Finishing Western Red Cedar Siding

What You'll Need
Penetrating oil-based stain in your choice of color
Ultraviolet-blocking liquid finish with mildewcide
4 wide, natural-bristle paint brushes
Drop cloths to cover your work area
An assistant

Applying a weather-resistant finish to western red cedar siding will help your home's siding maintain its warm ruddy glow through all kinds of weather. Be sure to apply the finish promptly, before fitting the siding to your home or cottage, for maximum protection. Weathered cedar absorbs finishes less effectively than fresh new cedar siding. Follow the procedure outlined below to finish your western red cedar siding.

Step 1: Why Finish Western Red Cedar Siding?

Western red cedar siding will last much longer, resisting insect infestation, mold, mildew, cracking and rotting when it is properly finished prior to installation. The natural oils, called thujaplicins, in red cedar give it its slightly spicy scent, as they guard the wood grain against deterioration. Coating the cedar with a durable finish will help it retain these natural oils for decades. While some people may prefer the silvery-gray tone of naturally weathered western red cedar, siding allowed to age in this way will stand up to only a few years of harsh sun, rain, snow, ice and other deleterious weather conditions.

Step 2: Choose a Colored Stain to Finish Red Cedar

If you want to accentuate the red tones of your western red cedar, choose a penetrating stain that has red cedar, cherry, or chestnut coloring. If your western red cedar has golden highlights that you wish to emphasize, use a light oak or golden pine-toned stain. To accentuate the amber tones of red cedar, choose a medium oak or pecan-colored stain. Each large 4-gallon can of stain should cover about 100 square feet of cedar siding.

Step 3: Inspect All the Siding for Bugs, Mildew and Weathering

Check all the pieces of siding you wish to coat, and remove any living or dead insects. As well, brush off any existing mildew spots. Set cedar siding planks aside if they have already started to weather.

Step 4: Apply Stain to All Surfaces of Each Siding Plank

Use a wide, natural-bristle paint brush to apply the colored penetrating stain to the front, back, sides, and ends of each plank. Have an assistant hold the plank while you paint on the stain on one side and edge. Change jobs to do the opposite side.

Step 5: Paint on the Liquid Finish

Use fresh brushes to paint on the UV-blocking finish with mildewcide. Allow the finish to dry overnight before beginning to install the siding.

Step 6: Install the Siding

Hang the siding on the walls and roof of your dwelling as desired. Be sure to overlap panels on vertical walls to reduce water penetration.

Step 7: Recoat with the Liquid Finish

Identify the areas that will get the most sun and precipitation, and paint on an additional coat of UV-protective liquid finish with mildewcide after the siding is installed. Be sure to cover the exposed edges of each siding panel as well as the top surface.

Inspect your red cedar siding annually each spring for signs of mildew, dry rot, or insect infestation.