Exterior Maintenance on Lake Champlain Luxury Homes

How’s your Cedar Looking?


Cedar makes a home glow.

For a couple of decades now, our company – Topcoat Finishes – has gained considerable experience in applying protective and aesthetically pleasing finishes to natural wood homes and providing exterior maintenance on Lake Champlain homes in Vermont. Cedar sided homes are quite popular here. While cedar is a great and durable choice for exterior siding, there are a few things we have learned about how cedar performs in Vermont, as compared to other regions.

Got the Look?

Lake Champlain exposure

Lakeside exterior wood surfaces face entirely different exposures than oceanside homes.

Cedar is a considerable investment to make in your property, and we are frequently asked about “the look.” The look that most people think of when they are considering a cedar shake style house is the grayed out look of ocean side homes. On the east coast, Cape Cod is notorious for producing some of the most beautifully weathered exteriors on the planet. We are often asked to replicate that look.

The answer: You can’t replicate that. Stain manufacturers have even tried formulating bleaching stains for that gray weathered look, and it is impossible to match. Only Mother Nature can create that one.

Here’s why: In a nutshell, it is the salt in the air by the ocean that slowly over time creates that effect by relentlessly pounding it into homes via wind. Salt is funny stuff. We put it on the roads in New England to melt ice. It rusts our cars. But we also find it in the soaps that are used for washing our cars. Funny stuff. In home maintenance lexicon, varying degrees of sodium based chemicals are used to do everything from cleaning homes to completely stripping paint from them. Mother Nature’s blend by the ocean is a naturally occurring phenomenon…impossible to replicate by synthetic means. So, my answer to our Vermont customers is always that while a cedar exterior on Lake Champlain may feel like a mini Cape Cod experience, their home won’t weather that way. Lake Champlain has many features, but salt is not one of them.

The Good News

Vermont exterior cedar

This is an example of a red cedar shake sided home in a 2 year maintenance cycle with oil.

Every time we do a natural cedar home, the client always loves the way it looks when new, but dreads what will happen in time. That is a legitimate concern. Left to nature’s wear and tear, finishes on cedar will usually fade out, water stain and grow mildew. It is never an “even” weathering pattern, and usually just looks neglected after just 2-3 years.

With maintenance, and a keen analysis of exposures, wear and weathering patterns, the cedar home can be kept as good as new. In fact, many of our cedar home enthusiast/clients are finding that they actually become better with age. By better, we mean deeper color tone, more pronounced wood grain, a graceful aging process.

Wood Snobs

Everyone appreciates the beauty of this look, but you have to be a bit of a wood lover or “snob” to appreciate what it truly takes to achieve and maintain it. However, it clearly distinguishes the uninformed property owner with the neglected looking home, from the more desirable visual appeal that you, your family and guests will appreciate every season, every year.

This is what Topcoat does best, and with a passion. If you love the beauty and performance of special wood species, we are your painters.

Contact us today to see what we can do for your home.


Scott Burt

About the Author

About the Author: Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. .


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