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Natural Wood Siding Needs TLC

natural wood siding

Wood Siding

DEAR TIM: We live in a shady wooded area. Our house is covered with natural cedar wood siding that constantly develops mildew stains. Every few years we apply an additional coat of oil based semi-transparent stain to make the house look fresh. What products are best to use to clean the siding and to seal it? How long will a good water repellent last? Susan P., Highland Park, IL

DEAR SUSAN: It is no wonder you have mildew problems on the siding. Millions of mold spores are in the air surrounding your house. They land on the siding and once there are delighted to find out that you have provided them with dinner. Many oil based house stains contain natural resins like linseed, vegetable, tung oils and animal fat. These water repellents happen to be food that mildew thrives on. The shady conditions slow natural evaporation and help to raise the overall humidity around the siding. These conditions are excellent for mildew growth.

The manufacturers of many exterior stains know this. They add chemical mildewcides and fungicides to the stains. But ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and rain water break these chemicals down. Some stains contain very little of these products and within a short amount of time the mildew can start to grow.

In my opinion, the best semi-transparent stain to use is one that contains no natural oils. I prefer to use products that are made with synthetic resins. Mildew will not eat these products. It is still possible to get a small amount of mildew growth on the siding but the food source usually can be traced to airborne dust or aerosol saps and sugars that rain down from your trees during the active growing season.

Stain Solver cleans Cedar SidingBefore you apply any water repellent to the siding, you must deep clean it to get the best results. Avoid cleaners that contain chlorine bleach. You can readily identify this by looking at the product label. The chemical name for chlorine bleach is sodium hypochlorite. This chemical can readily bleach the gorgeous natural color from your siding. It is also highly toxic to vegetation and your valuable trees. A neighbor of mine slowly killed one of her trees by using chlorine bleach to clean a patio each spring.

A safe deep cleaner for wood siding is oxygen bleach. It is a powder that mixes with water. It is non-toxic to vegetation and trees and will not remove any natural color from the siding. You simply keep the wood siding wet with the oxygen bleach solution for 15 minutes. It will remove the mildew and deep clean the siding. Lightly scrub the siding before rinsing with clear water from a garden hose. Avoid the temptation of using a pressure washer. These devices can force water into cracks and seams. This water gets behind the siding and can travel into your home. The intense pressure from these tools can quickly erode and scar soft woods like cedar and redwood.

If you buy a top quality water repellent, it can last up to five to seven years before it needs an additional coat. These same products can be used on wood decks but will not last as long. The orientation of the siding on your home helps extend the life of the water repellent. Rain water runs off the siding. When the sunlight does hit your house the intense mid-day UV rays glance off the siding. Because deck lumber lies flat, water readily soaks into the lumber and the UV rays at high noon blast the wood with a direct hit.

Price is a good barometer for judging water repellent quality. The synthetic resins contain very expensive raw materials. When you are doing comparative shopping, look for the highest priced product. It very likely is made with synthetic resins. I have had the best success finding these water repellents at specialty paint stores and some log cabin distributors. Oxygen bleach is readily available on the Internet at www.stainsolver.com. Be sure to buy oxygen bleach that has the highest concentration of the active ingredient - oxygen bleach. Many of the well-known oxygen bleach products contain a significant amount of fillers that simply take up space in the container. Furthermore, many of the heavily advertised oxygen bleaches are made in the Far East, not in the USA!

Message from Tim:

Years ago while researching a column about cleaning decks, I discovered the wonders of Oxygen Bleach. It is perhaps the 'greenest' cleaner I know of as it uses oxygen ions to break apart stains, dirt and odor molecules. There are no harsh chemicals, and it works on just about anything that is water washable.

I decided to create my own special blend using ingredients made in the USA. In fact, the raw materials in the active ingredient are food-grade quality registered with the FDA. I call my product Stain Solver. I urge you to use it to help with your wood siding cleaning. You will be amazed at the results!

I'm proud of my product and have no trouble promoting it in my columns because I know it works. I know it's the BEST oxygen bleach you can buy. Not many entrepreneurs can say that about their product.

If you're a customer of mine and have used Stain Solver, please feel free to leave a comment below and tell the world what you think of Stain Solver. I thank you in advance.

Column 378


18 Responses to Natural Wood Siding Needs TLC

  1. Currently have half log cedar siding that has a severe mold problem.
    Previously oil based stain (Flood brand-cheap) Mold removal going well using oxygen bleach. do we have to remove all the old oil based stain before re-covering with synthetic based stain? if so, how?

  2. I would be interested in ordering your Stain Solver product, but I see you don't ship to Alaska. You ship to Canada but not Alaska. What's the difference? I imagine there are far lower costs (not to mention customs hassles) shipping to Alaska compared to, say, northwestern Canada.

    Please reconsider your shipping policy.
    Thanks for your timie.


  3. Apologies for my previous note. (Please don't post) You hit a nerve with that one sentence re. buying the highest priced product. Yet I've since spend an hour discovering your very helpful web site.... and I'm learning ing a lot. thank you.

  4. I was just about sold on going out and buying some oxygen bleach, and was so impressed with all it's wonders as posted in your article...until, I saw this... "I decided to create my own special blend using ingredients made in the USA. In fact, the raw materials in the active ingredient are food-grade quality registered with the FDA. I call my product Stain Solver. I urge you to use it to help with your wood siding cleaning. You will be amazed at the results!". And then there it was...Can anyone say BIAS! Geez man, no wonder you talk about not using this and that and that only "Oxygenated Bleach" will work the wonders and miracles that we are all looking for. Disappointed man.

    • Dear Mr. Disappointment:

      Here are a list of questions you should answer:

      So would you rather I not be transparent?

      Do you own any Apple products?

      Are you 'disappointed' in Steve Jobs because he felt he had a better idea and wanted to SELL a quality product rather than go the Bill Gates route?

      Do you own a PC? Does it run Windows software?

      Are you 'disappointed' in Bill Gates because he started a company selling software you use?

      Should I keep listing GREAT PRODUCTS that are sold by entrepreneurs like me that you probably use every day?

      I'm a PROFESSIONAL WRITER. Bias is when you SPIN a STORY and you're NOT TRANSPARENT about what your PERSONAL feelings are about the topic.

      There's no bias in the above article. What you're upset about is the refreshing TRANSPARENCY that you rarely see in today's world - especially in any mainstream media news.

    • Dear "Disappointed man", AKA "Highly frustrated":
      (1)I know sending out a free newsletter sounds incredibly lucrative, but trust the rest of us when we tell you Tim still needs a "day job"! (2) May we infer you've spent the last 20 years in Antarctica, since you've never heard of "Oxygenated Bleach" until now? Billy Mays would be sooo disappointed! (3) While you've been selectively browsing the newsletter, the rest of us have noticed that Tim recommends around 50 other products for every time he promotes 1 of his own. (4) Have you, seriously & without BIAS, done some looking around Tim's FREE website? Nearly every article & video attests to his openness & integrity! And the humor is also FREE! (5) Should you feel so "put upon" as to require your unsubscription, know that I & a plethora of other bargain-hunters will continue to absorb FREE information from Tim for as long as he's able!

  5. Tim, you are right on! Mr. Disappointed is experiencing the OPPOSITE of bias. If you recommended Stain Solver WITHOUT mentioning that it was your product, that would be problematic. I know from experience that Stain Solver is a great product. My wife and I both use it for a variety of cleaning tasks.

  6. I've used Stain Solver to clean tile grout. After a previous experience using a chlorine-based bleach, I found Stain Solver to be a great product. It was far easier to use, cleaned much, much better, had no odor, and didn't burn my skin. I've found that when you recommend a product, whether it's something you sell, or something somebody else sells, I can be assured that it will do what you say. I appreciate all the work you do in helping your readers with their home problems.

  7. Dear Tim and "Highly frustrated",
    I have been using Tim'sStain Solver for years. First was a white asphalt composition roof that was black with algae. Everyone, particularly roofers claimed it needed replacement. After cleaning per Tim's instructions, it looked not new but normal for its age and was good for several more years of service. We since have used it on decks, siding, laundry for normal bleaching and stains, white commercial type kitchen cutting boards, slippery stone steps and walks and lots of other things I can't think of right now.

    When I was doing that first roof, I called Tim's office to ask about cleaning a dirty concrete driveway at the same house. The lady with whom I spoke told me to use Dawn detergent for that particular application. She could as easily have told me to go ahead and use more of their product.

    I'm delighted with Stain Solver and recommended it to many friends.

    Thanks, Tim, for a fine product and all the great free advice you give.

  8. What I really came here for is advice about my house over here near the "left coast" of New England where taxation makes D-I-Y a necessity as well as being an avocation for many of us. We're still here even though you admonished us to move to your side of the Connecticut some years ago.

    We have a 36 year old house with unfinished rough sawn Atlantic white cedar clapboards that range from light gray to dark gray to various shades of brown. Some must be replaced so there will be be dry-stored 30+ year old too and, if necessary, some new clapboards and flat trim as well. I want to apply a solid stain of light to medium hue and want to do it right. I need to know what the best product that provides custom coloring as well as durability. Also what do you recommend in the way of prep and optimum moisture reading for the wood before applying stain. Do we need primer. Thank you.


  9. Tim,
    Thanks for the very informative website. Hope you are still active and can answer my question.

    We have 12 year old natural cypress shiplap siding and originally stained it with Cabots Bleach Oil . The color has gradually turned too light and we are looking for a good weathered grey stain that can be sprayed on.

    One area has been exposed to soil splashing up and has either imbedded dirt or the reddish soil has stained the wood along the bottom. We are going to use OxyBleach to clean this area before re-staining. Should we OxyBleach all the cypress even that that does not seem dirty before re-staining?

    Any advise on which stain to use?


  10. I have a big job coming up. I have cedar siding, lap and shakes. I live right on the lake. Unfortunately, whoever stained before, used a natural oil stain with linseed. So my beautiful 4000 sq. Ft home is covered in mold. Do you offer your product in large quantities or how much would you first start at, for my house? Would you suggest stripping the oil first?

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