Pressure treated wood can disrupt your backyard’s harmony, especially if you have cedar structures.
However, it is easy to fix the issue by learning how to stain pressure treated wood to look like cedar.
After preparing your pressure treated wood for staining, you will be ready to go.
Preparation steps includes inspection and making repair on the wood surfaces.
Follow the repairs by cleaning the surface using pressure washers.
After pressure washing, allow the wood to dry before sanding and remove all the sanding dusts.
Prime your pressure treated wood surface by applying thin coats of prime. Allow the primer to dry.
Get a cedar-looking stain and use a stain brush or pad to apply thin, light coats.
However, please avoid back brushing the surface. Otherwise, you risk double coating and compromising the desired color.
Staining treated lumber is pretty straightforward.
This article provides more information about the process and recommends the best cedar-toned formulas. So, read till the end.
What Is Pressure Treated Wood?
Pressure treated wood has wood preservatives and fire retardants that extend and preserve its life.
These chemicals protect the material from wood-eating insects like termites and fungal decay.
Moreover, the fire-retardant treatment helps the wood char quickly after flame exposure.
Thus, it reduces the flame and smoke amount occurring during a fire.
Treating wood offers deep penetration and preservatives’ retention, ensuring the formulation meets the given wood standards and construction code requirements.
Also, the treatment process is computer-controlled and very effective, guaranteeing long-lasting results.
Pressure treated wood is the best for projects needing fire retardant wood or exterior building applications.
It is also ideal for decks, railing, sheds, landscape walls, swings, gazebos, sandboxes, decks, fencing, porches, and sheds.
So, you can expect long-term wood protection with regular maintenance.
Furthermore, pressure treated wood offers a solution to builders as it is highly durable. It will not deteriorate like untreated wood.
Building codes recommend the wood for areas with excess moisture. Besides, any lumber in exterior projects should undergo treatment.
However, wood details in interior furniture or cabinetry do not need much treatment.
You only use the treated wood in direct ground contact or with anything supplying moisture.
Also, pressure treated wood is harmful to your health and the environment.
Thus, it is advisable to finish the surface for wood coming in contact with humans or pets.
Wear gloves and face protection when handling the wood. The sawdust is an irritant to your skin.
What Is Cedar Wood?
Cedar is a coniferous plant belonging to the Pinaceae tree family. Further, its subfamily is Abietoideae.
The lumber is native to the Mediterranean region and India’s western Himalayas.
It ranges between 30 to 40 meters long and sometimes grows up to 60m high.
You can easily recognize the wood as it is spicy-resinous, scented, thick-ridged, and has broad level branches and a square-cracked bark.
The tree’s shoots are dimorphic, long shoots forming the branches’ framework. It also has short shoots, carrying most of the leaves.
Cedar’s leaves are needle-like, evergreen, and arranged in an open spiral phyllotaxis.
In addition, you will observe dense spiral clusters of 15 to 45 on short shoots.
The color ranges from glaucous pale blue green to dark green to bright frass.
But the specific shade depends on the white wax coat’s thickness protecting the leaves from desiccation.
Seed cones have barrel shapes, six to 12 centimeters long and three to eight cm broad.
In addition, they feature two to three resin blisters and an unpleasant tasting resin, protecting it against squirrel predation.
The cone needs one year to mature completely. Further, pollination occurs in autumn, and the seeds mature a year later.
Pollen cones are ovoid, slender, and three to eight centimeters long. They come about later in summer and shed pollen in autumn.
Generally, cedars thrive in areas with temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius.
Cedar wood is a natural moth repellent. Hence, it is a perfect material for modern furniture like closets.
Besides, North American cedars are durable, lightweight, and highly stable.
Woodworkers also use them to create wood shingles, protecting clad roofs and walls from harsh weather.
The lumber is suitable for musical instruments like occasionally steel-string guitars and Spanish classical guitars, thanks to its resistance to warping and cracking.
More specifically, red cedar is among the most unique cedar wood types.
It starts with a rich reddish-brown hue but varies significantly depending on the tree’s growing conditions.
Therefore, it will change with more sunlight and oxygen exposure.
In addition, the wood has natural preservatives making it more durable than other types. So, it can last long, even in harsh climates.
Cedar wood’s open cell structure makes it less dense than most softwood. Thus, you can effortlessly move it from place to place.
Further, western red cedar wood features an even grain and a consistent density. It is less likely to warp, swell, twist, and cup.
You will also enjoy a distinguished appearance that lends a quality mark to your home.
The wood’s low density and consistency make it suitable for sawing, cutting, gluing, and nailing applications.
Besides, these attributes increase the home’s insulation by transporting less heat through the wall. Hence, the house is warmer in winter.
Cedar dampens vibrations, making it perfect for making acoustical structures like molding and paneling.
It also has a low flame-spreading rate and performs better than other dense softwoods.
Lastly, the wood features excellent finishing properties as it lacks pitch and resinous extractives soluble in paint vehicles.
Pressure Treated Wood Vs Cedar
Pressure treated wood and cedar are the best choices for structures in adverse weather conditions.
However, comparing the two lumber types would be best and getting the most suitable one for your work.
Cedar falls in the coniferous tree category used to make quality decks and household furniture.
In addition, although the wood is softwood, it is durable and highly-weather resistant.
The tree has upward-facing cones and needle-like leaves that thrive all year round, unlike tropical hardwoods that shed leaves seasonally.
Cedar wood is naturally lovely, with a distinctive aroma appealing to most people. Also, it has natural rot-resisting and insect repelling qualities.
Therefore, you can use it in multiple woodworking areas and expect a durable project.
The main cedar types include:
Western Red Cedar
The western red cedar is a large tree. It grows up to 60 meters tall and 2.5 meters in diameter when mature.
You will often find it alongside Sitka Spruce, Red Alder, Douglas Fir, and Black Cottonwood.
The wood grows at low to mid-elevations along coastal regions and in the wet British Colombia belt, where the climate is moist.
Western red cedar comprises about eight percent of B.C.’s total growing stock.
In addition, it is among the country’s most commercially valuable wood types.
Eastern Red Cedar
This cedar type is dioecious, meaning that female and male trees are different plants. Also, it is easy to differentiate them.
Although both trees bloom in late winter, the male eastern red cedar produces yellow flowers, while the female is green.
The female plants bear quarter-inch, berry-like, fleshy cones appearing in spring and maturing in the fall.
Further, the berries are typically blue with a whitish bloom. Thus, you can identify them by their gray-blue appearance.
Conversely, the male trees produce brown, pollen-bearing cones on the branch tips.
Northern White Cedar
Northern white cedar forms a narrow pyramid shape. It also features dense branches covering the trunk and abundant glossy green foliage.
The needle-like foliage is highly fragrant, with a unique earthy woody scent.
This cedar tree grows slowly and tolerates various soil types. But it is best to plant it in moist, well-draining soil.
Further, though the wood is native to North America, it is available in other areas, including Europe.
Eastern White Cedar
The tree is also called the Nothern white-cedar, arborvitae, and swamp-cedar.
Arborvitae, or tree of life, dates from the 16th century when a French explorer learned how to use cedar’s foliage to treat scurvy.
Deodar cedar is an evergreen conifer tree preferred for its weeping habit (gracefully shedding trees).
Hence, it is a perfect specimen tree for parks and extensive gardens.
The needles on the conifer are one to two inches long and are greyish-green or bluish green, depending on the cultivar.
In addition, they come in whorls of 20 to 30 but can appear individually in long shoots.
The atlas cedar is a distinctive evergreen and makes a lovely specimen tree. Its bluish green to silvery blue needles are eye-catching.
Moreover, the tree develops a rugged, attractive form when allowed to grow freely.
Atlas cedar produces aromatic oil, which is a natural deterrent for insects. Thus, you can use it for chests and furniture drawers.
Alaska cedar is a medium-sized evergreen tree. It has a blue- to gray-green foliage drooping from widely spaced branches.
This wood type is native to moist bottomlands in the Pacific Northwest as it requires consistently moist soil.
Spanish cedar appears vulnerable to extinction. Further, forests, where it thrives, are under organized crime siege.
So, authorities highly discourage supporting these forests, whether for Spanish cedar or other exotic lumber.
Also, the wood’s importation process generates a higher carbon print. Therefore, commercial use is not appreciated.
This cedar type is native to Cyprus, especially Paphos, Troodos, and Tripylos mountain ranges.
It is available in a relatively small region, making it a rare species.
Cyprian cedar reaches 80 feet in its native habitat. But it has a 50 feet maximum height as an ornamental tree.
The lumber is tolerant to multiple soil types. However, the soil should be well-draining to provide a conducive environment.
In addition, although Cyprian cedar can withstand short dry soil periods, water it occasionally.
Lebanon cedar is native to the mountainous areas of the Eastern Mediterranean. Besides, it is a national emblem in Lebanon.
The tree reaches up to 130 feet in its native home. But it generally grows to 40 and 80 feet with a 30 to 70 ft. spread.
You will find this wood in climates with cold winters as it can resist cold temperatures.
Further, Lebanon cedar is a slow-growing tree that takes many years to reach its ultimate height.
Also, although the tree’s uppermost branches create an open flat top, it eventually takes on a pyramid shape.
Pros of Cedar
Below are the leading reasons why woodworkers and DIYers love cedar.
Cedar naturally resists normal warping and cracking due to atmospheric moisture changes.
Moreover, its low density keeps it flexible enough for temperature changes.
The lumber’s chemical makeup helps it withstand harsh weather conditions. Hence, high humidity or precipitation water does not penetrate the surface.
Nonetheless, prolonged outdoor weather exposure can have its toll on untreated wood.
Direct sunlight may also evaporate the wood’s moisture and compromise chemical properties keeping it strong.
Eventually, the lumber becomes vulnerable to discoloration and slight cracks.
So, consider refinishing the surface to prolong its service life.
- Decay and Rot-resistant
Cedar possesses unique chemical attributes making it resilient against elements and organisms. Therefore, it withstands rot and decay.
Besides, the Eastern White Cedar and Western Red Cedar naturally repel insects and bugs.
So, you can use it for external projects without treatment.
- Low Maintenance
Cedar needs little maintenance. No wonder it works well for multiple interior and exterior projects.
In addition, since it naturally resists decay and rot, you do not have to finish and refinish it frequently.
Thus, your decking, furniture, and other cedar structures remain in good shape with little maintenance.
Cons of Cedar
Consider some drawbacks before you purchase all the cedar you can find.
Although cedar is not the priciest lumber on the market, it still has a higher price than most woods.
Besides, pressure treated lumber is way cheaper than cedar.
Thus, the cost is a deal breaker when choosing between pressure treated wood and cedar.
Cedar is naturally lovely. It is pinkish-red and does not need staining or painting to stand out.
But unfortunately, the lumber loses its hue over time.
Therefore, you must apply cedar sealers every two to three years.
This way, you lock in the wood tone and prevent discoloration.
Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated lumber is wood infused with preservative treatment in a depressurized holding cylinder.
This vessel removes the wood’s excess air and replaces it with a chemical solution comprising water and preservative agents.
Pressure treatment protects the lumber from decay, rot, and insect damage.
Further, woods with little or no natural resistance to weather elements need pressure treatment to increase their life span.
Hence, the more preservative you infuse the wood, the more durable it becomes.
Different types of pressure treated wood include:
- Ground Contact
This treated wood contains a higher preservative concentration, making it ideal for on-ground applications.
It can withstand more rain, moisture, vegetation, insects, soil contact, and anything causing rot and decay.
Ground contact wood is the best for direct contact with the soil.
You can also use it in areas with limited air circulations or applications in tropical climates.
Ground contact projects include installing structural posts, landscape walls, garden boxes, and foundations.
- Above Ground
Above-ground wood has a lower preservative percentage per square inch. Moreover, it is less resistant to weather elements and conditions.
Ensure the treated wood is at least six inches above the ground for a lasting outcome.
Projects suitable for the above-ground wood include deck railings, fence pickets, beams, and porch flooring.
- Marine Lumber
Marine wood is perfect for docks, seawalls, and other seaside projects.
Further, it is incredibly resistant to saltwater damage and decay and can resist any moisture exposure.
Therefore, specifically, look for pressure treated wood with a ‘marine grade’ label when working in an ocean environment.
This tag confirms that the lumber can resist continuous saltwater exposure.
Pros of Pressure Treated Wood
Some of the advantages of pressure treated wood are:
- Moisture Resistance
Generally, natural wood quickly softens when left in wet environments. Also, microorganisms take root and slowly decompose the wood.
Luckily, pressure treated lumber has copper preservatives. Thus, it remains safe from moisture damage and decay.
- Fungal Resistance
Fungi attach themselves to wet wood and weaken it. Other organisms such as bacteria and insects can also prey on the wood as it softens.
Pressure treated wood uses alkaline copper quaternary or copper azole to hinder fungal growth.
Therefore, you can comfortably use it in consistently moist areas.
- Insect Resistance
Termites and carpenter ants effortlessly bore through wood and weaken it.
As a result, you will deal with hazardous structural issues, especially with moist and exposed lumber.
Fortunately, copper compounds and borate in treated wood discourage insect activity and provide superior protection from insect damage.
- Fire Resistance
Fire damage is a dangerous threat to lumber-based constructions. But you can reduce this risk by using pressure treated wood.
Treating plants add fire-retardant chemicals to create fire damage-resistant wood. Thus, it works well near fireplaces and lifting-prone regions.
- Multiple Sizes
Pressure treated wood comes in various sizes to accommodate different projects.
For instance, we have standard dimensional sizes like two by tens, two by sixes, or two by fours.
Also, you can get round and square cross-sections, depending on your task requirements.
Pressure treated wood is more durable than natural lumber. Besides, it lasts longer, even in areas with consistent moisture.
The wood’s fungal and insect resistance attributes help it outlast untreated wood.
In addition, it is denser than natural wood and guarantees increased strength.
Cons of Pressure Treated Wood
Some of the limitations of pressure treated wood are:
- Chemical risks
Pressure treated wood has toxic chemicals harmful to your health and the environment.
Therefore, it is advisable to wear safety gear when working with the material. Also, please avoid burning it.
The exercise releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere and poses a health threat.
- Warping and Shrinkage
Treated lumber needs to absorb the chemical solution for optimal protection. But it needs several months to dry completely.
As a result, you will observe some warping and shrinkage as the material dries.
- Uneven, Dull Color
Pressure treated wood adopts a green hue after treatment.
Further, the lumber may have an uneven gloss and color due to different preservative amounts used in the process.
It also becomes lighter and grayish with prolonged U.V. rays‘ exposure.
- Not Easy to Recycle
Treated materials need special treatment after use as they harm humans and livestock.
In addition, it is not prudent to recycle chemical lumber preservatives, thereby wasting wood resources.
Cedar Vs Pressure Treated Wood
Let’s compare these two focusing on:
Cedar has beautiful colors ranging from pale yellow to pink to a russet hue.
Conversely, pressure treated wood has a copper shade due to the preservation chemicals.
However, cedar and treated wood fade into dull grey over time.
Cedar prides itself in natural weather resistance. Moreover, it has natural chemicals enhancing moisture and insect damage resistance.
Hence, it is highly durable in moist areas environment.
Similarly, the chemicals in pressure treated wood make it long-lasting.
But the material is susceptible to splitting and cracking. Thus, it gives in to weather damage.
Hardness & Strength
Cedar’s softness is a primary drawback when you need structural strength. But it is a plus when you’re moving and cutting the wood.
Pressure treated wood comes from various lumber species, usually more robust than cedar.
Therefore, you can rely on it for projects requiring tensile.
Cedar resists rot and decay thus, and it can survive outdoors with no treatment.
Besides, the wood has a unique chemical makeup that makes it flex with temperature changes and resist cracking.
On the other hand, pressure treated lumber is prone to splitting and cracking and suffers more moisture damage than cedar.
Also, it needs regular maintenance to remain functional.
Cedar possesses a distinctive pinkish-red or pale-yellow hue. Also, it has an even, straight, and narrow grain.
Conversely, treated lumber has a copper color and features a broader grain.
Both wood types eventually gray with aging. But their grain structures remain the primary distinguishing quality.
Cedar is perfect for home improvement projects and firewood, thanks to its characteristic aroma.
The smell comes from the wood’s phenols, the compounds making it rot and decay resistant.
On the other hand, treated lumber lacks any specific smell.
Moreover, although the chemicals in the wood have some odor, it wears off after installation.
The premium cedar wood’s attributes come at a price.
In addition, although the lumber is less pricey than most tropical hardwoods, it is still more expensive than treated wood.
Besides, high-quality cedar, without cosmetic flaws, is more expensive than treated wood by a significant margin.
Nevertheless, these costs vary from area to area. Thus, the margin may be less in some regions.
Cedar wood has about double the lifespan of pressure-treated decks.
Generally, the wear and tear sustained over time cause the wood to show decay signs.
But this scenario does not occur until after two decades.
On the other hand, the chemicals in pressure treated wood keep it in shape for up to 40 years without rot or decay.
However, this duration significantly reduces to ten years when you use the wood on decks and flooring.
Thus, it is advisable to apply water-repellent finishes to the treated deck annually.
In contrast, cedar flooring and decks can go up to 20 years with annual cleaning.
Cedar deck boards are more available in North America than in South Eastern regions.
Oppositely, you can find pressure treated wood across North America and beyond.
Therefore, both wood types are readily available.
Cedar’s installation is pretty straightforward. Besides, it accepts standard fasteners recommended for outdoor use.
You also do not need special protection when using Cedar.
However, you must have safety gear, including eye protection, hand gloves, and a face mask when using pressure treated wood.
Further, the face mask is vital when cutting treated wood pieces.
Also, pressure treated wood does not work with standard fasteners. They react with the wood’s chemicals, leading to rot.
How to Stain Pressure Treated Wood to Look like Cedar
Pressure treated wood undergoes chemical treatment to help it weather harsh elements. Thus, it lasts longer than untreated wood.
The copper-based preservatives enable the wood to ward off microorganisms and insects.
As a result, you get minimal cases of fungal growth and decay.
Nonetheless, although pressure treated wood provides lasting benefits, it may not blend with the cedar in your construction project.
Therefore, consider staining the surface to look like cedar.
In addition, purchase micronized treated lumber, which has a lighter hue, is more natural looking, and easier to finish.
Then, follow the simple steps below.
- Choose a cedar-colored solid wood stain. Also, ensure the manufacturer has designed it for exterior application.
- Check the weather forecast and start the project when you are sure of above 50 degrees for about four days.
The drier the air, the less time the stain needs to dry. Otherwise, rain and precipitation ruin or washes away the finish.
- Place a drop cloth beneath the structure sections built with micronized pressure treated lumber.
- Open the stain can using a paint can opener or screwdriver. Then, stir it for 60 seconds.
- Stain the surface using a paintbrush using a light coat. Further, overlapping brush strokes guarantee a uniform layer and force the formula into any divots.
Here’s a Video On Staining Pressure Treated Wood:
How to Prepare New Pressure Treated Wood for Staining
Preparing pressure treated wood for staining is mandatory if you want a durable and successful product.
The required supplies include a moisture meter, gloves, mild detergent, and a scrub brush for cleaning the lumber.
Next, check out the following procedure.
Check the Treated Wood’s Moisture Level
It is prudent to always check the lumber’s moisture content before staining. Ensure the water level does not exceed 17 percent.
Let the wood dry, if it’s more!
Alternatively, use the water test and check if it beads up on the surface. If the surface absorbs the water, feel free to stain it.
Clean the Pressure Treated Lumber
Clean the wood and let it dry to help the formula adhere easily. However, if you just had the lumber delivered, wipe it with a damp rag.
On the other hand, use a scrub brush and mild detergent to clean the old and dirty wood.
Then, rinse with water and wipe the excess with a dry cloth.
Finally, allow the wood to dry. The drying duration depends on the cleaning, weather conditions, and climate.
Test the Stain on the Treated Wood
Position a drop cloth on the area beneath the lumber to catch splatters and drips. It also protects nearby plants from stains.
Also, test the formula on an inconspicuous spot, regardless of whether you are working on a deck or fence.
This test helps you know if the finish is a perfect match or a disappointment.
In addition, it gives an estimate of how long the stain needs to dry.
What Stain Looks Most Like Cedar?
Although it is attractive and easy to install, Cedar benefits from regular conditioning and treatment.
Besides, we have dozens of wood stain colors and styles to help enhance the wood’s natural appearance.
Natural stains are transparent and accentuate cedar’s lovely look.
Furthermore, it offers superior protection against dampness, moss, water, and other potential problems.
Alternatively, you can get cedar-colored stains for old and weathered wood. It helps reinject some natural colors into the lumber.
This stain is autumnal red, not bright red, and works magic against natural greens.
Thus, your natural plant background for the deck will pop, thanks to the reddish finish.
You also can use the stain for natural planters and pots.
Natural Brown Stain
Rusty or natural brown lends itself excellently to use in the garden or yard. Further, it matches most browns you see around.
So, cedar wood naturally receives this hue and won’t contrast too much with the base color.
Cool Blue Stain
Cool or light blue decking are not common, but a subtle blue shade brings a classy touch to an area.
Also, you can opt for a darker blue when looking for a bold appearance.
This stain makes the decking look like a seaside promenade. It is also good at concealing stains and marks accumulated by the wood.
Slate Gray Stain
Slate gray is a contemporary shade for decks and makes a bold statement.
Moreover, the color is more popular as it resembles the Scandi home design trend.
The finish is also a practical choice as it hides grime and dirt. Therefore, you have less cleaning to do.
What Stain Looks Good On Pressure Treated Wood?
Staining pressure treated wood gives it a more attractive look and an added protection layer.
However, choosing the most suitable stain is essential to the correct staining procedure.
Below are top stains for pressure treated wood.
Thompson’s Waterseal (Solid)
This product protects treated wood from moisture, mold, mildew, and U.V. rays.
Hence, it keeps the wood in perfect condition for an extended period.
In addition, the stain is a water-based formula. It applies brilliantly, and one to two coats is enough for a successful outcome.
SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly Ready Mix Penetrating Wood Sealer & Stain
SEAL-ONCE differs from other stains as it utilizes revolutionary nanotechnology to handle moisture issues.
Furthermore, the formula creates a breathable coat that does not trap water.
Therefore, it reduces wood rot chances.
This coating prevents cracking. And you do not need frequent reapplications often as it lasts up to six years.
#1 Deck Premium Wood Fence Stain and Sealer
#1 Deck Premium is easy to apply with a paint sprayer or brush.
Besides, it will deliver excellent uniform coverage within a short duration.
Proper stain application guarantees you three years of premium protection.
So, take care when using a brush as it is pretty thin compared to other finishes.
Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer
Ready Seal is a perfect low-maintenance solution for coloring and protecting treated wood.
Further, it comes in multiple natural wood colors and is easy to apply.
You do not need priming, sanding, or stripping during reapplication. Therefore, maintenance is straightforward.
Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil
Teak oils bring faded furniture and decking back to life. In addition, they give the wood a lasting finish.
The stain brings out the wood’s natural grain while giving it a beautiful color.
How Do You Make Yellow Pine Look Like Cedar?
Pine is easy to work with and affordable, making it stable in the woodworking industry. However, it is not as attractive as Cedar.
Therefore, you can consider staining pine wood items with a cedar matching stain for an enhanced look.
Here are a few tips to guarantee a successful outcome.
- Cover the work area with a few drop cloths to protect the flooring. Then, apply the chosen stain to a test board.
This way, you can tell whether the finish compliments or matches the existing cedar.
- Apply the formula from top to bottom. Also, work carefully but quickly, and wipe off drips as you go.
- Confirm the recommended drying time and leave the stain to dry. But reapply the stain if the shade is not deep enough.
- Wipe off the stains with absorbent rags when the pine reaches the perfect shade.
Further, any residual stain can compromise the finish coat. Therefore, wipe the pine thoroughly.
Pressure treated wood is a robust material that weathers harsh conditions without flinching.
But its green color may look misplaced among other wood types.
Therefore, get more insight from the above discussion:
How to Stain Pressure Treated Wood to Look like Cedar
Start by getting the most suitable cedar-looking formula. Then, use a stain pad or brush to apply light coats.
Lastly, allow the finish to dry for the recommended duration after getting the desired color.