Staining/sealing cedar arbors?
The much awaited cedar trellis/arbor on the backside of our pool is somewhat underway: hubby has built the concrete forms, tied rebar reinforcements, dug 1.5/3 holes for posts, and cedar has been delivered. When this is finally completed and I'm happily planting to cover up all of hubby's hard work, I really don't want to worry about cutting back vines/landscaping every 2 years for restaining.
Now then, I would love for my arbor to mimic the fireplace/mantel I have inside the house, that is Austin cream limestone with a rough-hewn cedar beam mantle stained in MinWax Cherry 235.
The MinWax website doesn't specifically mention arbors/trellises, but if I read through the material properly, it would seem that they'd suggest a semi-transparent stain (brush on, rub off excess which might not be easy on the rough cut cedar we're using) followed by a urethane clear coat for UV protection.
The national "Real Cedar" website says clear coats should never be used because they'll all eventually fail/crack look bad. They suggest an oil-based semi-transparent stain alone will last for 2-4 years.
Thompson's Waterseal site recommends their Thompson's Waterseal Waterproofer Plus Tinted Wood Protector with only 1 coat, possibly 2 coats for a darker color if the wood will accept the stain. They don't mention how long I should expect this treatment to last.
What do the seasoned gardeners say?