How to Restain Cedar Siding

March 26, 2022

Harsh cedar siding that need to restain.

Using cedar for your exterior home sidings might be one of your best options to provide your home with a rustic but elegant look. Yet, cedarwood is not entirely impervious to the effects of harsh external elements like UV light and moisture. So, if you opt for cedar sidings, you might as well prepare yourself for constantly maintaining these cedar sidings.

If you haven’t before tried restaining cedar siding, you might get a bit fidgety about how to do it. Moreover, you might get confused as to when you should restain your cedar siding. Yet, generally, you can restain cedar siding every 3 to 5 years; though, this depends on the place you live and the weather in that place.

Steps on Restaining Exterior Cedar Siding

You can provide your old cedar siding with that fresh look by restaining it. Painting, of course, is another option, but if you want to retain the rustic look of cedar siding, you should restain it. Below are the most basic steps on how to do it:

Step 1: Clean & Prepare the Siding for Restaining

The first step in restaining your old siding is by cleaning it. You can scrape or sand the siding surface. But such a task is backbreaking. So, you might as well use a pressure washer. Using the pressure washer, you can quickly do away with the loose stain peelings. 

Yet, you will still need to sand or scrape some parts of the siding in some instances. But the pressure washer will speed up the cleaning process for you. You can use a pressure washer with a 40-degree tip and 500 psi. Moreover, you can opt for higher psi, but it will produce poor results and might damage the wooden siding. 

Start by washing from the bottom and move upward. Then, rinse from top to bottom. Make sure you keep the nozzle tip about eight to ten inches away from the wood surface. Keep the angle perpendicular to that of the siding to prevent having the water sip behind the siding. 

Let the pressure stream get under those loose stains to lift them off. Avoid spraying onto electrical outlets, light fixtures, and gable-end vents. You should also do the cleaning on a calm and not-so-windy day. After cleaning, let the surface dry for at least 3 days.

Step 2: Remove the Old Finish

You must remove the old finish before giving it a new stain. To remove the old finish, you can sand the surface using 120-grit sandpaper using an orbital sander. In this way, you can remove any residue of the old finish to prepare it for the new finish. You can also use a power sander and 220-grit sandpaper. 

Sand the sidings in small and circular motions. Make sure that you remove the old protective finish. Sand until the natural grain of the cedar comes out. Afterward, remove the residue of dust using a clean cloth.

Step 3: Test the Surface for Moisture

You can test the wood surface to see if it is ready for staining by performing a tape test. At the onset, press the tape firmly on the surface and tear it away. Check the back. If there is a presence of loose fibers or an old stain, the surface isn’t ready for staining. 

It may indicate moisture problems, and moisture can lead to premature eroding of the finish. It can also lead to decay or rot. So, make sure that the surface is completely dry. When you’re sure that it is dry, you can begin to stain the wood. 

Before you stain, you should also check for rotted or decayed wood. Remove or replace these rotting wood pieces. You can follow the different methods on how to repair decayed or rotted wood. Once you are sure there is no rotted wood, you can now commence applying the stain.

Step 4: Apply Stain

After you’ve completely removed the old finish and cleaned and dried the wood, you can now begin the application of the new stain. It will be best to apply several layers of stain to create an even coat. It will help to avoid the pooling of stain, for this will leave behind noticeable brush marks. 

Let the stain dry thoroughly. Afterward, you can apply a second coat if you desire to give the cedar siding a deeper color. Once done with the coating, you can let it dry appropriately according to the manufacturer’s specifications. 

Step 5: Seal the Wood

After applying the stain onto the wood, your next move is to seal the wood. You can use a polyurethane finish to seal the wood. Apply this finish to the wood along the wood grain. Let it dry according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

How Will You Know the Appropriate Time to Restain Cedar Siding?

Several factors could hasten up the need to retain cedar siding. One factor is the weather in your place. The climate can speed up the need to restain your cedar siding because if your area is subject to constant precipitation, you might need to restain your siding within three years. The average time range for restaining is from three to five years. You should follow the simple steps mentioned above when restaining the siding. 

There are indicators that you need to restain the cedar siding. If you notice that the old stain is peeling off, it might be time to give it a new stain. If there are also rotted parts, you need to repair and restain the siding. Nevertheless, if you seal the wood well, even if you live in a place beset by heavy rains and snows, you can expect your wood siding to last for three to five years without any damage.

Potential Issues You May Have When Restaining Cedar Siding

When restaining siding, you might encounter several issues that could make it difficult for you to breeze through the restaining process. Below are the most common issues you might encounter in the process:

Surface Contaminant Issue

When inspecting the cedar siding, you might find dirt, cedar bleed, mildew stains, chalkiness, and other unsightly substances that had stuck onto the siding. It will help if you can determine the contaminants that had infected the siding. In this way, you can employ the proper treatment for the specific contaminant. 

You will also find mildew stains, soot, dirt, and other pollutants that look like specks and black dots on the wood surface. Moreover, you can apply a small drop of household bleach onto the specks or black area. If the dark spot lightens, then it might be due to mildew. Other pollutants, however, will not alter their colors. 

Cedar Bleed

Another issue you might encounter before staining the cedar siding is cedar bleed. The cedar bleed is the wood’s discoloration that makes the old stain appear a bit uneven and blotchy. You can apply a solution made of ferrous sulfate to the discoloration. 

If the solution changes to a blue-black color, the wood has undergone cedar bleed. You can remove this discoloration using an oxalic-based solution. It can also remove metal and rust stains. 

Mildew Stains and Dirt

Another issue is the onset of mildew stains and dirt. You can use a solution that consists of sodium hypochlorite and sodium metasilicate to remove these stains. You can also use calcium hypochlorite to remove mildew and dirt. 


You can determine if the cedar siding exhibits chalkiness by rubbing the wood surface with your hand or any clean cloth. If the stain is breaking down, you will detect flakiness on the fabric or hand. It will be best to remove the chalkiness using a detergent wash that comes with sodium metasilicate.


Wood siding will surely give the exterior of your home a rustic charm. But these wood siding can warp and rot over time. So, there will come a time when you need to go outside your house and walk around to check for any signs of splitting, chipping, and rotting of wood siding. If there’s a need to repair the siding, you should not delay the repairs, for any delay might only aggravate the problem. 

Restain the siding to ensure that it will get extra protection again. If it is your first time restaining cedar siding, it will help if you follow the abovementioned steps. Restaining, of course, would require you to clean and prepare the siding. Lastly, you should choose a stain that could provide your cedar siding with the needed protection against the harsh elements of nature.

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment