Staining cedar in room with hot tub


Old 08-02-09, 06:41 AM
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Staining cedar in room with hot tub

When our sunroom was added to the back of the house, the aluminum siding was left on. Now we have removed the aluminum siding and replaced it with panels of rough-cut cedar. The question is, should we stain it, and if so, with what? There is a small section of the same cedar paneling on another wall around the heating unit, and it has never had stain or an protective coating applied to it. It has aged to a darker color, which is nice, and it does not seem to have suffered from being in the room with the hot tub, but it is at the far end of the room. The new wall is within 4 feet of the hot tub. It does get steamy in there when the hot tub is in use, even though we open the doors. But then it has plenty of time to dry out and air out in between. The room is open most of the time in the summer and it gets plenty of sun in the winter (south facing). So I am wondering if it would be okay to leave it as it is, putting nothing on it. What do you think? I've been making myself nuts reading about interior/exterior stains, oil based vs. water based. I read about staining log homes and they recommended water based because it is breathable, and said that oil based would seal the wood and could cause mold under the sealed coating if any moisture in the logs could not get out. Of course, logs are different from this paneling. But I'm tempted to leave it as it is and would like some opinions on this. Or if you think we should stain it, I'd love to know what you think we should use.

Last edited by m4rilyn; 08-02-09 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 08-02-09, 10:21 AM
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The painter in me says it should be stained and the odds are that it will look better longer with a protective coating. And although cedar is one of the woods that fair well without any coating, you said panel so I assume it's plywood with a rough cedar veneer. Plywoods like T-111 must be coated! failure to do so can cause them to delaminate sooner or later.

Moisture in the wood shouldn't be a problem is the hot tub is covered and there is good ventilation. Don't apply a coating right after it's gotten nice and steamy in there. As long as the wood is relatively dry when the coating is applied, it will do more to stop mold/mildew growth than not having any coating. Latex coatings will let the wood breath more than it's oil base counterpart but again as long as the room is well ventilated and everything dry - there shouldn't be any issues.

Latex stains are pretty much limitted to solid stains so I'd recomend either a waterborne or oil base stain, probably a translucent or toner stain although a clear sealer like thompson's waterseal would probably do ok since it's protected from the weather.
Old 08-02-09, 04:43 PM
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Given the high humidity of being placed around a hot tub, it's a good idea to stain. The reason being that although cedar weathers very well, the panels can warp, in those severe conditions, and by splashing water on it, eventually even cedar can rot. Be sure to cover your hot tub about a few days before staining, to eliminate some humidity, I'd go with the water based stain, because it will most likely be somewhat wet while applied that being somewhat unavoidable. Brand doesn't really matter, there isn't a huge number of choices out there, just don't go for anything that seems ridiculously cheap, duckback is a brand that I've used, it's available at some local paint stores, or online.
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