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Siding Resources

How to Treat Wood Siding

Wood siding. It conjures visions of majestic log cabins and rustic retreats in piney woods—it’s no wonder so many homeowners want to evoke that natural beauty in the home. And not only is it aesthetically charming. It’s also versatile enough so that you can change the color to anything that you’d like, unlike vinyl siding. Still, with that luxurious look and convenience comes a bit more maintenance. In order to keep wood siding in good shape, it needs to be treated at least once every decade. Without the regular upkeep it will split, crack, and blister—and most importantly, it won’t protect your home any longer.

There are two different treatment options available—painting and staining—and although each one works well, it’s important to learn the differences so you can decide which one you want to use.

Cedar siding home - Image Source

Table of Contents

Painting Versus Staining

When deciding between painting or staining your siding, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to re-stain the surface about once every 3 to 5 years. And while you’ll only have to repaint once every 7 to 10 years, this step will be much more difficult since all the layers will need to be stripped, scraped, and sanded off the old paint before applying the fresh coat of paint. When applying stain, the process is very similar to the original coating, making it the easier option of the two overall if you don’t mind going back to re-finish the job twice as often.

Painting wood siding - Image Source

Painting wood siding – Image Source


Painting wood siding is one of the best ways to cover up any imperfections and to give the house a more colorful look without all the variations in the wood grain that you’d get with staining. A good quality paint will prove very durable and is designed to last a long time.

Pressure Wash

Start off the project by taking a pressure washer to all the boards on the house. This will help clean away any imperfections that have had a chance to collect, and it will help the paint stick to the surface. Be sure to get all the surfaces cleaned thoroughly before you even consider applying a coat of paint.

Caulk the Joints

Wood siding likely has some joints that could potentially let water in behind it. To prevent leaks, use a quality 50-year exterior caulk, made from silicone or polyurethane, and fill in each of those gaps before you do any painting. By filling in the gaps first, you create another surface for the paint to protect to make the application better overall.

Prime the Surface

Have a quality exterior primer mixed up, and make sure that it closely matches te paint color—and for best results, it should be tinted a few shades lighter than the paint itself. This will give the paint a more even look, and it will allow the color to stretch further with good results. Be sure to coat every bit of the siding thoroughly in order to get the best possible seal for a long-lasting finish.

Apply the Paint

Finally it’s time to apply the paint. Consider using a roller or brush if you aren’t experienced with a sprayer. A sprayer is faster and more effective at achieving an even coating, but only in the hands of a skilled professional. When using a sprayer, it’s vital to mask off the different areas to protect the neighbors and everything in your own yard, or even other parts of your home from paint overspray. Apply the first top coating and continue working around your home while it dries. Once the first coating is dry, you should apply a second one for a long-lasting finish.


Staining is a slightly simpler process because no primer step is needed, but you have some decisions to make before you get started. There are different opacity levels of stain, and it’s important to decide how much wood grain you want to show. A more see-through option won’t protect against sunlight quite as much as a very thick stain will, but it will let more of that rich wood grain to shine through. Consider testing several types out before deciding on the one to use.

Clean the Surface

Take a pressure washer to all the surfaces of the siding for a thorough cleaning. Next, apply a bleach coating to the house and leave it on the surface per the instructions. Finally, pressure wash the bleach mixture off to finish the cleaning process and prepare the siding to be stained.


Give the wood a few days to dry out completely after pressure washing it. It’s vital that no water remains within the wood itself, or it will shorten the lifespan of the stain and even cause patches to develop during the application.

Caulk It

Use a quality exterior caulk to fill in the gaps in the wood to make the seal water-tight. The caulk should be used in any joints in the siding that have the potential to let moisture in behind the material.

Stain It

Now you’ll want to get a high quality oil-based exterior stain whose pigment matches your desired color—but be sure to spot test it first, to make sure you’re happy with the end results. Apply the stain with a very wet brush to completely penetrate the wood and get a good seal for effective protection. When applying the stain, be careful not to stain any surfaces in direct sunlight. The sun will cause uneven spots in the application and ruin the finished look. Now that the stain is fully applied, you’ll have richly-colored siding that’s also equipped to stand up to the elements!

Whether you’re painting or staining the wood siding on your home, it’s important to take your time carefully and thoroughly applying the finish—this will increase the wood’s lifespan, and also save you money over time.


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