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naturally weathered eastern cedar shingles vs weathering stain

May 3, 2014

i am leaning toward letting the shingles naturally weather but i really want the silver/gray look and am worried it is going to take too long. we are by the water. i don't mind the lack of consistency in the weathering look. but again, i am concerned about the number of years it will take to get the look i like.

i've read about bleaching and weathering stains. bleaching stains i think will lighten the shingles more than i willl like. not sure if i like the weathering stains because they are so consistent.

any thoughts on how natural the weathering stain looks and how long the natural weathering process takes???

thank you!

Comments (25)

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    Weathered in 18 months. Fully silver in 30. Rotten in 10 years. You couldn't give me shingled house. Way too much maintenance and early replacement costs.

  • housebuilder14

    were they rotten because they were not stained or sealed? i have shingles on my current house and they are painted and in great condition (house is now 12 years old). i also have shingles on my roof and we just had them cleaned and resealed. we only had to replace about 10 shingles. where do you live?

    i wanted that hamptons looks - and those shingles must also last awhile - as many of the house are very gray almost black from the years of aging.

  • BirchPoint

    I am building on the water in Maine. I have had to make the same decision. I had a hard time deciding. Based on what I observed on other houses in my area, I have chosen weathering oil. I finally asked a neighbor whose house I admired what her shingles were and she told me single dipped weathering oil. Another neighbor has bleaching oil which looks like natural graying but faster and more evenly than if left on its own. There are two other houses in my neighborhood with no stain and there is a wide variety of weathering going on on them (very splotchy).

    Cedar shingles have a reputation for lasting several decades and offering additional insulation. My uncle's house was shingled in the 80's and still looks in perfect shape.

  • amberm145_gw

    About 15 years ago, some builders in my area were using untreated pine shingles on roofs, They were starting to rot in just a couple of years. Not all shingles are created equal.

  • housebuilder14

    we are using cedar shakes - i think if they if i do weathering stain they have a 30 year warranty, or something like that.

    thanks birchpoint - what do you like about the weathering stain versus bleaching oil?

  • Circus Peanut

    Holly's must have been some kind of sub-par cedar shingles to experience such quick rot. We are just replacing ours after 100 years and expect these new ones to last many decades, if not as long as a century. Granted, we're in a shingle-style house in Maine and any other covering would be anathema, but still, I think it's very hard to beat the aesthetics -- certainly not with any artificial siding.

    I'd run some tests using shingles from your actual lot, since the wood can vary in resin or tannin or whatever it is, even in the same species (eastern White). Then you can see how one dip, two dips, etc. in each of the proposed finishes will look.

  • BirchPoint

    Housebuilder4, I'm sorry I never responded to your post --- I never was notified about follow up on the thread (I forgot to check that box). I only found it now by doing a google search about cedar shingles today! It probably is too late to help you with an answer, but for now and future readers, I will. The difference I have observed between bleaching oil and weathering stain is very slight. The bleaching oil treated houses that I have observed had slightly more variation in the graying process going on. The weathering stain houses had consistent gray color - no variations on the whole house. The gray value in both treatments seem like the same. With the bleaching oil it looked like a shadow was moving across the house. Hope this helps you or someone else!

    Now, what I'm searching out is how long before you need to reapply the weathering stain. One of my neighbors hasn't reapplied in 7 years but I was just investigating....

  • renovator8

    Eastern white cedar shingles should not be installed without a stain on all sides.

    Cabot Bleaching Oil isn't just bleach & oil and Cabot Weathering Stain doesn't cause any weathering.

    It's more accurate to think of these products as lightly pigmented (semi-transparent) stains that allow the natural grain and texture of cedar to show. They are linseed oil and petroleum distillate stains with the same cosmetic goal: to make cedar take on a faded silver/cold gray appearance as if exposed to oceanfront winds and sun.

    The difference is that Bleaching Oil has a warmer gray pigment but also has a bleaching ingredient that accelerates the lightening of the wood to a silver/cold gray color in 6 to 12 months, whereas Weathering Stain has a pigment color that is already a silver/cold gray color. They are two products that essentially lead to the same result.

    It is my belief that Bleaching Oil has more pigment and uses its bleaching ingredient to eventually achieve the final silver/cold gray color and that Weathering Stain uses less pigment in order to reach the same silver/cold gray color immediately.

    People desiring a silver/cold gray look but who don't want to wait for it will choose Weathering Stain instead of Bleaching oil.

    Cabot suggests that people mix these two products 50/50 in order to give the Bleaching Oil a few months head-start or to delay the Weathering Stain for a few months depending on how you look at it. It seems like a lot of trouble for so little benefit to me.

    Architects often specify Bleaching Oil on white cedar shingles because white cedar shingles have long been offered factory dipped in Bleaching Oil by high grade manufacturers like Maibec or because it lightens and creates a more consistent color on red cedar shingles.

    An alternative is to use Cabot Driftwood Gray Semi-Transparent Stain #6344.

    I specify a lot of white cedar shingles and they have all been factory dipped in Cabot Bleaching Oil. Those on my vacation house in southern Maine are 14 years old with no rot but minor fungus darkening primarily due to being in the trees on a lake. I've seen these kinds of shingles last 40 years. In my opinion they're the lowest maintenance cladding available.

    This post was edited by Renovator8 on Sun, Sep 28, 14 at 19:00

  • housebuilder14

    wow thanks! we are getting our shingles from sbc and i think they use olympia stains for pre-dipped shingles. i am still torn between bleaching oil and weathing oil. i want it to look natural which is why i don't love the weathering oil but i am concerned that the bleaching oil won't get me to where i want to be. thanks again for the info.

  • BirchPoint

    Renovator8's house has bleaching oil and the house I'm building has weathering stain --- they look pretty similar to me! My shingles were from Maibec who uses Cabot's products for the stains. My builder said he was told they are planning to discontinue the weathering stain, so I am planning to move forward with a detached garage to be sure I get the same shingles. My shingles were pre-dipped.


  • BirchPoint

    I'll try again...

  • renovator8

    Cabot Bleaching oil, Weathering stain and all colors of Semi-Transparent Stain are the same basic material with different amounts of solids and pigment.

    Bleaching Oil and Weathering Stain both have a much greater solids & pigment content than Cabot's other similar stains.

    The choice between the two is a matter of color preference IMO. Bleaching Oil starts out looking warmer and more natural than Weathering Stain and turns a more subtle silver gray later so it has been preferred by New England architects for many decades. After 10 or more years I doubt there is much of a color difference.

    If you can't decide, mix them together.

  • PRO
    A4 Architecture

    Shingles often rot from behind. We have found a bleaching oil gives them a nice start to the silver grey everyone likes and wants but we use a Rain-Slicker drainage plane

    Residence Exterior · More Info

    behind them to help keep them from rotting from the backside and they perform well even in saltwater environments like Newport RI!

  • mikevortho

    I like the look of eastern white cedar shingles when first installed. If they are not dipped with bleaching or weathering oil, will that look last longer? Also, do I compromise the longevity of the shingle if they are installed untreated?

  • millworkman

    "I like the look of eastern white cedar shingles when first installed. If they are not dipped with bleaching or weathering oil, will that look last longer?"


    "Also, do I compromise the longevity of the shingle if they are installed untreated?"


  • bennyben75

    the beaching oil is what prevents them from turning black.

  • mikevortho

    How often does the bleaching oil need to be re-applied? Any experience with Maibec's H2bo stain? Thanks.

  • mikevortho

    Would anyone be able to comment on my two questions? Thanks!

  • millworkman

    "bleaching oil need to be re-applied"

    Bleaching oil is a one time product to help bleach out or gray your shingles quicker, No protection in it period.

    "Any experience with Maibec's H2bo stain?"

    No, been out of the wood shingle business for a number of years now.

  • Stacey Collins

    Actually, according to Cabot, their Bleaching Oil needs to be reapplied every 3-5 years. (See "Maintenance" section here: Cabot Bleaching Oil Maintenance). I can attest to that. We installed pre-dipped Maibec Kennebunk shingles with Cabot Bleaching Oil about 6 years ago. In the places that have the strongest sun exposure, the shingles have lost their silver-grey look and are now a darker, browner color (like raw cedar shakes) in a blotchy, streaky pattern. Not horrible, but I liked it more uniform. We need to re-apply the Cabot bleaching oil, I think!

    All in all, though, we LOVE these shingles. Really pretty. Those on the north side of the house still look brand new, I'm hoping that another application will even them out again.

  • millworkman

    It doesn't specifically say to reapply Bleaching Oil. I would not reapply but use a high quality clear uv protectant / finish.

  • mikevortho

    Thanks Stacey and Millworkman! Stacey, can you upload a picture showing elevation with strongest sun exposure?

  • jrohn

    I also sided my house with pre-bleached white cedar shingles. Every 3-4 years I've reapplied the Cabots Bleaching oil with great success, until this year. After making it halfway down a wall I ran out of the oil and went to buy some more only to find out that Cabots no longer makes Bleaching Oil (oil) and now only makes Bleaching Stain (acrylic). The colors and transparency do not match and you cannot apply the stain over the oil for 6 months or more after you applied the oil per Cabots. They are eliminating all their true oil based products due to high VOC content in favor of the water bourne products. As an architect I was unaware of this change (probably should have been as it's no different than every other product) and am now stuck with what to do next. I need to stain my house but not sure what to use and hoping that I can find a stray can of the bleaching oil to at least finish the unfinished side of my house. In the future I'll need to find another alternative. Any suggestions?

  • PRO
    A4 Architecture

    Try to find a hardware store still carrying the old product to finish your work and then leave it to weather naturally. I always thought of the the bleaching oil as giving the cedar shingles a "head start" on the weathering process and a "boost" on their longevity, but always wanted the shingles to look as naturally aged as possible after 5-10 years. Some subtle variegation and differential weathering is normal, natural and (to my eye) more authentic.

  • millworkman

    This leads me to believe it may actually be still available but in a VOC compliant product.

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