Redwood Finishing Tips

There are few building materials more hassle-free, from a maintenance perspective, than Humboldt Redwood. It’s an unparalleled material for building redwood decks, redwood fences, and a host of other outdoor and indoor home improvement and landscaping projects. Redwood is also a very versatile material, accepting paints, stains, and other finishes very easily. To help you make the most of your do-it-yourself redwood project we have compiled helpful redwood finishing tips and instructions. You may also download and print our informative Humboldt Redwood Finishing Guide.

Refinishing redwood is a relatively simple task, especially when you approach it in an orderly way. Unlike some other building materials, Humboldt Redwood is naturally durable, sturdy, and long-lasting, so refinishing redwood is straightforward. Though a contractor can certainly do the job, its uncomplicated enough for do-it-yourself redwood enthusiasts to do the task on their own.

When it comes to protection, it’s hard to beat finishes containing both a mildewcide and water-repellent, both of which go a long way to bolstering redwood’s natural resistance. If you so desire, you can always opt for a tinted stain or paint. Whatever you ultimately decide to go with, be sure to properly prep your redwood beforehand. Remove any debris (such as dirt, sawdust and leaves) in the area and the process will go much more smoothly.

Despite its legendary longevity as a natural building material, Humboldt Redwood, just like any other material, may require maintenance and refinishing after years of exposure to the elements. This is only natural, and refinishing goes a long way to ensure that your Humboldt Redwood deck plans or other building projects will retain that warm beauty for a long time.

One of the most straightforward, effective methods of removing a finish or surface grime and debris is by power washing. Power washing your outdoor structure will allow for a much smoother process when it comes to refinishing redwood. You can certainly do this on your own. However, should you choose to go this route, it is advisable to discuss your options with a contractor or other expert prior to proceeding. You’ll need to learn to identify the appropriate setting on the power washer you’re using to avoid damaging the surface fibers of the Redwood. When using the appropriate setting, power washing is fast and effective, and perfectly prepares your structure for refinishing.

Another method of refinishing redwood can begin with the employment of a varnish or paint remover. These are readily available at hardware stores, and are probably more immediately accessible than a power washer, which often needs to be rented. If you decide to opt for a remover, you’ll likely want to test a piece of new, clean redwood prior to widespread application. This will go a long way toward determining whether or not the varnish or paint remover you purchased might discolor the wood. If the test piece of redwood doesn’t discolor after application, you can proceed with using that product to refinish your redwood structure.

Additional, redwood recommended finishing tips include:

  1. When selecting redwood, choose kiln dried where possible. Kiln dried redwood more readily accepts finishes.
  2. If the wood is unseasoned, make sure it stands exposed to the ambient air for at least a month before applying any finish.
  3. Opt for wind-free days with stable weather for your finishing project. The perfect temperature for applying a finish should be somewhere between 50 and 70 degrees.
  4. Clean the redwood prior to finishing. If you need to use water to clean the redwood, ensure that it dries thoroughly beforehand.
  5. Thoroughly ventilate the area prior to finishing application. Moisture is a frequent cause of ineffective finishes, so be sure the proper precautions against it are taken. This includes using air vents, vapor barriers, and flashing.
  6. If your project is outdoors, choose wood finishes recommended for outdoor use only.
  7. Avoid using abrasive, metal-based brushes, since they may react with the wood and stain it. Choose stiff-bristled brushes instead.
  8. Be sure any products you mix are meant to be used together. Mixing dissimilar finishes might result in an ineffective finish.
  9. Prime the wood prior to applying paints or other external finishes.
  10. Choose the finest hot-dipped galvanized nails available. Opting for lower-quality nails may result in stains. Alternately, opt for nails made from other metals, such as aluminum or stainless steel.
  11. After finishing, rinse the surface of your Redwood deck with a hose to remove surface grime.
  12. For a deeper cleaning job, scrub the affected area with a stiff-bristled brush dipped in warm water and a mild cleaning agent, then rinse.
  13. Always follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions for all products used.

The California Redwood Association (CRA), has developed this excellent redwood refinishing video to help make the process even easier to understand. Jeff Imwalle, a respected redwood deck building expert from Sacramento, walks you through all the steps needed to refinish your redwood deck like a professional. By simply following Jeff’s advice, you’ll be able to refinish your redwood deck with knowledge and confidence.


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Humboldt Redwood Company 125 Main Street
P.O. Box 565
Scotia, CA 95565

(707) 764-4472 – Main Number
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