Things I Messed Up On Our House: Cedar Beam Edition


So. I’ve been putting off writing this post since last Thursday, because I haven’t been able to think about the money we spent on cedar posts and beam-wrap, and what that wood actually looked like when it was delivered, without having to fight an overwhelming feeling of nausea.

Here’s what happened. Remember this week– the one where I ran interference between the door manufacturer, the paint store, and the lumber yard until I forgot the difference between the ice machine and coffee maker? Yeah. And then realized the ceiling joists under the porch were definitely not going to work with what we had in mind?

That was a good week.

The thing that was eating my soul up from the inside out was picking the stain colors to match the wood of our doors, before the doors were actually installed. MysteryMan had a small panic attack about the fact that the siding and posts hadn’t been ordered yet, and then I had a small panic attack and made some executive decisions to get things moving.

These were informed executive decisions, mind you…

Using what I had on-hand I checked the stain colors against the house:

Against the doors:


On a personal level I liked this first color better, but when I checked it up against the doors, it seemed this second color matched better…


Let’s just say this. Thank God, thank GOD, I had the siding primed only and not stained and painted. Because I know better than to pick out anything from a sample chip sight-unseen and have it sprayed on all of our cedar siding. But apparently I thought it was a good idea to do that with all of the posts that will make up our porch.


This is what they look like:


Does not match the doors AT ALL. Well, let me qualify that. If you’re standing 100 feet away and its shady and you squint a little, they kind of match the doors.


But not really. The color is not horrible… the best thing I can say about it is I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it.

It’s too red and too solid.

I know they don’t call it a “solid stain” for nothing, but why don’t they just call it paint for christ sake? I had my gorgeous cedar posts painted maroon. Awesome.

Excuse me while I go vomit.

The problem here is that I don’t love it. I specifically tortured my Own Personal Engineer into figuring out how to incorporate these timberframe-esq beams into the design of our house. And right now the reaction I have to these things is to sqinch my eyes up and say “Meh.”

I think the part that makes me feel like I’m shoving splinters under the fingernails of my soul is that I know better. I know that I don’t like solid stains, but the lumber yard said they can’t do semi-trans and since they’d already quoted it, I might as well have them pre-stained because MysteryMan is already telling me there is no way we’re going to get this done this year, let alone before it snows in like two months. And I guess I panicked.

Here are two much better ways to handle a situation like this:

1.) Take a deep breath and calm the hell down. The doors went in a week later, and I could have gotten sample quarts of stain from the store, stained pieces of cedar, and held them up to make sure they looked right. One additional week and I could have avoided not spending the rest of my life feeling meh about my cedar beams.

2.) Not let Dude at the lumber yard talk me into pre-staining just because it was already included in the quote. I actually don’t have anything bad to say about the lumber yard we ordered this from – they did a great job at a great price. I just should have kept my DIY attitude in place – if it’s something I can do myself, I should. Because I’d have never stained 15 cedar beams this color, unless I was blindfolded. And drunk. And possibly had my eyeballs poked out with a sharp stick.

But I didn’t do those things. I made a snap decision based of a one-inch square stain chip and a partially uncovered door jamb. Be ye not so stupid.


I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out what my options are:

1.) Install as is. Live with it. Be grateful I have a house and that said house contains beams. Stop whining.

2.) Try a semi-trans or other stain over the top of it.

3.) Buy a hand plainer. Take off the top 1/16″ off all the wood, and restain.

4.) Case our 6″ beams in with 1x stock to make them 8″ posts*. Stain the casing a color other than maroon. Buy new 1x to wrap the LVL beams with.

*The second part of the “beam situation” is that I sort of knew the beams should be bigger than 6″. I wanted something heavy on the porches, but I was talked out of it, and to get 8″ beams we couldn’t order it from the same lumber yard as everything else. After the deed was done I definitely banged my head against the wall a few times knowing I shouldn’t have let myself be talked out of the 8″ beams. I was already considering that if I really don’t like the look of them, next year they’re getting cased in.

Hey, good news? The 2400 square feet of siding looks great.

Even better news? I’ll be volunteering at my local chapter of Habitat for Humanity this week, which I suspect will give me some much-needed perspective on how stupid it is to worry about the color of my cedar posts, when some people are worrying about where they’ll sleep tomorrow.

5 Responses

  1. So, I may be out of line here, but if you really hate them and want the 8″, could you use these for something else(say…a garden bed or something else in the yard), and just order the ones you want?

    1. Tru – It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. We didn’t finance 100% of the build though, so at the moment we don’t even really have the money for things like, um, appliances. MysteryMan’s head will probably explode if I suggest re-ordering a couple thousand dollars worth of lumber 😉

  2. Casing it will probably give you the best dollar/time/satisfaction quotient but what do I know – I’m reordering 350 linear feet square edge baseboard 3 1/2″x1/2″ because while we on vacation the flooring/carpenter guy ordered & stained 3 1/2″x1/4″ rounded and expected it to match what’s in the house. Cue nausea and meltdown!

  3. I am a firm believer in using what you have on hand, making it work for you and then never regretting it. You have them, you paid for them, they are ok to use except for the color and perhaps the size being a bit less than you’d like. Use them and call it a learning experience.

    If you modify them by case them in 1x and re-stain to match your doors you will be happy you did so in the long run. Slightly more work and more money but when its done you will say, “ok not that big of a deal”.

    OR do the what I like to call; Live with it for awhile model of construction/remodeling. I’ve always found a new way to look at something and use it or fix it after I live with it day in/day out. True, you must have some patience to do this but I’ve never regretted anything I did after much time studying the situation. In fact, in the long run I think I saved lots more money doing things that way! Patience is a virtue they say. Hey, who knew?

  4. They call it solid stain because it is sprayed on and no excess wiped off. Using different techniques for applying the stain will give you many different looks. I personally don’t like the solid look, it is the cheapest labor wise. Also gives you a “cheaper” look 🙁

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