A Professional Cedar Siding Installation Guide

Natural Cedar is a building material not used as widely for exterior applications as it once was. Modern designs mainly use Cedar as minor accent touches, such as posts or columns on porches and rough-cut cedar shutters. 

Some see Cedar siding, in particular, as a very complicated and tedious natural material. Although installing cedar siding may take longer than other siding types, cedar siding installations are not as distinctive as one may think. 

Due to lack of use, many cedar siding styles and sizes are no longer available. So, if you have a cedar home or are considering cedar as a siding replacement, be mindful that cedar is expensive and not readily available. 

Here, we will cover installation procedures and offer some beneficial tips on cedar styles, species, and much more! Let’s dive into the world of Cedar together!

Cedar Siding Advantages

Cedar wood siding provides long-term solutions – all we have to do is cut and harvest responsibly!

Most of the leading siding materials today consist of some form of composite. While these materials check many boxes, there is always some form of a drawback. Although, as we know, nothing lasts forever, mother nature provides natural wood materials such as Cedar and bamboo with natural characteristics ideal for long-term building solutions. 


Cedar is considered a naturally fast-growing tree, paired with other natural resistance to bugs and rot, making Cedar one of the most resilient and sustainably exterior wood materials. There are several species of Cedar, each offering a unique look and characteristic.

Cedar Siding Types & Styles

The natural cedar wood pattern is replicated in several modern siding materials. Although, nothing looks like the real thing! In many cases, Cedar paved the way for many other siding materials to emulate.

Lap versions of Cedar are the most common. Lap siding refers to slightly overlapping pieces, typically found in a horizontal application, although there are a few exceptions. Lap siding ranges from Beveled, Regular Lap, Shiplap, Channel Rustic, and Dutch

Other forms of siding include tongue & groove and cedar shake. Rare siding profiles include rough-cut mountainous log cabin styles called Wavey Edge cedar siding. 

Professional Siding Installers

Several obsolete versions of cedar siding remain on home exteriors. When manufacturers discontinue siding styles and sizes, availability creates issues for replacements. If you have a cedar home, hiring a siding company with experience installing cedar siding can let you know if a particular siding type is available or discontinued. If you have Certainteed 6 over 6 cedar siding, it has been discontinued.

A professional siding company can adequately assess your siding damages and have business relationships with suppliers that stock or special-order rare siding. When possible, experienced and certified installers can modify the available siding to match your existing siding closely. 

Hiring a company with limited experience could lead to misinformation that could cause unnecessary expenses or improper installations. 

Handling & Nailing Cedar Siding

Installing cedar siding has advantages over other materials besides its pleasant smell and lightweight. Most Cedar is rough-cut, and handling Cedar without gloves will cause splinters. Cedar siding is softer and less dense than fiber cement but offers the same level of nail-holding power if the siding is fastened in the correct place.

  • Siding such as beveled siding should be nailed one inch from the bottom of the thickest edge. 
  • Also, keep in mind that Cedar is more prone to split. So, a 15-gauge hot-dipped galvanized finish nail is best for production-based applications.
  • Pre-drilling and hand nailing with stainless steel nails are viable yet costly and tedious applications. Although this type of fastening has minimal advantages, stainless steel nail installation is undoubtedly the best practice.
  • Electro-galvanized and iron nails will rust prematurely and discolor the wood.

If you are looking for the best wood siding, Redwood siding is a notable mention. Redwood is among the most fortified species and comes with a healthy price tag to match.

Cedar Siding Installation Tips

Like most recommendations in the building and home maintenance space, there are a lot of misconceptions. We will uncover the most critical siding installation tips.

Gaps, Cutting, & Fastening:

  • Cedar siding expands and contracts. Therefore, a small 1/8 gap at the end of each side of the lap siding is beneficial, but the gap should not exceed 1/8“. 
  • For optimal strength and holding power, fasteners are applied at the thickest edge of the board and no closer than one inch from all edges.
  • Nailing in the center of cedar lap siding will not resolve the possibility of splitting. Nailing beveled cedar siding in the middle reduces nail-holding power, especially for beveled siding.

Caulking, Sealing & Maintaining:

  • Staining your cedar siding every 3 – 7 years with a premium stain like TWP is the single most important form of maintenance. However, the siding should only be sealed on one side.
  • The most extreme weathering happens on the outside face exposed to the elements. Staining the backside will offer little to no additional protection and could trap moisture inside the wood, resulting in wood rot.
  • Sealing cedar siding on cut edges with the potential for moisture is the best way to prevent siding edges from rotting.

Additional Steps & Installation Tips

  1. Do not stain wood surfaces before caulking. Staining before caulking will prohibit the caulk from adequately adhering to an uncontaminated surface. 
  2. Do not caulk expansion joints. Instead, use flashing behind the joint.
  3. Do not blast the siding when washing. Rinse the home with a bleach solution. 
  4. Overlap siding at a minimum of 1.25 inches.
  5. Do not caulk siding laps. Caulking areas where the siding overlaps can cause moisture to condense within and outside the wall cavity, resulting in wood rot.
  6. Cedar is an aromatic wood that likes to breathe. A solid color or semi-transparent stain allows the wood to breathe best. 

Local Cedar Siding Experts

Cedar siding is a timeless material that can endure several climates. Like composite siding, Cedar also resists rot and decay. We are a licensed siding installer who can help if you need Cedar siding replacement. Our service to you includes having access to local suppliers such as Capital City Lumber. So, when you have siding that is hard to find, we can help you determine your siding options. 

If you need a complete siding replacement, minor repairs, or a combination of restoration and replacement, live in Raleigh, NC, or around the Triangle, contact us or view our social media channels for more information.

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