How to Paint Cedar Shakes

The natural appearance and long life of cedar shakes makes them an attractive siding material. Cedar will turn gray over time when exposed to the environment in its unprotected state. Stains maintain the natural look of the wood but paint is also an attractive finish for this type of siding.

Cedar shakes are a beautiful siding material that needs protection from the elements.

The rough surface and irregular shapes of the shakes requires a sprayed finish to ensure that all visible surfaces are covered. Parts of the shake left unprotected by paint will invite early failure and allow greater damage from the elements in the future.

  1. Mask off any windows and trim that will not be painted. If the trim is to be left unpainted, mask it off as well to prevent any of the siding color from damaging its finish.

  2. Fill the sprayer reservoir with paint. Thin the material per the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure good coverage and proper spraying.

  3. Arrange the drop cloth to protect the ground and any plant material. Use additional cloths to protect anything in the area that might be damaged by overspray carried by the wind.

  4. Spray the shakes with paint. Alternate the horizontal and vertical movement of the sprayer in order to get good coverage of all exposed parts of the shakes. Two areas require special attention: the edges and the bottom of the shake. The bottom should be painted from below to cover the end of the shake. Exposed grain here will wick water up into the shake via capillary action.

  5. Water runs down the alternating seams of the shake siding and the seams between shakes act as a funnel. Be sure that your spray pattern is coating the insides of each seam so that these areas are protected from water damage.

  6. Tip

    If the shakes have not been installed, the easiest way to fully protect them is to paint them prior to installation. You can dip the shakes, fully immersing each one in a bucket of paint. This will cover the front, back and sides and save you from a challenging paint job after installation. An alternative to dipping is to use your sprayer to coat all of the sides.