Can Cedar Be Painted White?

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The white picket fence was always a part of the American home ownership dream.  It wasn’t meant to keep pesky animals out, animals that might feast on your flowers or lawn; it was meant to put a finishing touch on a house for curb appeal.

The woods chosen for outdoor use had to be able to handle the elements even though, in the case of the picket fence, the wood was to be painted.  Woods that work well for outdoor use apply equally to furniture and fences, too.  

Key Points:

  • Yes, cedar wood can be painted white
  • However, preparation of the cedar wood is essential – cleaning, sanding, priming, and high-quality white paint.
  • We recommend an acrylic primer (white) to give the white paint something it will adhere to well. An acrylic-based paint is not a bad choice, too. 

How about cedar?

There must be a good reason why we see so many cedar fences of both the picket variety and the privacy variety.  For instance, can we paint our cedar picket fence white?

We’ve written about cedar wood in past articles, including whether cedar should be treated for outdoor use and whether you can use teak oil on cedar wood.  Check them out if you’re curious.

Cedar Wood

Cedar wood is a type of softwood that is known for its durability, strength, and natural beauty. It is also naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects, making it a popular choice for a variety of applications, including:

  • Exterior cedar siding and trim
  • Cedar Fencing is quite common and beautiful
  • Cedar Decking also is common
  • Cedar Siding, generally
  • Cedar Shingles give a wonderful “Cape Cod” character to houses
  • Cedar Outdoor Furniture
  • Woodworking projects, generally
  • Clothing storage for aroma and insect control

Cedar wood is also known for its pleasant, cedar-like scent, which can help to repel insects and pests. This makes it a good choice for use in areas where insect control is important, such as closets, drawers, and cedar chests.

Here are some of the benefits of using cedar wood:

  • Durability: Cedar wood is a very durable wood that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. It also has a  natural resistance to rot, decay, and insects, making it a good choice for outdoor applications.
  • Strength: Cedar wood is a strong wood that can support a lot of weight. This makes it a good choice for use in construction and other applications where strength is important.
  • Natural beauty: Cedar wood has a beautiful, natural grain that can be enhanced with a clear finish. This makes it a good choice for use in furniture, flooring, and other decorative applications.
  • Affordability: Cedar wood is relatively affordable, making it a good choice for a variety of projects.

If you are looking for a durable, strong, and beautiful wood that is also naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects, then cedar wood is a good choice. It is a versatile wood that can be used for a variety of applications, both indoors and outdoors.

Can You Paint Cedar Wood?

Cedar Board

Yes, you can paint cedar wood. Cedar is a naturally beautiful wood, but it can also be stained or painted to create a different look. Cedar is a porous wood and will absorb primer and paint well.  If you choose to paint cedar wood, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Choose the right type of paint. Cedar is a softwood, so it is important to use a paint that is specifically designed for use on softwoods. Oil-based paints are generally not recommended for cedar, as they can be difficult to apply and dry slowly. Instead, choose a water-based paint that is specifically designed for use on exterior wood.
  • Use a primer. A primer will help the paint to adhere to the cedar wood and prevent it from peeling or chipping. Use a high-quality primer that is specifically designed for use on exterior wood.
  • Apply two coats of paint. One coat of paint may not provide adequate coverage, so it is important to apply two coats. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.
  • Repaint every few years. The lifespan of the paint will vary depending on the type of paint you use and the climate in which the cedar wood is located. In general, you should repaint cedar wood every few years to maintain its appearance and protect it from the elements.

Here are some additional tips for painting cedar wood:

  • Sand the cedar wood lightly before painting. This will help the paint to adhere to the wood more easily.
  • Clean the cedar wood with a damp cloth before painting. This will remove any dirt or debris that could interfere with the paint’s adhesion.
  • Apply the paint in a thin, even coat. Do not overload the brush or roller, as this could cause the paint to run.
  • Allow the paint to dry completely between coats. This will help to prevent the paint from peeling or chipping.

How Should You Prep Cedar Wood Before Painting?

We know that cedar wood is a softwood.  It’s a gymnosperm and belongs to the same softwood family as pine and fir.  It’s stronger than pine but is still a softwood, which is the common name for all gymnosperm trees.

Like any wood, though, there is prep work that comes first before finishing.  That prep work includes:

  1. Inspecting the wood. Look for any damage, such as cracks, splits, or holes. If you find any damage, repair it before painting.
  2. Cleaning the wood. Use a mild soap and water solution to clean the wood. Be sure to rinse the wood thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.  A clean cloth can help.
  3. Sanding the wood. Sand the wood with a fine-grit sandpaper. This will help to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.  Wipe the cedar wood with a clean cloth to remove any dust from sanding before you apply a primer.  
  4. Applying a primer. A primer will help the paint to adhere to the wood and prevent it from peeling or chipping. Use a high-quality primer that is specifically designed for use on exterior wood.
  5. Applying the paint. Apply the paint in a thin, even coat. Do not overload the brush or roller, as this could cause the paint to run. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat. Use a paint brush to apply the paint, and paint with the wood grain, not against it. 
  6. Allowing the paint to dry. Allow the paint to dry completely before using the cedar wood. This may take several hours or even overnight.

Here are some additional tips for preparing cedar wood for painting:

  • Use the right type of paint. Cedar is a softwood, so it is important to use a paint that is specifically designed for use on softwoods. Oil-based paints are generally not recommended for cedar, as they can be difficult to apply and dry slowly. Instead, choose a water-based paint that is specifically designed for use on exterior wood.
  • Use a high-quality primer. A high-quality primer will help the paint to adhere to the wood and prevent it from peeling or chipping.
  • Apply two coats of paint. One coat of paint may not provide adequate coverage, so it is important to apply two coats.
  • Allow the paint to dry completely between coats. This will help to prevent the paint from peeling or chipping.
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Is Pressure Washing Cedar Wood a Good Idea?

Whether it’s a good idea or not, you can pressure wash cedar.  But, it’s important to use a low-pressure setting to prevent damaging the wood.  Remember – it’s a softwood and is more susceptible to damage from high-pressure water than other types of wood.

Here are some tips for pressure washing cedar:

  • Use a low-pressure setting. A pressure setting of 1,000 PSI or less is recommended for pressure washing cedar.
  • Use a wide nozzle. A wide nozzle will help to disperse the water pressure more evenly and prevent damage to the wood.
  • Start at the top and work your way down. This will help to prevent the water from running down the wood and causing damage.
  • Be careful around corners and edges. These areas are more susceptible to damage from high-pressure water.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Once you are finished pressure washing, be sure to rinse the cedar thoroughly with clean water. This will help to remove any dirt or debris that may have been dislodged by the pressure washer.

By following these tips, you can safely pressure wash cedar and keep it looking its best.

Here are some additional tips for pressure washing cedar:

  • Do not use a pressure washer if the cedar is wet. This can cause the wood to swell and crack.
  • Do not use a pressure washer if the cedar is painted or stained. This can damage the finish.
  • Do not use a pressure washer if the cedar is damaged. This can further damage the wood.

Should You Use An Acrylic Primer When Using a Water-Based Paint?

Yes, you should use an acrylic primer when using water-based paint. Acrylic primers are designed to bond with water-based paints and provide a smooth, even surface for the paint to adhere to. This will help to prevent the paint from peeling or chipping.  We recommend against using an oil-based primer

Here are some of the benefits of using an acrylic primer when using a water-based paint:

  • Improved adhesion: Acrylic primers improve the adhesion of water-based paints to the surface, which helps to prevent peeling and chipping.
  • Increased coverage: Acrylic primers help to increase the coverage of water-based paints, which means you may need fewer coats of paint to achieve the desired coverage.
  • Smoother finish: Acrylic primers create a smooth, even surface for water-based paints, which results in a more professional-looking finish.
  • Extended durability: Acrylic primers help to extend the durability of water-based paints by protecting them from the elements.

If you are using a water-based paint, it is important to use an acrylic primer to get the best results. Acrylic primers are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, so there is no reason not to use them.

Here are some tips for choosing an acrylic primer:

  • Choose a primer that is specifically designed for use with water-based paints.
  • Choose a primer that is the same color as the paint you are using. This will help to create a more uniform finish.
  • Apply the primer in a thin, even coat. Do not overload the brush or roller, as this could cause the primer to run.
  • Allow the primer to dry completely before applying the paint. This will help to ensure that the primer bonds properly to the surface.

Can You Paint Your Cedar Wood Picket Fence White?

If we’ve chosen cedar for the white picket fence in front of our house, can we paint it white?  Sure, you can paint it white.  Why not?  And not only the picket fence, either – cedar siding and trim, cedar shingles, too.  However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Choose the right type of paint. Cedar is a softwood, so it is important to use a white paint that is specifically designed for use on softwoods. Oil-based paints, just like an oil-based acrylic primer, are generally not recommended for cedar, as they can be difficult to apply and dry slowly. Instead, choose a water-based paint that is specifically designed for use on exterior wood. Make sure you choose a high-quality paint, too.
  • Use a primer. A primer will help the paint to adhere to the cedar wood and prevent it from peeling or chipping. Use a high-quality primer that is specifically designed for use on exterior wood. It will prepare the entire surface to accept the white paint and also act as a stain blocker if the wood is imperfect in appearance.
  • Apply two coats of paint. A single coat of paint may not provide adequate coverage, so it is important to apply two coats. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat.
  • Repaint every few years. The lifespan of the paint will vary depending on the type of paint you use and the climate in which the cedar wood is located. We do recommend a high-quality white paint for the job.  In general, you should apply a fresh coat of paint to your cedar wood every few years to maintain its appearance and protect it from the elements.

How Long Will Your Cedar Fence Last?

White Picket Cedar Fence

The lifespan of a cedar fence can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of cedar used, the quality of construction, and the climate in which the fence is located. In general, a cedar fence can last for 15 to 40 years with proper care and maintenance.

Here are some tips for extending the lifespan of your cedar fence:

  • Choose the right type of cedar. There are two main types of cedar used for fences: red cedar and white cedar. Red cedar is more durable and resistant to rot and decay than white cedar.
  • Choose high-quality construction. The quality of construction will also affect the lifespan of your cedar fence. Look for a fence that is made of solid wood and has a good finish.
  • Install your fence properly. The way your fence is installed will also affect its lifespan. Make sure that the posts are set in concrete and that the boards are properly spaced.
  • Protect your fence from the elements. Cedar fences are naturally resistant to rot and decay, but it is still important to protect them from the elements. Stain or paint your fence every few years to protect it from the sun and rain.
  • Maintain your fence regularly. Regularly inspect your fence for any damage and make repairs as needed.

By following these tips, you can extend the lifespan of your cedar fence and enjoy it for many years to come.

Here are some additional tips for extending the lifespan of your cedar fence:

  • Use water-based paint. Oil-based stains and paints can be harmful to the environment and can also shorten the lifespan of your fence.
  • Apply the paint in a thin, even coat. Do not overload the brush or roller, as this could cause the stain or paint to run.
  • Allow the paint to dry completely before using the fence. This may take several hours or even overnight.
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We want that little picket cedar fence to last a long time, of course.  White paint is the customary finish on them, and if you follow the suggestions we’ve made, the white color will last for a few years, and with regular maintenance and the right white paint, a high-quality white paint (water-based or acrylic paint) your fence will serve you well for a few decades.

Last update on 2024-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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