How to Restore Weathered Cedar Siding- 5 Perfect Restoration Steps

Knowing how to restore weathered cedar siding should be in the list of your priorities if you own a structure created using these materials.

Cedar wood is durable because it can resist insect attacks and decay naturally. These features are what make it an ideal choice for siding material.

Despite these advantages, cedar wood weathers just like any other type of wood.

It loses some of its natural preservatives, causing it to turn grey and sustain some discolorations from fungi and mold growing on its surface. 

A weathered cedar siding greatly diminishes the curb appeal of a house.

In a bid to help you renew your structure, I’d like to discuss how to restore weathered cedar siding…

Start by rinsing the siding with a power washer at a low setting to remove surface dirt and debris.

Next, apply a wood cleaner that can kill mold, leave it on for 20 minutes, scrub the siding then rinse it.

After it dries, repair or replace any weathered siding boards, then sand the wood to smoothen it.

At this point, you can apply a primer if you intend to paint the siding, or you can apply a wood conditioner if you want to stain it.

This summarizes the entire process, but there’s much more in the details. Before I get into it, let’s learn a little more about weathered cedar siding.

What Is a Weathered Cedar Siding?

A weathered cedar siding is house cladding that has lost its initial appeal and strength.

It refers to cedar wood exposed to the elements for a long while, causing it to lose some of its natural preservatives.

Consequently, its color turns silver-gray, and its surface may get frequent mold and fungi attacks. 

Even though weathered cedar siding has lost some of its natural protection, the wood can still hold up nicely depending on the level of degradation.

The degradation level of a cedar siding depends on how much it got exposed to harsh elements – the more the exposure, the faster it weathers.

The cedar boards on the side of the house constantly exposed to sunlight will weather faster than the boards on the shaded side.

This difference in weathering speed often leaves some sides of the house looking more aged than others.

The siding’s color will look uneven and blotchy, which translates to the overall downgrade of the home’s aesthetic.

Some homeowners love the silver-grey color of weathered cedar siding because it gives the home a rustic-aged look.

However, others see it as an eye-sore; hence they paint or stain the siding to revive its look and shield it from the elements.

How to Restore Weathered Cedar Siding

Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

Image of Cedar Siding But How Long Does Cedar Siding Last?Restoring weathered cedar siding involves using a lot of water and chemicals.

Some of those chemicals are corrosive and will damage the vegetation surrounding the house; therefore, you must protect it.

  • Cover the ground and foliage surrounding your house with plastic sheeting. Also, cover windows and doors with plastic, securing them with painter’s tape.

The plastic sheets will catch all the debris from the siding and the chemicals as they wash away with the water.

  • Also, cover the doors and windows with more plastic sheets and secure them with painter’s tape. These should prevent water from splashing into your home.

Step 2: Protect Yourself

The chemicals you will use are also hazardous; therefore, always wear coveralls and hand gloves to prevent the chemicals from irritating your skin.

Also, wear a respirator mask to protect yourself from inhaling dust and chemical fumes; and put on safety goggles to protect your eyes.

Step 3: Clean the Siding

Cleaning the weathered cedar siding will involve two steps. First, remove the surface dust with a pressure washer, then use a wood cleaner to remove stubborn dirt and kill the mold.

Store-bought cleaners work perfectly as long as you follow the manufacturer’s precise instructions concerning preparation and application.

If you don’t have the ready-made cleaners, you can make a homemade concoction with ¾ cup bleach and 1 gallon of water. 

  • Rinse the siding with a pressure washer. Set the washer’s pressure to medium, so it’s enough to lift dirt off the surface but not too much to damage the siding.
  • Afterward, mix your cleaner in a large spray container as instructed on the label, then spray it generously all over the siding.
  • Allow the mixture to soak into the weathered cedar for about 20 minutes, then scour the siding with a nylon brush. Apply little pressure as you scrub to avoid damaging the wood.
  • Finish by hosing down the weathered cedar siding with a lot of water to remove all traces of dirt and the chemicals you used.
  • Allow the siding to dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding.

Step 4: Repair Weathered Cedar Boards

After the siding dries, inspect it for holes and cracks that may need filling.

Also, replace any boards too weathered to salvage, or else they will stand out after you apply the finish – not in a good way.

  • Use epoxy filler to fill the cracks and holes. Ensure that you overfill the gaps, so the filler does not “collapse” as it dries, leaving behind partial holes.
  • Allow the epoxy to dry completely before moving on.

Step 5: Sand the Siding

Sanding will level out the freshly filled gaps and smoothen the wood to make the siding more uniform.

It will also raise the wood fibers to make the weathered cedar accept finishes more readily.

  • Start with coarse-grit sandpaper to remove the excess dry epoxy filler and other large ridges on the wood. Afterward, switch to finer 220-grit sandpaper to smoothen and level the surface.
  • I recommend using a power sander for this step to help you finish faster. Sanding an entire siding by hand would take forever.
  • After sanding, use a dry brush to sweep away the dust, then use a lint-free cloth to remove clean up corners, joints, and other hidden spots.

Step 6: Apply Primer or Wood Conditioner

After sanding, your weathered cedar siding is ready for refinishing.

You can choose to paint or stain the siding, and the choice you make is what will determine the product you use for prep.

If you intend to paint, primer is the ideal product. It is a coating that seals the pores on wood surfaces, thus preventing the wood from absorbing paint.

It also promotes paint adhesion, ensuring that the finish lasts longer.

  • Use a high-quality paint brush to apply the primer thinly and evenly over the weathered siding. Ensure that you cover even the most hidden parts of the siding for best results.
  • Apply two coats of the primer, allowing it to dry thoroughly between coats.
  • After the final primer coat dries, you can apply the paint.

If you intend to stain the siding, you’ll need a wood conditioner instead of a primer. Cedar naturally accepts stain finishes well and doesn’t necessarily need conditioning.

However, since you’re working on a weathered Cedar siding, the wood conditioner will improve the results.

It will improve the wood’s acceptance of the stain, and the color will distribute more evenly.

Here’s a Video On How to Restore Weathered Cedar Siding:


Painting Vs Staining Cedar

Panting and staining are the best ways to protect cedar wood from harsh elements and prolong its service life.

However, selecting which one’s the best for your project will depend on personal preference.

Below is a comparison between painting and staining cedar to help you understand them in depth.


The primary similarity between painting and staining cedar is their function.

Both provide some extra protection for cedar wood to prolong its service life and involve adding a bit of color to the wood to enhance its looks or modify it to fit a particular style.

Even though they perform similar functions, both finishes’ color range and intensity differ significantly.

The level of protection they provide is also different; therefore, you must choose wisely.


Here’s the differences:

  • Appearance

Wood stains have very little pigment in their formula; hence they are the ideal choice if you want to maintain a little bit of cedar’s natural color.

In terms of opacity, they range from transparent to semi-solid; thus, they allow the wood grain to show through.

On top of maintaining the wood’s natural look, staining also makes the grain appear more intense, like when the hue of a colored fabric pops more when wet.

On the other hand, painting hides the wood grain and natural color because paint products have a lot of pigment in their formula.

They dry into an opaque film; thus, the color that remains on the surface is the color of your product.

Painting is ideal when working with weathered cedar because it will hide the material’s imperfections and introduce a new vibrant color.

Moreover, there are a lot of colors and sheens to choose from; thus, you have endless opportunities to try something new.

  • Durability

Painting is more durable than staining.

A paint finish will last up to 10 years on cedar wood before needing a retouch, provided you prepare the surface and prime it before applying the paint. 

Paint finishes last longer because most paint products have UV-resistant additives that prevent them from fading when exposed to direct sunlight.

This feature makes it ideal for treating cedar decks, fences, and other outdoor structures.

Paints also dry into a rigid film that is difficult to scratch or dent; hence they remain on surfaces for longer.

On the other hand, stains wear out quicker than paints.

If you choose this route, you should prepare to restain your structures every few years to maintain the finish and keep up the cedar’s protection.

  • Cost

Wood stains are more affordable than paints; therefore, staining is the more budget-friendly option.

When staining, you only require the product and a few application tools like a brush or a sponge, and you’re good to go.

Moreover, staining wood is pretty easy; therefore, you won’t spend extra cents acquiring professional services.

On the other hand, painting will cost you a lot more because paint products are costly.

You must also purchase a primer to ensure that the finish turns out well – a necessity that adds to the overall cost.

Furthermore, the painting process can be a bit challenging, especially for beginners; thus, you may need the help of professionals, which will cost you extra.

  • Variety

Paints come in many colors and sheens, giving you room to get as creative as you like.

You have the option to mix colors to create different shades or use block colors to create different designs. 

On the other hand, wood stains have limited colors and sheens because manufacturers designed them to accentuate the natural qualities of wood.

You can only choose the opacity level you want in a stain to achieve the exact rustic style you desire.

Pros of Painting Cedar

  • Paints come in multiple sheens and colors, giving you enough choices to get creative.
  • Most paints have UV-resistant additives; thus, they can resist fading even in direct sunlight.
  • Paints fry into hard films that are hard to dent or scratch.

Cons of Painting Cedar

  • Paint hides the natural color and unique grain of the cedar wood.
  • Paint products are costly.
  • It is challenging to get a smooth finish with painting if you do not have enough experience.
  • When paint weathers, it cracks and peels off, leaving the surface ugly.

Pros of Staining Cedar

  • Staining allows you to maintain the beautiful natural look of cedar wood.
  • Wood stains wear out gracefully without cracking or peeling.
  • Staining is more affordable.
  • Staining is easy to DIY, even for beginners.

Cons of Staining Cedar

  • Wood stains tend to wear out quickly; therefore, you must retouch them regularly to maintain the finish’s appearance.

How Do You Clean Weathered Cedar Siding?

Weathered cedar siding requires a lot of care while cleaning, or you might damage the wood even further.

You need to be gentle and use appropriate chemicals and cleaners to remove stubborn stains and lighten the wood color where needed. 

To have successful projects, you need to master three primary things when cleaning weathered cedar siding.

  • Pressure Washing

Pressure washing/power washing is the quickest way to clean a weathered cedar siding, but it is also the riskiest.

A little more pressure than average can cause you to gouge out the wood’s softened areas, leaving ugly dents.

High pressure can also raise the wood grain and force water into the wall system causing irreparable damage to your home.

If you choose this method, I recommend hiring a contractor with ample experience working with weathered softwood sidings and power washers.

Furthermore, only power wash your siding in dry weather when it can dry thoroughly.

  • Sponge Washing or Low-Pressure Sprayer

Using a sponge or low-pressure sprayer is the safest approach to cleaning weathered cedar siding.

It is gentle on the surface; therefore, there is no risk of gouging the surface or forcing water into the wall system.

With this approach, you must use a store-bought commercial cleaner or mix one at home using standard household cleaning solutions.

You can apply the cleaning solution with a large sponge or a low-pressure sprayer with a hand pump if you want to work faster. 

Unlike pressure washing, this approach is more labor intensive.

You must apply the cleaner onto the siding, then scrub it with a stiff cleaning brush to remove dirt and other stains.

Afterward, you let the cleaner set for about 20 minutes before rinsing the siding with a lot of water.

  • Choosing a Cleaner

Most commercial cleaners sold today are for decking and are also suitable for cleaning siding.

As you shop, look for cleaners with active ingredients like oxalic acid, sodium percarbonate, or soda ash.

These mild bleaches will lighten the weathered cedar without endangering your health or damaging the wood further.

Even though you may want to lighten the weathered cedar, avoid using strong bleaches and cleaners.

I discourage using any product with chlorine bleach or a strong alkali cleaner like sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.

These are not only a danger to your health and surroundings but will also cause more damage to the weathered cedar siding.

Even though the mild bleaches are less harmful, they can still irritate the skin and eyes in concentrated form.

Therefore, always wear coveralls, gloves, and safety goggles whenever you handle them.

Should You Power Wash Cedar Siding?

You can power wash cedar siding without damaging the wood if you follow correct procedures and use the appropriate cleaning solutions.

Power washing is an effective cleaning method; it gets the job done quicker than when you manually scrub the wood.

It is the go-to cleaning method for washing large surfaces like cedar sidings.

Many thinks setting a power washer to the highest pressure will make the job easier and faster.

This may be the case in situations such as washing a driveway, but it will not yield good results when cleaning cedar.

Cedar has a sensitive wood structure that would break under that much pressure.

Tips for Power Washing Cedar Siding

  • Don’t spray water on one area of the siding for too long. It may cause little cracks to form, and water will get trapped in those cracks.

Consequently, the water will accumulate and gradually weaken the cedar wood structure.

  • Be gentle with the tough stains. You may feel tempted to increase the pressure of your washer to remove moss, algae, and mildew growing on the siding.

This move may work, but I discourage it because the high pressure will damage the cedar leaving permanent ugly marks.

  • As you spray the cedar siding, keep moving the nozzle tip towards the direction of the wood grain instead of across.

This action reduces the chances of denting the cedar with the washer’s pressure.

  • Always spray the cleaning solution starting from the top, going down, and follow the same direction when it’s time to rinse.

How Often Should Cedar Siding be Painted?

You should paint your cedar siding every five to seven years.

However, a finish on cedar can last up to 10 years if you follow all necessary wood painting procedures like cleaning, sanding, and priming the wood before painting.

The finish will also last longer if you use high-quality exterior paints and primers.

What Affects the Longevity of Paint on Cedar Siding

Here are some of the factors affecting the longevity of paint on cedar:

  • Location of Your Home

If you live in a hot area, you’ll need to paint your cedar siding more frequently because the high heat accelerates paint deterioration.

If you are in a cold area, the freezing conditions make the paint brittle causing it to age faster.

Sidings in both regions will require painting every 5-7 years, depending on the weather.

If you’re in a more temperate location, the conditions are just right to allow the paint to stay longer on the siding – up to 15 years.

  • Quality of the Paint 

The quality of the paint you use on your siding will also determine the paint job’s durability.

Low-grade coating products deteriorate faster than high-quality products. They fade and peel off faster; thus, you will have to repaint too quickly.

If you want a long-lasting finish for your cedar siding, I recommend purchasing high-Quality Exterior paints and primers.

  • The Condition of the Siding

This is the most overlooked factor regarding how long finishes last. Even though the paint will hide the flaws in a damaged siding, the wood will not stop deteriorating.

As its condition worsens, the need to paint increases to keep up with the siding’s appearance. 

The best way to deal with such a situation is to replace or repair the damaged boards before painting.

This way, the wood won’t fall apart along with the paint.

  • Signs That It Is Time to Paint Your Cedar Siding

It is easy to estimate the correct time to paint your cedar siding if you remember when you last painted it.

Even so, you must be able to recognize the subtle signs that the siding needs a fresh coat of paint.

The following are the most common signs that show you that it’s time to paint your cedar siding.

  • Fading Color 

UV radiation is the primary cause of paint fading, and cedar sidings get exposed daily.

Fading aside, UV also affects the molecular structure of paint, causing it to degrade until it loses its protective power gradually.

Therefore, when you notice the paint on your siding looking washed out, it clearly shows that the film is wearing out, so it’s time to paint.

  • Cracking or Peeling Paint 

When you start noticing small cracks on the paint film or if the paint starts to peel off, you must repaint the cedar siding as soon as possible.

If you allow the paint to sit there exposed to the sun’s heat and radiation, it will continue to deteriorate, and you risk exposing your home’s structure to the elements.

  • Damaged Cedar

When you notice that a few boards on your cedar siding need repairs or replacing, repainting comes next.

After repairing the siding, the repaired boards and the new boards always look conspicuous; therefore, you must repaint the siding to make it look more uniform.

How to Make Paint Last Longer on Cedar Siding

You can help prolong paint finish on cedar siding by:

  • Always Start With a Primer

Primer is the key to all long-lasting paint projects because it ensures that the paint adheres to the surface properly for a long time.

Cedar has a very porous surface; therefore, if you paint it without applying primer first, it will soak up most of the paint. 

You can add more coats to try and build up the finish, which may seem to work.

However, the paint will not last because it does not have a proper foundation. It will start to flake off the surface within a month or less.

  • Wait 24 Hours After Power Washing

After cleaning your cedar siding in preparation for painting, the wood retains a little extra moisture.

It is best to wait 1 or 2 days after washing to give the cedar time to lose moisture before painting.

Paint and primer cannot adhere to damp surfaces. So, if you paint your siding immediately, the paint will start to peel off even before it cures.

  • Keep Your Home Exterior Clean

Always ensure that you Clean your patios and underhangs periodically o prevent dust and debris from building up.

Removing dirt and draining wet underhangs will deter the growth of mold and mildew that cause paint to degrade quickly.

Should You Spray or Brush Cedar Siding?

Whether you spray or brush paint onto cedar siding depends on personal preferences.

Both application methods have equal advantages and disadvantages; therefore, it is up to you to know which one will favor your project best.

So let us look at the two methods to help you decide.

  • Preparation

Spray painting a cedar siding requires a lot of preparation.

You must ensure that all the spray equipment is in good condition and clean it to remove the paint from the previous application.

Additionally, you must always mix your paints to a specified consistency that is just right to pass through the sprayer’s nozzle without blocking it.

You must also cover everything around the work area with large plastic sheets and secure them with tape to ensure that paint doesn’t get on them.

On the other hand, brush painting requires very minimal preparation, and you can begin painting as long as you have your brush and paint in hand.

You only need to stir the paint to mix the ingredients, and you’re good to go. As with spray paint, you must lay down a few cloths or plastic sheets to catch accidental spills.

On the bright side, you only need to protect the things directly under the siding because brushes don’t disperse paint in all directions like sprayers.

  • Paint Conservation

If you are worried about paint conservation, brushing is the best method for your project.

With a paintbrush, you can control the amount of color you pick up and lay down on the cedar siding. 

On the other hand, a lot of paint ends up on surfaces other than the one you are working on when spray painting.

This leads to much wastage, which you will soon realize when you use more paint to cover a small surface.

The situation gets even trickier when you try to spray paint the cedar siding on a windy day because the wind will blow the color onto the surface and everything else around it.

  • Coverage

Both methods are excellent when it comes to coverage; however, spraying produces more uniform coats.

It has no visible brushstrokes, which is a plus if you are aiming for a flawless finish for your cedar siding.

On the downside, spraying produces very thin coats; you will need several to achieve full opacity.

On the other hand, brushing covers surfaces properly, but you must be extra cautious about making the finish uniform.

You need to overlap brushstrokes, feather your edges, and check the amount of paint you pick up to avoid slathering on thick coats that would bubble or peel.

Fortunately, brushing produces thicker coats than spraying; therefore, you only need two coats to achieve full opacity.

  • Time

If you like to work fast, spraying is ideal for your project. You can cover large areas in minutes, which is convenient considering you will be panting a whole siding.

This fast work turnaround will allow you to finish projects faster and move on to the next without delays.

On the other hand, brushing requires you to be more attentive for the project to be successful.

For a large project like painting a cedar siding, using paint brushes will take twice the time needed to cover the same area with a paint sprayer.

So, only choose this method if you do not have a time limit on your project.


Weathered cedar siding is a far cry from fresh cedar siding in terms of appearance and overall protective capabilities.

Some homeowners tolerate its signature grey color, but others look for ways to spruce up the wood to make it look new.

How to Restore Weathered Cedar Siding

Restoring weathered Cedar siding is as simple as washing the siding with standard wood cleaner and then repairing the cedar boards before refinishing with paint or wood stain.

The wood cleaner removes dirt and grease then the paint or stain prevents the harsh elements from further degrading the siding.

Thanks for reading this article; hopefully, you are now fully equipped to restore your weathered cedar siding.

Do not hesitate to reach out in the comments section if you have any questions or more information to share.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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