How to Stain Cedar Siding

Read the safety guide on the ladder before you climb it.
Wooden ladder image by Tasha from

If left unfinished, cedar siding will weather to a dull, silvery gray. You can prevent this occurrence by applying a penetrating oil-based stain. Before you begin, prepare the siding to accept stain, or you may have problems with absorption. Employ the proper preparation techniques, or you may cause the cedar to splinter. Protect areas you do not want stained by meticulously covering them with the right materials, or you could end up marring adjacent and underlying surfaces with permanent stains.

Things You'll Need

  • 3- To 4-Inch Paintbrush Designed For Oil-Based Stain
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Heavy-Duty Cloth Drop-Cloths
  • Ladder
  • 120-Grit Sandpaper
  • Pressure Washer
  • Wooden Stir-Stick
  • 5-Gallon Bucket
  • Oil-Based Stain
  • Low-Pressure Tip
  • Blue Painter'S Tape

Wash cobwebs and dust from the cedar siding, using a pressure washer equipped with a low-pressure tip. Allow the cedar to dry for a full day.

Smooth splintering areas of the cedar siding, using 120-grit sandpaper. Sand along with the cedar wood grain to prevent splintering.

Protect areas on or near the cedar you do not want stained by covering them with drop cloths and professional painter's tape.

Open the container of stain and stir the contents for three full minutes. Pour two gallons of stain into a plastic 5-gallon bucket.

Coat the cedar siding with stain, using a 3- to 4-inch paintbrush specifically designed for oil-based stain. Brush along with the cedar wood grain, being careful to smooth any drips and runs. Allow the cedar to dry for two hours. Add another coat for darker results.


  • Stain may seep through fabric drop cloths and pool on plastic ones. For best results, overlap fabric drop cloths over plastic ones.


  • The tannins in stain will settle after only 20 minutes. Stop the application process and stir the stain every 10 to 15 minutes, or the finish may dry unevenly.

    Use mineral spirits to wash your paintbrush. Don't use water, as this will damage the bristles.

    A pressure washer can damage cedar siding. Be sure the washer is equipped with a low-pressure tip, and hold the tip a minimum of four to five feet from the cedar.

    If you need a ladder to reach higher portions of the cedar siding, read the safety guide on the side of the ladder before you begin.