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Finishing new wood exterior siding
Jun 03, 2005

When painting or finishing new wood siding on an existing house, make sure you use a good quality finish to preserve the wood and to create a long lasting finish.

The most common wood used for siding is cedar. Cedar is an attractive wood that has its own built-in preservative.

There are a number of ways to finish cedar siding.  But, a clear or semi-transparent finish allows the natural beauty of the wood to show through. 

Solid colour stains also can be used, or the wood may be painted, but then the colour  and grain of the wood is covered.  Not many would even consider painting cedar wood unless it had been neglected for many years and then that was the only recourse.

Make sure the finish you choose had an ultraviolet ray inhibitor to retard the destructiveness of the sun’s rays. There are quite a number of good quality finishes on the market that fit this description, and are available from local paint speciality stores and building centres.

A top of the line finish for exterior cedar siding may cost $40 and up, depending on how you want the finish to look.  A finish that I used on an all cedar home was Behr Super Liquid Rawhide. This finish had a slight cedar tint that aids in the filtering out of the sun’s destructive UV rays and adds to the character of the wood.

On new wood, you must apply at least three coats for a quality finish.

The first coat must be thinned with mineral spirits, using the mixing formula instructions on the can. Then at least two additional coats must be applied, allowing proper drying time between coats.

For a good result, regardless of the finish used, proper preparation to the surface is important.  Make sure that the siding is clean. Remove dust and dirt that may have settled on the siding during construction or has been wind blown onto the siding.  Use a soft bristle broom or brush to remove the dust and debris.

 If there is mud on the siding left there after a heavy rain, wait until all the wood is completely dry and brush it off. In some cases, it may be necessary to wash the mud off.  If the siding has been washed, wait for a day or two before applying the finish.

A pencil eraser can remove small smudge marks on the wood.

Regardless of the finish you are applying to exterior wood, choose a day that is neither too hot nor too cold. An extremely hot, dry day can cause shrinking problems to some finishes.

 Cool, damp days can slow down the drying process, and this could allow the finish to pick up dirt or debris that may be blown around by the wind.

After the finish has dried, use a good quality caulking compound to seal around windows and doors and joints in the wood to prevent water from running behind the siding.

The same recommendation for finishing new wood exterior siding also applies to fence material. Fence materials require the same type of preparation as wood siding. Use the same good quality materials as you would on the house.

A well-finished and maintained fence will complement your home and reduce time spent on maintenance.

Always make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure the best results for your home or fence.