Why Cedar Siding Will Last Half Century- 7 Maintenance Tips to Make Cedar Last Longer

One of the protective measures for our houses against exposure to elements is using siding. For most homeowners, cedar siding does the magic. Why is it a go-to product for many? Because it will last ages and here’s why cedar siding will last half century.

Generally, cedar siding’s life expectancy is estimated to be between 20-40 years. However, cedar siding would last 60-70 years under proper maintenance and care conditions.

Some manufacturers offer more than 25 years of warranties for their cedar siding. This should ring a bell on how long the material can last.

However, cedar siding’s longevity also depends on the climatic conditions in your living area and other maintenance practices.

In this article, you shall learn more about cedar siding, including its maintenance and treatment. We shall further answer some of the FAQs concerning cedar siding. Read on to find out more!

What Is Cedar Siding

Why Cedar Siding Will Last Half Century
Cedar Siding

Cedar siding is a natural wood made from red or white cedar. Both of them are native trees found in the USA. Cedar is popularized in home buildings for its long durability products compared to other woods.

Cedar siding includes shingles, shakes, trim boards, clipboards, and other general horizontal lap panels. There are a variety of siding materials. So, how does cedar siding compare to other wood materials?

Cedar siding has properties that can resist swelling, cupping, and cracking much better than other wood materials. Besides, it grows much faster than other wood materials.

This explains its dominance in most parts of the U.S. Installing and repairing cedar siding is also a walk in the park! However, cedar siding requires more upkeep and maintenance than other woods.

Types of Cedar Siding

Cedar has a straight grain, making it impeccably stable when turned into a siding. The wood is slightly harder than other woods, with lots of accrued benefits.

Its ability to resist many elements has increased its popularity over time among property owners. The following are types of cedar siding that will help you when you want to redo some sections of cedar siding in your house:

  1. Lap Siding

Also described as bevel or clapboard siding, lap siding is among the most common forms of cedar siding. It is formed through lengthwise sawing a board into a slight pie shape, thus making a narrow edge on one side.

The siding boards start at the bottom of the wall, slightly overlapping on top of each other. This is why they are called “lap siding.”

Lap siding is more durable than other types of siding, as it sheds water quite well. Its lack of edges promotes its durability, as no edges can absorb and hold moisture.

The more the sidings overlap each other, the sturdier the structure. About four to eight inches of lap siding is left exposed. If you want a smaller area exposed, you will have to dig more into your pocket as it requires more pieces of siding.

While cedar siding does not require any staining, it’d be better if you periodically stained and painted it as it will keep it vibrant and fresh for ages.

If you live in wet conditions, try some caulking around the edges to minimize water damage.

  1. Drop Channel Siding

This is the most versatile type of siding. People mostly prefer to use it in constructing cabins. You can install it horizontally, diagonally, or vertically.

Drop channel siding is achieved by cutting a small groove down the long edge of the board bottom. You will then mill it down the top edge.

This will allow it to fit-snuggle into the grooved age since the siding boards overlap on top of each other.

The overlapping is an added benefit of the drop channel siding since it allows the expansion and contraction of wood depending on temperature changes.

This siding will create a rustic appearance to your home’s exterior. Besides, the partial and overlapping beveled edges will form exciting shadow lines.

  1. Tongue and Groove Siding

Like drop channel siding, tongue, and groove siding is also very versatile. You can install it in any direction, vertically or horizontally.

Each board is milled with a groove on one side, embedded with a corresponding tongue on the other (hence the name “tongue and groove siding”).

The arrangement is to allow safe interlocking of the planks and the creation of a smooth surface. You would want to use tongue and groove siding for your antique wood flooring.

  1. Split Logs

Using split logs as your cedar siding is perfect for those who love the log cabin look, but still desire to maintain their modern home. Split logs will enhance the ambiance of your home, regardless of the size.

You can create this look by sawing the wood with the bark still attached. One side of the board will retain its curved and natural outlook, while the underside will be flat. This is for a proper attachment on the wall.

Like in any other type of cedar siding, use a protective sealant on split locks to help seal the moisture and increase insect- resistance.

  1. Board-and-Batten

Board-and-batten is commonly used on barns’ exteriors and farm buildings. It contains alternating wide and narrow boards. The wide boards are evenly spaced across the exterior while the narrow ones are nailed on the in-between spaces. The narrow strip is the batten.

Board-and-batten is excellent as it allows the expansion and contraction of wood. It is a historical cedar siding developed by farmers who valued unseasoned woods of different widths.

However, this wood is not as popular in contemporary society as most wood used in siding is often adequately seasoned.

  1. Shake the Siding

You can easily confuse shake siding for shingles as they look similar. However, shake siding is thicker and more durable. Shake siding is smaller and is available in several fixed sizes (16, 18, and 24 inches in length).

The layers overlap each other, providing a rustic and coarse look to the exterior of your home. During installation, they are attached to a sheathing from the bottom of the wall.

The shake siding is rough. Because of its rough nature, it is cited as a fire hazard in some areas. Therefore, you will need to check the building codes around your area to confirm permission to use this wood.

Also, you are expected to treat it with fire retardants for more safety insurance. Like other cedar sidings, you should always maintain your shake siding for better durability and increased resistance against insects.

While you can stain this siding, leaving it unstained is not a bad idea, as the weather effect on the shake will give your home’s exterior a beautiful and rustic aesthetic.

  1. Shingle Siding

Shingle and shake siding are much alike, except for a few differences. Unlike rough shakes, shingle sidings have been smoothed out.

They are also more consistent, thus giving your home a more modern outlook. Depending on the finish you wish to achieve, you can stain and paint this type of siding.

Treating your shingle siding with a fire retardant is recommendable like shake siding. This is because this type of sidings is rarely used in areas that experience frequent fire outbreaks.

Also, check the building codes in your area to ascertain whether they are permitted there.

You will need minimum maintenance on your cedar shingle siding since the wood is naturally insect and rot-resistant. It will age beautifully over time, even without the sealant!

Pros and Cons of Cedar Siding

If you are a homeowner, there are high chances you have considered replacing your siding for one reason or another. There are several natural options to look for; cedar is one of them.

It would help if you considered some advantages and disadvantages before choosing cedar as your siding.

Pros

They are Shrink Resistant

Unlike other types of woods, once cedar sidings are installed, they will not shrink to leave gaps on your siding. The resin and pitch in wood will prevent your siding from absorbing paint and stain. However, cedar has none of it!

This means you can comfortably stain or seal your wood without worrying about it expanding or contracting. Besides, it has a fine grain with a natural satin finish.

Natural Beauty

You’d want to use cedar, which is ranked among the most beautiful woods used for siding. They have warm colors with spicy scents, giving your exterior a gorgeous aesthetic. You cannot achieve this aesthetic on other woods, even with vinyl or Hardie Plank application!

Cedar is perfect for creating a stylistic statement for your home, especially one with unique or historic architecture.

If your contractor is well-skilled, he can enhance your siding’s beauty since they can create several textures using cedar siding.

Cedar Sidings are Versatile

You can get cedar siding in various styles, ranging from shingles, board-and-batten, shakes, clapboard, shiplap, tongue, and groove, among many others.

No one shoe fits all when it comes to cedar siding. The many options available will help you choose what will uniquely work for you, depending on your preferences.

Cedar Sidings are Compatible With Stain

Most homeowners go for cedar sidings because they receive stain finishing quite well. Besides, you don’t need the stain as they age very gracefully.

White cedar, in particular, ages like that fine wine! It grows beautiful as years go by. The timeless beauty that cedar provides is dreamy! All cedars will age into a satin-gray color if left untreated.

However, if you want to preserve the natural look, maintain it by applying stains, sealants, and routine power washing. Other types of sidings can only hope to imitate.

Good Insulator

Cedar sidings provide insulation, unlike other sidings that barely do anything to insulate your house. Not only does it reduce noise from outside, but it also reduces overall utility bills.

Eco-Friendly

Cedar sidings are fast-growing trees; we can only compare them with bamboo, which grows fast. Unlike vinyl siding, cedar takes little energy to produce.

Because of this feature, cedar siding is a renewable resource that thrives in the housing industry.

While cedar siding is biodegradable, proper maintenance, like sealing and staining, can prevent it from rotting. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for a constantly maintained house.

They are Insect Resistant

Cedar sidings do not have any resins or pitch. However, they have tannins which are excellent resistance against insects and rodents. This explains why they are primarily used in closets and trunks to preserve clothing.

With cedar sidings, you rest assured of protection against termites, carpenter ants, and mice.

Cons

Requires More Care and Maintenance than Other Sidings

Cedar sidings demand more intense care than other sidings, which can be painted or powder-washed every few years.

To eliminate debris, you will need to powder-wash your cedar sidings annually. Leaving dirt and mildew on it will destroy your wood.

While you can let it age gracefully, it will become more susceptible to fire and lose its natural color. It will fade into a gray0satin look, which you may not like.

Therefore, you must regularly re-stain or repaint your wood to prevent rotting or warping. Also, depending on where you live, you may need to re-stain your cedar siding every year.

Susceptible to Fire

Cedar siding is neither flame-resistant nor retardant. For this reason, most homeowners will treat their cedar shingles and shakes with a flame retardant to keep them safe.

The downside is that they are no longer safe for the land hill once they are treated. This is because of the fire hazard.

As mentioned earlier, ensure that you check with your city’s building codes, as some cities and Home Owners’ Associations (HOA) prohibit using cedar shakes on the house.

Prone to Rot and Insect Infestation

While cedar is not a friend to insects, it does not make it insect-proof. Why? With time, the tannin in our cedar will likely depreciate. Cedar is also rot-resistant but not rot-proof.

Therefore, when dirt, debris, and moisture find their way through the siding, they will create a breeding environment for mold and mildew.

With mold and mildew growth, the wood will weaken, causing it to rot. The good news is that you can prevent such eventualities by constantly maintaining your cedar siding.

Cedar Siding Badly Reacts with Iron

Cedar sidings may prove indestructible due to their ability to resist many elements. However, iron is not one of them!

Avoid using iron nails in the installation of cedar as they will lead to the planks rotting. As a result, these planks will fall off your house as they would have rotted out around the iron.

Costly to Purchase

Cedar is not your to-go-to product if you are working on a budget. While other types of sidings will cost you approximately $3 per square foot for installation, cedar’s cost is almost double.

Its costs start at least $5 per square foot, making it more expensive than others. You do not want to use it if you build a new home on a budget.

Cedar Siding Maintenance Practices to Make It Last Half a Century

Like all other natural woods that need maintenance, cedar sidings require even more thorough maintenance.

There is a recommended interval on how to maintain your cedar sidings. However, the period will vary depending on your local climate.

Below are some ways you can use to maintain your cedar siding.

Power Washing Every Two to Four Years

Whether in a dusty or moist climate, your cedar siding is unlikely to be rot-proof. Mold and moss can quickly grow within your siding. To avoid this, you must wash your cedar regularly.

Use a non-phosphate detergent and your power washer to deal with dirt and spider webs on your siding. Use an oxygen bleach in a mild solution to deal with the growth of molds and mildews.

Stain and Paint Your Cedar Siding Every Three to Five Years

While letting your cedar siding age into a beautiful satin-gray color may be tempting, you’d best not fall for it.

This is because leaving it untreated will expose it to several damaging environmental elements. The elements will likely result in the warping and twisting of your cedar siding pieces.

Consider staining your cedar siding, as it will prevent the eventual fading and enhance its natural beauty.

You can also paint your cedar siding using oil-based paint. It would help if you used oil-based rather than water-based paint as it has higher durability.

Keep Moisture Away

Usually, water is an enemy for any wood, not just cedar siding. For this reason, ensure that you limit the moisture and humidity you expose your wood to.

To limit the amount of moisture, always ensure that the humidity levels within your house are under control.

This is because high levels of humidity will affect cedar over time. Ensure that your home is well-insulated to limit humidity levels.

Another way of keeping moisture away is by ensuring that downspouts and gutters are never clogged. Always clean them and ensure that there is no water from the siding.

You can also minimize the moisture in your cedar siding by practicing the following procedure before installation:

  • Apply a waterproof barrier and a house wrap before you install the cedar siding.
  • Also, prime the siding pieces before you install them. Ensure that you pay close attention to the porous tops and bottoms that may allow moisture penetration.
  • When staining, apply two coats of penetrating oil for more solid protection.

Look for Termites

You do not want to imagine the damage termites can cause to your wood! It is not easy to notice damage by termites, yet it happens so fast, depending on the colony’s size.

Sometimes, the damage is so bad that it cannot be repaired. To avoid them infesting your wood, always inspect it regularly.

Be on the lookout for signs of termite infestation, such as discarded wings, mud tubes that pests travel through, or fecal pellets. Also, look for blisters that resemble water damage and droppings that resemble coffee grounds or piles of sawdust. It would also help if you kept your siding away from the ground to avoid direct contact with soil.

Regularly Inspect Your Cedar Siding for Any Cracks

Be vigilant to notice any cracks or damage on your cedar siding. Once you notice, take prompt care by using the appropriate sealant or paint. This will prevent moisture from penetrating your wood to cause further damage.

Regularly Clean Your Cedar Siding

Like any other wood, cedar siding will likely accumulate dust and dirt as it is mainly used for exterior purposes. Cleaning it at least twice a year is paramount as it eases maintenance.

You can use pressure washers. However, using it may be overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner. Ensure that you use the pressure washer on its lowest setting.

This will prevent potential damage to the wood. It will also prevent water from penetrating the wood, causing more damage.

You can also use a soap and water solution for your general cleaning. Use this solution to scrub your cedar siding and wash it down later. Bleach will also work just as well.

Another general cleaning option is the use of vinegar. Vinegar is environmentally friendly and quite effective in eliminating mold from your siding. Scrub the siding using a soft brush, then wash off the soap immediately to prevent it from drying out and leaving marks behind.

Pro Tip: It is best to clean on a cloudy day or when the wood’s surface is shaded. This will prevent your cleaning solution from drying up too quickly.

Also, remember to wear protective clothing like goggles and gloves to protect your skin from reacting with reliable cleaners.

Keep Pests Away

Woodpeckers birds can peck away your cedar siding while looking for food. Always keep an eye on such birds and use appropriate measures to keep them away.

Damage from woodpeckers usually appears as holes in the siding. Once damaged, repair them by filling them with epoxy putty and repainting or staining the patch.

This will help in achieving uniformity with the rest of the siding.

Hanging wind chimes near the siding is an effective measure to keep these birds away. You can also hang something that blows in the wind nearby the home to scare the woodpeckers away.

Sealing your cedar siding with caulk or paint is also an effective way of keeping pests away. However, consider building an electrical fence around your property if this fails to work.

You can also install the ultrasonic pest repeller.

If you try all the recommended methods but to no avail, contact pest control professionals to eliminate the pests.

How Do You Prolong the Life Span of Cedar Siding?

We have just discussed ways of maintaining your cedar siding. If maintained properly, cedar siding will last you a lifetime.

Therefore, prolong the lifespan of your cedar siding through the following maintenance practices:

  • Staining and painting
  • Controlling moisture and humidity
  • Regular cleaning
  • Checking for termites
  • Checking  for other pests infestation

If you properly install and maintain your cedar siding, it will last as long as 20-40 years.

However, while several elements will affect your cedar siding, the climatic conditions within your area will determine how fast your wood will go bad.

For instance, homeowners in the Pacific Northwest will need more frequent maintenance than those in other areas.

This is because cedarwood in the area will rot faster due to the presence of moisture within this area.

How Often Do You Need to Treat Cedar Siding?

Staining and painting your cedar siding are excellent and effective ways to treat it. They will protect your wood from moisture and other climatic conditions.

We have emphasized that how often you need to stain or paint your cedar siding depends on the climatic conditions within your residence.

We recommend staining your cedar siding after approximately 3-7 years. However, maintain its fresh look by applying a protective layer after every 2-3 years.

Painting also works magic in the treatment of your cedar siding. It lasts much longer than stain finishes. You will need to repaint your cedar siding every 5-7 years. The period would last longer (up to 10 years) if you followed the necessary precautions when painting.

 Is It Better to Paint or Stain Cedar Siding?

The current condition of your cedar siding determines the choice of staining or painting your cedar condition.

However, we strongly recommend staining over painting for several reasons; let’s discuss some.

While staining and painting will likely offer you the same level of protection, applying stain is more straightforward than painting.

To paint, you must first apply primer and add at least two paint coats for 10-year protection. Two coats of penetrating stain will last you about ten years.

On the contrary, as long as you have prepared your cedar siding surface, you can always stain it.

Staining is less time-consuming than painting. While stain requires more frequent application, you can quickly refresh them by washing the surface and applying a new coat.

Just like that, your surface will look naturally beautiful and fresh. On the other hand, the paint on the siding will start to crack as it weathers, leaving your surface unattractive.

It takes a lot of time to refresh such a surface as you will need first to peel off the old paint and follow the painting procedures.

Also, while painting will comprehensively cover the wood grain of your cedar siding, it does not penetrate the wood pores entirely.

Paint will thus work best if your siding is very aged and weathered. Stain is different as it wholly penetrates the wood.

Stain also has high pigment concentrations, making them well-compatible with the cedar siding.

Suffice it to say staining is always a better option for your cedar siding than painting.

Caution: Avoid painting cedar siding because wood continuously expands and releases moisture. Therefore, covering such a surface with thick paint may cause blistering and other undesirable problems with the finish.

Here is how to stain your cedar siding:

  • Surface preparation. This is the most significant part of the project. If you don’t do it appropriately, you will significantly reduce the lifespan of your stain. Your finish will also look unattractive.
  • Power wash. The siding is exposed to several environmental elements, leaving it with dirt and debris. Clean your cedar siding with a bleach or water solution. After washing, let the surface dry for at least 48 hours. This is because cedar is naturally porous and absorbs water like a sponge. It is, therefore, important to let it fully dry before staining it.
  • Sand the surface. This stage is only necessary if the cedar has a previous coating that is peeling. Thoroughly sand the surface to remove any loose layers.
  • Repair any crumbling knots with a filler and spot prime the wood knots. This is to create uniformity or even application of the stain.
  • Spray the stain. Apply your stain using an airless sprayer and a brush. Apply at least two stain coats by back brushing into the pores and the cracks of the wood.

Note: For those that prefer a different color from the siding, we encourage you to choose a stain with a darker shade than the cedar.

For instance, choose walnut or vibrant cherry stains if you want to cover the natural red and gold colors from cedar. These will give your siding more character.

Before applying the stain, always test it on a hidden area under a deck or porch. This will give you a clear picture of the finish you expect.

Here is how to paint your cedar siding:

  • To paint your faded cedar siding, begin by preparing the surface. Do this by cleaning it with a bleach solution. Also, you will not know how badly your cedar siding is damaged until you start power washing. Use a siding cleaner alongside the power washer to eliminate dirt and mildew.
  • Sanding is crucial as it helps remove the splinters from the power washing and keeps your surface impressively smooth—Sand the cedar siding surface to eliminate any loose surface particles. After sanding, reclean it to remove dirt and debris—clean using a wet mop to eliminate all dirt effectively. Allow the surface to dry before moving to the next step.
  • Apply a primer on your surface to prevent any tannic acid or natural red coloring from surfacing. Ensure that you use an oil-based primer meant for exterior wood. One coat is enough to cover the bare wood and the wood knots.
  • Use latex paint to paint the cedar surface. Ensure that you choose a color that almost looks like cedar and perfectly blends with the surroundings and neighborhood. Use an extension ladder to paint your siding comfortably. Begin working from the top, moving from one side of the wall to the other.

How Long Will Cedar Last Outside Untreated?

Cedar is such a durable type of wood. With proper maintenance, cedar siding will last between 20-40 years. You also can choose not to treat your cedar if you value the satin-gray color it will age into.

However, failure to treat your cedar siding will significantly reduce its lifespan. Depending on the climatic conditions in your area may begin to discolor, soften and rot after about five years if left untreated.

Final Thoughts

As we are beginning to prepare for winter, protecting your house against damage from climatic damage should top your to-do list. Cedar is a popular siding option for most homeowners.

It is valued for its ready availability and durability. And here’s the reason

Why Cedar Siding Will Last Half Century

Cedar siding is expected to last you for approximately 20-40 years, however, you can make it last even longer by ensuring proper installation and maintenance practices.

Consider cleaning, staining, and painting routinely to increase your cedar siding’s lifespan.

After reading this article, you should be able to identify the first signs of damage in your cedar siding and practice effective control measures. Which one works best for you? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

Leave a Comment