Hi! I have purchased a custom sized cedar fence panel (its on order) which I am turning into a headboard. I want to stain (before attaching it to the bedframe) it to match the rest of my bedroom furniture - a dark espresso. Which stain should I purchase? Or do I varathane? Help!!!
Ordinarily you would use an exterior semi-transparent stain on a cedar panel but since you are bringing this inside I would use an interior product like sold at a real paint store. Check the color chart for a color that looks close and then buy a tiny 1/2 or one 1 pint can to start. You probably will not see samples on cedar in the interior color charts so you will be guessing.
I guess you could use a semi-transparent deck stain and leave the headboard outside until it dries out enough to bring it indoors. You still might smell it for an inordinate amount of time, especially sealed up in a bedroom.
Try whatever stain you pick on a lower corner of a back surface to make sure the color is what you want. Adjust accordingly then buy a quart or whatever amount you need to do the whole thing.
Cedar is a fairly soft, open grained wood so it will absorb quite a bit of stain. You might, in fact, preceed your staining with a sealer made from equal parts of processed (not raw) lindseed oil and mineral spirits. Let the mineral spirits evaporate then proceed with staining. The paint store will have other sealer products too.
New cedar is rich in tanins that will work their way to the surface so I think I would be inclined to stain the headboard and leave it be for a few months to a year after. Then go back and touch up the staining. At that point you could think about a clear waterbased or oil solvent urethane or other clear coating. I would worry the clearcoat would just flake and peel on a new cedar surface unless it is kiln dried, A grade or something.
Are you sure you are not going to pick up slivers and splinters with a rough headboard like this?