Cedar is one of the most popular types of wood used for siding across North America–and for good reason. For one, cedar decking is naturally beautiful. You don’t need to stain it to improve its appearance because it looks stunning on any home as it is. More than that, cedar has a natural resistance to wood rot, insects, warping, and many other issues that you’ll find in other types of material.
But what many homeowners love most about cedar siding is that it requires much less maintenance than other types of wood. However, cedar is not completely maintenance-free. In fact, one of the most common questions we get is: is cedar siding hard to maintain?
That’s the topic we’re going to address in this in-depth article. You’ll get the answer to this question, and you’ll also learn how to maintain cedar siding properly - including what tools you need for maintaining cedar siding.
Let’s get right into it.
Is Cedar Siding Hard To Maintain?
Cedar siding has a life expectancy of 20 to 40 years, but well-maintained siding can last up to 60 to 70 years. To get the most out of your investment in your home, you want to preserve your siding as long as possible.
Fortunately, cedar siding is not hard to maintain if you know what you’re doing. At most, you only need to clean, repaint, and reseal your cedar siding at least once a year.
What Are The Other Advantages Of Cedar Siding?
Apart from being low-maintenance, another advantage of cedar siding is that it is naturally resistant to wood rot, pests, and moisture warping. In fact, treating cedar siding is not necessary, but it can help make your siding last even longer. Nevertheless, untreated cedar can last 20 to 40 years in the right conditions and with proper maintenance.
As we’ve said before, cedar is naturally stunning, which makes way for another advantage: no need for staining! In its natural form, cedar is aesthetically attractive and can give your home a natural, sophisticated look all while being simple. It’s great for cabins, cottages, minimalist houses, and even contemporary homes.
How To Maintain Cedar Siding: Step By Step
Now, let’s talk about how to maintain cedar siding the right way. First, here are the things you need for maintaining cedar siding:
Things You’ll Need:
Gap filler (optional)
Soft-bristled brush or sponge
Sealant, stain, paint (optional)
Cleaning solution (detergent, oxygen-based bleach)
Sander or sandpaper (optional)
Nails and hammer (optional)
Step 1: Fill in Cracks
Cedar is naturally resistant to pests, but that doesn’t mean it is impenetrable. To keep pests from entering your home, make sure that there are no cracks in your siding that can serve as entry points to insects–or worse, rodents.
Step 2: Keep Gutters Away
If the gutters are too close to your house, this can lead to water accumulating near or on your siding. Although cedar provides amazing resistance against wood rot, it can still decay when constantly exposed to moisture. With that in mind, check if your gutter downspouts are too close to your home. If they are, extend them or relocate them entirely to an area where water is less likely to accumulate.
Pro tip: if your cedar siding is not installed yet, consider keeping them as far away from the ground as possible to prevent pests from reaching it.
Step 3: Remove Splinters
Splinters on cedar siding don’t pose a hazard like splinters on a deck do. They can still look unsightly, nonetheless. If you find splinters on your cedar siding, sand them down with 80 to 100-grit sandpaper or an orbital palm sander.
Step 4: Clean Your Cedar Siding
Cleaning your cedar siding at least once or twice a year can add significant bulk to its lifespan. That said, it is highly beneficial to give your cedar siding a good wash with a power washer (on the lowest setting) and some gentle cleaning solution. Alternatively, a hose and a long brush will do.
Also, we recommend washing your cedar siding in the summer. This way, the wood will dry faster and won’t accumulate any moisture.
When it comes to contaminants (e.g. bird droppings, mildew, mold), you must use a suitable cleaning solution. For example, if there are mold spores on your cedar siding, use an oxygen-based bleach to get rid of them completely.
Another good tip is to use soft, non-abrasive materials to clean your siding, such as sponges and soft-bristled brushes. Otherwise, you may accidentally put ugly scrapes or scratches on your cedar siding. So, avoid tools like synthetic scrubbers or wire brushes. Learn more about cleaning cedar in our in-depth blog post.
Step 5: Protect Your Cedar Siding
Painting, sealing, and/or staining your cedar siding can help it last longer and keep it looking beautiful all year round. It is recommended to reseal or restain your cedar siding at least once a year (or as needed, depending on how long your seal or stain lasts). Repainting can be done on one’s prerogative.
But wait, what exactly do these treatments do?
Applying a seal to your cedar siding helps prevent moisture from entering the wood. This, in turn, helps your cedar siding fight decay and mold. Staining, on the other hand, changes the color of your cedar siding and brings out its natural textures. It also contributes to the level of protection your cedar siding has against the elements.
Paint is not something that a lot of homeowners want to use on their cedar siding. The number one reason is that paint will cover up the natural beauty of cedar. Nevertheless, there is a benefit to painting cedar siding, which is adding another barrier of protection against dirt, moisture, and debris. More than that, paint can beautify cedar siding when the wood becomes gray, which happens naturally over time.
However, do take note that paint can crack, chip, or peel if you use low-quality paint or don’t take care of it properly. So, if you do make the decision to paint your cedar siding, prime your wood before painting; use high-quality paint, and protect it with a layer of wood sealer.
If you wish to keep the natural beauty of your cedar siding, apply a clear coating instead of paint or stain. Doing so will help protect the wood from moisture and wear–but without changing its color and texture.
Step 6: Nail or Replace Loose Boards
Some panels on your cedar siding may take a bigger beating than the rest. If you happen to find any loose boards on your cedar siding, nail them down immediately to prevent water, dirt, pests, and other contaminants from entering your house wrap or underlayment. But if they are too damaged to nail down, the only other solution is to replace them.
Step 7: Trim Nearby Bushes or Trees
Trees shed leaves that can end up in your gutters, and when your gutters are blocked, water may drip down your siding instead of down the spout. Tree branches can also serve as bridges for pests to wreak havoc on your home’s exterior. Plus, they can scratch against your siding when the winds are high.
If you have trees or shrubs near your home’s exterior, trim them so that they are at least 2 feet away from your cedar siding. If you have the right tools and experience, you can do this yourself. Otherwise, it may be better to hire an arborist.
Final Thoughts On Maintaining Cedar Siding
As you can see, maintaining cedar siding is not as complicated as you think. Cleaning, sealing, painting, and staining are only done at least once a year. But even with this low level of maintenance, you can expect your cedar siding to stay stunning and durable for decades to come.
However, if you want your cedar siding to last even longer, be sure to get your cedarwood from G&B Quality Cedar Products, one of the top suppliers of high-quality cedar in the country. Apart from siding, we also have many other cedar products that you need to build whatever the next project calls for, including decking, fencing, sauna materials, and more!