Can Cedar Be Painted White? All You Need To Know!

can cedar be painted white

Cedar is a popular wood for many indoor and outdoor woodworking projects like decking, fencing, siding, and trim. The great visual appearance and uniform texture of Cedar add a unique look to any woodwork.

Therefore, most people don’t recommend painting Cedar because it will cover up the natural beauty of the wood grain. But there’re some specific occasions we tend to paint Cedar to get the color we want.

I always wanted to paint the Cedar railing on my porch in white color to match the trim color. So, I was wondered Can Cedar be painted white?

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Yes, Cedar can be painted white. But the high amount of tannin of Cedar can bleed through the paint which causes brown and yellow patches. Therefore, apply an oil-based acrylic exterior primer first and then apply the solid white paint. This will not only give the natural Cedar look but also prevent the bleed-through.  

But there’s more to know about it.

So, we’ll explore can Cedar be painted white, is a bad idea to paint Cedar white and what kind of paint do you use on Cedar as well.

Furthermore, we’ll discuss how to paint Cedar wood white.

I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the painting of Cedar wood as well.

Let’s get into it!

Is It a Bad Idea to Paint Cedar White?

Cedar can be painted with any color you want including white to dark brown. Cedar can be painted with custom colors as well.

So, it’s clearly not a bad idea to paint Cedar white.

But you should always need to follow the correct procedure when painting Cedar white because Cedar is loaded with tannins and there’s a possibility of bleeding through the paint.

When you’re applying white paint on Cedar wood, make sure to apply thin coats of paint to avoid cracking and peeling.

Always apply an oil-based exterior acrylic primer before applying thing the solid white paint. Without the primer coat, yellow or brown patches may bleed through the paint.

So, applying an oil-based exterior acrylic primer before the paint is a must when painting Cedar white.

If you apply solid white paint over Cedar wood without applying primer, you’ll probably end up with many adhesion issues as well.

Tip: To get a better outcome always pick both exterior grade primer and white solid paint from the same manufacturer. Then there will be no compatibility issues.

When you’re selecting an exterior primer always go for the oil-based one because you’ll get better coverage over the dark color, and it has stain blocking properties which are helping to stop bleeding through.

Two coats of primers are well enough to apply before the application of solid white paint over Cedar wood.

Primer with a paint topcoat has a significantly high life than having a single coat of solid paint.

So always go for two coat system with primer and solid paint.

What Kind of White Paint Should You Use on Cedar?

The white paint you use on Cedar should be acrylic latex paint. After applying oil-based exterior acrylic primer, use 100% acrylic latex paint to get the best outcome without any adhesion or compatibility issues.

Because acrylic primer and latex paint match with each other perfectly.

Exterior grade acrylic latex paint is the most dependable paint for Cedar wood which also helps the wood to protect from outdoor elements like moisture.

It has stain blockers that help to stop bleeding which is so much important when painting white on Cedar.

Surface Preparation to Paint Cedar Wood White

When you’re painting Cedar wood white, the most important thing to do first is surface preparation.

You should make the Cedar surface ready to take both primer and solid paint.

If the Cedar wood is already painted, consider removing all the previous coatings and reapply two coats of exterior acrylic primer and acrylic latex paint.

Select both primer and latex white paint from the same manufacturer to avoid incompatibilities.

Better to use a paint brush rather than roll or spray. Hand brushing is the best way to Cedar paint white.

Cedar has a highly porous fiber structure. Therefore, the wood is able to absorb a very high amount of paint before it gets saturated.

The excess paint will deposit on top of the surface after many of the paint pigments penetrate absorbed the wood.

Therefore, you should use a paint brush rather than spray or roll.

Because with spray or roll it is so hard to estimate the amount of latex paint you should apply for each coat.

Paint Very Old Cedar Wood White

When you wish to apply white paint on an old Cedar surface, there’re a lot of things you should focus on. Such as,

  • Check whether the wood has gotten mold, dust, or mildew and remove them to make the surface clean.
  • Pre-applied paints and coatings should remove and sand well until the surface gets clean, nice, and smooth.

How To Paint Cedar Wood White?

Before starting the process make sure to take all equipment you need to do the application successfully.

If you’re willing to paint white paint on new Cedar wood, rather than woodwork or furniture, I highly admit using vertical grained Cedar if possible.

Because vertical grained Cedar has the ability to absorb more stain-blocking primers than flat grained Cedar.

Knotty Cedar can hold the primers well because of its texture.

Here’re the things that you should get ready before applying white to Cedar wood


  • Oil-based exterior acrylic primer
  • Acrylic latex solid white paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpapers
  • Clean cloth or rag

So, let’s discuss the steps you need to follow to paint Cedar wood white.

1. Sanding

Sanding is a must to get a nice smooth surface before applying the primer. Even though the Cedar wood is fresh or old sanding is required to remove mold and mildew.

With light sanding, you’ll be able to remove dust and debris which can cause a lot of trouble if remain on the surface for further operations.

Make sure to sand the whole wood surface without missing any spot with uniform pressure.

After the sanding process is done clean the entire surface using a clean cloth or rag to make the surface ready to take the primer.

2. Apply the Primer

After the sanding process, apply oil-based acrylic exterior primer all over the surface without missing any spots.

Because if you miss any, once you apply the latex paint yellow or brown patches will start to bleed through in those areas.

Never use latex primer, and always go for the oil-based acrylic one to get the best results.

Apply one coat of oil-based acrylic primer over bare wood and wood knots to prevent Cedar tannin.

Once you successfully apply the primer, let the surface dry for about 8 hours to settle in.

3. Apply the White Paint

Once the primer coating is dried completely on top of the surface, take the latex solid white paint can and step into the next step.

Dip the paintbrush slightly into the latex white paint can and apply the paint along the wood grain of the Cedar wood for better absorption.

Cedar is a highly porous wood that has the ability to take paint well.

Therefore, you need to apply white paint sufficiently all over the wood to make the coat in pure white color.

When you’re selecting latex solid white paint make sure it is thin and doesn’t trap moisture underneath.

If the moisture is trapped while you’re applying paint that will cause surface blotchiness and yellow, brown patches will bleed through the paint and ruin the whole process.

So, that’s how to paint Cedar white. Hope you have already gained the answer to the question raised Can Cedar to be painted white?

So, let’s answer another frequently asked question about staining Cedar wood.

Can Cedar Be Stained White?

Yes, same as paint Cedar can be stained white. Not like the paint, to stain Cedar white, no need to use a primer or any other coatings before applying the stain.

When you apply white stains on Cedar there will be no bleeding through problems happen because they do not cover the surface like paint.

Apply wood stain using correct methods to avoid getting any wood stain mistakes.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Can Cedar Be Painted White?

In this article, we have deeply discussed can Cedar be painted white and how to do that effectively without making any mistakes.

Furthermore, we have discussed, how to do surface preparation before the application of white paint on Cedar wood and I have answered some frequently asked questions as well.

As per my experience, never apply white paint on bare Cedar wood because yellow-brown patches will definitely bleed through once the paint is dried. So, applying primer is a must.

Better to get both primers and paint from the same manufacturer to minimize the issues.

Hope you have gained pretty good knowledge about can Cedar being painted and how to do that from A to Z.

So, don’t forget to apply the techniques that you’ve learned in future Cedar woodworking projects. Have fun!

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

2 thoughts on “Can Cedar Be Painted White? All You Need To Know!”

  1. Thank you so much for the knowledge. I know some things but also don’t know some things. work in progress until the end. You’re a good man.


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