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How to Weather Cedar Siding Naturally

Weathered cedar, with its beautiful silver-gray patina, is very popular. When asked the best way to achieve this, I have to say weathering cedar naturally may be the way to go. Yes, I know, Buffalo Lumber is all about finishing cedar siding to protect it. Let me tell you why I chose natural weathering and tell you how I maintain my siding.

How do you weather cedar siding?

How to make cedar siding grey faster?

There are options, and I’ve looked at all of them. Since the VOC regulations of 2012 bleaching oils were discontinued and bleaching stains were created to comply with the new VOC regulations. Bleaching stains contain a light gray pigment to give you some color day one and a chemical ingredient to fully bleach the cedar within 6 months.

Clear Cedar Siding Weathered with Bleaching Oil
Clear Cedar Siding Weathered with Bleaching Oil

I haven’t seen the performance level with these products that would entice me to use them. I will say the industry is making progress in formulating new penetrating products that comply with the VOC guidelines and protect and condition the wood.

These are two key results we’re looking for when using any stain product…protect and condition the wood. I have high hopes for future products.

How do you make cedar grey by staining it?

Another option is staining cedar siding with a semi-transparent product in a driftwood gray color. These stains won’t weather your cedar, but instead, will give you a weathered wood look.

It’s beautiful; just not the same as real weathered cedar. And I want weathered cedar.

Cedar Siding Weathered Using Stain
Cedar Siding Weathered Using Stain

How to weather cedar siding naturally

How long does it take to weather cedar siding?

Cedar continues to weather and age for the lifespan of the siding. To fully weather your cedar siding to a uniform silver-gray patina could take many years. Environment is an important factor.

Are you on the coast or in the mountains; is it arid or wet; does your home sit in the sun or shade? Sun and moisture will accelerate the process. And cleaning it yearly helps to promote a uniform weathering process.

Maintenance should always be a priority with cedar siding, especially when you elect to weather naturally.

It is important to note that the natural weathering process should be used with cedar siding that was installed with an air space behind it to allow any moisture that gets back there to evaporate, e.g., siding installed on furring strips.

You can leave cedar completely unfinished but you have to be ‘all-in’, you can’t be lazy about maintaining it. You must clean the wood thoroughly and keep an eye on it. 

I recommend cleaning all of your siding once a year. It can get dark spots on it and there will be areas that lighten faster than other areas. Cleaning, as I outline below, will clear up those dark spots and even out the graying process.

How should I care for my cedar siding?

  • Hose down the siding to get rid of loose dirt.
  • Scrub with an oxygen bleach solution to clean the siding, and rinse thoroughly.
  • Follow with a wash of oxalic acid solution to condition the cedar and even out the wood tones; rinsing thoroughly.  

You know how car guys love to give their cars the once-over, making sure everything looks good? If you love your cedar siding (and you should never buy wood unless you love it) you’ll give it that same once-over several times a year, looking for dark spots or problem areas.

If you see anything don’t wait; don’t tell yourself you’ll catch it next time. The time is now! Anything you wait on could be a nightmare tomorrow. It’s really easy to spot clean with oxygen bleach and anything turning dark should be spot cleaned.

Should I weather my cedar siding naturally?

Naturally Weathered Cedar Siding
Naturally Weathered Cedar Siding

We have customers who’ve had great success with bleaching stains and those that chose semi-trans stain in a beautiful driftwood gray and love it. We offer both as factory pre-finish options. But many, just like myself, want the gorgeous patina of naturally weathered cedar.

I say go for it! Just be vigilant, take care of small issues that come up – when they come up. And clean yearly with oxygen bleach to even out the graying process and maintain that beautiful patina for many, many years to come.

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