What is the best stain for cedar siding?

Answered by Brett Kulina ~ May 11, 2013 ~ No Comments

I am putting up some cedar siding on a garage and want to finish it with some stain. What is the best type of stain to use on raw wood? Should I put the stain on before I nail up the boards or after?

Brett Kulina

When selecting an exterior stain for your cedar siding, you will need to choose both a color and a transparency finish. Most brands offer a wide selection of colors, each available in a solid finish, a semi-solid, or a semi-transparent finish. The transparency of the finish affects the final appearance of the stain. Solid stain is the most opaque choice, which means that the stain color is designed to fully hide the natural grain and tone of the underlying wood. A semi-transparent stain is just the opposite, as it shows most of the wood grain and tone with only a slight tint of color.

Keep in mind that the finished appearance of any stain depends also on the species of wood and the surface texture of the board. For example, rough-cut cedar can soak up a lot of stain and produce a nice uniform color, while freshly stained pine or fir may appear blotchy or streaked. If you are staining a board that has been planed smooth, the mill-glazed surface may prevent the stain from fully soaking into the board, which means that you must wipe off the excess stain with a lint-free rag. "Mill glaze" can be removed with 60-grit sandpaper or a chemical wood wash, which is designed to open up the pores of the wood.

Before hanging your siding, you should stain all six sides of each board to fully protect them from the elements. You should also stain a tester board to see if you like the actual color and transparency finish. Choose a premium stain that can be applied directly over raw wood, and follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding number of coats and optimal temperature for application.

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