Q: What do you recommend for treatment of cedar siding? — Mary, Kansas City, Missouri

A: Tom says: Cedar wood does contain a lot of tannic acids, especially red cedar, but in general, cedar doesn't have to be treated that differently than other woods. But really I need to know whether you want to leave the cedar clear. If so, there are several excellent products out there for cedar siding and decks, which you should be able to find out about by consulting a professional at your local hardware store. One thing to remember is that you've got to make sure your cedar is clean and dry when you apply these finishes. On the other hand, if you want to paint the cedar siding, it's got to first be primed, cleaned and prepped. As I said, the preparation is the most important step in any kind of painting you do: the surface has to be clean and dry. And depending on your situation, if you can get the cedar and let it weather a little bit, a lot of the tannic acids will come out, so it'll be easier to paint. If not, and you painted it white for instance, sometimes the tannic acids will bleed through the white and that can be difficult to hide. A good primer followed by a latex top coat, or just a solid-body paint, or else a stain would be your best bets, being sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendation on all.
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