How Many Coats of Stain Does Cedar Need? Find Out Now!

How Many Coats of Stain Does Cedar Need_ Find Out Now!
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Staining cedar wood is essential to protect it and enhance its beauty. One common question that arises is how many coats of stain should be applied to cedar. In this article, we will explore the factors to consider and provide guidelines to help you determine the appropriate number of coats for staining cedar effectively.

How many coats of stain should you put on cedar?

For optimal durability, it is recommended to apply two coats of penetrating oil-based stain on textured Western Red Cedar. However, it is crucial to ensure that the wood can absorb the second coat effectively. To maintain consistent color and prevent settling, remember to stir the stain thoroughly while applying. It is advised to avoid mixing stains from different brands or batches to maintain uniformity.

Preparing Cedar Siding Before Staining:

Before staining cedar siding, it is important to prepare the wood properly. If you are working with new, unweathered Western Red Cedar, take extra care. Ensure the wood is clean, dry, and free from any contaminants. For those considering acrylic-based stains, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for surface preparation.

Preparing Cedar Siding Before Staining:

Applying Paint and Solid Color Stains:

When using solid color finishes, one coat is generally sufficient. However, if you desire a deeper and more uniform color, you may opt for a second coat. Make sure to apply the second coat while the first coat is still wet, known as the “wet on wet” method. This allows the stain to penetrate better and achieve a smoother finish. If you choose to use oil-based stains, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the number of coats for optimal results.

Applying Paint and Solid Color Stains:

Applying a Transparent/Semi-Transparent Finish & Bleaching Oils:

For a transparent or semi-transparent finish, consider the type of stain you are using. Oil and water repellent stains typically require only one coat, but it’s important to ensure thorough coverage. Latex and oil semi-transparent stains generally recommend one to two coats, depending on the desired color intensity. If you are using bleaching oils to achieve a weathered look, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended number of coats.

Letting Western Red Cedar Weather Naturally:

Some individuals prefer to let Western Red Cedar weather naturally over time. This process involves allowing the wood to age and develop its characteristic silver-gray patina. If you choose this option, no stain or coating is required. However, it’s important to note that natural weathering may take several months or even years to occur fully.

Rules of Staining Wood:

To determine the number of coats for staining cedar, consider the following rules:

  1. Avoid over-staining the wood. Applying too many coats can lead to a thick, uneven finish and may hinder the wood’s ability to breathe.
  2. Apply “wet on wet” when using multiple coats. This technique ensures better absorption and a smoother appearance.
  3. Only add a second layer of stain if necessary. Evaluate the color and coverage after the first coat to determine if additional coats are needed.
  4. Take the type of wood into account. Cedar is naturally absorbent, so it may require fewer coats compared to denser woods.
  5. Seek professional guidance if you are unsure. Consulting with experts or professionals in the field can provide valuable insights tailored to your specific project.

Rules of Staining Wood:

Choosing the Right Stain:

Selecting the appropriate stain for your cedar project is crucial. Consider factors such as the desired color, level of transparency, and the stain’s compatibility with cedar wood. Consult with stain manufacturers or professionals to ensure you choose a product that meets your needs and provides long-lasting protection.


Determining the number of coats of stain for cedar involves various considerations. Preparing the wood, choosing the type of stain, and following the rules of staining wood are vital steps to achieve the desired results. By following these guidelines and seeking professional advice when needed, you can ensure your cedar project receives the optimal number of coats for a beautiful and durable finish.

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