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Best primer for Cedar?

nikkiwood's picture

I'm a cabinet maker, and know zilch about exterior painting.

l am using finger jointed clear cedar to replace some trim around my house, and I would be grateful for advice on the best primer to use.

In the past when I have stripped off the old paint, I used BM Moorwhite alkyd primer, topcoated with their MoorGlo (latex).

Will that suffice for cedar, or should I prime with something else?


******************************************************** "It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts." John Wooden 1910-2010

(post #61835, reply #1 of 25)

nikki- cedar has tendency to bleed over time if it isnt given enough time to leech or more more accurately dry it's oil 's out (tannin's) so you have to choice's are to wait or seal the tannin's in in sealing the tannin's i use a dewaxed shellac one - two coat's i'd go for two. then let it dry for 12 hours then a good oil based primer i have had good results with this method. if you decide to wait i wait a few month's . i have seen even with straight oil based primer the bleed stain without the shellac bleed threw . if not given enough time to dry out . i'm sure you'll find some opposing procedure 's here . but........... hey here one that i 'm sure that work's......... slainte' bear

"expectations are premeditated resentments"

(post #61835, reply #2 of 25)

We have new cedar shingles on the house, currently being painted with Benjamin Moore.... #100 'long oil' alkyd primer, then a lo-lustre latex topcoat. Primer is on now, so I can't speak from experience... yet... but I had extensive discussions with two chemists at Moore about this exact thing and they both recommended the #100 right away.


(post #61835, reply #4 of 25)


I always thought you had to wait for the tannins to work their way out but called my Benny Moore dealer last week and he told me the same thing you wrote.

I think I even read that in the cear bureau website.

I was told that the alkyd fast drying primer is the way to go right away.

I need about 60-70 gallons of paint.

Be so confused,


The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


(post #61835, reply #5 of 25)

If you're gonna paint it, why use cedar?


(post #61835, reply #6 of 25)


I always love to see commonsense. Roar!

sobriety is the root cause of dementia


(post #61835, reply #7 of 25)

exactly what I was thinking as I read

(post #61835, reply #8 of 25)

I see lots of people around here using clear cedar for fences and the like then pait em'.

It has to last longer than pine and CCA looks like crap painted.

Same reason use cead clapboard and stain it with a solid stain.

Cedar accepts the paint like furnature.

Be well


The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


(post #61835, reply #9 of 25)

Want shingles, want a house with color.... what else I'ma gonna do? In the climate here the paint will provide a wear barrier for the shingles as well. Unpainted they'll last what... 20 years? I can probably get twice that by painting and maintaining them.

(post #61835, reply #10 of 25)

I can probably get twice that by painting and maintaining them.>>>

I can certainly verify thats the truth.

The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


(post #61835, reply #11 of 25)

David, Andy - well, I don't want to try and go back and extract exact quotes, so if you'll just correct me if I mis-paraphrase what you said, okay?

Andy, I think you said that a cedar post in the ground will outlast a pine post - no argument from me there.  You also said that cedar paints up far nicer than the pressure treated post a person might use instead of cedar - again no argument from me.

David, I think you said you wanted shingle siding and the only shingle siding you know of is cedar, or at least that's the most commonly available, right?  If that's your taste, and fiber cement shingle siding just doesn't get close enough, then I agree with you, too.

But the original poster asked about (I think) replacing some exterior trim with finger jointed cedar, and what type primer/paint to use.

Okay, this gets a little long here. 

First off, I gotta believe that by now there are paints, or coatings for exterior surfaces, that will bond as well to pine, fir, spruce, whatever every bit as well as they will to cedar.  So the ability to "hold" paint is not as relevent today as it was even 20 years ago. 

Secondly, I think one of the main reasons we all think so highly of Cedar as an exterior grade wood is the results we've seen as we work on buildings our grandfathers, and their granfathers built using whatever building materials were readilly available to them...much like David's logic for selecting Cedar shingles.

Okay.  When our grandpappys, and their grandpappys built, they didn't have access to these great paints and exterior coatings we have today, so they relied on the natural oils in Cedar to repel water (since oil and water don't mix).  Plus, and least here in the Pacific Northwest, these big Cedar trees were everywhere  - big girths, easy to mill because they were so soft, and straight grained, and anybody with an axe, a saw to buck them to length and a froe could make their own shingles by investing (more than) a little sweat. 

I know this is getting WAY too long so I'll stop.  But I think you get my point.  Cedar IS superior as an exterior wood.  But if you're gonna paint it, the very same oils that make it resist water, cause problems when we try to paint a protective skin over it (or behind it like housewrap).

Gotta go into town, see you guys later.


(post #61835, reply #12 of 25)

I agree on most points... but I have an 80 year old farmhouse and am not going to reside it with fiber cement anything. Shingles are everywhere here, almost always painted. They did a small part of a new building in town with fiber cement shingles and you can see they're fake before you even get out of your car. My wife nearly shot me for installing a clad window. We're going OEM here....

EDIT to say, your post ain't too long, not hardly. All the good info is appreciated along with your time to type it up. Gotta go to town myself... can't get enthused about getting out there to help the painter fill holes... he's on his own... I think I'm going to go see 'Dodgeball', waste $7.50 plus popcorn

Edited 7/10/2004 3:44 pm ET by davidmeiland

(post #61835, reply #13 of 25)


RE: BM alkyd primer

Is this the" Moorwhite" primer in their line? If so, I have used a lot of it over the years; not the easiest stuff to apply, but it is tenacious, and in my case at least, has always guaranteed a long life to the paint job.

Coincidentally, I tracked down a guy today who has been a house painter for 40 years; he seems to do all the really high-end old houses in my neighborhood. I have seen his crew paint houses, and can testify that he doesn't cut corners on prep work or skimp on the quality of paint he uses.

Interestingly, he said he uses Zinnser's 1 2 3 for priming cedar (and everything else) -- even though it is a water based product. That seems counterintuitive to me, given the tanins in cedar. But it is hard to argue with a guy who is booked 3 years in advance, and is able to use his house painting profits for a life of relaxation in Florida for about 6 months every winter.

******************************************************** "It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts." John Wooden 1910-2010

(post #61835, reply #14 of 25)

I've been using Zinsser primer for backpriming other stuff as I work, not sure if it's the 1-2-3 but it's in a gold/white can and is oil-based. Not sure there's any that is water based... I know some thins/cleans up with ammonia.

(post #61835, reply #15 of 25)

here is ALL the primers



Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations.   

(post #61835, reply #16 of 25)

I've been using the High Hide. It dries hard enough to sand a bit which is good on trim.

(post #61835, reply #17 of 25)

I will be residing my house with cedar as well.  Can anyone tell me if it is necessary to prime the back side of the cedar shakes as well to avoid the bleeding?

(post #61835, reply #18 of 25)

this was redone with cedar back priming .....before's and after.......back priming and even painting is key to longevity ...

"expectations are premeditated resentments"

(post #61835, reply #20 of 25)

LOL the finished picture wont upload......

"expectations are premeditated resentments"

(post #61835, reply #21 of 25)

here' goes..... ggggeeeeezzz for some reason it wont download, that's rather embarassing . if you care to i'll try an email, although i'll need your e-mail address....... apologies ....bear"expectations are premeditated resentments"

Edited 7/13/2004 8:09 pm ET by the bear

(post #61835, reply #22 of 25)

Yes, I'd like to see the finished picture.  I can only imagine the amount of work you put into this.  My email is

(post #61835, reply #23 of 25)

bear- what was with those blue lines? What is that? Painter's tape?

Ya, I'd like to see the finish.

"sobriety is the root cause of dementia.",     rez,2004

"Geodesics have an infinite proliferation of possible branches, at the whim of subatomic indeterminism.",
Jack Williamson, The Legion of Time


(post #61835, reply #24 of 25)

yeah rez is painters tape, i take and write the existing measurements of the wall. then write it on the tape and take a picture of it. then draw a picture transfer ALL the numbers (discrepencies(sp?), type of wood (on that picture i sent you they used pine i used cedar),nuances,cracks , cheques, where the most rot or water damage is, position of the face(southern exposure for example), changes,reveals, etc.) definitely a belt and suspenders approach but that what works for me. than stare for a couple days to a week off and on . maybe change the type of flashing, maybe go with cedar breather, tar paper or ice dam shield, think about the type of primer and paint, filler (i work with abatron, west system's, min-wax filler and swedish putty . all in conjunction with each other) and it works. after it's all said i can back after a year and still seeing water beading up on my paint job . i declare it a success. slainte' bear

"expectations are premeditated resentments"

(post #61835, reply #19 of 25)

cant hurt but hell.sometinmes I believe we go a bit overboard.

Easier than that you might just use Cedarbreather behind it and IMO thats even going overboard.

On my million year old house ...some of the stuff I removed was as solid as the day it was put on with none of the stuff we all jaw about here.not to dismiss any of it but....

Be overdone in some cases


PS...Hurricane clips on Long Island???.......Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

They gots to be a kidding..OK OK.theyre friggin dumb IMHO!

Didnt Bobby Dylan write a song about hurricane clips....

The secret of Zen in two words is, "Not always so"!


(post #61835, reply #3 of 25)

I installed several hundred square feet of cedar shakes about 20 years ago.  I primed them with a linseed oil based primer (X-200 from Muralo).  And then top-coated with latex.  It has held up extremely well with no peeling, flaking or bleeding.


Interior and exterior cedar (post #61835, reply #25 of 25)

I have those 70's cedar beams and exterior cedar siding (planks). I'm wanting to pint both. The interior I suspect is 30 years old and the exterior about 10 years. Is my "bleeding process over? I'm reading all the comments, but as a novice they all appear to be sound ideas. Does the age of my cedar make my painting project different?