We stain a lot of exterior houses in Baltimore. They are usually located in neighborhoods such as Cedarcroft, Roland Park or Mt. Washington.

The 4 biggest mistakes we see made in staining these houses are the following:

1. The paint contractor (trying to do his/her very best) power washes the house with too much water pressure. The wood absorbs the water and never fully dries before the new coating is applied. The home owner wonders why their new coating is peeling when it never has before. The reason is the moisture trapped in the wood forces its way out through the newly applied coating.

2. The paint contractor applies paint over the previously stained surfaces without priming the surface. The new coating does not stick properly and starts to fail. If possible, clean the surface in the least aggressive way possible and apply stain suitable for cedar shakes.

3. The paint contractor does not clean the sides at all before applying the new stain. The paint does not adhere to the surface because the coating was not applied over a clean, sound surface. This is evident when there is peeling on the house and behind the peeling paint is dirt and algae. This can not be stressed enough – clean the cedar shakes with a cleaning agent designed for cedar and lightly rinse.

4. The painter caulks the cedar shakes to the house. The cedar shakes are suppose to breath. They are made to expand and contract with the temperature changes. Many painters mistakenly caulk these surfaces not allowing them to breath. This traps in moisture causing future peeling problems. Caulking a home should usually be done around windows and doors not the cedar shakes.

We hope this list was helpful, as always it is best to hire an experienced professional to stain cedar shakes. Always ask for references of projects that are similar to the one you would like done.

Angus Sheldon