Paint Vs Stain On Cedar Siding For Home

Paint Vs Stain On Cedar Siding For Home



Paint vs stain on cedar siding is a very common question, who have a cedar sided home. Like should I have paint or stain on exterior cedar siding. Many other great questions related; Learning what kind of paint to use on cedar siding, or find if you can paint over stained cedar.

Determining whether you paint or stain exterior cedar wood siding on your home. We will go over all pros and cons with paint vs stain on cedar wood siding, being an authority on the subject. Not only being a painting contractor well over 40 years, but having firsthand knowledge, owning a cedar sided home nearly 30 of those 40+ years.

After reading this article, you will be able to make an educated choice, which way you should go, either paint or stain valuable cedar siding . Giving you my personal life experiences making that determination.

Should I Paint Or Stain Exterior Cedar Siding On My House?




Paint Or Stain Cedar Shake Shingles

Biggest, most important point is not all cedar accepts paint the same way. If you have cedar shake shingles as siding on your home, and does not currently have a paint coating on it, do not paint them.

Cedar wood shake shingles should never be painted, as they are cut & milled on a bise, meant to sluff off wood as they age. Another reason cedar shingles should not be painted is multiple small pieces of wood, makes it too difficult to paint all edges, sealing from water, which in turn, will lift paint up.




Putting this forefront in article, needing to warn you not painting cedar wood shingle sidings. If you do, you'll ruin them, having a life of peeling paint. Requiring to repaint every other year, until you replace them, staining with a semi-transparent.

Paint Or Stain Dimensional Cedar Wood Siding

Having cedar lumber wood siding, such as 1" X 6", 1" X 8", 1" X 12" or two inch thickness can be painted with a solid paint stain, not requiring primer, but still not recommended painting cedar if you can help it.

Main reason not recommending painting dimensional cedar exterior wood siding is you'd be covering up natural beauty of the wood's grain. Buying cedar wood siding it not cheap in the least, and will last many years properly stained, also maintained getting better, with additional coats of stain.

Biggest Choice To Make, Paint Vs Stain On Cedar




If you have no paint or stain on cedar siding, need to understand something. Once you put a solid body paint stain on cedar, it's almost impossible putting a semi-transparent stain later. Reason is all solid paint would have to be removed, as semi-transparent stains do not cover, only enhance, protecting cedar wood.

You can always use a solid body paint stain over a semi-transparent stain which has been dried out, cured taking more than six months to a year. However, never going back to a semi-transparent, once a solid body stain is applied.

So answering question;

Can You Paint Over Stained Cedar?


Can_You_Paint_ Over_Stained_Cedar


Test Cedar If You Can Paint Over Stained Cedar

Answer is yes, you can paint over stained cedar, but with some testing, also long term commitments. You'll want to make darn sure stain has dried out, after using best deck cleaner, also great for cedar siding. Good way determining this is splash water on stained cedar. If water absorbs into wood, not repelling it, good chance it's ready for a paint stain.




  • Apply water on cedar wood surface
  • If water soaks in, good chance you can paint over stain

Long term commitment painting over cedar, in that once you paint it, cannot go back to a typical semi-transparent stain later.

Notice I keep using term "Paint stain", in that a paint stain leaves a mil thickness on top, acting like a paint, but penetrates cedar also, unlike a 100%  acrylic exterior paint would not do. Your typical exterior paints being 100% acrylic is not meant for cedar siding, where as a solid body paint stain is.

Solid body paint stains looks like paint, but soaks into wood, protecting it even further than priming with a high bonding primer first, putting a solid acrylic paint on top. So, to answer your question, you can paint over stained cedar. Making sure it will properly accept new paint coating, before applying. Also make sure your paint product is meant for cedar.

Which Lasts Longer, Paint or Stain?




A lot determines what lasts longer, paint or stain. Biggest factor is weather exposure. If you have intense sun on cedar wood siding, you'd be best served using a semi-transparent stain, not a paint. Second biggest factor is moisture. Semi-transparent stains require more maintenance, with an additional application in between, keeping wood protected, than does a solid stain paint lasting typically 5-7 years.

  • Weather conditions, exposure
  • Moisture second leading factor
  • Higher traffic areas near siding
  • Sprinkler patterns hitting cedar siding


Entrust your exposure, can potentially get approximately 3-4 years life from a semi-transparent stain, and 7-8 years from a solid body stain paint. Just remember, once you go solid paint, can never go back to a semi-transparent stain.

  • Solid stain paint can last 7-8 years, but prone to chip, peel
  • Transparent, Semi-transparent can last 3-4 years, never lifting up

Higher traffic areas can wear paint or stain much more rapidly. Whether leaning, rubbing up against siding portions will wear off much quicker.

Make sure to adjust sprinkler water patterns, not watering on siding multiples times. Easy way seeing this on public fences. Continued water patterns causes discolorations, being unsightly.

Depending upon weather, sun exposure, traffic, sprinklers hitting siding, all has adverse affects on both paint and stain, causing both not lasting near as long.

Speaking of water sprinklers, you should always properly clean cedar siding before applying any stain. Paint on the other hand does not require wood brightener cleaner. But both stain, also paint requires a pressure wash, removing old dried wood particles off, first.

Just What Kind Of Paint To Use On Cedar Siding?


  • BEHR™


Solid BEHR™ paint stain & sealer completed in Louisville, CO.




  • Sherwin-Williams™ Woodscapes®


Advising you what kind of paint needed to use on your cedar siding is subjective what look you envision. Best paint to use on cedar siding is one which acts like a stain, having a paint mil laying on top. This solid bodied stain paint being beneficial to wood itself, having a painted surface for you to enjoy.

Many top paint manufactures offer solid paint stains within each companies paint selection. First one coming to mind is BEHR™, having industries first solid based paint stain. Continually refining formulation since it's inception in 1991, it is by far a high quality paint for cedar siding.

Second cedar paint for siding on our list is from Sherwin-Williams™, being Woodscapes®. This oil-based solid paint, stains cedar, leaving a paint mil thickness also.

Remembering cedar shake shingles should not be painted with a solid stain paint, but more transparent stain. Solid paint stains will not hold up near as long on shingles, cracking, peeling up in no time.


Home in Cherry Hills with SuperDeck® Exterior Oil-Based Semi-Transparent Stain






Sikkens Proluxe™ Cetol® SRD Translucent

Below is a roof cover we stained for a client in Highlands Ranch 3/11/2012. Called us back to get a quote painting entire exterior just yesterday. We paint so many homes around Denver, I had forgotten specific client, also home. However, John said, "You'll remember once you swing by". Which I did, and was great seeing them once again.

They were trilled I suggested Sikkens SRD Translucent stain, instead of what they were thinking of paint. Still holding up as good as the day we finished staining.

Of course, being out of the weather, & harmful suns rays, no telling how long this will last. Putting a maintenance coat, using same product at first sign of wear, also will not cost near as much, second time around.




Sikkens Cedar Cetol SRD Exterior Staining, Highlands Ranch CO.






This is my take paint vs stain on cedar siding. Cedar wood covering garage doors, lap siding, or ceilings in roof covers. Just remember if you do paint cedar, it's very difficult going back to a semi-transparent stain.

Rinsing cleaning cedar siding off first with a mild cleaner, such as Oxi-clean®, or TSP recommended. Allowing it to properly dry, before putting any paint product on it.

If deciding to paint cedar vs stain, best using a high bonding primer first, if in fact you plan using a 100% acrylic paint, but still do not recommend it. Ideal using a solid body stain designed for cedar, covering up cedar's natural grain.

Wanting to keep beautiful cedar grain present, use a high quality transparent stain, repelling water & moisture, beading up. Once beading stops, water soaking into wood, time for another coat of cedar stain.

So there you have it. Hope you've gained valuable information in this article, if so, like, share, ping, and/or comment below.

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[…] the differences of Cedar paint or paint stain, I tend to lean towards the stain paint, having this on my own personal Western Red Cedar home, […]


[…] Paint VS Stain, Best stains seals and protects wood shingles, leaving no paint mil to chip, crack, or peel. […]

Paul Swearengen
Paul Swearengen
2 years ago

Great Article, thanks for sharing your knowledge and information. Do I need to use a neutralizer between using cleaning product and staining my cedar sisding?

Matthew Temblor
Matthew Temblor
1 year ago

Good info thanks! I have a cedar porch stair case , fully exposed to weather, I wish I would have used a oil Semi Transparent stain when I first built it.. but after 2 years I used a Solid Water based stain, 8 years and now peeling.. after sanding, per your advice I am leaning to use to use Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond primer and going to paint with their Emerald Paint.. & hopefully to get more years out of this Staircase.

Muriel Hykes
Muriel Hykes
1 year ago

The west side of our cedar house needs UV protection. The siding is brand new in 2020. Which stain is best for that?

1 year ago

Hi! We are looking to buy a cedar plank covered lake house, in the woods, in Alabama. Hope that tells you enough about the environmental conditions. The house needs to be re-stained. Currently it is a medium blue-gray color and appears to be semi-transparent b/c the wood grain is visible. If I want to see the wood grain but would like a true charcoal color, what product should I use?


[…] Cedar Shake Stain. With its cedar shake roof and siding, complemented by Swannanoa stone, this lakeside home conveys the Nantucket style beautifully. The overall home design promises views to be enjoyed inside as well as out with a lovely screened porch with a Chippendale railing. Throughout the home are unique and striking features. Far better to stain than paint cedar shingles. Can You Stain Cedar Shingles? Absolutely you can stain cedar shingles, best spraying just like we did several months ago. At first, homeowner had ordered a TWP natural stain, but telling me it was a solid based paint-stain.… Read more »