Cedar is a classic and attractive siding material for homes. However, it has some drawbacks compared to other home siding options. If you want siding that’s going to last a long time and also give your home a unique aesthetic, it’s important to consider all the factors before buying.

This guide examines the benefits and downsides of cedar siding to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your home’s exterior.

Pros and Cons of Cedar Wood Siding

Cedar offers numerous advantages as a siding material, but it does have some drawbacks. See the pros and cons of the material in the tabs below:

Has an aesthetically pleasing appearance that develops a silvery-gray patina over time
Available in shingles, shakes, boards, and other styles to suit any home design
Offers good insulation against sound and temperature extremes
Stains and paints easily 
Easy DIY install with common tools
It’s renewable and biodegradable, so it’s a great choice for eco-friendly homes
Durable material that lasts 50 to 75 years with proper maintenance
Resists swelling and warping when exposed to moisture
Naturally repels many insects due to its wood oils
It’s more expensive than materials like vinyl and fiber cement. Cedar costs range from $5 to $11 per square foot
Requires frequent repainting or staining every three to five years to maintain its appearance and weather resistance
The wood can react with iron nails, so it’s best to use aluminum or stainless steel nails
More susceptible to rot, mold, mildew, and woodpecker damage than artificial siding
Flammable and requires fire-retardant treatments

The higher cost of cedar can strain your budget unexpectedly. Needing to repaint and restain frequently also takes considerable time and money. Cedar’s vulnerability to damage means you may need to do repairs more often on your home, so it may not be the best choice for budget-conscious buyers.

How Cedar Compares To Other Siding Options

Cedar is more vulnerable to damage than many synthetic sidings, but it gives your home a natural look that’s difficult to replicate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of different types of siding, the chart below can help you compare cedar with the competition at a quick glance.

Siding TypeDurabilityMaintenanceCost per sq. ft.
CedarModerateHigh$5 to $11
VinylHighLow$2 to $3
Fiber CementHighLow$3 to $4
AluminumHighLow$1.50 to $2.50

While vinyl and fiber cement last longer, cedar’s visual appeal is hard to match for your home’s exterior. Unfinished cedar weathers to a handsome gray patina and takes stain beautifully. Vinyl and fiber cement have a more uniform, artificial look.

Cedar costs more up-front, and it tends to cost more over its lifetime as well. Fiber cement siding costs $4 to $8 per square foot installed, while cedar costs $5 to $11. Cedar also requires more cost and time for maintenance, and you may even have to pressure wash cedar siding, so consider the upkeep before buying.

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On the plus side, cedar withstands moisture better than many woods, with minimal swelling and warping. It also naturally deters termites and other insects that can damage your home. As a rapidly renewable material, environmentally-conscious homeowners may prefer it over other types of siding.

Key Differences Between Cedar and Other Wood Siding

Not all wood siding is created equal, and cedar has some unique qualities that make it highly desirable for your home. For starters, cedar has natural oils that resist rot, insects, and decay better than many woods. It also shrinks and swells less than most woods when exposed to moisture.

In terms of sustainability, cedar is one of the fastest-growing trees, and it’s more renewable than many other wood siding options. It’s also easier to work with and install on your home due to its softness compared to woods like oak. Additionally, cedar ages beautifully as it turns silvery-gray over time, making it great for your home’s appearance in the long run.

Cedar Grades, Styles, and Finishes

When selecting cedar siding, you’ll need to choose from different grades, styles, and finish options. This section provides an overview of the choices available so you can pick what best suits your home. Consider the look you want to achieve, and choose the appropriate grade, style, and finish to bring your vision to life.

  • Clear: Knot-free, premium grade
  • Knotty: Contains some knots for a rustic look
  • Bevel: Angled edges to mimic lap siding
  • Bevel siding: Angled boards replicating lap siding
  • Tongue-and-groove: Boards with protruding “tongues” along the edges
  • Shingles: Thin, tapered rows installed in an overlapping pattern
  • Shakes: Thick, rugged rows with a coarse texture
  • Unfinished: Develops a silvery patina over time
  • Pre-stained: Factory-applied stains in different opacities and colors
  • Paintable: Takes paint exceptionally well for a custom color

So, Is Cedar Siding Right For Your Home?

Ultimately, cedar siding offers unmatched beauty and character that’s difficult to find with other sidings for your home’s exterior. However, its higher up-front and lifetime costs, frequent maintenance needs, and lighter durability mean that some homeowners may think twice about cedar.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

If you value cedar’s appearance and eco-friendly nature over vinyl and fiber cement’s ultra-low maintenance, it may be the right choice for your home. Seek out the highest grades to minimize knots, and use pre-staining and paints to boost durability. Install it carefully with proper materials and ventilation to deter decay, and stay diligent with upkeep to maximize its life span.

For budget-conscious buyers, a hands-off, lower-cost siding like fiber cement is hard to beat. However, it doesn’t replicate the depth, variation, and warmth of real cedar siding in your home. Weigh the pros and cons carefully to pick the siding that best fits your home’s style and your budget.

For additional information, check out our guide on the different types of home siding.

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FAQs About Cedar Siding

What is the best way to maintain cedar siding?

Reapply penetrative stains or paints every three to five years. Ensure that you have proper ventilation behind the siding, repair any weather sealing issues, and keep the siding free of mildew and buildup.

Does cedar siding need to be painted?

You can leave cedar siding unfinished to weather naturally. However, when bare, it’ll turn gray and become less dimensionally stable. Finishes help protect it.

Is cedar siding expensive to install?

Cedar siding costs $5 to $11 per square foot in materials, making it one of the more expensive siding options. Professional installation can add $3 to $5 per square foot. For more installation information, check out our guide on how to install cedar siding.

Is cedar siding high maintenance?

Cedar siding is more high maintenance than materials like vinyl and fiber cement but less than real wood siding. Expect to restain or repaint every three to five years, and be sure to clean regularly.

Is cedar siding better than vinyl?

Cedar looks more natural and custom than vinyl’s uniform appearance on your home. However, vinyl requires far less maintenance over its life span. Cedar can be a good middle ground between vinyl and real wood sidings.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Mitchell Layton

Mitchell Layton

Mitchell Layton is a former professional mover who currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mitchell spent years packing and moving for REAL Rock N Roll Movers, a commercial and residential moving company based in Los Angeles that’s primarily staffed with up-and-coming musicians. That gave him plenty of experience navigating box trucks up and down the winding streets of LA. In addition to moving hundreds of happy customers into new homes and apartments all across Southern California, Mitchell has also performed corporate moves on company lots for Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount, and more. After pouring blood, sweat, and tears into his profession, Mitchell has all the helpful tips you need for your next move.

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Lori Zaino

Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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