Western Red Cedar is used for the creation of many items. It is chosen because of its amazing properties, appearance and texture. Cedar's popularity as a building material dates back 200 years or more along the Northwest coast and for many hundreds more by Native Americans. As a matter of fact, this legendary tree’s properties and versatility prompted the first Americans to revere the Western Red Cedar so much it became a central part of their lives. Early craftsman carved storage containers and masks from the tree’s heartwood and wove bark into mats, baskets and rope. Remnants of water-repellent clothing remain today.
The wood of the Western Red Cedar is aromatic
, light, soft, straight-grained, not particularly strong yet very resistant to decay. Resistance to decay is due to powerful fungicides in the wood…fallen Cedar trees remains sound for a100 years or more. When unfinished, Western Red Cedar has a rich texture combined with warm, mellow tones. The grain is very tactile, and the tones can range from light amber to deep honey brown. Its natural luster cannot be duplicated by any man-made material, which makes cedar very unique. Today Western Red Cedar is used for greenhouses, siding shingles and fences because it is such an amazingly resilient building material.
Red cedar has a wonderfully distinctive fragrance, and is characteristically very pleasing. This only serves to add one more dimension to the universal appeal of this very popular wood. Yet another reason Cedar lends itself to carved cedar signs.
Cedar is often used naturally; however, most wood scientists encourage a finish treatment. Treating it can help to preserve it, which is really not necessary even if your sign will be located in a place making it susceptible to varying, weather conditions. Because weather conditions don’t really affect cedar, it is not required that you treat it in order for it to keep its natural structure. Over time, however, the color of cedar will slowly weather to a silver-grey, and the grain will become raised. While this has an appeal for some applications, in the case of custom carved wooden signs it is prudent to finish the wood and sustain a cycle of applications.
Spar Varnish, Poly-Urethanes and other marine finishes are actually not at all satisfactory – indeed, harmful. There is a way, way better solution to durability than these old-fashioned approaches. A modern green finish system which releases zero VOC and is formulated to enhance and enrich the natural durability and appearance of western red cedar which is oil-alkyd based can protect and preserve graying for a minimum of three years providing a rich finish, enhancing cedar's natural beauty thanks to its unique sun-blocking, UV protection. This formula also contains antimicrobials that resist the growth of mildew and alagae.
The easiest way to maintain your rustic welcome signs and engraved camp, ranch and RV wood signs is to apply a refresher coat of these specialty wood finish products each summer.
How you care for your sign will depend on your preferences in whether or not it changes colors over time, and how natural you wish it to remain. How it is cared for is a choice, since it will withstand weather conditions and still look great.