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What is the best way to weather wood artificially?

We are finishing the south side of this barn with red cedar planks reclaimed from a house where they have been in use for close to 50 years. We are using the back side of the 5.5" T&G boards (running the T&G sides~ mostly mashed from removing the boards through the table saw) ~ the unfinished boards look raw compared to the aged fir boards on the other three sides (see image) I have been looking at artificial (instant) weathering. I have come across the Vinegar+Steel wool and the Ferrous Sulphate solutions to at least get the wood looking gray and then allowing it to age naturally. We don't need to consider a protective coat (on account of our climate) and welcome uneven coloration. Budget is a consideration. We did test ebony stain and were not happy with the results. Any suggestions will be appreciated?

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Asked by Caroline Di Diego
Posted Jun 8, 2014 9:32 AM ET


4 Answers

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I have used the Lifetime treatment from Valhalco.

I makes the wood silver. They claim it is a preservative, but that sort of depends on your definition.
I used it seven years ago on rough sawn pine and the stuff still looks great, if you are going for the weathered, rustic look. So if I were writing the advertising copy, I'd say it instantly gives the pine a beautiful maintenance-free silver sheen that won't change significantly for the next 50 to 100 years.

I believe it is the least expensive zero maintenance siding method available, when applied to our local beetle killed 5/4 lodgepole pine at $.80/sq.ft. for material and treatment. http://www.hesterslogandlumber.com/home/roughLumber.php

0082 Rear.jpg Zero maintenance eave_soffit detail.jpg
Answered by Kevin Dickson, MSME
Posted Jun 8, 2014 10:22 AM ET
Edited Jun 8, 2014 12:51 PM ET.


Thanks Kevin, this looks like a great product. I am interested to know if it will turn the red cedar planks gray/silver because when I tested with the ebony stain it turned them more brown? I will also be doing a house for another client with re-sawn re-claimed 12" wide 1" thick fir boards (50 years old) and they want it to look similar but darker to the image I posted above. Judging by the Valhalco website this is exactly what I need.

Answered by Caroline Di Diego
Posted Jun 8, 2014 10:47 AM ET


It's kind of like concrete acid stain in that the results are completely dependent on the substrate. They will send you a sample for testing.

I also have this opinion that rough sawn is a good choice because it seems to weather much better than sanded stock. My theory is that the fibers help it dry out quickly, but that's pure speculation.

Answered by Kevin Dickson, MSME
Posted Jun 8, 2014 1:04 PM ET


I've ordered a gallon from Amazon and will have it on Tuesday. It's interesting that some of the boards we have are quite rough (sawn) and some smooth all from the same house (we are using the back of the boards as the front had been painted or stained and are also quite water stained in some places and we did not want to go to the trouble of planing) after all it's only a barn :-) and if the color varies on account of the smoothness v roughness of the boards all well and good! I appreciate you input Kevin and I am eager to make my test on Wednesday.

Answered by Caroline Di Diego
Posted Jun 8, 2014 2:29 PM ET

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