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Old 11/08/06, 07:37 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 264
treating cedar siding

I have a small cabin with cedar lap siding. The siding was put on a couple years ago and has never been treated. The cabin is in the woods; I love the dark grey look of weathered wood--the cedar is graying nicely but I want to make sure it's protected.

The people around here tell me to treat it with motor oil. Several of them have used a mixture of used motor oil and--transmission fluid?--on their homes. It certainly seems to last and protect the wood.

I couldn't find much online about treating cedar siding with motor oil. A few vague references to used oil being a carcinogen, and lots of talk about preserving the original color of the wood. Since I'm not interested in preserving the original color and like it naturally weathered, would motor oil be a good option? If used motor oil is bad, what about unused?

Any suggestions from people with experience?
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Old 11/08/06, 10:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: WI
Posts: 2,180
I have built a couple of buildings and used cedar lap siding. I used the rough sawn stuff, and got a water repellent stain in a grey color close to the color of weathered cedar and used that as a finish. I don't trust used motor oil--doesn't penetrate, is messy, and contains bad stuff. I have seen some home made wood stains/preservatives that use parafin wax melted and mixed in as a water repellent. I like the use of a water repellent finish, clear or a stain, to help keep the wood from absorbing as much moisture--should extend the life of the wood a lot. A clear finish will allow natural weathering and greying of the wood, might slow it down a bit, but I decided that using a grey stain got the wood started out looking grey and where it weathered fastest it still looked grey and where it didn't weather, well, it was still grey from the stain. I should probably restain my current garage, it's been 10 years or so, and there are some uneven looking spots. Nothing very critical though.
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Old 11/08/06, 10:51 PM
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Thats MR. Redneck to you
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 831
My MIL's cypress house was done with diesel fuel. when I heard that I thought it was the dumbest idea EVER! Uhh wood + fuel/ to many chances for a huge fire! ask alstate what they think! By the way I had to replace LOTS of wood on her house after only 15 years, it looks like a shack.
I use Thompson water seal and a garden pump up sprayer, cover windows plants ect. and be done in a few hours! add some stain to it, I think you could.
Good luck and I would stay away from motor oil or anything like it!
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Old 11/09/06, 12:09 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 39
From what I have read, you don't need to treat cedar siding at all and it should last 40 years. If you start applying anything to it you need to keep doing it.
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Old 11/09/06, 06:38 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Northern Michigan (U.P.)
Posts: 11,861
When I built my barn, I used 2x6 T&G, treated for the bottom 4 feet and 1x12 pine for the upper siding. The barn is 100' by 100'. I didn't want to paint it, so gave everything a good coating of Thompsons waterseal. Two years later, it needed it again. At $60.00 for a 5 gal bucket and a thursty barn, I knew I'd have to do something different if I were to preserve the fresh wood color. My neighbor had built a shed/garage and sided it with pine. After several years, his looked like new. I asked what he used to preserve it and he was simply using non-detergent motor oil. Not used oil, but new. He prefered hydralic oil. It was lighter, went on smooth and he had a cheap supply. I tried it and found it lasts 4-5 years. Isn't any more of a fire hazard than Thompson's. Soaks in and isn't oily on the surface. I try to do it on a hot day when it is dry out, soaks in faster and less run-off.
I would think that Cedar siding would benifit by an oil treatment. Since the siding has already discolored, that wouldn't be a concern.
As far as diesel fuel or used oil, i think I'd stay away from that.
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Old 11/09/06, 08:42 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Far West in the White Mountains, Arizona
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Originally Posted by Columbia,SC.
I use Thompson water seal and a garden pump up sprayer, cover windows plants ect. and be done in a few hours! add some stain to it, I think you could.
I second Thompsons. Use the kind that is for wood, not all surfaces. I retreat every few years also using a garden sprayer. Fast and easy. I do get some on the windows, but very easy to wipe off.

I would think motor oil would only treat the surface or near surface due to its thickness. Thompsons really absorbs well especially in a soft wood like cedar.
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Old 11/09/06, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 44
I've had good luck with the brand name CVA it has a picture of a cedar home on the front of the bucket. Its as expensive as Thompsons though.
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Old 11/09/06, 08:55 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Eastern Washington
Posts: 437
Boiled linseed oil
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Old 11/09/06, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: WI
Posts: 2,180
If you are dealing with new siding, and want to retain the color, the best way (in my opinion, based on years of selling paint products and solving customer problems) is to use a real penetrating stain, tinted to the original color, and containing a water repellent and if possible, a UV filter compound.

Last edited by WisJim; 11/09/06 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 11/09/06, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: NW Georgia
Posts: 7,215
Originally Posted by catahoula
Boiled linseed oil
I use a linseed oil based product on my unpainted siding. It will certainly preserve the wood and does little to mute the graying effect (or whatever color your wood siding takes on). The challenge is that it's like painting with water, but a spray application is just not as good as a brushed treatment. Best wishes in whatever you choose to do.
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Old 11/09/06, 01:04 PM
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Location: Turtle Island/Yelm, WA "Land of the Dancing Spirits"--Salish
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Don't know if this counts, but we have a cedar shake roof. It's untreated and still works great(no leaks). The roof is 30 years old. I've heard quality cedar shakes will last 50 years?
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Old 11/12/06, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 20
Tompsons water seal
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Old 11/12/06, 07:17 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 4,867
Motor oil thinned with paint thinner about 50/50-Will soak right into the lumber--I don't like the smell of Used oil or the Dark Look, but I used it on a tree house. Took months before the Smell was gone. New oil---Don't notice a smell in a few days ofter usage---keeps new wood looking natural for a long time. Randy

Last edited by Fire-Man; 11/12/06 at 07:19 PM.
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