What Kind of Paint Is Best for Cedar Siding?

There are several different routes you could go when it comes to freshening up your cedar siding. But what is the best in terms of finish and durability?

Exterior-grade acrylic-based paint is the best choice for painting cedar siding as it will last for many years. Acrylic paint has strong adhesion properties and is resistant to mold and mildew. This provides the exterior wood siding with the necessary protection from the elements.

While painting is an excellent option, you should also consider staining your cedar siding. Not only does it highlight the wood’s natural grain, but it’s also quite a bit less work than applying paint.

Why Acrylic-Based Paint Is Best for Cedar Siding

Wood will shrink, expand, and flex, so you need paint that can keep up with its changing dimensions and will seal the wood from the weather. Acrylic-latex paints come in both water-based and oil-based products.

Acrylic paint protects the cedar from rot and is an effective way of freshening the look of your home. With a good coat of paint, you should expect a single application to last up to 10 years, though it may show signs of aging after seven years.

Best Paint for Cedar Siding


Though traditional oil-based paints still last the longest, the latest water-based products now have comparable lifespans. Other advantages of modern water-based acrylics are they are low odor, easy to clean, and chip-resistant.

Rust-Oleum’s quick-dry brush-on paint comes in a range of finishes and colors and adheres well to all types of wood.

Oil-Based Wood Stain

As an alternative to paint, you can use a wood stainOpens in a new tab.. Wood stains bring out the natural texture of the wood, though they offer limited protection and do not lock in sap. Classic tones for cedarwood are taupe, tan, and beige.

The Best Primer for Cedar Siding

If you have chosen a bold color but worry that the tannins will surface through the cedar, you should use a stain-blocking primer from ZinsserOpens in a new tab.. This is a low-odor and fast-drying water-based primer that seals in sap, knots, and even old burn marks and water stains.

Is It Better to Paint or Stain Cedar Siding?

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to help you decide which is better for you.

Key Points of Using an Acrylic Paint


  • Hides Blemishes
  • Hard-Wearing
  • Vibrant


  • Fast Dulling
  • Tackiness
  • Odor

Key Points of Using a Stain


  • Easy to Apply
  • Shows off natural textures
  • Good Coverage


  • Fast Wearing
  • Less Protection
  • Fumes

How Long Does Paint Last vs Stain on Cedar Siding?

Stain and paint offer an equal number of benefits, so it comes down to preference of finish. A stain does excellent work of highlighting the natural grain of the wood and can last several years if you buy a good brand.

You can paint the stain with a brush and roller and even use rags to work the stain into the wood. Another benefit of stain is that it does not flake or crack as it ages, though it will dull. And an aged stain has charm and can build the character of a home.

Paints take more work to apply and require more preparation, meaning filling, sanding, priming, and two coats of paint. Over time paints will crack and blister, but this can take up to 10 years before it gets to where you need to scrape it off. In the meantime, the wood will have an excellent sealant and look smooth.

A softwood will absorb a stain faster than if painted, and you can expect a quart of stain at $35 a can to cover 75 square feet (7m2) with a single coat. The same coverage with latex acrylic paint will cost around the same after you factor in the primer and two coats.

How Do You Prepare Cedar for Painting?

If you’re going to spend time painting your cedar, you want it to look good and to last as long as possible. You want to inspect for damage, repair knots and splits, and smooth out imperfections.

Preparing Cedar for Paint

  1. Scrape – Make your way around the wood and inspect it for problems. Old cracking paint may be a sign of sap leaking through, a knot, or old paint. Scrape it back to bare wood. Dig rot and loose knots out with a screwdriver.
  2. Fill – Now, you can go back and fill in the areas that you had to dig out. Apply your wood filler and repair any damaged areas of the cedar.
  3. Sand – Sand the filler flat to the surface of the original wood. You can leave a rough finish as this will make for a better painting surface.
  4. Clean – Clean off dust with a damp rag.
  5. Prime – Prepare your primer and use either a spray gun or roller to apply it.

How to Paint Cedar Siding

Materials List

  • Bleach
  • Soap and sponge, or Pressure Washer
  • Scraper
  • Garden Hose
  • 60-Grit Sandpaper
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Drop Cloth
  • Gloves
  • Paint or Stain
  • Primer

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Wash – It is worth renting a pressure washer for a day if you do not own one. You need the power and span of a high-pressure water jet to remove all loose objects, dirt, and mildew that may have taken hold.
  2. Sand – A wooden surface with fewer imperfections will waste less paint. And by sanding away splinters and knots, you will find the paint easier to apply.
  3. Prime – Cedar is full of natural tannins, which are dark acidic saps that will leach through the wood for years. An oil-based primerOpens in a new tab. will seal in the sap and stop it from breaking through into your paint and causing flakes.
  4. Paint – Give the primer a few hours to cure, then you can apply the main coat. The painting will go faster with a wide and thick roller. The first coat should have the highest level of thinner that the paint recommends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can New Cedar Be Painted?

New cedar can be more of a challenge since it will still hold a lot of tannins that will continue to seep through for many years. The best wood is aged either naturally or in a kiln, but if you bought it new, it is better to seal it with primer before the weather gets to it and water soaks in.

Can I Paint Old Cedar Siding?

Old cedar can be easier to paint, but you can still find issues with rot and knots. It is worth spending time inspecting each board before painting. You may also find that you need to replace some panels before continuing.

Can I Paint Over Painted Cedar Siding?

You can paint over cedar siding if the earlier coat is less than a couple of years old. Though you would still want to rough up the surface first with sandpaper and even consider using a primer.

Can I Paint Over Stained Cedar Siding?

Stains will seal the wood from most paints, and even a good acrylic will struggle to adhere to a stain. The cost of experimenting with a new can of acrylic is not worth the time, effort, and money. Either use another stain or try to remove most of the stain with sanding, then use a primer before painting.

Joshua Milton

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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