I like to call our shingles shakes… because then I can sing, but technically, the siding we are using is cedar sidewall shingles…Getting our shingles delivered was a very exciting day. Our addition smelled like a delightful cedar sauna. After much research, we finally decided on how we wanted to finish the shingles. Our solid stain is a color match- it is Behr, Arrowhead Lake. Benjamin Moore mixed up a match in their Arborcoat solid stain. We have been really happy with the coverage after just one coat, and it isn’t overly smelly! The clear stain we went with for the “natural” shakes on the other hand does not have the most pleasant odour. The product is called Penofin, in Ultra Clear. It is an oil based product for siding, logs etc. that we purchased at Benjamin Moore.

All of our window trim is cedar. I was concerned about tannin bleed through, which is the natural oils in the wood bleed through the paint or stain and change the color. Some people recommended a stain blocking primer, and others suggested that nothing is 100% blockage of tannins. I decided to see what 2 coats of solid stain would do- I used the Arborcoat Solid in white. For most of the pieces, there was no tannins. For the ones that do have some staining, I purchased some stain block from BM to spot treat. However, none of it is overly noticeable. Our skirt boards and corner caps are pine. We did this because of cost and availability at the lumber yard for longer lengths, wider boards etc. We coated the back of all trim pieces with 1 coat, the ends, sides and fronts with 2. The front gets an additional touch up coat after nail holes are filled.

We tried to do as much research as possible, and talked with people who have worked with cedar. It seems its harder and harder to find people who have experience working with wood siding, as vinyl and cement board alternatives become more popular. We have used a few different methods for our stain application… I guess we will find out what one holds up the longest!

We started with the bay window. This was a good practice area that gave us a good place to get our feet wet. We had some figuring to do about finishing around a window while keeping all of the layers correct etc. With the cedars, you don’t want your seems to overlap within 1.5inches of each other, so it is kind of like a big puzzle.


For the bay, because it is low, and we were very excited, and its relatively protected, we decided to put the shingles up, and then oil them once the were on.


That big bristly brush makes it easy to get the oil worked into the wood.  it doesn’t take too much time to cover the shingles, the excess oil needs to be wiped after about 20-30 minutes.

bay1So, here is a shot of the bay once it was oiled. There were a few cuts Matt needed to make at the top. We covered the skirt board with plastic to catch any oil drips. We had decided to pre-dip all of the oiled shakes on the rest of the house, because aside from the bay, they are all above the second story. Working up there oiling seemed like too much work and a bit messy. We have also gotten advice that oiling all sides makes the stain last longer, helps prevent extreme weathering, cupping… and we are crossing our fingers that it means we won’t have to re-oil for a good window of time. All we can really do is wait and see, because there are no guarantees about how long the finish will last. Dipping  the whole shingle uses WAY MORE oil then we anticipated. There is waste. Unlike when you brush it on, with a less wet brush. But hopefully this means that more oil is penetrating the wood.

For the blue, I was going to just pre paint the bottom rows, and then borrow our friends sprayer. But once I started painting, I decided it wasn’t that much work, and we didn’t have to go back to an area after it had been installed, tape it off, spray… etc. So, I pre-painted the blue, and went to nearly the top, did the front, sides and bottom, but not the back. So again, I guess we will see how that holds up, not having the back done. I think it is something you do to “be safe” but several friends who work with shakes don’t do the back, so we made that decision with the solid stain, because it also is a better protector against the weather as the wood is not exposed. Again, time will tell how the finish holds up.


We went with just under a 6 inch reveal. Matt measured up with his speed square on each end, used a small nail, chalked a line, and then dropped the reveal 1/4 inch. Yes, he did this for every row. While it may seem tedious, it is a small step that ensures your rows stay straight. The last thing we want is to have them going wonky. Because each shake is a bit different, and the 1/4 inch drop is eyeballed, we kept our story pole and a level handy. Prior to starting we created a “story pole”, figuring where a row would end butting up to windows, lights, electrical or the belly band. This helps us to determine if we need to change the reveal slightly over a few rows, so we don’t end up at an odd point in the row under the trim. If that makes sense?

bay3Above you can see the belly band (as Matt calls it) on the top left side. We took a walk around the house, and decided to run the band level with the top of the facia on the bay window. Our facia is 2×6 and our band is 2×8, so it sits lower than the facia. This also seemed like a natural separation, as it is right around where the second story starts. A good few days went by with having just this one side done. It was very reassuring to see that we really liked the finishes together. And to see the blue on a larger area, versus a little sample, just made me love it even more. We did have a little bit of a hiccup with the blue. I had 3 samples mixed, and we decided on our custom color. So, I phoned in our order late on a Thursday night, because BM more was having a sale on their Arbourcoat- with a savings of $7 gallon, which adds up when you are ordering as much as we are. This is where I have great reviews for BM! I had missed the sale by a DAY! I thought it was until the end of the week, but it was the end of the month. Oops. I was bummed. However, the sales lady honoured the sale price, as there had been a bit of a miscommunication with “it’s on sale this week” so that was really good of them. So, I drove in before closing, and left with nearly 20 gallons of oil and stain. Yay!!

The next morning I open up the can, ready to get lots done, and…. my stain is NOT the same color. In fact, it looks purple. Really purple. And I panic. I didn’t check it at the store, because the formula was in my file, and they mixed it off the computer. Of course, with paint… once its mixed and you have paid, you can’t return it. So, I called BM, they said to bring it in… thankfully they could see that their was too much Red put into the formula versus the formula they had used in my sample, and they mixed a new batch. They did a straight up exchange! We were very relieved. We had purchased 6 gallons of the blue. At over $50 each, we were thankful we didn’t have to pay for that mistake.

We decided to move onto the back wall of the house, to carry on the blue. It’s tricky to figure out what sort of system to use. We are using hundreds of small pieces to cover a wall, putting up trim, and working around obstacles. We decided our least challenging wall was the back wall, as it doesn’t have gables (not as tall) or obstructions (chimney, bum outs, corners etc) so, we decided to change gears a bit and start dipping in the clear oil. My husband also did something that was pretty necessary. He bought scaffolding.

Originally he thought he could use ladder jacks, and then rent scaffolding for a short time… but really, a ladder jack is a bit sketchy. and he would need to buy taller ladders for the sides anyways. So he bit the bullet and bought some scaffolding (thats just how he rolls), 20 feet wide, 10 feet hight. The gables are higher then this, so when we do them, we will rent some scaffolding to add on to ours, and be ready to just go hard for a few days with all of our shingles ready. Owning the scaffolding allows Matt to continue to work at his own pace (which is weekends and evenings when he isn’t working) and also, we will need it for finishing high roofs/walls in the addition. So yay! We are a construction company :-/

Because this post is a novel as it is (who knew siding was so exciting!) I think I will leave the rest for tomorrow. Oh, and yes, we have internet again. We went through 4 modems this summer. Apparently because of the lightning storms we have had… I don’t know, but the modems kept getting fried, while everything else in our home has been fine. We have a surge bar and a grounding rod now, so here is to hoping I am back for good! After 2 months without internet, hopefully I can reacquaint myself with blogging before dance starts 😉

-Miss Ash




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