Staining Exterior Wood Siding

Tips on picking a finish and predicting performance. June 28, 2006

I'm an architect in need of advice. We have a 3 story commercial building which we want to clad in a v-groove, T&G wood siding on the northern and western faces. We want to have a light brown, slightly reddish stained finish that is low maintenance. Instinct tells me that exterior stained wood doesn't hold up. Is there a proper way to do things that will hold color with minimum maintenance?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Durability of coating is linked to the level of pigmentation; the less pigment, the shorter the lifespan. With semi-transparent woodstains, the stronger, darker shades are more durable. Once you get to full opacity, all colours are pretty much as durable as each other.
With any finish, the first coat should be applied to all faces before the timber is fixed. This minimizes movement due to moisture uptake and loss. Subsequent coats are applied after fixing. I would recommend products with high solids, low VOC contents. These achieve maximum product in and on the surface for the given number of coats. Most coatings manufacturers have suitable products and, if you ask them, they can often tell you of projects in your area finished in the materials you are interested in. Here in the UK I would suggest Sadolin or Sikkens, as they have a proven track record. I know Sikkens products are available in the US, but Sadolin used to be distributed by ChemCraft but I don't know if they still have these products.

From contributor B:
I just recently coated four eight thousand sq ft houses with red cedar shingles. We used Sikkins one part product SRD in teak. Spray, then back brush. You could also predip if you wanted. These shingles will need to be re-stained every five yrs or so. No peeling!

From contributor C:
Opaque Exterior pigmented stains will hold the color and protect the wood from UV. It should last 6-9 yrs. with two coats. If you use a Semi Opaque Ext. Stain that will last 3-4 years. Behr and Olympic are two good stains for exterior siding.

From contributor D:
Crystalac water based finishes are the best - low voc. high solids, non-toxic, non-hazardous, low or no odor.