New red cedar siding: Oil, Stain, Bleach Oil?

tanagerSeptember 22, 2013


I'm in the process of renovating a house from 1963. The second and third floors originally had pine siding that was left totally unprotected for 30 years and then repainted in 1993 (this is very common in France where we live).

We had to remove the wood because because of major modifications (windows, extension, etc.) and would now like to replace it with red cedar siding. Unfortunately, this is a pretty new material in France and we are getting totally conflicting information from those we ask!

We really love the look of new red cedar siding and would like to keep it that way as long as possible. We also like the gray/silver look of older red cedar, but only when it's uniform and we doubt that the very large roof overhang and dormers would allow that to happen naturally :) The old pine was in great condition, except for the Northern facade , so I think UV will be a greater concern than water.


Choice of Oil
Here, there is a lot of use of transparent natural oils that saturate the wood. We need to apply it regularly at first, but then less often as the wood is saturated. I can't find any info on how red cedar ages with this treatment. Does it get darker red with UV exposure? Or will it eventually get gray despite this treatment? Does it get gunky and built up over years of application?

Choice of Stain
If we go with a totally transparent stain that is regularly maintained, will the wood maintain its natural colors? Does a facade stain count as a sealant or do we need another product on top?

Bleaching Oil
If we go with some type of bleaching oil like Cabots to give a uniformed weathered look, will the wood degrade faster? I read that it accelerated the effects of UV rays. Beyond the color change, will the wood look old and unkempt?

With all of these treatments, will the facades have similar colors if maintained?

I would really appreciate any input and especially photos! You probably can't imagine just how expensive it is to install N.American red cedar in Europe and we really don't want to make a mistake!!!!


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I did the very thing 20 years ago. I did not use clear, but a semi transperant oil base stain the same color. I did it every year for 4 years then every other year and sometimes went 3 years. It did get a little darker each year, but only slightly. After 20 years, black mold became a problem, so I sanded it down and used a solid color water based stain. Oil will breed mold and mildew, They add a protectant, but it will only last a year. anything with pigment will protect better than clear. Cabots does still make oil base I believe, one of the few. You may want to experiment with a few products on a separate sample piece first. If you can find a water base product you like. I would go with that in the long run.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:50PM
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Great information silversilverado, thank you so much!

Did you have mold all over or just in particularly damp spots?

My red cedar is only on the second floor and is almost completely protected by a big roof overhang (only the north side ever really gets wet with rain), but we are in a region of the Alps that is a bit damp and chilly... I'm wondering if I will have much moisture problem (the 60 year old pine siding we took down was in really great shape).

Your advice sounds very reasonable. I just wish I knew if these oil saturators were the same product as an the oil based stain we used in the US, but I don't think so because they are really new and you can only get them clear (they're mixtures of natural oils, like linseed) and since the product itself is the oil, there is no water based equivalent. It's supposed to be the most ecological treatment for wood.

I love the idea of trying the product on a sample first. Quite wise.

Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 1:13PM
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