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How to Stain Cedar Siding: Tips on Staining Cedar Siding for a Beautiful Aesthetic

Updated: Mar 22


staining cedar siding

Homeowners can’t get enough of the rich, warm tones and unique grain patterns of cedar siding. And who could blame them? There is nothing quite like the natural beauty of cedar siding.


It’s the best siding material when you pair the aesthetic side of things with its low maintenance and long-term durability. But what if you want to extend the cedar’s life even further, or add a unique finished touch to the surface?


That’s where staining cedar siding comes in.


While you don’t necessarily have to apply a cedar siding stain, doing so can elevate your home in ways you never realized possible. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to stain cedar siding. You’ll discover the best stain for cedar siding along with tips on applying it.


But, before we get into all that, should you stain cedar siding in the first place? We’ll look at the pros and cons below to help you determine your next steps.


Quality Cedar Products can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.


The Benefits of Staining Cedar Siding

First things first - does cedar siding need to be treated? Not necessarily, but it can certainly add a touch of character to your home or building.


And, staining may even offer protective properties that extend the life of your investment. Here's why staining your cedar siding might be one of the best decisions you make for your home:


Enhancing Natural Beauty: Showcasing Cedar's Unique Grain and Texture

Cedar is prized for its naturally rich hues and distinctive grain patterns. Some homeowners choose to leave the material naked for this exact reason. But staining doesn't mask this beauty - it amplifies it.


The right stain can accentuate the grain, making it pop, and deepen the natural color variations, creating a more vibrant and eye-catching facade. It's like putting a spotlight on Mother Nature's artistry. That being said, the key is to apply cedar siding stain correctly - and we’ll help you feel confident doing so.


Protective Benefits: Shielding Against UV Rays, Moisture, and Decay

While cedar is naturally resistant to certain elements, it isn't invincible. UV rays from the sun can bleach cedar if it's left untreated, robbing it of its rich color. Rain and moisture, on the other hand, can lead to swelling, warping, and even rot over time.


A quality stain acts as a shield and offers a layer of defense against these threats, ensuring your siding remains intact and vibrant for years to come. You can learn more about cedar siding durability in our blog.


Extending Lifespan: Prolonging the Cedar's Durability and Appearance

You may be wondering - how long does cedar siding last when protected with a stain? In some cases, up to 30 years or longer! The right stain not only preserves the wood's appearance but also reinforces its inherent durability.


Staining can effectively reduce the wear and tear on cedar siding by providing protection against potential threats. This means fewer replacements, repairs, and touch-ups in the long run. It's an investment in the longevity of your home's exterior.


Increasing Property Value: Aesthetic Appeal and Long-Term Protection

First impressions matter, especially in real estate. A well-maintained cedar facade that’s rich in color and free from signs of decay can boost curb appeal.


Prospective buyers often look for homes that have been cared for, and a freshly stained cedar exterior can speak volumes about the homeowner's dedication to maintenance.


Additionally, the long-term protective benefits of staining can be a selling point, assuring potential buyers of the siding's longevity.


Are There Any Drawbacks to Staining Cedar Siding?

In the interest of transparency, let’s look at the other side of the fence. Are there any drawbacks to staining cedar siding?


Commitment to Maintenance: The Need for Periodic Re-staining

Staining cedar siding means you’re signing up for routine maintenance down the road. Even the best stains will begin to fade or wear away over time, especially in areas exposed to high sun or frequent rain.


As such, homeowners must be prepared for the commitment of periodic re-staining. This doesn't mean annual touch-ups, but every few years, a fresh coat might be in order to maintain that pristine appearance and protection.


Limitations in Reversibility: Changing Stain Colors Over Time

Unlike painting cedar siding, which sits on the wood's surface, stain penetrates the cedar's pores. This offers fantastic protection but also means that changing stain colors down the line can be more challenging.


If you decide a few years from now that you'd prefer a darker or different hue, it might require more intensive preparation or even a complete removal of the previous stain.


Think of stain as a semi-permanent decision. You need to be certain about staining your cedar siding before you pull the trigger.


Potential Costs: Considering the Long-Term Financial Implications

Staining cedar siding isn't exorbitantly expensive, but it's an investment nonetheless. The initial outlay includes the cost of the stain itself and potentially professional labor if you're not going the DIY route.


Then, there's the future cost of maintenance and re-staining. However, it's worth noting that while there are costs associated, the investment in staining can often offset potential expenses down the line, such as repairs from unchecked damage.


In the end, only you can decide if it’s worth learning how to stain cedar siding. Weigh the pros and cons and if you decide the benefits outweigh the downsides, let’s talk about about choosing the best stain for cedar siding.


What is the Best Stain for Cedar Siding?

If you decide to go through with the project then choosing the best stain for cedar siding is paramount.


It can be the difference between a beautiful finish that scores you compliments from guests and passersby and a dull, lackluster finish that leaves you wondering why you wasted your time.


So, let’s talk about the different types of stains for cedar siding and which ones are right for your unique needs.


Types of Stains: Solid, Semi-Transparent, and Clear

There are a few different types of stains you can choose from:


  • Solid Stains: These provide the most opacity and are excellent for covering any blemishes or inconsistencies in the wood. However, they do obscure cedar's natural grain.

  • Semi-Transparent Stains: An ideal middle-ground, these stains allow some of the wood's natural beauty to shine through while providing a hint of color. Brands like Defy Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain are popular choices for homeowners looking to achieve this balance.

  • Clear Stains: For those who wish to fully showcase the cedar's raw beauty, clear stains, such as Defy Extreme Crystal Clear Exterior Wood Stain, are perfect. They offer protection without adding any color, allowing the wood's natural hues and grains to take center stage.


Considerations Based on Climate: Factors Affecting Stain Longevity and Performance

Choosing a stain isn’t just a matter of finding out which finish will look the best. You’ll also need to consider the climate you live in and determine what sort of protection your siding needs:


  • Humidity: There's the threat of mold, mildew, and fungus in humid regions. It's crucial to opt for stains known for their mold and mildew resistance, such as Defy Extreme.

  • Sun Exposure: Intense UV rays in sun-soaked areas can lead to premature graying of cedar siding. UV-resistant stains help maintain the wood's natural beauty for a longer duration.

  • Rain: Excessive moisture from rain can lead to warping or rot. Water-repellent stains, like Thompson’s Waterseal, create a protective barrier, ensuring moisture doesn't penetrate the wood.

  • Temperature Fluctuations: Wood expansion and contraction can lead to cracks or splits in areas with rapid temperature shifts. Penetrating oils, like Cabot Natural Australian Timber Oil, provide the wood with the flexibility it needs to handle these shifts.


We encourage you to consult a professional as you seek out the best stain for cedar siding. But once you have found the right product the real fun can begin - here’s how to stain cedar siding.


How to Stain Cedar Siding: Step-by-Step Guide to Staining Cedar Siding

We do encourage you to hire professional help if you don’t feel confident in your ability to stain cedar siding correctly. After all, your siding is an investment - and the last thing you want is to do more harm than good.


That being said, if you are up for the challenge and feel capable of handling the project, here is how to get started.


Required Tools and Materials: Ensuring You're Well-Prepared

  • Stain: Depending on your preference, this could be solid, semi-transparent, or clear. Brands like Defy Extreme and Cabot have established a reputation for durability and quality.

  • Brushes: Synthetic bristle brushes are recommended for water-based stains.

  • Rollers: Suitable for large surface areas, make sure they are compatible with your chosen stain type.

  • Sprayer: Ideal for vast and uninterrupted siding expanses. Ensure it's thoroughly cleaned if previously used.

  • Painter’s tape: To protect windows, doors, and trim.

  • Sanding paper: Medium (120-grit) for light sanding.

  • Cleaning agents: Wood cleaners or a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water.

  • Protective Gear: Always wear gloves and safety goggles. If using a sprayer or when sanding, consider using a mask to avoid inhaling fine particles.


Once you have all your essentials and you’ve blocked off a weekend to work, you’ll start with a bit of surface preparation.


Surface Preparation: From Cleaning to Sanding

Just as with how to prep cedar siding for paint, proper surface preparation ensures optimal stain adhesion and an even finish. If you put in the work here you’ll reap the benefits later on with a stunning final product - so don’t overlook this initial step:


  • Cleaning: Remove dust, debris, and old flaking stain using a soft brush. Follow up with a specialized wood cleaner or TSP solution to remove mildew, mold, or stubborn stains.

  • Sanding: Lightly sand the surface, focusing on rough patches or areas with flaked-off stain. This provides a smoother surface for the stain to adhere to. Remember to always sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches.

  • Rinse and Dry: After cleaning and sanding, thoroughly rinse the siding and allow it to dry for at least 24-48 hours.


Learn more about how to clean cedar siding or pressure washing cedar siding in our blog to ensure you do a good job and give yourself a nice clean slate to work on.


Application Techniques: Brushes, Rollers, and Sprayers

Now comes the fun part - actually applying your stain to the cedar siding. There are three techniques you can use - and you may find yourself using a combination of the three:

  • Brushes: Ideal for precision, especially around trim or corners. Ensure to work the stain into the cedar's grain and avoid letting the stain pool or drip. Start at the top and work your way down as you’ll be able to catch drips and maintain a wet edge.

  • Rollers: Perfect for staining broad areas. Use even, vertical strokes, overlapping each pass slightly to avoid streaks. A technique called “back brushing” can be beneficial. After rolling the stain onto the siding, go back over it lightly with a brush. This helps push the stain into the cedar grain and ensures a more even application.

  • Sprayers: Ensure a consistent 10-12 inch distance from the siding to avoid pooling. Sprayers are fast but require masking off areas you don't want to stain. If you opt for a sprayer, move in smooth, controlled motions, ensuring consistent coverage. Given the speed of application, have a brush on hand to address any drips or pooling immediately.


There are a few best practices to keep in mind in terms of actually applying the stain. Stir the stain before applying it to ensure pigments haven’t settled at the bottom. Shaking can introduce bubbles. You should always read the instructions on your specific stain thoroughly before getting started.


Drying and Curing: Timelines and Best Practices

After finishing the application process you’ll need to give the surface time to dry and the stain time to cure. This can take anywhere from 24-48 hours depending on weather.


This is why planning the project is so important. You can’t risk moisture getting on the surface, so you need to check the forecast and look for clear skies with temperatures between 50°F and 80°F.


While the stain may feel dry to the touch within a day, it often takes several days, sometimes even weeks, for it to fully cure and attain its final color and finish. You’ll notice it changing over the course of this timeframe.


Maintenance and Fresh Cedar Siding Stain Application Guidelines

Maintaining the pristine look and protection of your cedar siding doesn't have to be a daunting task. With consistent care and by following a few guidelines, you can ensure your siding remains as beautiful as the day you first stained it:

  • Cleanliness is Key: Gently clean your siding annually to remove dirt, mold, or mildew. A simple solution of mild soap and water, applied with a soft brush, can work wonders. Remember to rinse thoroughly with clean water.

  • Re-staining Intervals: Depending on your climate and the type of stain you've used, you'll typically need to re-stain your cedar siding every 3-7 years. Clear stains might require more frequent applications, while solid stains tend to last longer.

  • Sanding Between Coats: Before re-staining, lightly sand the siding. This not only removes any imperfections but also provides a better surface for the new stain to adhere to.


You can learn more about how to care for cedar siding in our blog if you’d like. Otherwise, we’re going to bring this conversation on how to stain cedar siding to a close.


Final Thoughts on How to Stain Cedar Siding

Staining cedar siding is more than just a home improvement task. It's an investment in the longevity and beauty of your home. It not only enhances the aesthetics of your property but also ensures that the cedar stands strong against the elements for years to come.


If you're considering a new cedar siding project or looking to upgrade your existing one, trust in quality materials that lay the foundation for lasting beauty. Shop with us at Quality Cedar Products - the most trusted cedar lumber supplier around!


We have a premier selection of cedar siding, cedar deck boards, cedar soffit, cedar fence boards, and more. You can rest assured you’re getting the top-quality you deserve or you won’t be forced to pay - it’s really that simple.


Our blog has more helpful resources on on topics like cedar siding cost, cedar vs pine siding, is cedar siding a good insulator, how to replace cedar siding, cedar siding maintenance, and more. But, why not get started with the project now that you know how to stain cedar siding? Give your home the best because you deserve nothing less!


G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated does not assume any liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided in this blog post. The reader is solely responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented. Any reliance on the information is at the reader's own risk.

G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.

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