find the best exterior stain for cedar siding

Best Exterior Stain for Cedar Siding

Being a homeowner can be a little wearisome, especially when you need to fix something. Not only will it cost you money, but it will also ask for a lot of time, effort, and attention from you.

Good thing you can do something to keep your home from needing too much fixing. Like the adage, prevention is better than cure. If you have wooden surfaces on your homes like sidings, porches, and fences, they will be better off with a couple of coats of staining.

It does not just draw out the natural beauty of wood, it also coats the wood with levels of protection from damage.

In this review, you will find different products to choose from, which you can use for your home.

Best 7 Exterior Stains for Cedar Siding in 2021

Cedar is a good material for the exterior of your home. Staining it will protect it from the elements as well as give it a nice rustic and homey look. Here are some of the best exterior stains you can use that are available for you.

1. DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

As a water-based acrylic stain, it will not just protect your cedar sidings, but it will also help in keeping the environment safe and sound. It has a semi-transparent property that allows the beauty of the wood to be seen, giving it a rustic and organic feel.

This has a tough seal as it can protect your sidings from any form of weather. Sporting a zinc-nano particle technology, it will reflect UV rays and prevent the wood from premature graying and dulling. The same zinc particles will also protect from mildew buildup.

For convenience, you can apply this with a brush or spray without having to dilute it or use any thinner. To get the best results, use their prescribed cleaning and brightening agent before applying this wood stain.

Special Features
  • Easy to apply
  • Zinc nanoparticles protect against UV rays and mildew buildup
  • Durable and made from high-quality resin
  • Easy to maintain
  • Resists fading
  • Brings out natural wood beauty

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2. Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

This oil-based transparent stain is also a sealer. So you don’t need to buy multiple products to coat your sidings. This is a great value for money, and you can use it if you don’t have much time to apply a stain and a sealer separately.

It also adds color to any wood. You can choose the hue from the options available. But since it’s a transparent stain, the texture of the wood is still visible after the stain has dried.

As a 2-in-1 formula, it will protect the wood from ultraviolet rays, mildew, and moisture. The stain will dry at about 48 to 72 hours, depending on the temperature.

Special Features
  • 2-in-1 formula (stain and sealer in one)
  • No primer needed on the wood
  • Can be applied using a sprayer
  • Can be used in any temperature
  • Ready to use out of the packaging
  • Easy to apply using brush or roller

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3. THOMPSONS WATERSEAL Transparent Waterproofing Stain

This is one of the original staining formulas among the products in this guide. It has been used on various applications since its invention in the 1920s. The main benefit of using this stain is the ability to waterproof the surfaces for a long time. You can also use this on just about any wooden surfaces of your home.

A couple of coats with this stain and your cedar sidings will look great again. They have many options to choose from. You can opt for a darker tone or a lighter tone depending on your preference. 

And you can readily apply this even without too much sanding. But for best results, keep the surface clean and free from any dirt.

Special Features
  • Protects from water
  • Keeps the vibrant color of the wood
  • Protects against mildew buildup and UV rays
  • Can be applied on both cleaned damp and dry wood
  • Various colors available
  • Quick-drying

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4. Olympic Stain Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer

As a 2-in-1 formulation, you can stain and seal your wooden sidings with just this product. You don’t need to sand or prepare the wood before applying this. Open the can, and you’re ready to go.

When applying this, you can use either a brush or spray. But for best results, use a paint roller to reach surfaces evenly.

The formula of this stain has enhanced waterproofing properties. As when the wood is penetrated with water, it may result in cracking and rotting. Sealing it repels water and allows it to last for a long time.

Staining your cedar sidings with this product also helps in keeping UV rays at bay, keeping the beauty and elegance of wood for a long time.

Special Features
  • 2-in-1 formulation for easy application
  • Can be applied in any weather
  • Dries fast
  • Enhanced waterproofing properties
  • UV ray resistant
  • Resists fading of the wood

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5. Restore-A-Deck Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, Wood Siding

This is an advanced formulation that can stain and protect your cedar wood siding from the wear of any weather. It comes in many colors to choose from and can help customize your home.

It is a water-based stain that has a semi-transparent finish. You can apply this on any wood surface even if you just cleaned it out a little bit. And because it is water-based, it is safe to use and eco-friendly as well.

The active ingredients in this product help repel UV rays, which is the main cause of color fading. Since it penetrates the wood, it also protects it from water and moisture, which tends to be the source of mildew and weakens the wood.

Special Features
  • Dries fast and easily
  • Cost-effective 2-in-1 (stain and sealer) formula
  • Eco-friendly water-based
  • Reduces wear and tear in the wood
  • Prevents UV rays which is the primary cause of graying
  • Available in five semi-transparent finishes

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6. KILZ Exterior Waterproofing Wood Stain, Semi-Transparent

If you are staining cedar sidings, you better choose one that will protect against the elements. It should be waterproof as well as able to protect the wood from UV rays like this one.

The company claims that its 100% Acrylic formula protects wood from rain, snow, and sun damage and warrants that it can protect decks and fences for about 3 years.

Their semi-transparent formula also helps in keeping your wooden sidings looking good. The stain will bring out the natural beauty of this type of wood. You can apply this stain with a brush, pad applicator, or spray. It will adhere to wood surfaces as long as it is free from debris.

Special Features
  • Durable and long stain
  • Will enhance the beauty of the wood grain
  • Although ideal for decks and fences, it will work well with cedar sidings
  • Protects wood from all weather conditions
  • Easy to apply and dries fast
  • No need for primer before applying

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Is It Better to Stain or Paint Cedar Siding?

Of course, you have the option to just paint the wood. But if you are choosing between the two, staining is the far better choice. Here are some reasons why:

1. The stain will last longer because it is water permeable. It will allow water to pass through the wood. Thus it does not store water or moisture even if the wood gets wet.

2. It is more durable. If you paint a section where there is high foot traffic, it will wear out in a matter of months, unlike stained wood, which stays on the wood regardless of the age.

3. Staining protects the wood from weather conditions, and the proper application will help it last for a long time.

How Do You Stain Exterior Cedar Siding?

There are quite a few considerations when staining wood. Here are the things you need to keep in mind:

1. Choose the stain you will use. Basically, if you are giving the exterior of your house a facelift, find its best asset. And then don’t just go and paint willy-nilly. 

There are options like transparent finish, solid finish, oil, and water-based stain. Your choice will depend on your personal preference. The thing you need to remember is to use penetrating stains because cedar is a softwood.

2. Examine the area you will stain. Make sure that it is free from defects and damage. See to it that it doesn’t have any rust, mildew, or any unwanted residue. Clean it up before applying the stain.

3. Stain away, but with caution. Keep the area you are working on clean. Put some protection around the area for any drippings. Use painter’s tape to seal edges or use an angled brush for more precision staining.

Factors to Consider Finding the Best Exterior Stain for Cedar Siding:

When you’re thinking of staining the exterior of your home, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Here are some factors you can consider when looking for the right stain for your cedar siding.

• Transparent or Semi-Transparent Finish

The main difference between the two is the subtlety of the staining. A transparent finish will highlight all the wood grain without being noticed from afar. This will give your home an organic look. 

A semi-transparent finish has a medium to light hue that can be seen from afar. You can choose this if you want to give your wood a little facelift. 

• Patterns on the Cedar

This is a matter of preference. If you want the grain of your cedar to stand out or just want it to look more refined and uniform, you can choose the one that will either enhance or mask the wood a little bit.

• Water-Based or Oil-Based

The main difference between the two is the cleanup after the job. If you’re taking the DIY route, you will probably have less time cleaning up afterward if you use a water-based formula. 

But to be safe, on both instances, put painter’s tape over anything that you don’t to catch stain or put covering on the floor to avoid any drippings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the stains for cedar sidings

1. Can I stain my cedar sidings by myself?

Yes. Most of the formulations are easy to apply using paintbrushes, paint rollers, or industrial spray. But to be safe, always wear protective gear when doing any housework. These include goggles, face masks, gloves, and cover-alls.

If you have the option to hire a professional for the staining job, you should take that route to ensure that the stain is balanced and even throughout the entire siding.

2. Why is the stain not adhering as much to the wood?

While most of the brands claim they can be applied directly, for best results, clean the surface of any debris, dust, or mildew buildup before applying anything.

If the brand also encourages using bleach or other cleaning agents before applying their formula, it will do well if you follow those instructions first.

3. What is the best color for cedar sidings?

It depends on your preference. But professionals advise semi-transparent finish as it helps enhance the look and appeal of the wood by giving it an aged look.

But if you want to make it look like brand new, it is recommended that you sand down the wood first before applying a transparent finish. This will allow you to remove weathered wood, and at the same time, protect the new surface.

4. Why is my wood turning gray?

Wood turns gray due to weathering. This means it was installed without prior treatment and left outside and was exposed to hot and wet conditions.

This dulls out the wood because water penetrates it in the wet season and gets totally dried up in the summer.


It is important that you stain wooden surfaces not just to keep it looking like new but to protect it from the elements that result in gradual weakening. The best stain for cedar siding is the one that will provide protection and draw out the natural beauty of your wood sidings.