White Cedar Durability

White Cedar heartwood holds up well in exterior exposures, with or without stain. The sapwood, not so much. March 30, 2008

I have a cupola made of white cedar to put on my new barn of board and batten, rough sawn poplar. Do I need to treat the white cedar with a sealant or stain or will it weather fine? I want to keep the natural wood look, so painting isn't an option.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor H
White cedar will hold up well outdoors, but if left untreated, it will start to turn a gray color. We have our own bandsaw mill and saw our own cedar lap siding out of white cedar, but usually put some type of stain on it. If you use a good quality cedar tone oil based stain, it will keep the lighter color, but may need to be re-stained in a few years. I'm not sure if any type of clear wood preservative would hold up any better?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I think that cedar will work fine.

From the original questioner:
Thank you. I don't mind the turning gray part... but I don't want to have to climb up on the slick metal roof to replace vent slats and such in 5 years. So, I'll take your advice and give it some more protection with a coat of stain of some kind.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Unfortunately, the joints are what will decay... where the water seeps in and cannot quickly dry. It is this same region that will not benefit from stain as you cannot get any in. So, the stain is only for beauty and the first coat will seldom last more than a year or two. The next coat will last as long as five years. I encourage you to think that grey is beautiful. Incidentally, use the sapwood for firewood; heartwood has good decay resistance.