Cedar siding is famous for its resilience to weather-induced damage and rot. But it still needs regular maintenance to increase its lifespan. So, how long does cedar siding last?
Generally, cedar siding has a 20 to 40 years life expectancy and can go up to 70 years in the right conditions.
The overall performance of cedar siding depends on the maintenance practices accorded to them by the owners.
Well protected cedar siding can last close to a century, by protection, I mean regular staining of the sidings following inspections to determine their prevailing conditions.
The material’s longevity depends on whether you stain it or not. Moreover, putting a specific life span for cedar siding may be inaccurate.
So, check out the discussion below for more insight into the wood.
Table of Contents
What Is Cedar Siding?
Cedar siding is siding from cedar.
Further, siding or siding materials are ideal for buildings’ exteriors to enhance their beauty and prevent exposure to damaging elements and heat loss.
The siding offers numerous aesthetic benefits to a project. For instance, the grain is visible and appreciated after staining.
Also, it comes in multiple styles like bevel, shingles, lap siding, and shakes. And you can achieve modern and rustic looks.
Cedar is a natural lumber siding made from white or red cedar, a native tree in the U.S.
The lumber is famous for home building as it is among the more long-lasting woods. It also takes a horizontal lap panel, shakes, or shingles form.
In addition, cedar is a soft wood type known for its worldwide versatility and beauty. It is arguably the most preferred lumber type for siding materials.
How Long Does Cedar Siding Last?
Well-maintained cedar shake siding endures elements and can last 20 to 40 years. Moreover, some manufacturers offer warranties of over 25 years.
However, cedar siding’s durability and lifeline depend on various factors, including the wood type and environmental conditions.
Therefore, ensure you keep the siding off the ground. And prevent pests and moisture from entering the wood, shortening its lifespan.
Painted cedar is long-lasting, going up to 12 to 15 years. In addition, painting, like staining, is another way to protect cedar wood.
Here are some tips to keep the painted wood for a while.
- Wait for the cedar’s moisture content to stabilize and dry before application.
- Use alkyd oil based primers to protect against fading and discoloration.
- Choose high-quality finishes and primers with mold and mildew inhibitors.
- Choose dark-colored paint with high elasticity.
- Apply two coats.
The type of cedar siding also affects its lifespan. Hence, check out the various types in the next section for more clarity.
Types Of Cedar Siding
Cedar siding is available in various types and styles. These profiles enhance the wood’s natural appearance and make it more appealing.
Cedar Tongue and Groove Siding
Most woodworkers lay tongue and groove panels horizontally, but the siding can also be vertically and diagonally installed.
The siding comes in smooth and rough-faced panels, and its joints are usually reveal shaped, V-shaped, radius cut, or flush.
These joints offer ‘shadowing, providing your home extra aesthetic beauty and personality.
Further, the manufacturer saws individual cedar slabs with a tongue on one edge and a groove on the other.
Then, the slabs intertwine to deliver a smooth surface, making it a suitable design for siding wood flooring.
Cedar Shake Siding
Thanks to its rustic charm, thickness, and color variation, cedar shake siding is among the most preferred siding types.
The material resembles shingles but is more durable and significantly thicker. In addition, you have to slice it from hand-sawn wooden blocks and bolts.
This process gives the shakes varying thickness, adding to their attractiveness.
Next, attach them to the sheathing from the bottom up, with each layer above the one before.
Unfortunately, cedar shake siding does not last long. It is susceptible to pests and moisture damage, requiring regular maintenance.
Experts put the structure’s average life span at over 25 years. But it can last 20 to 40 years with proper maintenance.
Also, check the local building coats in your location when installing cedar shakes. There are some regulations prohibiting cedar shakes due to fire risks.
Cedar Board and Batten Siding
Board and batten sidings are unique. They allow you to create patterns and designs using various board and batten widths.
Further, combining three-inch wide battens with ten-inch-wide boards is a popular application.
Barns and other agricultural structures have traditionally used cedar boards and batten siding.
The panels in this siding style are vertically installed.
Also, they originate from regularly spaced wide cedar boards with a fastened batten.
Untreated Cedar Siding
Generally, cedar siding can be treated or untreated. The latter is more prone to damage from moisture, weather conditions, and other effects.
Thus, the structure will rot in a few years without adequate maintenance. Worse, it will begin to soften and decay within the first five years.
Nonetheless, it is possible to salvage the situation. Apply a quality finish to the siding.
Cedar Clapboard Siding
This siding style features uniformly thick cedar planks. They overlap to conceal exposed gaps, enhancing the structure’s longevity.
Although the boards are mostly horizontally installed, you can also position them diagonally and vertically.
Cedar clapboard siding creates unique aesthetics, such as a sunburst pattern on gables. And it is available in one inch and 5/4-inch-thick boards.
Also, the most popular boards come in six, eight, and ten inches.
Lastly, choose depending on your preferred visual appearance as you will find smooth or saw textured board surfaces.
Painted Cedar Siding
Painted cedar possesses a paint coat to protect it from the elements. Therefore, you can expect the siding to last up to 12 to 15 years.
However, it is advisable to correctly paint the surface and re-paint it every five years for superior protection.
Do not confuse staining cedar with painting. Although the strategies serve the same purpose, the former is more durable and appears more natural.
Conversely, painting is the best alternative for badly worn siding. And it will help conceal previous peeling issues.
Cedar Shingle Siding
Cedar shingles are suitable for siding applications, thanks to their smooth and uniform appearance.
They are also easy to lodge and are perfect for irregularly shaped walls.
The shingles absorb paint and stain well. So, woodworkers prefer to apply bright hues to Victorian-style residences.
Cedar shingles come from wood blocks used in other siding techniques. Then, they undergo special treatment, making them fire-retardant.
Building experts advise homeowners to consult their local building codes when installing cedar shingles.
Some areas are vulnerable to frequent fires. Thus, they have strict rules on cedar shingle siding installation.
Nonetheless, ensure proper installations and maintenance to enhance the siding’s lifespan to about 30 years.
This duration increases to 50 years if you use top-tier cedar and stay in a favorable environment.
Cedar Channel Siding
This siding category closely resembles tongue and groove siding. However, it features deeper shadow lines.
In addition, the siding boards partially overlap, leaving a wider gap or channel in between.
Cedar channel siding can be horizontally, diagonally, or vertically mounted.
It is also unseasoned or saw-textured, making it trendy and versatile among cabin owners.
Also, you can find the material mostly one inch thick. Then, as six, eight, or ten inches wide.
Cedar Bevel Siding
This siding design is perhaps the most common cedar siding technique. It consists of diagonally cut horizontal planks.
Cut two boards from one cedar plank to create the design. Also, ensure the edges have varying thicknesses.
Alternatively, saw-texture the board’s surface for additional smoothness and character.
Some manufacturers also deliver rabbeted and wavy edge bevel boards. Hence, you are spoilt for choice.
The most common bevel siding thicknesses are half-inch, 5/8-inch, 11/16-inch, three-quarter inches, and ⅞ inch.
On the other hand, bevel board widths come in four, six, eight, ten, and 12 inches, whereas lengths range between eight to 14 inches.
Maintenance is a critical longevity factor, like in all other cedarwood sidings. Besides, proper care will get your structure to 15 years.
Frequent staining or painting also preserves cedar bevel siding.
Cedar Log Siding
Cedar logs have a two to four thickness range and a width measuring between six to ten inches.
The logs are available in multiple lengths, including tree-length siding. This way, you can get full coverage on an exterior wall’s width.
Lastly, hand-hewn cedar log siding allows horizontal installation on old and newly constructed properties.
Cedar siding is a practical and attractive alternative for your home’s exterior.
Further, it features a rustic, charming look and natural resistance to decay and insects.
However, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available in the market.
So, before starting your shopping expedition, familiarize yourself with the wood’s specifications and qualities.
We have five common cedar varieties that woodworkers use for siding. They are Western Red Cedar, Eastern Red Cedar, Spanish Cedar, Eastern White Cedar, and Alaskan Yellow Cedar.
White and red cedar are excellent siding materials, but they differ significantly. For instance, the latter is more durable and comes in multiple styles.
Thus, you have more design alternatives for your work.
On the other hand, white cedar is available in only one style, making design possibilities limited.
Nonetheless, white cedar weathers into an appealing silver gray shade when you need a light look for your exterior.
This weathered look and light color make white cedar suitable for coastal areas.
Finally, you can stain red and white cedar siding in various shades.
In addition, it is possible to bleach new white cedar when you notice a silvery color developing.
Under grand we are going to look at the following:
White and red cedar siding come in different grades, affecting your home exterior’s overall look.
Clear grades, A or B, have a smooth, refined appearance and show few blemishes and growth attributes.
Further, the grades hold finishes better and deliver a more modern appearance.
Examples of grade A cedar include Clear Cedar and Clear Vertical Grain.
Oppositely, knotty grades have knots and other growth properties, giving the siding a textured and rough surface.
Therefore, they are perfect when you want a rustic look for your home’s exterior.
- Structural Grade
The cedar’s structural integrity is also gradable, depending on whether the planks are straight and split-free.
A cedar workpiece nearer to the tree’s center is graded #1. It has lesser and more minor knots than #2.
However, these knots are ‘superior knots’, making them less susceptible to falling out and distortion.
Also, grade #2 cedar has several differently sized knots and many other imperfections.
Cedar siding has various finishing options: a solid, semi-transparent, oil-based, and water-based finish.
But the formulas differ, and it is best to pick the most suitable one for your project needs.
- Solid vs. Semi-transparent Finish
A solid coat protects the siding for weathering but changes the wood’s natural color. In addition, you need two layers to deliver a smooth surface.
The formula is excellent for homeowners who want to expose the cedar’s natural texture.
Conversely, semi-transparent formulas only need one coat for perfect coverage.
They protect the structure from weathering while accentuating the cedar’s natural texture and color.
The double-coat treatment for solid finishes makes it less vulnerable to refinishing than its counterpart.
You can also match the cedar siding’s quality with your preferred finish.
For instance, a solid finish looks perfect on knotty grade cedar, whereas semi-transparent products are best for clear grade cedar.
- Water vs. Oil-based Finish
Applying a water-based stain is a sure way to prevent mold and mildew growth on your cedar siding.
Besides, technological advancements in UV rays resistance enable water-based stains to last longer.
The stain dries within two hours. It is also easy to clean as you do not need strong solvents and mineral spirits.
Oppositely, oil-based stains deliver a consistent finish without lap marks. But they take longer to cure than water-based formulas.
Nevertheless, the stains are easy to apply as they blend through, delivering even finishing.
In addition, they adhere better to the surface than their counterparts. Thus, you are sure of a long-lasting finish.
Siding experts recommend oil-based stains on cedar instead of water-based ones.
Oil-based stains fade away when aging and deteriorating, while water-based formulas peel off.
We only have one style for white cedar siding: shingles. They are tiny and individual siding pieces on the exterior.
Also, the planks appear in an overlapping fashion and cover the entire surface.
Therefore, they offer a more customized appearance and work well on cottage-style houses.
On the other hand, red cedar siding is available as shakes and shingles.
You can also use it for clapboard options like tongue and groove siding, board and batten siding, and bevel siding.
Bevel siding requires horizontal hanging and has one thicker end to give an attractive rusty appearance.
Tongue and groove cedar siding is a more versatile style as you can install it vertically, horizontally, and diagonally.
Finally, board and batten siding is vertical for a unique look, and the planks come in multiple widths to fit any home size.
Pros and Cons of Cedar Siding
Cedar siding has countless reasons for being preferred by woodworkers. However, it has various drawbacks.
Check out a detailed pros and cons account for better decision making.
Pros of Cedar Siding
Bamboo is the only tree type that grows faster than cedar. Therefore, the latter is a perfect renewable resource for the housing industry.
Cedar needs little energy to produce, unlike vinyl siding, which uses petroleum in manufacturing.
In addition, this wood is a natural thermal insulator and reduces power and energy consumption.
Cedar siding is biodegradable and will not rot with proper care. Hence, you can comfortably for a maintained house.
Also, cedarwoods protect your structure from water, dryness, and heat. And it generates fewer carbon footprints.
- Aesthetics and Curb Appeal
Cedar is among the most beautiful siding woods. Besides, its warm colors and spicy scent create an unmatched aesthetic.
The wood makes a definite stylistic statement and is ideal for houses with historic or unique architecture.
Moreover, its appealing exterior makes woodworkers prefer it over other sidings like aluminum siding.
The siding’s shingles have different textures and styles to make your home stand out.
Similarly, you can paint the surface or keep the natural look. Either way, you are sure of its aesthetic appeal.
Cedar is a solid wood capable of resisting destructive external forces such as insect damage, mold, mildew, and fungi.
Cedar does not have any pitch or resins. But it contains tannin, which is abhorrent to insects and rodents.
Therefore, it is suitable for trucks and closets used to preserve clothing.
Carpenter ants, mice, and termites will not find your cedar shingles appealing.
Nevertheless, cleaning and inspecting cedar wood regularly for termites is advisable. This way, you will retain its elegant shape.
The structure will also resist splitting and sit pretty for decades.
- Excellent Insulator
Most siding materials are not good house insulators. But cedar saves the day!
It delivers more insulation than most options.
Cedarwood has an open cell structure, making it an excellent insulator. Further, it works well regardless of the season.
For example, dense cedar wood keeps the house cooler during summer and warmer during winter.
Also, the lumber reduces airflow and offers a natural sound barrier. Therefore, your home has some peace.
- Return on Investment
Cedar shakes, unlike wood coding materials, deliver an incredible investment return.
Moreover, cedar shakes and shingles are industry leaders in ROI and offer 80 percent. Thus, they are an excellent business for homeowners.
Also, although cedar siding is expensive, you will get more financial returns with correct installation and adequate maintenance.
- Ease of Construction
Thanks to its open cell structure and low density, cedar is a light wood. Therefore, you can use it for different construction applications.
- Comes In a Variety of Styles
Cedar receives stain well and guarantees a lovely finish. In addition, white cedar ages gracefully, growing more and more lovely each year.
All cedars turn satin-gray with age if left untreated.
But you can preserve the siding’s natural look with routine power washing and a fresh stain coat.
Other siding types can only hope to imitate cedar’s timeless beauty and rich texture.
- Organic Preservatives
Cedarwood secretes cedar oil, a defensive and protective chemical. Hence, the wood remains safe from insects, pests, and other destructive organisms.
The oil is not harmful to the environment and is responsible for the wood’s lovely aroma.
In addition, you can use external strategies such as painting and staining to keep cedar from rotting.
Cons of Cedar Siding
- High Maintenance Cost
Cedar siding needs proper maintenance to last long. But it does not come cheap and is not easy.
You will have to strip the wood and paint it every few years. Otherwise, the structure may suffer moisture damage and lose its curb appeal.
Cedar is susceptible to fading and peeling within a few years after installation.
Thus, the structure may have a lower resale value with poor maintenance.
Cedar siding maintenance is more demanding, unlike other materials that do not need annual painting or power washing.
In addition, mildew and dirt may harm the structure over time. So, consider power washing the lumber annually to remove debris and spiders.
Re-staining and re-painting keep the wood from warping and rotting. And the reapplication frequency depends on where you stay.
Finally, although you can let cedarwood age naturally, it can become a fire hazard and lose its beautiful color.
Cedar siding’s lifespan solely relies on proper installation and maintenance. But it is very challenging to maintain.
First, you should not install the cedar siding too close to the ground. Otherwise, it loses its integrity and absorbs water.
On the other hand, the wood should not be too high in the sky lest it suffers from UV rays’ damaging effects.
Eventually, it discolors, warps, and rots.
Also, cedarwoods have lower fire-retardant attributes than other materials.
Sometimes, the structures need replacement, which is not easy or cheap. So, you need to change the siding planks after every 20 years.
Besides, most homeowners find the exercise tiring and not always feasible.
Therefore, it is a dealbreaker for some, who instead go for other siding alternatives.
- Vulnerable to Rot and Insects
Though insects do not like cedar, it is not bug-proof. Further, it loses its tannin over the years.
In addition, while the wood is rot-resistant, it is not rot-proof. Any time debris, moisture, and dirt can pile up and increase mold and mildew growth.
Eventually, the lumber weakens and starts to rot.
- Environmental Effects
Although we have safe activities to guarantee an eco-friendly environment, they are not all sustainable.
Replacing decayed cedar sidings means tree depletion, leading to an increase in carbon footprints.
- Limited Options
The most common alternatives are cedar shingles and horizontal lap siding. Hence, you have limited options for your home projects.
Sometimes, the siding comes in board and batten styles. But it limits creating your ideal design.
Cedar siding is not appropriate if you want to stay within a budget. It costs around $5 per square foot, whereas other siding types range about $3 per square foot.
Therefore, this wood is not a prudent choice when you want to cut down on home-building expenses.
- Fire Risk
Wood is neither flame retardant nor resistant. Hence, most woodworkers treat cedar shakes and shingles with flame retardants.
Unfortunately, the wood is not safe for the landfill after treatment.
Thus, you’ll have to consult your city’s disposal regulations and ordinances. Some cities and HOAs ban using cedar shakes on houses because of fire hazards.
- Bad Reaction With Iron
Cedar is almost indestructible, but it has one weakness: iron. Further, iron makes the planks rot.
So, please avoid using the metal when installing cedar. Otherwise, the planks will fall off the house after rotting around the material.
Maintenance Practice On Cedar Siding
Consider doing a routine check on cedar siding, depending on the climatic conditions. Also, you may need to re-paint or re-stain the surface every few years.
Here are a few tips to follow.
- Walk around the siding and check for visible damages, splitting, chipping, discoloration, and cracking.
- Any exposed cedar parts are vulnerable to elements causing chipping, cracking, and splitting.
- Spray the siding with some water to make the rot visible.
- Inspect the flashing for water leakages. Then, patch them up!
- Mold gathers around the leaking spot. So, wash the area with bleach and detergent, and rinse with water.
- Restrain every five years. Although when to re-stain heavily relies on the damage extent and weather conditions.
How to Prolong the Lifespan of Cedar Siding
Generally, cedar lasts a long time with proper maintenance. Moreover, you can extend its lifespan to its full potential by keeping up with a few checks.
Control Moisture Exposure
Allowing excess moisture into cedar siding is the quickest way to damage it.
Besides, water provides a conducive environment for mold, fungi, pests, and bacteria to grow.
However, controlling moisture outside your home is challenging, depending on weather conditions.
But you can still do your best to control humidity inside the house.
Also, prepare the siding and home before cedarwood installation to help minimize the moisture.
- Insulate the arctic using a house wrap or waterproof barrier before siding.
- Maintain the home’s flashing and caulking.
- Use heat wires to melt ice on the home’s eaves during winter.
- Always keep your home’s humidity at 40%.
- Prime the siding pieces before installation. Also, pay attention to porous areas that can absorb water.
- Apply two penetrating oil stain coats to the wood.
Humidity inside and outside the home affects cedarwood’s longevity. Therefore, it can last much longer with proper moisture maintenance.
Painting cedar siding is another way to prolong its lifespan. The exercise protects the structure from elements causing cracking and splitting.
But it is not enough to paint the wood once and leave it.
Re-paint it every three to five years. Also, check the weather conditions and the damage extent to determine a more accurate duration.
Periodically Check for Animals and Pests
Pest damage is slow to notice. But termites can quickly destroy the wood, depending on the colony’s size.
Therefore, inspect your home’s exterior regularly. And look for the following signs.
- Mild tunes where pests travel through.
- Wood blisters resemble water damage.
- Termite swarms.
- Droppings that are similar to sawdust piles or coffee grounds.
Woodpecker damage appears as holes in cedar siding. Fortunately, you can fill these gaps with epoxy putty and stain or re-paint the patch.
You can also hang something that blows the wind near the home to scare woodpeckers. For instance, use hanging netting to protect fruits from animals.
Clean the Cedar Siding
Consider deep cleaning cedar siding when the home’s exterior looks dirty, weathered, and discolored.
In addition, dirty siding is less appealing with a dull and black appearance. Hence, it is best to clean the surface to restore its glory.
However, you can easily remove the dirt and dust using a pressure washer or scrubbing the surface with water and soap.
We recommend an oxygen bleach in a mild solution to remove mold and mildew growth or a non-phosphate detergent for dirt and spider webs.
Restain the Cedar Siding
Restain cedar siding projects every three to five years to optimize its longevity. But the weather will influence how soon you recoat the surface.
Also, you can quickly tell when it is time to re-stain the wood by walking around it and observing the weathering extent.
Then, apply two penetrating oil stain coats, if need be.
NB: Natural cedar siding’s beauty is second to none! However, this look is costly and needs proper maintenance.
Here’s More On Cleaning and Staining Cedar Siding:
How Often Does Cedar Siding Need to be Painted?
Cedar siding needs repainting every five to seven years. Further, paint in ideal conditions lasts up to ten years.
Painted siding in coastal locations or regions experiencing freezing cycles needs frequent re-painting.
The harsh marine conditions stress the paint’s bond to the wood.
You can leave cedar siding unpainted. But it will be vulnerable to elements, compromising its durability.
Check out some painting instructions to deliver a long-lasting outcome.
Prime the Cedar Before Painting
The two-coat system delivers superior protection for your cedar siding. Moreover, one-coat paint does not last on raw and weathered wood, dirty surfaces, or lumber with tannins.
A primer significantly increases the topcoat’s lifespan by enhancing paint adhesion.
Also, wood stained with dirt or oil needs a thorough cleaning before priming. Otherwise, the primer coat will not adhere to the surface.
Sometimes, you’ll need to replace oil-stained shingles than sand them down. It soaks deep into the wood, making it hard to clean.
Brush the Paint, Not Spray or Roll
We recommend hand brushing when refinishing the surface. Besides, consider back brushing the finish after spray applications.
Then, apply a liberal paint amount to the porous material to deliver even coverage.
Choose the Optimal Time For Painting Cedar
Paint cedar siding within two weeks after installation. But please avoid waiting too long, say more than 12 weeks.
Allowing fresh cedar to weather for two weeks negatively affects paint adhesion. In addition, prolonged sunlight exposure destroys the lumber’s ability to hold the coating.
Be Careful When Painting Very Old Cedar Siding
Old cedar is easy to paint but requires heavy preparation. But even then, the finish will not last long.
The cedar siding should be free of mildew, mold, and dirt. In addition, remove loosened or photodegraded surface fibers and the previous finish.
Sanding is a perfect alternative for smooth face siding. We also have commercial restorers and strippers to help with more textured siding surfaces.
Choose Vertical Grain Cedar If Possible
The wood’s cell structure affects the formula used. For example, vertical grain cedar soaks in alkyd-oil stain-blocking primers better than flat grain wood.
On the other hand, knotty cedar holds the primer well since they feature a re-sawn or textured face.
Use High-Quality Primer and Paint
Purchase high-quality formulas when shopping for paint and primer. Further, use a heavy stain blocking primers on raw cedar.
Then, follow with at least two 100% acrylic latex exterior paint coats.
Lastly, please avoid using oil-based paints with cedar siding.
Frequently Asked Questions
The questions include:
Why Is Cedar So Costly?
Woodworkers prefer cedar because of its aesthetic appeal, durability, and pleasant scent. However, this lumber is pricey due to its many desirable characteristics.
In addition, cedar’s scarcity, high demand, and extensive labor needed during harvesting make it more expensive than other wood types.
Nevertheless, cedar remains a preferred alternative among homeowners and decorators.
Therefore, consider it for your next project when looking for beautiful and durable raw materials.
Is Pressure Treated Wood Cheaper Than Cedar?
Pressure treated lumber costs less than cedar. Moreover, it can last a similar period with proper maintenance.
Also, although cedarwood costs more money upfront, it needs less maintenance than treated lumber.
Cedar siding is hardy and robust. But persistent neglect diminishes its life cycle and invites cracking and decay.
Therefore, read through the recommended cedar installation and maintenance practices for a successful outcome.
How Long Does Cedar Siding Last?
Cedar siding’s life span ranges between 20 and 40 years. And it can last up to 60 to 70 years with proper installation and maintenance.
Also, you can extend this life expectancy by staining or painting the surface.