Can You Paint Cedar Wood?

Image of cedar wood. Can You Paint Cedar Wood?One primary benefit of cedar wood is its natural beauty. More so, red cedar. It features a natural resistance to decay, rot, and insect attack. The wood also works well with protective layers like stains and maintains its natural beauty. However, as a curious cedar wood structure owner you may want to ask, can you paint cedar wood as a way of protecting it?

Absolutely yes! It is okay to paint cedar wood. The advantages of painting wood will never grow old. Hence, you will do the lumber some good by coating it with 100% exterior latex paint. Also, it would be best to use a stain-blocking primer on all the wood’s four sides for more longevity.

Even if you install cedar siding painted on one to four sides, the wood will still get excellent protection. But it is prudent to check out this article and get some insights into going about cedar painting projects.

Can You Paint New Cedar Wood?

It is possible to paint new cedar wood. Moreover, experts recommend that you do so within two weeks of installing the wood. Otherwise, the wood may succumb to harsh conditions and collapse before long.

Even so, it is prudent to consider a few aspects when painting new cedar wood. For example, please choose the correct paint type for the wood. Exterior grade acrylic-latex formulas are the most dependable products, especially in protecting Cedar.

The paint allows you to deliver your preferred finish and add your personal touch to the project. Beyond that, it helps you renew the wood’s appearance, especially if it is fading away.

Please consider priming fresh siding on all six sides with a stain-blocking primer for better results. More specifically, you can go for alkyd-oil primers or a high-quality latex formula with stain blockers.

It would be best to adopt the two-coat system for protecting the wood. Ideally, a primer with a top coat delivers a significantly longer lifespan than a single coat. Also, painting without priming leads to adhesion difficulties.

Brush the paint instead of spraying or rolling it. The process delivers better refinishing results. You can also choose to spray the paint on the wood. But please remember to back brush the finish in the end.

In addition, Cedar is a porous material, and the best application strategy involves using a greater paint quantity on the surface. And back brushing is the easiest and safest way to accomplish this plan.

It is prudent to select the optimal time window for painting your wood. Ideally, the best time to paint Cedar is within two weeks of installation. Otherwise, the paint will have a negative coating adhesion.

In addition, test findings from Forest Products Testing Lab reveal that cedar siding loses half of its ability to hold primer and paint after 12 weeks of sunlight exposure. Therefore, it would be best to paint the wood as soon as possible. Even worse, the coating system eventually fails and leads to wasted resources.

Both old and new Cedar need adequate preparation for the paint to deliver a sophisticated finish. Also, excellent preparation guarantees you longevity, and you won’t keep recoating the surface now and then.

Sometimes you’d like to revamp the wood, especially if it is not that new. Here, clean the surface and remove any mildew, mold, and dirt. Also, consider sanding the surface to remove the loosened remaining finish and surface fibers. This way, you’ll facilitate an even and consistent finish.

On top of that, always choose vertical grain cedar if you can. Vertical grain usually absorbs alkyd-oil stain-blocking primers better and faster than flat grain cedar, thanks to its cell structure.

However, knotty Cedar usually holds primers better as they feature unique siding patterns. Also, the wood has a re-sawn or textured face. Therefore, it facilitates a tight bond between the surface and the paint.

Please go for a two-coat painting technique instead of self-priming paint. The two-coat system requires that you first apply a primer before painting the surface. On the other hand, self-priming paint allows you to get right into the painting business.

Unfortunately, one coat of self-priming paint does not assure you of longevity. The finish may start failing sooner or later. Therefore, it would be best to take the time and use a primer before applying the paint.

Is It Better to Stain or Paint Cedar?

The best answer depends on the condition of the Cedar and expected environmental conditions. But generally, stain lasts longer than paint and often appears more natural. On the other hand, paint promises more protection and is a perfect choice for badly worn homes featuring failed painting projects.

On top of that, you can only apply stain to your Cedar if it is paint-free. Therefore, it would be best to scrape off any previous finish before embarking on the project. But you can paint a stained surface with no worries.

Remember that the primary difference between stain and paint is the way they adhere to the wood. For example, paint is usually pigmented or opaque and comes in any color. Also, it acts as a coating to the surface and hides the wood’s natural color. therefore

Conversely, a stain is more translucent and has less pigment. Hence, it permits some of the lumber’s original hue and grain to show. In addition, the formula penetrates deep into porous Cedar instead of coating it. Thus, the finish lasts much longer than a paint coat.

The stain finish also delivers superior protection to the wood. It helps the surface resist moisture from ice, snow, and rain. Therefore, you will only think of restaining the wood after a long, long while.

Additionally, stain formulas are available in multiple forms to accommodate various project preferences. For instance, semi-transparent stains feature a light pigmentation that perfectly shows the wood’s natural color and grain.

On the other hand, we have solid-color stains that deliver a heavier coverage. Moreover, they resemble monochromatic flat paint and are excellent when you want to cover the wood’s faded color.

Longevity is a factor that would make you want to choose between painting and staining. Stains last much longer than paints as they soak more into the wood grain. But this duration varies depending on weather exposure.

Even so, you are better off with a semi-transparent stain if you have intense sunlight exposure on the wood. A paint coat will eventually peel off and leave a blotchy finish on the surface.

Moisture also determines the most suitable wood protection strategy to choose. A paint finish will easily collapse in the presence of moisture as the coat will lift, leading to peeling. On the other hand, a stain coat may last longer as the formula seeps deep into the wood and makes the surface water-resistant.

Also, semi-transparent stains need frequent maintenance and additional applications in between. This way, you keep the wood protected from elements and still deliver a lovely finish for longer.

Sometimes you want to paint over stained Cedar. Wait! Is it even possible? Well, yes, you can paint over a stain finish. But it would be best is first to ensure that the stain is dry enough for a paint coat.

A perfect way of testing the surface is by splashing some water on the stained surface. Then, check if the water soaks into the wood or repels it. You are good to proceed and paint the surface if it absorbs the water.

That said, it is prudent to access the wood before deciding to paint or stain the wood. You can even hire a painting contractor to help you assess the situation. Here are some things to check out during your inspection.

  • Check under the eaves and in shaded areas to establish the original material on the surfaces. Sometimes you’ll even find old paint or stain cans in the garage or basement, which gives you a better estimation of the previous finish.
  • Conduct a test cleaning to see how well the current paint or stain will come off on various worn and protected surface areas.
  • Establish whether you want to see the wood’s natural color variations or deliver a solid finish.
  • Inspect the Cedar to identify repairs and determine the type of Cedar you want to use. Generally, you have two options: Grade A and B, or wood with or without knots. Also, remember that these two types will not absorb the paint and stain equally or even look the same.
  • Get rid of old brackets, phone lines, and cables that are not in use. This way, you’ll have an easy time applying the chosen formula.
  • Discuss whether the cedar home has caulking needs. However, it is better not to caulk the surface if it currently does not need the procedure. In addition, the Cedar needs to breathe after installation.
  • Please inspect the Cedar every spring for sun and water damage. Areas around dormers or roof lines and under gutters may require a touch-up. Also, you can get a painting contractor to help you with these repairs. This way, you’ll get a more professional touch-up.

Do I Need to Prime Cedar Before Painting?

It would be best to primer cedar before painting. The formula penetrates the wood fibers to offer maximum protection from water and insects. In addition, it prepares the surface to receive the paint and facilitates a tight bond.

A primer covers imperfections on the surface, such as repaired or patched-up areas. More so, it blocks out odors and stains. Therefore, it facilitates a comfortable and successful painting session.

On top of that, using an independent priming formula allows you to benefit from the two-coat system. Therefore, you are sure of excellent surface coverage and a long-lasting paint coat.

Remember that paint without a primer will always present adherence difficulties, especially if you have weathered wood. Also, it would be prudent to prime exposed wood with an oil primer for better results.

How Long Does Paint Last on Cedar?

A paint coat usually lasts about five to seven years on Cedar. However, it is possible to get the number up to ten years if you take some special precautions. Also, you’ll have to prepare the surface well and consider various environmental factors.

Check out a few aspects to focus on as you seek to increase the paint’s lifespan.

  • Paint and Primer Selection

Regular exterior paint is not enough to give you the longest duration for your paint job. Cedar is a very porous wood and soaks up standard paint pretty fast. Therefore, you will observe a thinner layer on the wood’s outer layer. And the surface will be more prone to deterioration and cracking from the elements.

Fortunately, you can salvage the situation by first priming the surface with a stain-blocking formula. Preferably, you can remove any siding and coat all six sides of the slats for the best outcome.

Alternatively, you can ensure that you get an even and complete coat on all exposed areas. This way, you’ll still get sufficient coverage and offer superior protection to the wood’s surface.

Please consider 100 percent acrylic latex paint for the topcoat. The formula is usually thick and water-resistant. Therefore, it covers the wood and fills up any imperfections or flaws on the surface.

In addition, it would be prudent to consult a professional painter on the most suitable formula to use. They will assess the condition of the Cedar and make a recommendation. This way, you are sure of up to ten years of service from a single paint job.

  • Proper Paint and Primer Application

Use a brush, sprayer, or roller to apply paint to the Cedar. Moreover, professionals usually spray the paint then back-roll it to deliver a more even and consistent look. Therefore, please consider using more than one application formula when necessary.

In addition, it would help to use a hand brush to apply thick paint coats. The strategy also helps to fill any gaps and pores in the wood. But it is quite time-consuming and may not be ideal if you are in a hurry.

Nonetheless, the main objective is to get a sophisticated finish. So, you can still roll or spray the paint as long as you remember to back-roll the paint while it is still wet. This way, you help the formula soak deep into the porous lumber.

Always paint cedar siding within two weeks of installation. Otherwise, too much sun exposure might weather the wood too soon. And even worse, it affects how the surface holds on to the paint coating.

It would be wise to get an expert if the Cedar is very old and weathered. They will advise on how best to clean the wood and remove any mold or dirt. In addition, you will both settle on the best way to handle loosened wood fibers.

  • Climate Concerns

Cedar is pretty sensitive to sun damage as it turns gray with too much exposure. Worse still, the wood may become dry and brittle, compromising any chances of delivering a perfect paint job.

Although it is still possible to deliver a paint finish with such a surface, you will deal with a shortened life span. The wood will flake and crack prematurely and ultimately demand repairs.

Therefore, it is wise to evaluate your options if you live in areas featuring a lot of sunny days and dry conditions. This way, you can settle on the best painting products and maintenance routines.

On top of that, one way to handle this scenario is by preparing the surface well before painting. Also, it is possible to ensure longevity by using the highest quality paint available in the store.

A separate primer coat and 100 percent acrylic-latex paint formula will help protect the siding from sun damage. It will also keep the wood underneath in good condition even as it ages.

How Do You Prepare Cedar For Painting?

The best way to prepare Cedar for painting is by cleaning the surface well. It would also help to fill any gaps or cracks on the surface. And eventually, deliver a uniform and more consistent coat.

Please consider a sealant for patching up the surface. It helps to give a uniform look when you finish. Also, call an exterminator before painting when you see any signs of termite damage.

It is okay to use bleach on mildew or mold on the surface. But first, ensure that the surface can handle the chemicals in the formula. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the wood’s fiber.

Scrape or strip away any peeling paint on the wood before applying a new layer. The previous paint may not be compatible with the new formula. Or even worse, the last coat may compromise adhesion, and the paint does not adhere well to the surface.

The clean-up process is quite easy as a soap and water mixture is enough. Also, you can remove all the dust and dirt on the surface by gently scrubbing and wiping the wood. Then, use a garden hose to eliminate any residue. 

Always allow the lumber to dry before priming or painting, especially if you are working after a downpour. Therefore, please be patient to avoid sealing excess moisture into the wood grain.

Remember that you will only get a satisfactory outcome after pre-priming the wood with a stain-blocking primer. Also, it is okay to use alkyd-oil primers or a high-quality latex formula with stian blockers.

Should You Power Wash Cedar Siding Before Painting It?

It is okay to power wash cedar siding before painting it. However, please ensure that you adjust the sprayer to a low-pressure setting. In addition, it would be best not to work too closely to the surface. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the lumber’s soft surface.

Always remove previous paint from the wood before pressure washing it. You can use a wire brush for rough Cedar. But be careful not to damage the siding and incur additional repair costs. 

It is advisable always to follow the Cedar’s wood grain during pressure washing. This way, you’ll avoid frowning upon the result once you finish. In addition, ensure that you allow the wood enough time to dry before painting. And consider a urethane-acrylic house paint for a more sophisticated finish.

The good news is that you are safe and assured of a perfect result if you follow the correct pressure washing techniques. Also, the correct equipment will go a long way in delivering a perfect outcome.

How Often Does Cedar Siding Need to Be Painted?

Cedar siding needs a repaint job every five to seven years. However, some precautions can lengthen this duration to up to ten years. For instance, you can expect to deliver a durable finish with high-quality paint and primer.

Additionally, you can increase the paint’s lifespan by adopting the correct surface preparation and formula application techniques.

Even so, cedar siding can last three to five years regardless of the paint quality, surface preparation, and paint application methods. But the finish may begin to peel in as little as 12 months.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Cedar Wood?

Cedar is an excellent material for decking projects. More so, your decision to work with composite decking, cedar, or pressure-treated wood solely depends on your project, goals, and priorities.

Some of the pros and cons of cedar include:

Pros of Cedar Wood

Some of the advantages of using cedar wood includes:

  • Durability

Cedar has an impressive history in housing and decking applications. It is a durable wood and features rot, decay, and insect resistance attributes. More so, the lumber resists moisture absorption. Therefore, it requires less maintenance, lasts longer, and does not split or warp easily.

In addition, a cedar deck can last for about 15 to 20 years or more, depending on the environment and maintenance.

  • Attractiveness

This wood is usually a more attractive wood alternative. It features strong color tones, and you can achieve consistency through sanding. Also, you can deliver a more sophisticated finish with a semi-transparent stain.

  • Versatility

Cedar accepts and holds many different stains, thanks to its pitch and resin-free nature. Even better, the wood blends well with colors, bleaches, and translucent finishes to deliver your desired look.

The lumber is available in multiple textures, dimensions, and grades. Therefore, it is perfect for multiple woodworking projects.

  • Environmentally Friendly

Believe it or not, Cedar is more environmentally superior to various synthetic products. More so, it has a net negative greenhouse gas effect and removes harmful gasses from the atmosphere. 

Additionally, the wood is biodegradable and renewable. Therefore, it comes from sustainably managed forests and will not degrade natural forests.

  • Affordability

Cedar is not among the least expensive woodworking materials. However, it is pretty affordable once you access its many advantages. In addition, it gives you longevity, and you may not visit the lumberyard for a while.

Cons of Cedar

Below are some of the shortcomings of using cedar wood:

  • Sensitivity

Cedar is a softer wood compared to other wood types. Hence, it is sensitive to dents, scratches, and pet claws. So, it would be better to add a protective layer to the wood for added longevity.

  • Requires Maintenance

Cedar needs to remain sealed or stained. This way, you are sure that it will stand the test of time and serve its purpose. Also, it is possible to go for an unstained, rusty look. But you’ll need to seal the wood every few years.

  • Deterioration Concerns

The wood lasts very long under ideal conditions. However, we do not experience ideal conditions most of the time. Therefore, it would be best to prevent and prepare for wood breakdowns.

Also, Cedar tends to degrade more faster when you use it for ground-level decks. Even worse, the wood fibers will slowly dry out if you set the lumber under a shade.

Fortunately, it is possible to resolve these issues with simple re-sealing and maintenance techniques.

That said, Cedar delivers a perfect weathered appearance and smell. In addition, it is way less pricey than composite options and needs less work than pressure-treated wood. Therefore, this lumber is a perfect option for decking material.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are looking to paint your cedar wood structures, it’s likely that you will counter the following questions:

What are Tannins in Cedar Siding?

Tannins are the sap, juices, or liquid chemicals that leak out of wood. You will find them mostly in redwoods and Cedar. In addition, they usually leak out wood knots and can mess up your paint finish.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover tannins with water-based primers. They still bleed through the formula even after it dries. Therefore, it is wise to invest in a high-quality oil-based primer.

What Are Some Dos and Don’ts of Painting Cedar Siding?

Remove all falling paint off previously painted surfaces. Cedar siding painting jobs are only durable if you begin on a clean slate. Therefore, scrape and clean away all pollutants and failing paint.

DO NOT. Allow peeling paint to remain on the surface before painting. Also, avoid water-borne primers as they cannot block tannins in the cedar.


Painting cedar is a perfect strategy to increase its lifespan. Also, you can revamp old wood and make it new again with the many color options painting gives. However, most painters still want to be sure whether painting cedar is a viable option. So they ask:

Can You Paint Cedar Wood

You can paint cedar wood as long as you go through the required surface preparation procedures. Also, it is possible to achieve a successful product if you invest in high-quality paint and primer.

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