Installing Cedar Siding

January 5, 2017

Today’s a pretty exciting day. We’ve covered quite a bit of the Tyvek house wrap with our vinyl, so now we can start covering the upper half with cedar. Amy and I have been talking about this for quite some time. It’s crazy how quickly the entire look of the house changes.

Picking the Type of Cedar

First decision we had to make was to either go with bevel style cedar or tongue-and-groove style. I was all for the bevel style at first. But the more we talked it over and once we saw how the vinyl actually looked on the house I changed my mind.

finding that one lap

Amy’s typical reaction to finding a piece of cedar she liked

The bevel style looks great. However, since we have single lap vinyl siding then the cedar siding would look pretty similar. We really wantt a contrast from the vinyl to the cedar which a bevel would look just like it. The tongue and groove on the other hand would give it that distinctive flat look.

Also, tongue and groove a little easier to install. It’s much like vinyl in that the “starter strip” dictates how the rest fit. So once we get the first course of cedar board up the rest should just just click in one after another. This all depends on how level the starter course is.

loading the truck

After each piece was individually coddled, they were cradled gently into the truck


Staining the Cedar

Now onto the second tough decision: what color do we stain these boards? We took a small sample of our roof, siding and white trim into Lowe’s to figure this out. After comparing way too many stains and levels of stains we picked one. Then on the way out we read the can description closely and changed our minds again. Totally forget why we did that.

vanilla cedar

The cedar boards before their spray tan. I mean stain. We stained them.

Anyway, we settled on this Red Mountain Cedar type of stain. It’s a type of stain that still lets a lot of the wood grain show through but at the same time seals the wood. We’re hoping that it will let the wood repel more water and have a longer life to it. Plus it looks great with our roof, vinyl and white trim. At least we’re hoping!

staining cedar

Applying the stain one board at a time

cedar drying

Letting the cedar dry overnight

We have to let the cedar cure overnight. It’s a nice balmy 50 degrees in the garage compared to the ~20 degrees outside. As much as we want to start nailing these boys on the house we’ll have to wait till tomorrow.


Finally Installing the Cedar


One of the last views of the Tyvek

So haven’t mentioned this much in prior posts, but maybe you’ve noticed. It’s winter out here. We were hit with about a foot of snow in November alone. It’s been in the single digits on some of the days we’ve been working on the vinyl siding.

But by the time you see the final result you’ll see a sample of how fast the weather changes near Lake Erie.

Anyway, I digress. So today was like our Christmas. We were good all year and waited a whole 24 hours to let the cedar stain to cure. We got up extra early to get as much sunlight time as we could.

So we filled up our thermoses, spun up the kerosine torpedo and got to work work work work.

Just like our vinyl siding – we figured we’d start with the side of the house that’s less viewed. You know, just in case we screwed up slightly and we could at least not be reminded every single time we walk to the house.

Cutting to Size


This is Amy’s way of telling me the board is level

Why did we cut a little chunk out of that board above? I’m so glad you asked! So just like vinyl siding we have to cut around our obstacles. By obstacles I mean windows, doors, vents and things on the outside of the house. The difference here is that we can’t simply use some metal snips to cut out the cedar board to fit. We took that bright green jigsaw and cut out the portions we need.

The problem with this is that the margin for error was much higher than with the vinyl. We have to make sure our cuts are measured several times before putting “blade to wood”. With vinyl with had lots of extra to play with – a mistake here or there is no problem. But now we’re working with cedar that’s ~$20 for 12 feet and takes 24 hours to stain. Every board counts.

Nailing Them in


Amy installing the board we cut

This is Amy nailing in the board we just cut. It was cut to fit nicely around the bathroom vent. Just like the other electric boxes this one has a nice little j channel overlap piece. This gives us some wiggle room for the cut so it doesn’t have to be 100% exact to still look nice.


“Babe – this is level right?”, “What are we going to do rip it down?” A conversation we had about every 3 minutes

As you can tell from the picture from above – we get a little carried away sometimes. What you’re supposed to do is finish the first row (a.k.a. course) of cedar completely. Then you move onto the second course, third, and so on. The reason behind this is you can correct any leveling mistakes as you go up the courses gradually. Clearly we were very excited to keep going up we momentarily forgot to do this.


Dylan starting the 2nd course on the right side. Being very careful not to whack his thumb – again

The process pretty much repeated itself. You had to figure out any special cuts for these obstacles, then make them, then test your cut. If all worked out, then you whacked the piece into place and nailed it into place.


Words can hardly describe how exciting it was to see this cedar finally go up



This was a look back moment because we covered all of the obstacles. From this point forward we had no more special cuts to do on this side



Only one course left!



Wrap Homewrap Homewrap


Finishing Touches and Dormers


It was a deary day but the siding still looks great!

We don’t have much footage of putting up cedar on the “passenger side” of the house but was pretty much the same thing but much easier than the drivers side of the house.


The cedar went up even quicker the next day



Here you can see the small bit of j channel butting up against the bottom of the cedar

We actually had to cut our day a little short to run out and get more cedar boards to stain. We needed more to do the dormers. The next day we were able to finish the drivers side and even start the dormer.

A tiny detail (ha, pun) you may not notice at first is the j channel below the cedar in the picture above. An even smaller detail is a white potion showing beneath. This is the utility strip which holds the last vinyl siding piece into place without nails. We needed the cedar up first before we could place this j channel and utility strip.


A view of the drivers side of the house pretty much almost not quite done



Finally, mostly done.



Foreman Dylan giving it one last inspection

Still have some naked spots that need attention but we will be covered soon. We need to finish the roofs of the utility boxes to figure out where the j channel will start above them. But overall we’re super happy with the look. Tell us what you think in the comments below. We’ll keep posting our progress to our instagram as well. Happy building!


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1 Comment

  • Reply Josh January 7, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Guys, it looks great! Keep going slow and steady and keep enjoying the “process “. I’m loving the blog and the progress!

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