Can Cedar Be Painted White? Paint Cedar Like a Pro!

Ever wondered if cedar, with its unique grain, can be painted white? Join me as I unlock the secrets of successfully transforming your cedar wood into a crisp, stunning white masterpiece.

Can Cedar Be Painted White

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 asked for expert advice and got promising results.

So, let’s find out, Can Cedar be painted white?

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 prior to the solid white paint. This will give the natural Cedar look and prevent bleed-through.  

But there’s more to know about it.

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    In this article, I’ll explore whether can Cedar be painted white, is a bad idea to paint Cedar white, and what kind of paint you use on Cedar as well.

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

    I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    Let’s get into it!

    Cedar wood projects that painted white
    Cedar wood projects that painted white

    Before heading into white specifically, let’s talk about whether can cedar be painted in detail.

    Can You Paint Cedar?

    Yes, absolutely! Cedar is a highly paintable wood, providing that it’s prepared and treated properly.

    Painting cedar is actually quite common, and it can create a stunning aesthetic that’s different from the typical natural grain of the wood.

    Here’s the breakdown of what you need to know.

    Why Choose Cedar?

    Cedar is a popular wood choice for a variety of projects, from decking and siding to furniture.

    It’s known for its durability, natural beauty, and resistance to decay and insects.

    Plus, the aroma of cedar is distinct and appealing to many.

    However, its natural look isn’t always the perfect fit for every style or aesthetic.

    That’s where painting comes into play.

    White painted cedar wood deck
    White painted cedar wood deck

    Painting Cedar: A Matter of Taste

    Painting cedar can transform its look completely, giving it a more contemporary or tailored appearance.

    If your decor leans towards modern, minimalistic, or specific color themes, a painted cedar can perfectly match your desired aesthetics.

    From bold blues and deep greens to pure whites, the possibilities are virtually endless.

    For instance, white-painted cedar wood can create a bright, fresh, and clean look. It’s particularly popular for summer houses, beach huts, or any building where a crisp, light look is desired.

    Understanding Cedar’s Properties

    Despite cedar’s suitability for painting, it’s essential to understand its unique properties.

    Cedar wood contains natural oils and tannins, which could bleed through the paint if not treated properly, causing discoloration.

    This doesn’t mean you can’t paint cedar—it just means you need to take some extra steps in preparation.

    Now you know cedar can be painted without any issues. Now, let’s focus deeply on painting cedar white.

    White painted cedar bookshelf
    White painted cedar bookshelf

    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 Cedarwood, 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 Cedarwood 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.

    Painted cedar wood bookshelf
    Painted cedar wood bookshelf

    What Kind of White Paint Should You Use on Cedar?

    Acrylic latex paint is the ideal white paint you can use on Cedar.

    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 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 for Painting 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 reapplying 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 paintbrush 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 and absorbed the wood.

    Therefore, you should use a paintbrush rather than a 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.

    Painted cedar wood cabinet
    Painted cedar wood cabinet

    Supplies You Will Need To Paint Cedar White

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

    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 apply white paint on raw 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 steps you need to follow when painting Cedar wood white,

    1. Sand the cedar wood surface
    2. Apply the primer
    3. Apply the white paint
    4. Let the surface dry

    Let’s discuss each of the above steps in detail to paint cedar wood white properly.

    1. Sanding the Surface

    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.

    Sand along the direction of the cedar wood grain to achieve a super smooth surface that is ready to take on paint.

    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 issues.

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

    Painted cedar wood fence
    Painted cedar wood fence

    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.

    4. Let the Surface Dry

    Once you’ve finished painting, it’s time for the most challenging part – patience!

    Leave your freshly painted cedar to dry for the recommended amount of time, usually stated on the paint can.

    You can follow the same procedure above when painting a Cedar wood picket fence white.

    How to paint cedar white
    How to paint cedar white

    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

    First, you need to 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.

    Here’s the procedure for painting old cedar wood white,

    1. Clean the Surface: Begin by thoroughly cleaning the surface of the cedar. Remove any dirt, grime, or mildew with a mild soap and warm water.
    2. Remove Old Paint: If the cedar has been previously painted, you’ll need to remove the old paint. You can do this by sanding the surface or using a paint remover.
    3. Sanding: Sanding is a crucial step, especially for old cedar. This process helps to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. Ensure you sand the wood evenly to prevent the paint from blotching.
    4. Use High-Quality Products: Old surfaces need paint with extra durability and flexibility. Choose high-quality, exterior-grade primer and paint to ensure your paint job lasts longer.
    5. Priming: An oil-based primer is recommended for cedar because it prevents the tannins in the wood from bleeding through the paint. Apply the primer evenly on the wood surface and let it dry as per the recommended time on the product’s label.
    6. Painting: When it comes to the actual painting, start by applying thin, even coats of paint. Because cedar is highly porous, it can absorb a lot of paint, so you might need to apply several coats to achieve the desired color. Always remember to let each coat dry before applying the next.
    7. Sealing: Once your final coat of paint has dried, consider applying a clear protective finish. This adds an extra layer of protection to the wood and helps to prolong the life of the paint job.
    8. Regular Maintenance: Regularly check your painted cedar for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice any peeling or cracking, it might be time for a touch-up.
    Painted cedar wood table
    Painted cedar wood table

    Does White Cedar Turn Gray?

    Yes, over time, white cedar will naturally age and gradually transition to a silver-gray color.

    This color change is a natural process, and there’s a fascinating science behind it.

    Let’s delve into why this happens, what it means for your cedar projects, and how to handle it.

    The Science Behind Cedar’s Color Change

    Cedar, particularly white cedar, contains a component called lignin.

    Lignin gives the cedar its natural color, but with prolonged exposure to sunlight, moisture, and harsh climate conditions, it breaks down and causes the wood to turn a silver-gray hue.

    But Is Gray Bad?

    You might think that the graying of your cedar wood is a sign of damage, but this is a common misconception.

    The truth is, even though the wood is losing its original white color, it doesn’t affect the cedar’s condition.

    Its strength and durability remain, making it an excellent material for outdoor projects such as decks, fences, and sidings.

    My Personal Experience

    I once had a beautiful white cedar deck installed in my backyard. As the years went by, I noticed it slowly turning gray, which initially worried me.

    I thought the color change meant the wood was deteriorating and I was bracing myself for costly repairs or even a replacement.

    However, after speaking with a woodwork expert, I learned that the graying process is entirely natural and doesn’t compromise the structure’s integrity.

    In fact, I’ve come to love the weathered gray look. It adds a certain charm and rustic appeal to my outdoor space that I never anticipated.

    Preserving the White Color

    If you prefer the original white color of your cedar wood, you can take steps to preserve it.

    Applying a UV-blocking finish or paint can slow down the graying process.

    Make sure to use exterior-grade products that can stand up to the elements and protect your cedar from the harsh effects of UV rays.

    Remember, proper maintenance is key to prolonging the life and color of your cedar wood.

    White painted cedar bed frame
    White painted cedar bed frame

    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.

    Staining cedar white is an excellent way to preserve the wood’s natural texture while still changing its color.

    But, as with any home improvement project, there’s a proper way to do it. Let’s explore this process in detail and share some handy tips.

    The Process of Staining Cedar White

    Unlike painting, staining cedar doesn’t require a primer.

    It’s a more straightforward process, but proper preparation of the cedar surface is still crucial for achieving a beautiful and long-lasting finish.

    Here’re the steps you need to follow when staining cedar white,

    1. Preparing the Surface

    Before applying the white stain, it’s important to prepare the cedar wood correctly.

    Start by cleaning it thoroughly to remove any dirt, grime, or old paint. Then, gently sand the wood to smooth out any rough spots and prepare it for the stain.

    2. Choosing the Right Stain

    When choosing your stain, consider a product that includes UV blockers.

    This feature protects the stain from sunlight exposure, which helps prevent discoloration and fading.

    Moreover, a stain with water-repellent attributes helps prevent water damage, an essential feature for outdoor projects.

    3. Applying the Stain

    Apply the stain evenly across the cedar wood surface, making sure to follow the grain.

    Be mindful not to stain under direct sunlight or in high humidity, as this could affect the end result.

    Apply wood stain using the correct method to avoid getting any wood stain mistakes.

    I remember when I first moved into my home, I had this beautiful cedar deck, and I wanted to give it a fresh new look.

    Instead of painting it, which would cover up the unique wood grain, I decided to stain it white.

    I spent an afternoon cleaning and sanding the deck, then carefully applied the white stain.

    The result? Absolutely stunning! The deck maintained its rustic charm with the visible grain, yet the white stain gave it a fresh, modern look.

    Not to mention, the UV and water-resistant stain has kept it looking good as new, despite plenty of sun and rain exposure.

    Read my comprehensive guide to learn more about staining cedar wood!

    How to stain cedar white
    How to stain cedar white

    That’s it, folks! Hope you learned everything you wanted to know about, can cedar be painted white, and how it is done?

    Let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.


    How do I prepare cedar wood for painting?

    To prepare cedar for painting, you’ll need to remove any previous paint or stains and sand the surface smooth. This gives the primer and paint a clean, even surface to adhere to.

    Does cedar wood need to be sanded before painting?

    Yes, sanding cedar wood is an important step in preparing it for painting. This process helps to smooth out the surface, making it easier for the primer and paint to adhere properly.

    Can you paint a cedar fence white?

    Yes, cedar fences can be painted white. This is a great way to brighten up your outdoor space while providing added protection to the fence against the elements.

    What happens if I paint cedar without priming it first?

    Without priming, the tannins in cedar can bleed through the paint, leading to discoloration. Also, paint might not adhere well, leading to peeling or chipping over time.

    How long does painted cedar last?

    With proper preparation and care, painted cedar can last for more than ten years. Using high-quality, exterior-grade products can help protect the wood from external factors like mold and mildew, further extending its lifespan.

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

    In this article, we have deeply discussed whether 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.

    Cedar can indeed be painted white. However, due to the tannins in cedar, it’s crucial to prep the surface by sanding and applying an oil-based primer first. This process ensures the paint adheres well and provides a long-lasting finish.

    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 before painting is a must.

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

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

    Don’t forget to apply the techniques that you’ve learned in future Cedar woodworking projects. Have fun in wood finishing!

    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! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

    2 thoughts on “Can Cedar Be Painted White? Paint Cedar Like a Pro!”

    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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