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Community and Q&A

Cedar siding in Southern California

ThisOldNewHouse | Posted in General Questions on

Hello there – we’re doing a small addition to our house and decided to do Western Red Cedar T&G for the exterior siding (it’s not the clear and it has some knots). We didn’t use any furring strips and just attached it directly to the plywood and waterproofing membrane. Our guys who are helping with the build said because we get very little rain here in So CA that they didn’t think it was necessary to use the furring strips. The side its on faces east and gets a lot of morning sun and some early afternoon sun. ** Our question is about whether to leave it alone and let it just “gray out” or to stain and/or seal it. We like the idea of using a stain that has some color, we feel like it will make the wood last longer and protect it. Just wondering how long we should let the cedar sit if we do decide to add any stain or sealer to it? We’ve had rain recently on and off and we want to make sure we let it dry out before doing anything. Also because it’s new siding should we pressure wash it before we add a stain or sealer? Thanks in advance for any tips, advice, much appreciated.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    First of all, can you tell us your name? (I'm Martin.)

    The decision on whether or not to apply stain is an aesthetic decision, not a durability issue. Using stain will have a minimal effect on durability.

    If you're going to apply stain, the rule is: the sooner, the better. Weathered wood does not take paint or stain as well as new wood.

    Of course, if the siding has been soaked by rain, you have to wait for dry conditions to proceed. Trust your painter.

  2. GBA Editor
    Peter Yost | | #2

    Just to reinforce Martin's comments on bonding of finishes to raw wood; see this GBA resource:


  3. James Stufano | | #3

    I don't know if I can name products but what I did was use a product by Benjamin Moore called First Start, and brused it on all sides of the cedar. Mine was shiplap. It is more of an oil based product and it hid the knots or maybe better to say they did not bleed. I then went over with BM stain white as we wanted white, and it's been years in New England with lots of rain. Just Tyvek behind. We only did the stain on the front after it was instal;ed - no need to do the whole board. Just First Start on the whole board.

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