Cedar-finish options for weathered siding

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Q Our 11-year-old house is sided with unstained, untreated cedar boards. We like the natural weathered look which varies from reddish to dark blackish browns. We are concerned, however, that the blackish brown may be mildew. Should a preservative or sealer have been used at first? What should we do now? Edith Hammond Valparaiso, Ind.

A First determine if the blackish condition on the cedar is indeed mildew. To do this place one or two drops of common household bleach (fresh off the shelf) on an inconspicuous cedar area. Leave it there for two or three minutes. If the blackish substance lightens considerably, it may be mildew.

If mildew is verified, scrub all the cedar surface with a solution of one gallon warm water, one quart household bleach, and one quart liquid detergent without ammonia.

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Allow the solution to set for about 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water.

Caution: Protect plants and lawn from the solution.

Let the cedar dry for a few days. Then you must decide whether to leave the cedar in its natural state or treat it some way.

One product that does a good job of restoring some of the original tones of cedar is CWF made by the Flood Company, Hudson, Ohio. Follow the manufacturer's specifications to the letter. CWF tends to remove grayness and restore some of the original golden cedar appearance.

Other options are to apply a lightly pigmented semitransparent stain or one or more coats of wood preservative.

Experiment with these various finishes in an inconspicuous cedar area until one finish suits your fancy.

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