Adding a warm, richly toned stain to cedar siding prolongs its beauty and helps it last longer on your home. Deep penetrating stains come in a wide range of tones and shades to bring out the depth and texture of the wood. Additionally, proper staining helps preserve the natural oils in cedar, called thujaplicins, that give cedar its unique scent and keep the wood safe from fungi and insects. Follow the procedure outlined below to apply a stain to your siding.
WARNING: Wood stains are toxic to inhale and can harm your skin, so wear a respirator mask and gloves and apply stain an area with proper ventilation.
1. Use an Oil-based Stain Instead of Latex
When putting up brand new cedar siding, it is recommended that your first stain be oil-based (alklyd). Oil-based stain is a more durable product that will thoroughly penetrate the cedar when applied, but it can be more prone to allowing mold growth if you aren’t careful and don’t use a solution containing a fungicide. While acrylic stains are being developed to be able to match the durability of alklyd types, they aren’t there just yet and are best saved for refinishing at a later time. Using an oil-based stain is also the best solution for preventing tannin bleeding.
2. Apply Stain to Cedar Siding Before Hanging
In order to achieve the most effective coating, apply the oil stain to the siding before you hammer it up on your home's exterior. This will enable you to coat both faces, the sides, and the top and bottom edges with no trouble. Be sure to use an oil stain that has both a UV-protectant factor and a fungicide in its formulation to best preserve the siding. Also, work on two planks at a time, with your assistant doing one face of each plank while you do the other.
3. Apply Stain Before Wood Begins to Weather
Put the oil stain you have chosen on the cedar while it is fresh and new. It will absorb the maximum amount of protective, deep-penetrating stain when it is in this condition. If the wood has weathered some, you may have to do some surface preparation, such as sanding, before you can apply stain.
4. Work in the Shade While Staining
If you work in the shade when applying deep penetrating stain to siding, it will dry more slowly, enabling the stain to sink more deeply into the wood surface. Set the boards on sawhorses to keep them up off the grass, soil, sand, and gravel, and to make your task easier.
5. Keep the Oil Stain Well-mixed
Stir the oil stain frequently with a stirring wand to prevent separation of the oil base from the other ingredients.
6. Use a Thick Brush or Backbrush to Apply Evenly
The fastest and most thorough method to apply stain to cedar siding is with a thick, natural bristle brush. The brush bristles distribute the stain evenly into the wood grain, reaching into the small undulations on the surface of the cedar planking. If you apply oil stain to cedar siding with a roller or a spray unit, be sure to backbrush it while it is still quite wet, to help it penetrate the wood more effectively.
7. Prevent Lapping of the Stain
Apply oil stain down the full length of the plank to prevent lap marks. Be sure to backbrush cedar planks with a paint brush to prevent blotching as the stain dries.
8. Allow the Stain to Dry Slowly
Leave the stain in a shaded spot, sheltered from wind and rain, for six to eight hours after putting on the first coat. Apply a second coat right afterward so the wood will accept it.