I own a circa 1986 ranch style home in the often cold & snowy northwest (Buffalo, NY) area. It is cedar board & batten as you see below. Size is approx 40' x 65'.

I believe the color is original, it may have an additional coat or two (hard to tell but the stain peels off thick). I may opt to vinyl side it, but asking for tips here as I'm leaning towards keeping the look and my main question is what methods of "expedient" preparation make the most sense for this condition cedar?

Some of it is in very good shape, but I'd say 85% easily looks like below.

I've considered using chemicals. Is it worth the additional investment or is pressure washing or scraping or planing outright - more sensible? Must it be sanded anyways?

I've pressure washed it with 45 degree in some areas and find that a pre-wetting and follow up blasting does loosen up some of the stain but I'm finding it is far easier and quicker to have the wet stain "peeled" off by hand like a banana. When it is dry, it adheres pretty well, but again, if I grab a flake, I can peel off 2-3 even 6' of it, and it is definitely taking wood with it. Basically, there doesn't seem to be any way to get the stain off without taking wood with it. Sanding is SLOW. Can I use a power wheel (since it appears it needs to be sanded anyways)?

I've never owned a cedar sided house, and I know cedar is soft, in fact some of it is split apart or rotted and must be replaced. Is what I've pictured below worth salvaging? I believe it is, but would like to hear from some pros.

Here was a test with the new color applied over the top of the old to check for bleeding. It was scraped and sanded in some spots as well, and the coverage looks good. When it dried, it adhered well, and didn't rub off: Here is an area that was scraped/sanded and also left with the old color on

Here is one of the existing stain seen where the wood is already significantly pitted, While I did pressure wash the surface, the removal of stain was done by hand. It is seen how much wood and wood grain is damaged and this is not from the washer: Siding "as-is" cleaned, manually puled by hand

Area that was washed/peeled, and the batten sanded with 80 grit, looks like it will turn out fine after quite a bit of work: Area that was washed/peeled, and the batten sanded with 80 grit

  • You aren't getting much response because it depends mostly on 1) what actually works in your case, and 2) what you're willing to accept as an outcome. I'd never sand cedar siding. For one it's an intensive job, and then it dramatically changes the appearance. Chemical stripping has its downsides, of course. Power washing and brushing would probably be my approach. Again, it's hard to say without being there.
    – isherwood
    Jul 17, 2019 at 14:47
  • I was hoping the picture would tip the scales in one direction or the other vs. being an opinion based thing. One thing I noticed about washing and peeling (or brushing). When I rubbed it off with my bare hands it left hairy strands as seen on pic #2 & 3. I believe I have no choice but to sand that to fix it? Shouldn't it be dealt with? I beleive your input is to continue pressure washing, using a hard brush, and only sand if necessary. I was really hoping there was some decision factors that would sway one way or another.
    – noybman
    Jul 18, 2019 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


Well, you're in for a ride. Solid stain's application is really no different than paint's. For woods like Cedar and Redwood that bleed a lot of tannin, you'll need 2 coats of primer after sanding down to your desired look.

Meaning, if the Cedar has heavy grain like the first picture, then you only want to lightly sand. If you want smooth, then you'll sand a lot. The best results will be from Rustoleum's Deck Start primer, it's the only acrylic one and will therefore compliment your stain's structural properties.

As far as stripping goes. For any stubborn spots I'd go with Dumond's Smart Strip, it hasn't failed me like all others have. It's expensive, but won't harm you, the grass nor the wood. It can be a come-back-tomorrow-stripper, but I think your 1-coat will be ready in a few hours. So, continue your current methods and then Smart Strip the remainder.

  • Is primer required at all if the cedar is 20+ years old? When you say "the first picture" are you referring to the gray "stonehedge" one I posted? That was in good shape, so it was only sanded to blend the areas chipped free of the "peach" color stain. I didn't use primer on it on either section, so the old stain does not seem to bleed through. If you meant the second picture, then yes- the majority of the wood looks like picture #2. I thought I had to sand this. If leaving it is acceptable, then maybe I should just get the loose off and cover all over it???
    – noybman
    Jul 20, 2019 at 0:08
  • Yep, primer is still needed, it's for adhesion...so your house doesn't entirely peel (huge bubbles) itself free of stain again. Yes, I'd personally prefer the Stonehenge shot, good graining but nothing raspy from the too deep pitting of pic 2...knock down those ridges and round them over. Normally, sanding is just to remove any feathering and surface rot and get back to the strong and stable. However, the primer will work on just about anything, so this round can be more of a future assessment experiment with minimal prep-work type of thing.
    – Iggy
    Jul 20, 2019 at 11:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.