How Often Should You Stain Cedar Siding?

Keeping your home's exterior up to date can feel impossible sometimes. Do you have cedar siding that might need new staining but don't know how often to do this or where to start? Well, we've done plenty of research and have the answers here for you. 

You should stain cedar siding after about 3-7 years. Of course, every home will be different depending on where it's located, but you shouldn't need to do this often. That said, it is likely that you'll need to apply a protective clear coat every 2-3 years on cedar to keep it looking fresh, so keep that in mind.

As we begin, we will cover all things cedar siding and discuss when and how you should stain yours. Whether you want to refresh your home's exterior or just put in your siding, we're here to help. Without further ado, let's dive right into this topic!

cedar sided house with red door, How Often Should You Stain Cedar Siding?

Should You Stain Cedar Siding?

Cedar Siding on building exterior

If you want to keep your cedar siding natural-looking, using a stain is a great idea. Although you don't have to stain wood siding, it is a nice way to tweak its color without making it look overdone, which is why many choose to go this route.

One of the benefits of staining wood over painting is that you get to enjoy its natural grain, which tends to fare better with home buyers. Of course, you can also try leaving your wood as is, but this won't give it the same vibrant finish.

Do I Need To Stain Cedar Siding Every Year?

It isn't necessary to do a yearly stain on cedar siding. It is common to use a clear coat stain every couple of years for maintenance, but again, this varies.

Weather and regional climate can make a huge difference in how long a stain lasts on wood, so expect to re-stain more often if you live somewhere with extreme conditions.

How Do You Stain Cedar Siding?

house with cedar trim

Staining cedar siding shouldn't be too difficult for anyone wanting to take on a DIY project. To start:

  1. Find a stain that complements your cedar.
  2. Inspect your siding's current stain, and determine whether it's oil- or water-based.
  3. Before staining, check your siding for any damage and sand/clean it.
  4. Cover any surrounding trim with painter's tape.
  5. Using stain and a paintbrush/sprayer, evenly apply it to your cedar's surface.
  6. Allow your siding to dry for 24-48 hours, and you're done!

It's also worth noting that damaged wood may need to be replaced if it's rotted or beyond repair, so keep that in mind.

Here is a video tutorial on staining and back brushing cedar siding from Paint Life TV's official YouTube channel. In this video, they dive into the basics of applying stain evenly using a brush and sprayer and give tips on making sure your product dries evenly.

How Long Does Stain Last On Cedar Siding?

A stain will usually last 3-7 years on cedar siding. For higher-quality stain products, you may even see them last on cedar for up to 10 years, so it's better to splurge for a premium option.

That said, it is likely you will need to reapply a clear coat stain every two or so years on your siding to keep it looking fresh, but this is pretty standard.

Cabot Wood Toned Deck & Siding Exterior Stain

This exterior cedar stain has a low VOC formula, translucent oil finish, is waterproofing, deeply penetrates surfaces, and comes in a one-gallon container.

Follow this link to see it on Amazon.

Can You Leave Cedar Untreated?

Close-up of hand wearing protective work gloves with brush

Yes! It is okay to leave the cedar siding on your home untreated. Although using a stain or sealing product will keep wood's natural color from fading, doing this isn't always the best thing.

One of the main reasons people don't treat cedar is that it won't usually have mold, rot, and insect damage like treated options will, so that's a major bonus. Of course, you do risk losing your cedar's natural color once it fades if you don't treat it, so there are drawbacks to leaving it untreated.

Does Staining Cedar Protect It?

Staining cedar will ultimately protect it from the natural elements. Especially for color, using a stain on cedar siding will prevent fading and weathering while giving it an even more vivid appearance.

Using a stain will also help keep your wood from developing water damage, so if you live somewhere wet, this might be a good idea.

Can You Stain Over Already Stained Cedar Siding?

Mid-century modern black door with chrome handles and horizontal, cedar siding at a home's entry

If you've already applied a stain to your cedar and want to redo it, this is possible. First, you want to make sure to remove all of the lacquer or varnish from your wood so that the new stain will go on easily.

You can try a sanding block for this, which will do a better job of breaking down your existing lacquer/varnish's top layer. Although this can be a tedious process, not sanding down your older stain can result in a less effective new one, ultimately leaving your cedar unprotected.

How Do You Strip Stain?

Using a sanding block or wood stain remover will be your best bet for stripping stain. A sanding block will require a bit more physical labor than applying a remover, although it doesn't have toxic fumes.

On the other hand, using a stain remover will be pretty quick, so we recommend it for those taking on bigger projects. To use a wood stain remover:

  1. Prepare your workspace, protecting your floors and other surfaces.
  2. Pour the stain remover into a plastic or glass container.
  3. Using a natural fiber paintbrush, apply a thick, even layer to your wood.
  4. Let your remover sit for 15-20 minutes and reapply enough to keep the surface wet.
  5. Scrape off the now soft stain from your wood's surface.
  6. After 24 hours, sand down your wood until it is smooth to the touch.
  7. Wipe down your wood with mineral spirits, and you're all set!

DEFY Exterior Wood Stain Stripper

This stain remover works on clear and semi-transparent wood stains, restores wood, removes dirt, and comes in a one-gallon container.

See this stain remover on Amazon here.

Does Cedar Siding Need To Be Sealed?

New cedar shingle siding makes a great background.

It is usually a good idea to seal cedar siding. Although you don't necessarily need to do this, applying a sealant to your wood will keep it from fading and getting damaged by water.

Doing this will also help prevent chemical bleeding on your siding, so if you want to keep your cedar looking better for longer, we recommend sealing it.

Do I Need To Weatherproof Cedar?

If you want your cedar to age gracefully, yes, it's a good idea to weatherproof it. As mentioned, sealing and staining cedar will preserve it and keep it looking more vibrant for years to come.

Especially for those with extreme winters or super wet year-round climates, it's vital to protect your wood's natural color and finish by using a weatherproofing product of some kind.

Is Cedar Siding High Maintenance?

Although beautiful to look at, cedar siding can be high maintenance. Most importantly, cedar requires regular staining/painting to keep its appearance, usually every 3-7 years.

Cedar siding will also need regular power washing, so it isn't something you can leave for mother nature to handle. You might also have to apply a clear stain coat to your cedar every two or so years to protect it from fading and water damage, so this is a commitment.

How Do You Maintain Cedar Siding?

Front of rental cabin with cedar plank siding

An easy way to maintain cedar siding is to clean it regularly. Considering that cedar is prone to accumulating dust and dirt, it's a good idea to power wash your siding about twice per year.

It's also a good maintenance habit to repair and reseal cedar siding as needed to prevent bigger issues from developing down the road.

To Wrap It All Up

Whether you have cedar siding or are thinking about installing some, it's essential to know when to stain it. You should re-stain cedar every 3-7 years and try to apply a clear stain coat every two years.

Although it isn't technically required, it is a good idea to use a sealer or weatherproofing product on your siding to protect it from fading and water damage. It's also worth noting that cedar tends to attract dust and dirt, so a good power washing here and there will help keep your siding in good shape.

Regardless of where you live, try to apply a stain to your cedar siding when needed, and don't forget to remove its top lacquer/varnish layer before a fresh coat.

Before you go, be sure to check out these helpful related home posts below:

How Far Should Siding Overlap Foundation?

Should A Garage Door Match Siding Or Trim?

Is A Wood Deck Cheaper Than A Concrete Patio?

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