Stripping Back 8 Years of Moss & Lichen

Stripping Back 8 Years of Moss & Lichen

Cedar Moss and Lichen

This modern, 2-story home is located in the leafy suburb of Titirangi, a beautiful area far from the bustle of the city, but which also has a lot of tree cover and higher than average rainfall, creating the perfect environment for moss and lichen to grow.

The new homeowner contacted us while waiting for the home to go unconditional. The Cedar hadn’t been maintained in 8 years and was looking shabby and discoloured.

Cedar should be treated every 2-3 summers to keep it protected from New Zealand’s harsh UV rays, and to keep it looking cosmetically beautiful.

Without regular maintenance, the UV rays will eventually dry out the timber, leading to fine cracks and roughening of the surface. This creates a toehold for mould, mildew and lichen to get established and makes the timber look unsightly.

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As the Cedar was left such a long time, the story of this property can be told in the before and after photos. We don’t usually have such dramatic transformations with most houses we maintain, so it was a real treat to see how beautifully the Cedar tidied up.

Maintenance Timeline

The customer first approached us on the 14th of October, 2020.

  • 16th October, 2020 – Initial onsite assessment completed.
  • 22nd October, 2020 – Quote sent.
  • 26th November, 2020 – Team arrived onsite to start the job.
  • 9th December, 2020 – Job completed.

The job took 72 hours in total: 14 hours to wash and strip the timber in preparation for the coating, and 58 hours to apply the stain. The entire job took 9 days from start to finish.

Cedar Maintenance Process

Cedar that has been sheltered from UV rays has a flat, uniform surface that is straightforward to maintain.

Cedar that has been exposed to high amounts of UV will have broken-down stain or oil still on the surface, which often creates a toehold for organic matter to grow.

The two front faces of this Cedar home demonstrate both situations perfectly.

Img 2705 Before Cedar Moss and Lichen

The sheltered face, next to the front door, has a flat even colour; while the exposed face, above the garage door, has been exposed to the UV rays.

The starting point for both faces is the same: the Cedar is washed using a biodegradable cleaning solution to remove organic matter and any remnants of the broken-down stain.

After the deep clean, the sheltered face was ready to be coated.

The exposed face required a more rigorous cleaning process. The orange colour on the Cedar is mould, an organic growth that washes off quite easily during the deep clean.

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The dark brown sections of timber are stain that hasn’t been broken down by the UV and is still in reasonably good condition. To remove this and get the boards back to a natural state, we had to strip the boards.

The stain used on this property is Resene Woodsman Waterbourne, smokey ash colour. This is a very light-coloured stain, one of the lightest on the market, and it leaves the boards looking natural and warm in tone.

Cedar Maintenance Challenges

Soffits keep moisture away from the roof and help prevent wood rot and mould, but they also shelter the Cedar from UV rays. This sounds good in theory, but often makes the Cedar under the soffits darker than the Cedar exposed to the light.

If these areas are not prepared properly, the finished result will look odd as both stain and oil are translucent and will show whatever is on the surface below. Preparation here is key, and it takes experience and expertise to make sure the surface is even before applying the treatment.

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This property also had two high faces over 4 meters that required scaffolding. As the ground below is flat, we were able to use our mobile scaffolding which kept access costs down.

The Final Outcome

Location matters with Cedar. In an area with lots of tree cover and rain, the boards are often in good condition, but covered in lichen, moss and all sorts of organic material, and they are more susceptible to moisture damage.

That’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it does require some extra work if the Cedar is not regularly maintained.

The new homeowners were delighted with the result. Their newly purchased home cleaned up even more stunning than they imagined, especially the front facing areas that people first see when arriving.

This property is an excellent demonstration of how resilient Cedar really is. An amazing timber that will look great for years to come, with a little love and care.

Property Details

Year of Build:
Resene Woodsman Waterborne


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18 Dec 2023

This stylish, modern home in Swanson was built in 2016, but soon ran into problems with the appearance of the Cedar. 

The building company had used a stain product that wasn’t tested in New Zealand conditions and soon deteriorated in the harsh UV rays, becoming porous and exposing the Cedar to the elements. Air borne mould took root in the timber and quickly spread once the moisture got in. 

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As the house was relatively new, the homeowner was understandably upset.  

Thankfully, the building company did everything to make things right – including bringing in TimberTech to give our expert advice. 

Maintenance Timeline

The building company first approached us on the 23rd of September, 2020.  

  • 27th September, 2020 – Onsite Cedar assessment completed. 
  • 29th September, 2020 – Quote sent. 
  • 14th December, 2020 – Team arrived onsite to start the job. 
  • 25th January, 2021 – Job completed. 

The job took 3 weeks in total, with some time off over the holiday period. 

Cedar Maintenance Process

We first masked all the areas that were adjacent to the cladding and stripped off the old stain using a paint stripper.  

Modern paint strippers are less potent than in the past and are made from organic compounds, which are harmless to gardens and more environmentally friendly.  

Once the paint stripper had been applied, we scraped the weatherboards and removed all traces of the old stain and stripper. To prepare for the new treatment, we lightly rinsed the surface with a water blaster to remove any remaining dust and organic matter, then sanded the boards to take away any of the furring. 

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The final step was to apply 2 coats of an oil stain. Oil-borne stains are oil mixed with solvents that evaporates upon application, allowing the stain to cure. These types of products are not used as much these days as the market has shifted to waterborne products that are more environmentally friendly.  

Solvent based products give a much flatter finish that absorbs the light, giving a less shiny, more natural look. 

Cedar Maintenance Challenges

As the house was basically new, we had to take special care masking around the edges of the timber to ensure the oil stain didn’t come into contact with the joinery, or the established gardens.  

The awning on the front face of the house also had to be removed. We supplied and erected mobile scaffolding to give the builders access to the awning. 

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Another challenge for this particular property was liaising between all the concerned parties to achieve a satisfactory outcome. This included the customer, the building company and the company that supplied the initial product. 

TimberTech has the staff and the experiencing to manage jobs of all sizes and we gladly took on the management of this project – which proved to be a great relief for the customer. 

The Final Outcome

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The final outcome was an outstanding transformation. The Cedar has a smooth, even finish that is free of mould and still retains the natural textures that make Cedar look unique.  

To keep the Cedar looking beautiful for years to come, all it needs is a light wash once every few years and a recoat of exposed areas every 2-3 summers. 

We are very proud of the restoration work done by our team, but the highest praise came from the customer, who sent us an email soon after the work was completed: 

I wanted to let you know how pleased I am with the work completed at my property, it’s now looking fab. 

I was particularly impressed by the team, they did a fantastic and thorough job, they demonstrated an excellent work ethic and they were very easy and trustworthy to have around. 

I’d like to schedule regular maintenance for the cedar – please let me know what I need to do to lock this in. 

Thanks again for all the hard work – excellent job!” 

– Jannette 

14 Sep 2023

Brickworks is large, mixed-use complex spanning an entire block in Hobsonville. The complex is comprised of 4 buildings situated around a central parking court and rain garden, with 60 residential homes and additional commercial units at the street level.

The mixed-use nature of the development was designed to be the commercial heart of the surrounding suburb and the appearance of the building is integral to its success.

Clad in an eye-catching mix of bricks and Cedar, the aesthetic is based on the industrial buildings that were once present on the site and pay tribute to the rich history of the area.


The building was finished in May of 2015. The original intention for the Cedar was to let it weather naturally and give the building a silvered look. However, the rates at which the Cedar was silvering were inconsistent depending upon the orientation of the timber and the building was starting to look patchy and uneven, with some watermarks on the surface.

Up until then, the body corporate had been getting the Cedar soft washed every year but were unhappy with the results. To show the difference between a soft wash and a deep clean, we first did a demonstration on an isolated wall.

The initial results were striking and TimberTech was awarded the contract to maintain the building over a 10-year period.

Maintenance Timeline

The body corporate for Brickworks first approached TimberTech in March of 2020.

  • 2021, August – Deep clean and recoat the entire building.
  • 2022, May – Recoat the sun-exposed dry faces only.

We are set to return to Brickworks in early 2024 to recoat the sun-exposed northern faces and assess the other faces.

As part of the 10-year maintenance plan, we are scheduled to wash and recoat the entire building in 2026, recoat the sun-exposed dry faces in 2028, then recoat the sun-exposed dry faces and assess the other faces in 2030.


Cedar Maintenance Process

As the original intention had been to let the building silver naturally, the Cedar was in a natural state with no oil or stain.

Upon first inspection, the northern face was dry as a bone. The remaining faces were faring better, but still in need of treatment to protect against future wear and tear.

We started with a deep clean of the entire building to remove the oxidised timber fibres responsible for the Cedars patchy, silvered look. The Oxyclean solution also removes all the dirt, grime and organic matter, restoring the natural timber tones.


Once clean, the timber was treated with a tinted penetrating oil developed by Wood-X.

As the Cedar had not been treated previously, the initial application of oil was quickly absorbed by the dry timber. We then needed to return 6 months later to give the entire building a second application.

Cedar Maintenance Challenges

The main challenges for the project were the height of the buildings, the sheer size of the complex and access management.

Brickworks is four stories high, and most of the apartments have Cedar balconies that jut out from the main structure. To work safely at this height, we scaffolded whole sections of the building at a time and used a 28-meter knuckle boom for added versatility.


The configuration of the complex – basically a rectangle with one side that runs along a main road, heavy with car and foot traffic – meant that we had to manage traffic and operate in a dynamic environment, following strict health and safety procedures.

Cedar had also been used on the inner faces of the buildings above the gated carpark, which required us to work with the residents to organise ongoing access.

The Final Outcome

The whole job took 6 weeks in total. There was a lockdown midway through the project which pushed the job out, but in ideal conditions a project of this size takes around 4-6 weeks.

The body corporate, residents and shop owners were all amazed by the transformation. This was a prestigious building upon completion and there was no reason for it to age prematurely. After deep cleaning the Cedar and treating it with oil, the look turned from shabby grey to a golden-brown lustre. With regular maintenance, there is no reason why it can’t look fresh and vibrant for years to come.


Our team was also stoked with the final outcome. This was a complex job with a lot of moving parts, and the team pulled it off flawlessly. But don’t just take our word, head over to 160 Hobsonville Point Road and see for yourself!

With the rise of Cedar as a preferred cladding for apartments and office buildings, this type of work is only going to grow more specialised. TimberTech has the expertise and the experience to manage any job, no matter the size or the scope.




11 Jul 2023

This contemporary Cedar home, built in 2014, is located in Green Bay and surrounded by trees and leafy green foliage, beautifully accentuating the golden glow of the Cedar.

While the location is very pleasing to the eye, being surrounded by trees can increase the amount of airborne organic matter landing on the Cedar. The property is also north facing and receives plenty of sun throughout the year. These environmental factors make regular maintenance essential for the long-term health of the Cedar and to keep it looking clean and fresh all year round.

Thankfully, the owners of the property were aware of the Cedar maintenance requirements from the start and chose the right products, with the right Cedar maintenance plan.

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To understand the benefits of a regular maintenance plan and how it can save you money over the long term, we need to first look at the history of the property.

Maintenance Timeline

In 2015, the homeowner asked us to visit the property and check over the health of the Cedar.

Although they had only moved in one year previous, the Cedar on newly built houses is often installed 3-6 months before the homeowner moves in, so the weathering process is already well under way.

Over the next 5 years, we maintained the house on 3 separate occasions:

  • 2015 – Oxy-wash and recoat of the entire house.
  • 2017 – Oxy-wash and recoat of the northern faces.
  • 2020 – Oxy-wash and recoat of the northern faces.

The photos of the house were taken in 2020, after the last round of maintenance, and the work described below covers the regular maintenance undertaken in that period.

Cedar Maintenance Process

Upon first inspection, the Cedar had silvered in some areas and there was mould sitting around the windows. As the house is surrounded by bush, a build-up of organic matter was always going to be a factor. While the amount of mould and dirt wasn’t significant, the overall effect is unsightly and not great for the long-term health of the timber.

We started with a light oxy-wash to prepare the Cedar for treatment. Once clean of organic material, we recoated the northern faces of the house with a penetrating wood oil that matched the original treatment.

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The original treatment used a light, golden-brown coloured oil to give the Cedar a natural finish that ties in with the joinery and the bush setting.

Lighter coloured oils have the same maintenance requirements as darker oils, however, they can help hide some of the natural weathering and make organic matter less noticeable. This can be useful in locations that are exposed to the elements, such as bush or coastal areas.

Cedar Maintenance Challenges

As the Cedar had originally been coated with a penetrating oil, ongoing maintenance was a straightforward process without any unforeseen challenges.

Compared to a film forming product such as a stain, a penetrating oil allows the Cedar to weather evenly and can usually be maintained with just a soft wash and a recoat of sun exposed areas.

As the house has 2 stories, the job also required mobile scaffolding, which was supplied and erected by the Cedar Technicians and included in the overall cost.

The Final Outcome

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Over 9 years, the owners have spent less than $15,000 on exterior maintenance costs, which is excellent value for a property of this size.

It’s also worth noting that while the original work we did cost $5680, the recoat we did 3 years later was less than half that cost. Purely from a cost perspective, this is one of the main benefits of regular maintenance.

Once the whole house has been maintained, the ongoing maintenance becomes more affordable as only the sun exposed faces need maintaining every 2-3 summers. The rest of the house may not need further maintenance for 5-7 years.

Looking at the before and after photos, the results speak for themselves. The washed out, dirty timber looks almost brand new after the maintenance, regaining its brown luster.

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