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Question DetailsAsked on 4/18/2017

best clear sealer for new cedar shingle siding?

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2 Answers


For my money - Olympic oil-based (NOT the California-approved water based version) penetrating (not heavy-body) stains or penetrating stain/sealers - Olympic Maximum line or Olympic Stain Sealer for example. Personally I am not a Behr product fan, but some people (including several neighbors of mine) have had good experience with Behr Transparent Penetrating Oil Wood Finish Cedar or Behr 501 Natural Tone Transparent Weatherproof Finish Exterior Sealer on cedar plank and shingle/shake siding. Note that the stain/sealers (as opposed to transparent sealers), on cedar and redwood and larch and some hemlocks in particular, tend to take quite unevenly so you get dark and light variations showing in the wood - some people like it, some do not, so test a piece and let dry for several days in the sun or if rainy in the garage to see how the product is going to look when dry.

Also, though it does involve laying out the product (and protecting underlying surfaces) and spraying/rolling/dipping and brushing (my favorite) it, which granted is time consuming and messy, coating the shingles/shakes/boards (front face and edges/cut ends only (NOT the backs) BEFORE putting them up on the house gives far better protection because it seals the surfaces which will be under overlaps or showing through in the gaps between shingles/shakes, which areas will soak up water terribly otherwise. Does add about 25-50% on board and 50-100% on shakes/shingles to the painting portion of the job cost however, but definitely a longer-lasting protection - especially as once they are up, you have zero opportunity to protect the underlapped areas of the product.

Actually, initially coating this sort of wood product in place (after installation) can sometimes cause more damage than putting on no coating at all, because it leaves the upper portions exposed to water penetration/wicking, but the lower portion having been sealed prevents the water which is wicking / running down in the wood from above from evaporating, thereby sealing the moisture in and promoting rot. For this reason, many high-quality installers will precoat any wood product they are going to install - edges and cut ends and outside face (leave back face uncoated to provide at least some evaporative surface), and commonly NOT coating the bottom edges of shakes/shingles so moisture can drip out and evaporate there. (There are a VERY few sources of factory presealed wood siding/roofing products - though with shakes/shingles that still leaves bare edges from splitting to width to be treated before application or left exposed - part of the reason pretreated ones are rare). Generally, if precoating shakes/shingles, the siding contrator needs to pre-split a full bundle or two (sometimes more with wide shakes or larger house) to allow them to be precoated on the split edges too - then use those as the narrow filler shingles you invariable need as fill-ins when butting up against windows/doors or corner trim.

One other thing on the pre-coating - it eliminates the "shadow lines" or exposed lighter-colored or graying untreated wood stripes that show up as the wood expands and contracts with moisture changes, exposing material that was originally covered by the overlapping shingles/ shake/ board when sprayed after installation.

Commonly, if pretreating is done a second coat is sprayed on after the material is installed on the wall, because on new wood a single coat is not going to be fully effective or as long-lived as it should be.

Oh - one other thing on cedar (and larch and redwood) shingles especially but generally on all siding - they are HIGHLY prone to black streaking from the sap corroding the nails and from galvanizing oxidizing, so I highly recommend using stainless steel nails if you don't want the siding showing black streaking within the first few years. See following links for examples: [5th photo]

Note that Bear Creek Lumber, who is a firm I have a lot of respect for, said hot-dipped (as opposed to cold-galvanized or electro-galvanized) nails are OK. In my opinion, this used to be the case, but now with most nails coming from Asia many or most "hot-dipped" galvanized nails are pretty iffy in quality. I have seen heavy rusting within months on imported nails and screws, and indeed rusting in the original packaging as received - with both "hot-dipped" and stainless, so I recommend US or Canada manufactured nails like from Lee Valley or Tree Island, for example, though granted those are regionally available product lines so may or may not be easy to find in your area.

Here are links to a couple of other previous similar questions with more detailed responses on cedar prep/treatment.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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