A Spotlight on the Durability and Longevity of Cedar Shake Siding

If your home’s exterior features cedar shake or you’re considering having this type of siding installed, you must want to know how long cedar shake siding lasts.

Since cedar shake siding can be a bit of a luxury purchase, this is something you want to be sure to figure out in advance.

The good news is that, with the proper installation and maintenance, cedar shakes can last for a very long time.

Keep reading to find out just how long cedar shake siding lasts as well as what needs to be done to keep it looking great for as long as possible.

Table of Contents

  • How Long Does Cedar Shake Siding Last?
  • How To Support the Longevity of Stain-Grade Cedar Shake Siding
  • How To Support the Longevity of Pre-Primed Cedar Shake Siding
  • Proper Installation Is Crucial for Extending the Life of Cedar Shake Siding
  • 4 Steps You Can Take To Make Your Cedar Shake Siding Last as Long as Possible
  • When Should You Replace Cedar Shake Siding?
  • Lifetime Remodeling Systems: Siding Design and Replacement Experts in the Portland Metro Area

How Long Does Cedar Shake Siding Last?

If cedar shake siding is installed and maintained properly, it will last for 30 years or more. Most cedar shake comes from Canada and is old-growth, so it’s extremely durable.

Some of the reasons for cedar shake siding’s durability include natural resistance to:

  • Rot
  • Mildew
  • Decay; and
  • Insect attacks

These natural protections along with the warmth and beauty of cedar shake siding make it a popular choice for many homeowners, especially those in the Pacific Northwest who are going for a certain design aesthetic.

Here’s how we recommend getting the most life out of your cedar shake.

How To Support the Longevity of Stain-Grade Cedar Shake Siding

Many people prefer to stain their cedar shake siding to get the classic, warm tone that cedar is known for. If you put up the siding without stain, it will still be durable and protect your home, but it will turn gray and weathered over time.

If you want your home to keep the rich, natural look that makes cedar shake siding such a beloved product, there are a couple of things you need to focus on: choosing the proper stain and performing regular maintenance.

Choose a Stain With UV Protection

First, when the cedar shake siding is installed, it should be stained with a product containing UV protection. UV rays wreak havoc on stain and paint over time, causing fading, cracking, and other issues.

Standard stains don’t have UV protection, so make sure you use an exterior house stain that has it built in.


Maintenance of cedar shake siding requires re-staining every three years or so. This may seem like a lot, but most people use this type of siding as an accent and don’t have it covering their whole home. So re-treating a gable or dormers covered with cedar shake siding shouldn’t be overwhelming.

This maintenance is an ongoing expense, but it’s something any good painter could come and do in a day. As long as homeowners are willing to keep up with this, they can maintain that beautiful stained cedar look.

Hardie Shakes vs. Cedar Shakes When Painting

We generally only use cedar shake siding if our client wants to maintain the stained look. If you prefer to paint, we recommend using Hardie shakes over cedar. That’s because cedar shake siding is very expensive, and if you’re painting you can get a similar look using a fiber cement product. It will hold the paint better and therefore require less maintenance.

Cedar expands and contracts a lot and tends to absorb moisture, which doesn’t happen with fiber cement. So paint on cedar has a lot more pressure put on it than paint on Hardie shakes, which are dimensionally stable and have very little movement.

However, sometimes we need to restore an older home and may have to paint real cedar shakes. Or there may be clients who just want real cedar whether they’re staining or painting their siding. In these cases, be sure to remember the following tips.

Use an Oil-Based Primer

The most important part of painting cedar shake siding is making sure that it is primed with an oil-based primer, which is the only product that can seal in the tannins — the oils in the wood that make cedar so durable and protect it against rot, insect intrusion, and more.

If cedar shake is primed with latex, the tannins will bleed through and look like syrup.

At Lifetime Remodeling Systems, we get all our cedar shakes pre-primed with an oil-based primer, which is verified by the distributor. At that point, it can be painted with a high-end latex paint and will look terrific.

Consider Paint Color Carefully

Since darker paint colors fade faster, you’ll usually get a longer life out of light to medium colors before you need to repaint.

For instance, cedar shake siding that is painted dark gray or navy blue may need to be repainted every 8 to 12 years to keep the color looking fresh. But if you choose something like tan or pale green, you may not have to paint again for up to 15 years.

That being said, if you have your heart set on a dark color, go for it. Just know that your maintenance expenses will be a little higher since your cedar shake will need to be touched up more often.

And if you can’t decide what color looks best with your home style and aesthetic, let the design team at Lifetime Remodeling Systems offer our expert opinions. 

Proper Installation Is Crucial for Extending the Life of Cedar Shake Siding

How long cedar shake siding lasts usually depends more on the installation than the product itself. You’ll get at least 30 years out of cedar shake siding if it’s installed and maintained correctly.

If you try to cut corners and go with a cheaper company just to save a few bucks, you may as well flush all the money you’re investing in your beautiful cedar siding right down the drain.

You’ll know you’re getting an expert installation if the company you work with implements the following items.


When a team from Lifetime Remodeling Systems installs cedar shake siding, we always put a drainage system called a rainscreen behind it. This helps manage moisture by draining or evaporating it before it can get into the siding.


Correctly installing flashing — a thin layer of waterproof material that prevents water from getting into the siding — is also imperative to properly maintaining your cedar shake and extending its lifetime as much as possible.

When some companies try to get away with skipping flashing installation or putting it on haphazardly, this will cause the cedar shake to degrade faster than it should due to moisture intrusion. 

4 Steps You Can Take To Make Your Cedar Shake Siding Last as Long as Possible

#1: Limit Moisture Exposure

Obviously, you can’t control the weather. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, your cedar shake siding will be exposed to rain. But you can limit how much water it absorbs by making sure a quality company properly installs the rainscreen and flashing under the siding.

Also, many people don’t consider this — but make sure the environment inside your home doesn’t get too humid, as this can also affect the longevity of cedar siding.

#2: Follow Proper Care Recommendations

If your siding seems a little blah because the exterior of your home has gotten dusty or dirty, you should keep it looking its best with an occasional gentle wash and rinse. This not only makes your siding more attractive, but it can also help extend the longevity of the wood.

You should also regularly check for damage caused by pests like insects and animals, as this can allow moisture to get into the siding and damage it.

#3: Re-Stain or Paint as Needed

Even with the proper UV-protectant stain or high-end latex paint, your cedar shake siding needs to be re-stained or repainted regularly. New stain jobs should occur about every three years, while you can generally wait about 15 years before painting again.

#4: Make Repairs When Needed

Check your cedar siding regularly, and take steps to fix any issues as soon as they are identified. Making small repairs right when they’re needed will prevent bigger problems from occurring in the long run. 

When Should You Replace Cedar Shake Siding?

As we’ve said, cedar shake siding should last at least 30 years with proper installation and maintenance. Many people find theirs can go even longer depending on the environment.

Signs that it may be time to replace your cedar shake siding include:

  • The presence of mold or mildew
  • Rotting or warping
  • Cracks or holes in the siding
  • Higher-than-normal energy bills
  • Damage that causes the elements to get inside your home, as evidenced by things like peeling/bubbling paint or condensation on windows

Replacing cedar shake siding can be a costly investment, but when you hire the right company and properly maintain it, your home’s exterior covering will last for decades to come.

Lifetime Remodeling Systems: Siding Design and Replacement Experts in the Portland Metro Area

Lifetime Remodeling Systems is the most experienced siding replacement company in Oregon. If you want premium cedar shake siding installed or replaced on your home, contact us for an estimate.

And if you’d like to include design services, we’re happy to assist with that as well. We use a technology called HOVER to create 2D and 3D exterior renderings and help you with design options. 

As the leading company in the greater Portland metropolitan area for siding installation and design, we should be your top choice for updating the exterior of your home. Let’s work together to create a new look you’ll love featuring cedar shake siding or other materials of your choice.

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