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Painting older cedar shingles that can't be fully stripped

I am trying to finish exterior older cedar shingle siding that I can't fully remove old finish from.  This time I want to use Zinsser Cover Stain as a primer and then paint over that.  The previous time I did this, I used Sherwin Williams high end oil based primer and it still cracked and peeled.  I have scraped all loose paint  and want to sand and remove dust from surface before priming.  Then use a good paint...I can't use stain again due to the older coats.   Am I approaching this correctly? Has anyone used the Zinsser cover stain?  I had to use another Zinsser sealer on the inside of this house to kill the nicotine stains and it worked excellent.  Thanks for your help.  Also want to tint the primer to avoid two coats of that a good idea?   Thanks for any help!

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Posted 2013-06-11T14:21:01+0000  by lynnemmc lynnemmc

I'm going to let you wear the orange apron this time lynnemmc!


You got it exactly right!


On the label, Zinsser Cover Stain says, "Seals tannin bleed from cedar."


The label also says, "Dries Quickly" (in about one-hour) and "Use Any Topcoat."


The only thing I did not notice in your description was using a house cleaner, before you prime, to clean the surface and kill any mildew or mold that might grow back through your paint.


A hose-end cleaner like Mold Armor House Wash is excellent ... apply and rinse thoroughly in about ten minutes using only a hose-end spray nozzle.


Your goal when rinsing is to ensure that absolutely none of the chemicals remain on the house ... these chemicals will unseat your new coat of primer and paint. If you have any doubt, rinse again!


Allow the surface to dry six- to eight-hours and you're ready to prime.

Posted 2013-06-11T15:16:25+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL


I might suggest an alternative to the oil primer and paint scenario:


Oil primers do stop tannic acid bleed. Unfortunately, oil products have a couple negatives. Oil products are initially much more brittle than an acrylic based product and they get more so with age,  re; cracking.. Also, they breathe less well than an acrylic. Siding that cannot breathe peels!


To this end, you might consider one of the new generation acrylic primers, such as Kilz Premium,  Kilz Premium  claims to stop tannic bleed, provided 24 hours of cure time is given before the finish coat. As stated , an acrylic primer will breathe better than the oil. The acrylic primer is also more elastomeric - able to stretch , rather than crack. It would be advantageous to have the primer tinted toward the finish color.


Another alternative is to merely use two coats of Behr Solid Hide Acrylic Stain. Acrylic stain is normally self-priming. On older siding where the tannic content has already  lessened, two coats of the stain would probably stop additional bleed through. Again, as with the acrylic primer, 24 hours of cure time between coats lessens the chance of bleed. Acrylic stain has the same advantages as other acrylic products, elastomeric, breatheable, color fastness compared to oils, etc..  The Behr stain is available in 8 ounce testers and a test of two coats on a couple shingles would give a good idea as to favorable results. Behr Stain will have no problem bonding to the remains of the old finish, be it oil or latex.


Just some alternative thoughts for consideration

Posted 2013-06-11T20:30:18+0000  by ordjen

Thank you for your help!   Another post recommended using Kilz because it breathes and claims to stop tannic bleed.  My shingles are older and the bleed wasn't the biggest concern....I thought the reason the last job didn't last was the natural oils in the cedar...but the paint that is left after scraping has a ton of hairline cracking where is didn't peel.  Do you think that the Oil sealer may have cause that if it could not let the shingles breathe?  Also suggested was using Behr paint with the primer in it...I have used that on interiors, but not exterior and after checking Consumer Reports, there were good and bad reviews.  The feeling I got about the reviews was basically that the prep wasn't done well and I know that is THE most important part!   Do you have any experience with the acrylic paints with primer? Or should I just use the tried and true method of a breathable primer?   Thanks again!  Lynne

Posted 2013-06-12T15:57:40+0000  by lynnemmc

Thanks for you help!   I still have hairline cracked paint left on the shingles....can I use that Behr stain over that or will it fail in those spots?   I am looking into renting a Paint Shaver Pro from a company in Cranston RI if I need to get all the way down to the surface for this to last a longer amount of time.  I REALLY don't want to do this again!  Thanks!  Lynne

Posted 2013-06-12T16:01:18+0000  by lynnemmc



The problem with  machine paint shavers is that they dig into the original texture of the shingles. As much work as it is, use of a sharp pull scraper usually gives the best results, short of chemical stripping.


Acrylic primers and paints ( or stain ) are much less likely to give the cracking and checking. They are much more elastomeric than brittle oil products. They will move with underlying wood during the seasonal  swelling and contracting. They will also help bridge the hairline cracks that might remain on the old paint.


Normally, I like acrylic stains because of its lesser build-up on the surface. However, when it comes to help hiding past peeling and blemishes, a full acrylic primer coat and paint might give better results. You might want to make a sample in an inconspicuous area to see if you will be happy with the results.  If you go with the dedicated primer, have the paint associate tint it toward the final color.


Hope this has helped.

Posted 2013-06-12T16:42:51+0000  by ordjen

Hello Again lynnemmc!


Stains are penetrating sealers ... they must touch the wood to do their job properly.


In fact, stain labels often caution, "Two coats are recommended."


This caution is designed to prevent painters from layering numerous coats of stain ... which results in a brittle surface that cracks and flakes off.


So, stain is not a good choice ... unless you completely remove the remnant paint from the surface.


Primer followed by paint will most likely be your pathway to success.




When you choose a primer, be certain that the label lists two criteria:


1) Exterior ... these products are designed to expand and contract with the building; and

2) Cedar ... the natural oil in this wood will bleed through many primers, so make certain the word "cedar" appears on the label.




In the world of paint, products are developed for very specific applications. Look at products that meet the two criteria above and then look at the reviews that specifically discuss application on cedar.


When you really get down to the products for your purpose, there will only be a few choices.


Focus on the products that have a history of success ... tinting your primer and using a test patch are great ideas!

Hope this helps,

Pat InPaint

Posted 2013-06-13T14:27:54+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Thanks again!  That is the path I will take...much appreciation for the info!

Posted 2013-06-13T17:11:47+0000  by lynnemmc

Thanks a ton...I will save my money and continue using the pull scaper ( as much of a time drain as it is!).  I will also go with the tinted acrylic primer tinted before the final paint.   Appreciate the help!

Posted 2013-06-13T17:13:01+0000  by lynnemmc




I would somewhat quibble with your description of stains, or at least solid hide stains in the  instance of the poster's original question. You state, "stains are penetrating sealers... they must touch the wood to do there job properly". Behr Solid Hide Acrylic Stain is basically a light bodied acrylic housepaint, perfectly capable of bonding to other finishes, not just bare wood. Over a couple decades, I have put solid hide acrylic stains on literally dozens of homes having cedar siding with existing stained finishes, with excellent results. Are homes with stained cedar siding supposed to routinely strip the cedar back to bare wood?  Are we supposed to routinely add unneccessary primer coats, merely to freshen up their siding? I think not!


I preferred stain over full bodied paint on rough cedar sided homes because it put less "build" on the home. It does not conceal the texture of the rough sawn lumber. Further, the less build up of paint/stain film, the more the house can breathe and the less the chance of moisture related peeling.


It is for the same reason I encourage solid hide stain over full bodied deck paints on wooden decks. Decks are extremely susceptible to moisture intrusion due to there very construction. There are hundreds of joints, that  once the deck is built,  will never be able to be sealed again: decking boards on unsealed joists, butt joints of board ends, hundreds of over-torqued screws sitting in little craters which hold water. And yes, there are measures which can be taken against such moisture entry, but the great majority of decks are built without such measures. If you can't totally keep moisture out of the wood, for goodness sake, don't put a finish on the surface that will restrict that moisture from exiting without causeing peeling!


Every once in a while, I get a customer who says " I want to varnish my deck". My answer to them is that it will look beautiful this year, and that I will guarantee that it will start peeling the following spring! A varnish constitues an almost impermeable moisture barrier, and the moisture which got into the deck over the long wet winter ( at least in Portland) will cause that varnish to immediately fail!


Just a clarification of my position on stains

Posted 2013-06-14T04:42:37+0000  by ordjen

HI Ordjen....I do get what you are saying...but I want the unevenness on the siding from the scraping to be covered with a flatter surface and not look like a layered mess.  I can't sand because of lead paint laws and if I got caught scrapping without the proper coverage on the ground(which I am using) and anyone checked to see if I had a permit or took the safety class (costs $400 and isn't offered again until fall)....Icangetahugefine.  Iwastolditisafederallaw, butIknowitisinMAanyways. IamdoingthismyselfbecauseitistheonlywayIcanaffordtodoit.  Itdefinitelywillneedsandingtoachieveanicerfinish, butIcan'triskit.  Iliveonamainroadinasmalltownandcontractorssometimesturnyainbecausetheyneedthework ( suxthatthisiswhatwehaveallcometooandverythankfulthattherearepeopleouttherelikeyouwhowanttohelp!) Anyways, besidesscrapinginthedark, Iabsolutelycannotuseasanderandneedsomethingtosmoothouttheoveralllookandbreatheatthesametime.  Isthatevenpossible? OramIexpectingtoomuchforanaffordablejobIhavetoaccomplishonmyown. Iknowaflatsheenhelps, butwhatismybestsolutionforthesmoothestlookthatwilllast?  YouseemtoreallyknowwhatyouaretalkingaboutwhenitcomestothisandIwasalreadymisinformed at a Sherwin-Williams storethefirsttimeIdidthisbyusingasealerinsteadoflettingitbreathe...sohereIamagain!  Help!  Andthanks a tonforalltheexplanationsastowhythingsaredonethewaytheyare.  IalwaysunderstandbetterwhenIhavethereasonbehindtheexplanation.  Rightnow, Ihaveonesidescrapedandhavetogetsomethingonitrightawaysono onecausesmeanygrief.  ThenI think I better sell theplaceand  find40acresandmovetothemiddleofitsotheworldwillleavemeandmyhardworkalone!   Ifyouhaveanysuggestionsevenastobrandetc., Iamlistening.  Ihaveresearchedalotandreallydon'thaveitinmetodothisagain... Thankssomuchforyourtime!

Posted 2013-06-17T02:54:44+0000  by lynnemmc
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