he can’t get up the ladder like he used to, he came to us for help.

Anybody can learn how to maintain their own Cedar, but not everybody has the inclination. Maintaining Cedar is physically demanding, often working at heights, using bulky equipment, in a wet and mucky environment.

Hiring a professional means you don’t have to worry about anything. They will bring all their own equipment, have experience working at heights and clean up after themselves, leaving nothing but a beautifully maintained house.

2. Property Access

Accessing the different areas of your house can be tricky, and potentially dangerous.

Even on a flat property, there are always parts of a house that are difficult to reach. The job gets even more complicated if the ground is uneven.

Double story house can be quite daunting. Some houses require scaffolding, but most houses can be accessed with a ladder.

If you are not comfortable working on a ladder, or the ground around your house is uneven, it is usually safer to hire a professional who is experienced working at heights.

If your house does require scaffolding, a professional Cedar maintenance company will often have their own scaffolding and manage the whole process, saving you time, headaches and money.

3. Risk of Damaging the Cedar

The surface of a Cedar weatherboard can be easily damaged. The water blaster should be set at a low pressure and moved across the boards in a steady motion without pausing.

Water blasting at a high pressure can strip away too much of the soft tissue in the timber, leaving it streaky and unsightly.

This is often when we get called, only now the customer is paying for remedial work to restore the damage rather than just maintenance.

Your home is usually your most valuable investment. By hiring a professional, you are removing the risk of damaging the timber and ultimately, adding value to your investment.

4. Preparing the Cedar for application

Cleaning and preparing the Cedar is the most important part of getting a satisfactory finish.

People can be so scared of damaging the timber, that they use a water pressure that is too low or don’t scrub sufficiently to properly clean the Cedar.

If you do not remove all the built-up organic matter, whatever you put on the surface will then be compromised.

To prepare your Cedar with a water blaster, make sure you wash it at the right pressure, or scrub the boards with an appropriate brush, making sure the boards are free of any timber fibres, oxidised tint, dirt, mould, lichen and moss.

Once all that is gone, you need to make sure any stain on the boards is evenly removed. You don’t want the boards under the soffit left a different colour.

5. Consistent application of the product

Applying a stain is simple, you move the brush from one side to the other keeping an even coverage and a wet edge.

But getting an even finish across the boards takes time and practice. If the stain dries before you finish, there will be lines in it.

We have also seen DIY oiling attempts that only go 3/4 of the way up the wall because they couldn’t reach any higher, or thought the Cedar was protected by the soffits of the house.

Trying to blend that in after the event is very difficult and always ends up costing more in the long run.

Thinking Twice About DIY?

Anyone can learn how to maintain their Cedar, but it probably looks easier than it is and is fraught with little problems that when added together, become bigger issues.

If you require expert advice, call us on 0800 298 298. Our friendly team is always ready to help.

17 Oct 2023
Many Cedar homes that were built before the 2000s have a distinctive red colour than now looks dated. At the time, the red/brown tint was all that was available, but now we have access to a wide range of tinted oils and stains.

Most Cedar homeowner aren’t aware that they can change the colour of their Cedar. It usually comes about in our initial conversation with new customers who have just bought their home and want a more contemporary look.

Many Cedar homes that were built before the 2000s have a distinctive red colour than now looks dated.

At the time, the red/brown tint was all that was available, but now we have access to a wide range of tinted oils and stains.

What colours we recommend depends on the unique circumstances of each house: the existing colour of the Cedar, levels of UV exposure, whether the Cedar is treated with an oil or a stain, and when the Cedar was last maintained.

Before talking colours, it’s useful to understand how Cedar works in relation to oils and stains.

How Cedar Works

Raw Cedar can be a myriad of colours, anything from light pine to mahogany red.

There is a lot of red Cedar around. If you cut it in half, the inside is a deep red colour. Add oil to that and the red pops out, making it a difficult base colour to compete with. But more on that later.

Once the Cedar has been used in construction, an oil or stain is applied to protect it from the elements and give a cosmetic finish.

A tint is a pigment added to an oil or stain. This is like how pigment is added to paint. To create a pastel colour, you start with a white base, add the pastel pigment and blend it together to get the final colour.

It’s the same principal for stains and oils.

Assessing Your Colour Options

The more drastic the change of colour, the more difficult the process will be.

If you have a natural Cedar colour, which is less red and more of a brownish hue, it can be covered with a dark brown or black quite easily.

If you have deeper colours such as dark red, changing the colour becomes more difficult.

For a lighter or muted finish, you would need to scrub off some of the deep red. If you are going for a brown or black finish, you need to put on more of the next coat to hide the red that is underneath.

Changing from dark to light will also be more expensive, as the initial colour will need to be stripped back and is a much more intensive process.

Changing Colour with Oils

When an oil has already been applied, the tint will often need to be stripped from the surface using a degreaser. Because oils are translucent, they work with the colour underneath, which is generally the red Cedar.

If you don’t use a degreaser, you are working with the already pigmented Cedar and no matter how many coats you put on, it won’t make a difference.

The extent of this process depends on how much UV the treatment has been exposed to.

If the oil has been exposed for 4 or 5 summers, the tint will have oxidised and broken down, and will most likely come off with a heavy wash. If it’s only been on for 1 or 2 summers, chances are the sun hasn’t broken it down and it will need a degreaser.

If there are parts of your house that are protected from the UV, such as under soffits, we treat those areas separately to achieve an even finish.

Changing Colour with Stains

The underlying principle behind changing the colour on an oil or a stain is basically the same: you first need to remove as much of the original finish as possible to create the best results.

If any of the original colour remains, the oil or stain highlights whatever is left on the board.

Stain is opaquer than oil and hides a lot more. If you are going from light brown to dark brown, or red to dark brown, you can probably get away with a standard wash and 2-3 coats of stain. For more drastic colour changes, you will need to use a paint stripper.

Modern paint strippers are less potent than in the past and are made from organic compounds that are brushed on the surface, then scraped off and put in the rubbish bin.

Want a Modern Look for Your Home?

As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that need to be considered when looking to change the colour of your home.

To learn about your options, give us a call on 0800 298 298. One of our Cedar experts will visit your home and assess your timber.

If you want to browse colours, please visit our Colour Range page and look at some swatches.

12 Aug 2023
What debate? Oil is the way to go when it comes to cedar, no contest. While stain only coats the surface of the wood, oil works in partnership with one of cedar’s basic features. You see, cedar is a naturally oil-rich timber itself – it soaks up rejuvenating oil deep into its cells for up to a year after it’s applied.

“Should I use oil or stain on my Cedar?”

This is by far the most common question we get from Cedar homeowners and a source of some debate on the internet.

In our opinion, there is no debate (with a few caveats). For nearly all situations, treat Cedar with a penetrating oil such as Wood-X.

Oil works like moisturiser for Cedar, deeply replenishing the natural oils and keeping the Cedar protected – and looking great – for many years to come.

So, there we have it, debate closed. Oil is the way to go when it comes to Cedar, no contest. But if the answer is so clear cut, where does this debate come from in the first place?

With Cedar, Location Is Everything

If we were having this conversation in the northern hemisphere, the answer would be the opposite: use a stain. Stains last longer and you will have a lot less maintenance over the lifetime of the Cedar.

In New Zealand, the situation is very different. We have some of the harshest UV rays in the world which extract the natural oils from the Cedar and dry out the boards. Over time, the boards will cup and eventually crack, leading to a costly replacement of your cladding.

Stains protect the boards from moisture and look great, but unlike penetrating oils, they do not replenish the natural oils extracted by the sun. They are designed to erode over time, often unevenly, and leave the timber unprotected and unsightly.

Caveats For Using Stain on Cedar

While oil is recommended for Cedar in nearly all cases, there are some situations where stain is more suitable.

If the Cedar has considerable shade with little to no UV exposure, using a stain instead of an oil might be appropriate. This is usually when a house is shaded by dense tree cover or has wide soffits, such as villas where the roof extends over the porch.

The soffits stop the weatherboards from being degraded by the sun. These well protected areas can be treated with a stain and will look great forever.

If in doubt, get in touch, we are always happy to give an expert opinion on which treatment is best for any given job.

Comparing Costs Between Cedar Oils and Stains

Over the long term, there isn’t much difference in maintenance cost between oils and stains. The real savings come when looking at the longevity of the Cedar boards over the lifetime of your home.

Stained Cedar will dry out in the sun, causing the boards to cup and warp faster, and increase the likelihood you will need to replace your boards. A costly solution to an avoidable problem!

The difference shows up when we’re preparing Cedar for restoration. Sanding stain may reveal unsuspected insect, sun or moisture damage. With an oil recoat on a well-maintained property, it’s just a gentle clean with a bio-degradable wash, a short drying period and the re-oiling itself.

Have any more oil vs stain questions? Send us a message or use the Live Chat below!

13 Jul 2023
As Cedar ages, we highly recommend transitioning Cedar from stain to a penetrating oil where possible. The simple truth is, no matter how much stain you put on the surface of the timber, 5-10 years of sun exposure on a northern face will deplete the natural oils of the Cedar and cause the boards to dry out, cup, then ultimately split.

As Cedar ages, we highly recommend transitioning Cedar from stain to a penetrating oil where possible.

If you want to know more about the pros and cons of each, please read our article The Cedar Oil vs. Cedar Stain Debate.

The simple truth is, no matter how much stain you put on the surface of the timber, 5-10 years of sun exposure on a northern face will deplete the natural oils of the Cedar and cause the boards to dry out, cup, then ultimately split.

This doesn’t just look bad, it threatens the integrity of your home to withstand the elements and if the damage continues, you may need to replace the cladding altogether.

How Stained Cedar Ends Up Looking Unsightly

Treating aged Cedar with stain isn’t usually an informed choice by the homeowner. Often, the previous owner has done a quick fix and used stain to make the Cedar look pretty before selling, or the current homeowner has stained over a poorly prepared stain without stripping back the boards.

Stains are translucent, so even though they have some opacity, you can still see through them and unless the preparation is done well, stains don’t hide imperfections.

Eventually the stain will delaminate in the harsh UV, giving a camouflaged look with light and dark shades that are often patchy and uneven.

Img 9438 Cc2

The Transition Process from Stain to Oil

First, we will do a site visit to look at the current state of the Cedar boards.

In the best-case scenario, the weatherboards will have had an even exposure to the sun. We then use a strong solution of the oxy cleaner to get in behind any of the oxidised stain which has been broken down by the sun, then use a heavy wash to remove anything which is loose.

The heavy wash will give us a good look at the condition of the boards below. If there is any stain remaining on the surface, we will need to sand or strip the boards back to their virgin state before applying the oil.

Img 9433 Cc2

If the boards have had partial shade cover, such as nearby trees or soffits that have only protected the upper areas, they need to be stripped. You can’t just oil over the top and hope that it’s going to match the weatherboards below.

This adds a lot of cost to the process and if the homeowner isn’t willing to spend that much money, we may recommend applying another coat of stain to provide at least some protection and keep the house looking tidy.

Be Prepared for the Shiny-flat Look

One of the biggest downsides of moving from stain to oil is a 3-9 month transition period where your Cedar will have a shiny-flat-shiny-flat look.

This happens when oil is applied to any surface that still has stain remnants. The oil cannot soak through the stain as it is non-porous, so it sits on top, around the surface area where the oil has soaked in, giving the shiny-flat-shiny-flat look.

cedar-stain-to-oil-before-1 cedar-stain-to-oil-after-1

In the sunlight, the shiny-flat-shiny-flat look is not pretty. However, this effect is only temporary and after 3-9 months the oil eventually soaks in behind the stain and the stain will delaminate further.

After 3-9 months, we will come back and give the boards another heavy wash, sand back any remaining stain and apply another coat of oil. 9-12 months later we repeat the same process. After 12-24 months the process will be complete and the Cedar will move into a regular maintenance schedule, with sun exposed areas being treated every 2-3 summers.

What Costs Are Involved?

Cost is the final hurdle for many Cedar homeowners. Stripping off stain is an expensive process and if your current home is not your forever home, the costs might be prohibitive.

However, if you are planning to stay in your current home for the foreseeable future, the costs become an investment that will pay for itself. Over time, oil is much easier to apply than stain, provides superior protection against the elements and increases the lifespan of your Cedar.

In broad terms, it comes down to this: do you want to spend the extra 10k to remove the stain and give yourself an easy to maintain finish, or deduct the 10k from the cost of replacing the cladding in the not-to-distant future?

By investing in the health of your Cedar now, you will save money on long-term maintenance, and your cladding will look amazing.

Get An Expert Opinion!

As you can see, there are a lot of variables when considering the transition from stain to oil. This article is intended to educate Cedar homeowners on the general process, but nothing compares to having one of our team visit your house and make a professional assessment.

For a free Cedar Assessment, get in touch by calling 0800 298 298. There is no obligation and our goal is always to look after the best interests of our customers over the lifecycle of their homes.

14 Jun 2023
Cedar is a miracle timber if ever there was one: durable, long lasting, rot resistant and a superior insulator – warm in winter and cool in summer. Not to mention it looks stunning.

Congratulations on purchasing your newly built Cedar home! 

Cedar is a miracle timber if ever there was one: durable, long lasting, rot resistant and a superior insulator – warm in winter and cool in summer. Not to mention it looks stunning. 

But like any outdoor timber, Cedar will require maintenance to stay in optimal condition.  

New Zealand’s UV rays are some of the harshest in the world and they will eventually dry out the Cedar, leading to fine cracks and a roughening of the surface. This can commonly be seen in Cedar houses that have been left to “silver off”. 

By starting Cedar maintenance early, you can get ahead of costly maintenance further down the line and keep your cladding looking just as beautiful as the day you moved in. 

When To Start Cedar Maintenance

We recommend starting Cedar maintenance after two summers. 

At this point, you may be wondering why we are talking about maintenance for a house that has just been built two years ago? Fair question! 

While fresh Cedar boards do have a reservoir of natural oils that will keep them protected for longer, the boards have now been exposed to the sun for two summers and the natural oils are already being depleted. 

It’s also worth noting that although you just recently moved, the Cedar may have been installed up to 3-6 months before that, so this process is well underway. 

What Does Cedar Maintenance Involve?

For most new Cedar homes, maintenance consists of a soft wash and a recoat of sun exposed areas. 

Our soft wash is an oxy-wash solution that removes any built-up organic matter – dust, pollen and spores – and leaves the Cedar fresh and vibrant. 

Applying a recoat of oil will replenish the Cedar’s natural oils, fortify existing anti-fungal properties and enhance the colour tone, retaining the vibrant look of freshly installed Cedar. 

After the initial treatment, sun exposed areas need to be maintained every 2-3 summers. The rest of the house may not need any maintenance for 5-7 years, apart from a light wash to remove built-up organic matter. 

How Much Does Cedar Maintenance Cost?

This depends on the house size, ease of access and if scaffolding is required, but as a rough guide, the initial treatment of a single-story house with good access can cost anywhere between $4-5k.  

A larger house with multiple stories can cost anywhere between $8-9k, plus you may need to include the cost of scaffolding on top of that. 

However, after the initial treatment of the whole house, the cost of regular maintenance drops by 40-50% as only the sun exposed areas need maintaining. 

If you have bought a Cedar house in a new development, chances are you are in the same maintenance schedule as the houses around you. By pooling together with your neighbours, we can often spread fixed costs (such as a cherry picker) across the all the involved parties. 

Protecting Your Investment

A new house is an investment, possibly the most expensive investment you will ever make.  

By regularly maintaining your Cedar, you are protecting the long-term value of your property and investing money now to get a higher resale value if you decide to sell. 

Regular maintenance is also more cost effective than undertaking restoration just before you are ready to sell – and you will get to enjoy the beautiful look of freshly maintained Cedar while you are still actually living there! 

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