In this guide, I will show you how to stain cedar siding. Cedar is a great material for siding as it grows naturally resistant to decay and insects. It provides a beautiful look and excellent benefits for your home, but it shines when stained.

Before we go any further, though, let’s take care of some necessary housekeeping:

– Please remember that safety glasses should be worn at ALL times when using tools and materials, even if you don’t think they’re needed. The last thing you want is an eye injury, so be safe!

How to stain Cedar Siding, Zazzy Home

– Although I’m saying “stain,” you can use the same techniques on paint or other coatings such as clear sealant.

– If you’re using a power tool, it’s always good to have another person there to spot you- just in case! Have them stand off to the side and out of your way; they should never be more than an arm’s length away from you.

– When doing this project, don’t forget that some safety precautions for individual tools and materials may apply (see the safety section below)

– If your measurements seem wrong, check twice before cutting! It’s easier to deal with an extra cut on shortboards than it is too shortboards, so double check before making cuts!

With all that said, here’s what we’ll need:

1- A ladder

2- Power tools, preferably a sander and a circular saw

3- Stain or paint of your choice in a color or colors of your choosing

4- Cleaning supplies such as a bucket, sponge, rags, etc.

5- Some short pieces of 2×2 lumber (optional) This will be for nailing strips onto the boards to prevent separation from weather/wind damage. You can use scraps if you have them lying around.

6- Optional: Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane Semi-Gloss Finish. This is optional because I prefer either a flat or matte finish on my stained wood projects, but many people do like semi-gloss, so it’s up to you! If you would like to add some shine, you’ll need this.

7- Optional: Paintbrush or foam roller This will help you apply your polyurethane easier and prevent it from building up on the sides of your boards. It’s not a requirement, but it does make things more convenient and increases the quality of your finished project!

8- Some paintbrushes These are just some cheap brushes that I had lying around that will be used to stain inside corners and other small spaces where we wouldn’t want to stick our fingers in.

9- A plastic sheet (a drop cloth works well) (Optional) This is mostly for the protection of floors and such but can also be used as a barrier between your tools and the ground if needed.

10- A drill (Optional) This will be used to either drive in some screws for added protection against weather damage, or it can be used to attach the boards to each other.

11- Some scrap 2×2 lumber (optional) This is for attaching pieces of wood or metal to your cedar siding that would then attach signs like “No Soliciting,” etc. If you’re not sure what this means, keep reading!

12- Sandpaper of Various Grits; 80, 100, 150 (Optional but recommended)

13- Wood stain or paint of choice (I’m using Minwax Semi-Gloss Red Mahogany Stain )

14- A paint roller and tray with a few inches of water mixed into it (or a paintbrush if that’s easier for you)

15- A clean cloth This will be used to apply the stain evenly and remove excess.

16- Gloves I recommend wearing a pair of gloves as they will protect your hands from getting stained and because the chemicals in some stains can irritate your skin. It’s always smart to wear a barrier even if you don’t think it’ll be an issue!

How to stain Cedar Siding, Zazzy Home

17- Mineral Spirits or Paint Thinner This is just solvent that helps thin out paints and reducers, so they’re more fluid when applied. If you have this on hand, great! If not, don’t worry about it as it isn’t necessary for this project unless you plan to use paint instead of stain.

18- A paint tray (Optional) This can be used to mix some of your thinner/reducers into; If you don’t want to use the above mentioned solvent, this is a good alternative.

19- Some scrap wood This will be used for holding boards in place while sawing, measuring, and cutting. I recommend having something around 1×2 inches or so that you can grab onto your cedar siding and hold it firmly where you need it. Also, a 2×4 works well too!

Now that we have our list, let’s get started! As always, before starting any project, make sure to follow any warnings provided by the manufacturer of your tools or materials, as each one may vary from brand to brand because every product has its own set of instructions.

1- This is the first step before doing anything else! Your home inspector will most likely have to come by and inspect your current siding for chemicals so they can let you know what needs to be done in order to prep the surfaces before any paint or stain applications are made. Make sure to follow their instructions as they’re not just being picky with how things are done; I promise you that it’s very important! If they don’t have any requirements, ask them if there is anything special you need to do prior to starting this project.

2- Once your house has passed inspection (or even if it hasn’t, but you’ll be painting/ staining), make sure all areas around windows and doors have been cut back far enough to where they won’t be hit by excess paint or stain

3- Now that you have a clean surface, it’s time to measure out the lengths of your boards. Using a pencil and a straight edge, mark off sections on your cedar siding, so you know how many boards will be needed to cover the length of your house. Doing this now will save you from having to do it as you continue cutting, which is why I recommend doing it beforehand!

4- Once every board has been measured out, it’s time for cuts! For our project, we decided not only wanted pieces of wood that looked like clapboards but also some wider ones with more character and charm. As such, we chose to use four different widths for this project. We labeled the first board as a 1×6 because it’s the widest piece at six inches wide, then two of our boards were labeled as 1×4, and the last one was labeled as a 1×3. We decided to make all of them 18-inches long for convenience sake, but you can make your cuts however you’d like!

How to stain Cedar Siding, Zazzy Home

5- Unfortunately for us, these pieces didn’t quite fit together perfectly due to slight imperfections in the wood that couldn’t be helped. As such, we had to do some trimming which is why the wood starts out at a length of 18-inches before sawing/cutting begins. Using a smooth cut blade helps reduce tear out as much as possible, so not too much material is lost.

6- After all four boards have been cut, it’s time to put them together! If you want to be able to stain your project without anything being visible, there are a few things to look out for when placing these pieces together. First, using a piece of scrap wood as a spacer is the easiest way to make sure everything is lined up properly and can stay that way. Make sure this board isn’t pushed down onto the boards below; otherwise, you might make an indentation with your spacer, which will cause issues during staining. Finally, the last thing you’ll want is an uneven looking surface after applying paint or stain; So be careful with how it’s done!

7- Now that we’ve got our boards, it’s time to start staining! We used Minwax penetrating oil-based red mahogany stain for this project, which is my favorite stain by far because it’s dark, rich, and looks amazing on any cedar siding. It allows the natural wood grain to show through nicely while adding a touch of color that makes it pop! Make sure you’re using an oil based stain for exterior wood, as water based stains tend not to hold up well over time when they’re exposed to things like rain or snow.

8- Before applying anything, make sure your surface is clean and free from any dirt/debris that might mess with how your paint or stain goes on. Always wear gloves when handling chemicals, especially if you have any cuts or scratches on your hands. They don’t have to be gloves that are intended for chemicals, but it’s best to use something you’d find in a hardware store more so than anywhere else.

9- Apply your stain using smooth, even strokes followed by applying the same motion at least twice. Make sure you’re covering every bit of stained area with some excess drying time between coats, especially if they’re very light coats that don’t give the wood enough time to soak up the product before another coat is applied. Doing multiple thin coats allows this product to start soaking into the wood on the first pass instead of just sitting on top!

10- Once all boards have been stained, it’s time to let them dry overnight and move on to sealing on the next day! If you do decide to skip sealing and use a clear coat of some sort on top of the stain, there’s no reason you can’t start assembling your project immediately after staining. Just leave enough time before applying anything like that over the exterior wood.

11- For our project, we opted to use an oil-based polyurethane that had more durability than something like a wax for outdoor applications. It also provided built-in UV protection, which made it great for projects sitting out in the sun all year round while still being incredibly easy to maintain and clean up afterward.

12- I recommend three coats of this product at least, but if you want even better results, follow up with five or six coats! The more layers you add, the more durable the surface will be over time. It does take longer to apply, but if you’re looking for something that can survive nature’s harshest elements, I think it’s worth spending the extra time to make it happen.

13- With boards stained and sealed, they can finally be assembled together! Use some wood glue on the corners of each board before screwing them tightly together, just like how regular deck boards are put together with screws.

14- If you want a perfect looking project, near impossible to tell apart from an actual deck, use stainless steel hardware instead of traditional galvanized steel hardware that would rust easily in time. You’ll find this stuff at any home improvement store or even online stores like Amazon without too much trouble, so look around until you find a good price for what you’re looking to do.

15- With your boards assembled and stained, it’s time to move on to attaching the hardware! Before actually screwing into place, double check that everything is fitting together properly without being too tight or loose. You might have to sand down wood or cut back screws if things aren’t working out, so plan ahead instead of last-minute, which always makes a job ten times harder than it needs to be.

16- One other thing before attaching the railing posts: the support brackets. If you don’t want to have any wobbling after assembling all pieces, separate holes will need to be drilled into each end of both sides of every post as well as into both ends of all railings using either a drill or a small hand saw, depending on what exactly they are made from.

17- Once those brackets have been attached, you can finally screw in the posts to make everything work as it should!

18- That’s all there is to it, folks! Follow this simple guide, and your project will come out looking like a million bucks with very little effort required for a project that can end up saving you thousands over time instead of having to hire someone every couple of years to re-shingle a roof, renovate a deck, or rebuild a fence. It’s well worth investing your time into making your outdoor space look just as good as indoors, especially if you’re sacrificing potential square footage elsewhere by keeping pets, children, or even multiple cars outside.

As always, thanks for reading, and if this guide helped you, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it with friends who might find it useful! If there’s anything else about things you’d like help with, leave me a comment below, and I’ll try my best to answer them in future posts, so don’t be shy! Thanks again


Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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