Can Cedar Be Painted White? Expert Tips Unveiled

Yes, cedar can be painted white given proper surface preparation. It requires cleaning, sanding, priming, and suitable paint.

Cedar, known for its natural beauty and durability, is a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor wood projects. While many prefer to leave cedar with a natural finish to age gracefully over time, others may desire a fresh, modern look that white paint can provide.

To ensure a successful outcome, careful preparation is essential, as cedar contains tannins that can bleed through the paint. Therefore, it’s crucial to use a stain-blocking primer before applying your chosen shade of white. A crisp white finish on cedar can not only refresh the appearance of your project but also protect the wood against the elements. Whether for revitalizing an old cedar fence or updating a piece of cedar furniture, painting it white can be a statement choice that transforms the aesthetic appeal of the wood.

Understanding Cedar As A Painting Surface

Transforming cedar surfaces with a fresh coat of paint, particularly a classic white finish, adds a clean and modern look to any project. However, to achieve a stunning result, a deep understanding of cedar as a painting surface becomes crucial. The wood’s unique properties dictate specific preparations and considerations to ensure a lasting and aesthetically pleasing paint job.

Porous Nature Of Cedar

Cedar wood is renowned for its porous nature, allowing it to breathe and regulate moisture. This characteristic is a double-edged sword when it comes to painting:

  • Absorption: The porosity leads to a higher absorption rate of paint, requiring more layers to achieve opacity.
  • Primer: It necessitates a quality primer to seal the wood and create a uniform base for the topcoat.
  • Drying time: Proper drying between coats is crucial as cedar’s porousness can extend the drying process.
  • Longevity: Sealed correctly, cedar can hold paint well, offering enduring beauty for years to come.

Compatibility With Paint Types

Selecting the right kind of paint for cedar is pivotal for successful coverage.

Paint TypeAdvantagesConsiderations
Acrylic Latex
  • Adheres well to porous surfaces
  • Flexible and less prone to cracking
  • Resistant to UV damage
  • Requires primer
  • Not suitable for all cedar types without proper treatment
  • Excellent penetration into the wood
  • Long-lasting finish
  • Longer drying times
  • May require regular maintenance

The interaction between cedar and paint types is intricate. Acrylic latex paints hold the upper hand in terms of elasticity and UV resistance, making them a preferred choice for cedar that faces the elements. However, the enduring nature of oil-based paints cannot be overlooked, especially when longevity is a priority. An indispensable part of the equation is using a high-quality primer, which serves as a mediator between the porous cedar and the chosen paint, allowing for a lasting bond and a flawless white finish.

Preparing Cedar For Painting

When it comes to giving a fresh, modern look to cedar wood, painting it white is a popular choice. It’s a transformative move that brings out a clean and crisp aesthetic to any cedar structure, whether it’s siding, a deck, fencing, or outdoor furniture. But to ensure the best results, proper preparation of the cedar surface is crucial. The natural oils and textures of cedar require careful handling to achieve that flawless white finish. Let’s guide you through the essential steps of cleaning, sanding, and priming cedar before bringing out the paintbrush.

Cleaning And Sanding Cedar

To start, the cedar surface must be clean and free of any contaminants. This includes dirt, grime, moss, and old finishes, which can all hinder paint adhesion. Begin with a thorough wash using a mixture of mild detergent and water, scrubbing gently with a soft-bristle brush. For a deeper clean, consider a specialized wood cleaner, but avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the wood fibers.

Once dry, it’s time to sand the cedar. Select the appropriate grit of sandpaper – starting with a medium grit and progressing to a fine grit. Sanding smooths out the surface evens out any previous weathering, and opens up the pores of the wood, which is crucial for the primer to penetrate and adhere effectively.

Primer Selection For Cedar

Choosing the right primer is critical for painting cedar white. A high-quality oil-based or stain-blocking latex primer will serve well. Opt for a primer designed specifically for woods rich in tannins, like cedar, to prevent bleed-through of the wood’s natural staining compounds. Apply the primer with careful attention to the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times and recoat windows.

The priming stage not only ensures a uniform color and smoother paint application but also extends the life of the paint job. For the best outcome, take the time to apply two coats of primer, lightly sanding in between with a fine-grit sandpaper to remove any raised wood fibers, often referred to as “mill glaze”. This step sets the stage for your cedar to wear its new white coat with elegance and longevity.

Best Practices For Painting Cedar White

Transforming cedar with a fresh layer of white paint can revitalize your wooden features, be it siding, shingles, or outdoor furniture. Cedar, known for its resilience and natural beauty, often carries a traditional aura, but painting it white breathes new life into these time-honored surfaces. To achieve a professional-looking finish that stands the test of time, follow these best practices for painting cedar white.

Choosing The Right Type Of Paint

Selecting the appropriate paint is crucial when applying white hues to cedar surfaces. Opt for high-quality acrylic latex paint, revered for its flexibility, durability, and ease of maintenance. This type of paint accommodates cedar’s natural expansion and contraction, ensuring longevity. Additionally, paint with built-in primer will adhere better and enhance the wood’s protection against moisture and sunlight. For an eco-friendly option, consider paints with low or zero VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which are healthier for both you and the environment.

  • Acrylic latex paint for optimal flexibility
  • Paint with primer for better adhesion and protection
  • Low or zero VOC options for environmental and health benefits

Applying The Paint In Layers For Durability

Layering paint is about precision and patience. Start with a thorough cleaning of the cedar surface to remove dirt, debris, or old flaking paint. Applying a quality primer is the next essential step, providing a cohesive layer for the paint to bind to. Once the primer is dry, proceed by applying the first layer of paint. Use even strokes with a high-quality brush or roller to ensure uniform coverage. After the initial coat has fully dried, assess and lightly sand any imperfections before introducing the second coat for added durability and a vibrant finish.

  1. Prepare cedar surface by cleaning and removing old paint
  2. Apply quality primer
  3. First coat of white paint applied evenly
  4. Sand imperfections after the first coat is dry
  5. Add a second coat for durability and vibrance
1Cleaning & PrepEnsures proper adhesion of paint
2Primer ApplicationCreates a uniform surface for paint
3First Paint LayerEstablishes color and coverage
4SandingSmoothens the surface for the next layer
5Second Paint LayerAdds depth, durability, and finish

Tips For Achieving A Smooth White Finish

Transforming the rich, natural tones of cedar into a crisp, smooth white finish opens up a refreshing palette for your home’s exterior or interior design. Painting cedar requires careful preparation and technique to ensure that the final result is both visually striking and durable. Follow these essential tips for achieving that perfect smooth white finish on your cedar surfaces.

Proper Preparation Techniques

Begin by preparing the cedar surface properly to accept the paint. If the cedar is new, you may need to sand down the natural oils and mill glaze that can prevent adhesion. For previously finished cedar, remove any old paint and repair imperfections before proceeding. Use a high-quality primer designed for exterior wood; an oil-based primer will seal the cedar and prevent tannin bleed-through. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly before moving on to painting.

  • Sandpaper (around 80- to 100-grit)
  • Tack cloth or a gentle cleaner
  • High-quality primer
  • Paintbrushes or rollers

Ensuring Even Coverage And Avoiding Drips

For even coverage, work in manageable sections and maintain a “wet edge” to prevent lap marks. Use a high-quality paintbrush or roller that can hold enough paint without oversaturating. Apply thin coats rather than one thick coat, allowing for better drying and less chance of drips or runs. Wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended drying times between coats for the best results.

  1. Start at the top and work downward.
  2. Apply paint edge-to-edge to maintain a wet edge.
  3. Spread the paint evenly and avoid excess.
  4. Allow proper drying time before recoating.

Frequently Asked Questions On Can Cedar Be Painted White

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Cedar Wood?

For cedar wood, use high-quality acrylic latex paint or oil-based paint designed for exterior use to ensure durable protection and aesthetic appeal. Always apply a primer specifically made for woods rich in tannins, like cedar, before painting.

Can You Paint Cedar Boards White?

Yes, you can paint cedar boards white. Ensure proper surface preparation by cleaning and priming for the best results and long-lasting finish. Use quality exterior paint designed for wood for durability.

Do I Need To Prime Cedar Before Painting?

Yes, priming cedar before painting is essential to ensure even coverage and protection against tannin bleed from the wood.

Is It Better To Paint Or Stain Cedar Wood?

Staining cedar wood typically offers better protection and enhances its natural beauty. Paint provides a solid color and can peel over time, while stain penetrates the wood, offering durability with less maintenance.


Transforming a cedar surface with white paint can breathe new life into your outdoor or indoor spaces. This choice not only refreshes the aesthetic but also offers protective benefits. With proper preparation and suitable paint, your whitewashed cedar can stand out beautifully.

Ready your brushes, cedar can indeed embrace a pristine, white coat.

About Adam Larry

Hello everyone! I’m Adam Larry, a pro woodworker, an expert project planner, and woodworking tools expert also owner of this website. From hand tools to power tools, I have extensive knowledge of all aspects of woodworking and take pride in creating beautiful and functional pieces for clients. I feel glad to share my woodworking experience with you with enormous excitement and enthusiasm.

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