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Stain Wood Shingles First: The Proper Way To Install Cedar Shingles

wood shingles

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Hey there, Paul from Trusted House Painter. A lot of people ask me how you should stain wood shingles or a deck. Is it okay to install them first, or is it better to go ahead and actually pre-stain them and then install them? Well, my advice is that you pre-stain them. My advice is that you pre-stain all six sides of the shingles or the boards that you’re going to install prior to installing it. 

Now, this shingle, for example, has a very thin edge, so you could argue that it’s only five sides. But I always recommend all of my homeowners and all the contractors I work with that they should stain all six sides of the board prior to installing it. Now, whether it’s a deck or wood shingles like you see behind me here—I’m at a work site, and they’re ripping off the siding (you can see that in the distance)—and then they’re gonna be replacing it with the nice West Coast cedar look. 

The second part of this video is: what kind of stain should you use? Should you use an acrylic waterborne stain, or should you use an oil-based stain. An oil-based stain, if you can use it to pre-coat the shingles prior to installing them, will provide more longevity to the wood, and it will be easier to maintain. I have painted or stained shingles after they’ve been installed, and that can be problematic. 

Due to heat and temperature variations, sometimes the shingles move, flex, and concave. They don’t always get the proper coating they need, so when you can coat them prior to installing them, you’re going to achieve much longer longevity out of these boards. The problem with oil stains, though, is that they tend to need more maintenance than acrylic coatings. Acrylic latex stains tend to have better color retention. However, I prioritize the longevity of your coating and achieving the longest-lasting finish possible. 

So, while there are water-based or acrylic coatings that you can use and they do work, don’t get me wrong. I am just a fan of oil-based coatings, especially stains when it comes to wood. When you’re installing wood like that, the painters can then finish it. You can either put a top coat on after all six sides have been coated, or you can leave it as is. Then, when you need maintenance, it’s just a simple maintenance coat every few years. Keep in mind, when your house faces the south, west, or east, and it receives a high volume of sun, that UV penetration hits the wood and tends to degrade the stain much faster than if it was, say, on the north side of your home. 

So, it might need a bit more maintenance if it faces the south. However, wood stain provides a beautiful, elegant look, as you can see behind me. With that nice cedar tone, whether it’s a natural tone or any other shade you desire, it truly enhances the appearance of the house. It’s not complicated to maintain, just a coat every few years. So, my name is Paul from Trusted House Painter. 

If you’re looking for trusted local professional painters who can assist with the installation of your siding or if you need someone to help you stain your shingles, visit There, you can find local painters anywhere in the world. You can post your project to receive quotes and also download the Homeowner Toolkit, which guides you through the process of painting your home. 

This toolkit helps prevent common mishaps that homeowners encounter, often due to rushing into the project or opting for the lowest bid. So, head over to, find local painters, download your Homeowner Toolkit, and let’s paint the world a better place.

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