What’s My Current Cedar Coating? An Easy Guide To Checking The Coating On Your Cladding

Cedar is a high-end, soft timber that, when used in cladding/siding and fencing, can elevate a home’s exterior, enhance its landscape and increase the property’s value. If you’ve recently bought a home with cedar exteriors, continue with cedar maintenance to protect your investment. The first step is to be aware of the existing coating.

We’ll discuss the main types of cedar coating that are commonly used in New Zealand and explain how you can find out which one is used on your cladding or fence. And on top of that, our experts will also give their recommendations for the best coating for cedar wood, so you can make an informed decision.


The 3 Types of Cedar Cladding Coating To Look Out For

The three types of cedar coating used commonly in New Zealand are:

  • Acrylic film former (water-based paint or woodcare coating)
  • Solvent-based stain or trim paint
  • Migrating oils and stains

What’s the best coating for cedar wood?

A true migrating oil like Dryden WoodOil will migrate into the cedar and protect it from the inside out, unlike a film-forming coating or solvent-based stain or trim paint,’ which remains on the surface only, offering limited protection and potentially compromise the natural beauty of the cedar.

Featured Guide: The 4 Best Products for Cedar Maintenance in New Zealand


What helps prevent common issues faced by cedar exteriors

Because Dryden WoodOil is a water-repellent, non-filming timber protector, it will help minimise common cedar cladding issues like; warping, cupping and splitting, as these issues are caused by high moisture content and exposure to extreme temperature changes.


Enhanced UV Protection to Cedar Coating with Colourtone+

When you add Colourtone+ to Dryden WoodOil it becomes a superior solution that provides cedar exteriors with UV protection which helps minimise silvering and weathering. Plus, with 37 colours available, you can select a tone that complements your home’s style.

Check out this ultimate guide on cedar maintenance to understand how you can effortlessly protect your cedar with Dryden WoodOil.

How to check the existing coating on cedar cladding: 3 tests to try

Equipment Needed:

  • Safety glasses and gloves (solvent resistant)
  • Black rag (existing light colour)
  • White rag (existing dark colour)
  • Methylated spirits

1. Test Using Methylated Spirits (a.k.a The Solvent Resistant Test)

The solvent resistance test is the most standard test you’ll come across, as methylated spirits are readily available from a supermarket or hardware store.

All you need to do is apply a small amount of methylated spirits onto a clean rag and rub it on the cedar surface.

If the area tested becomes soft, and the coating slightly dissolves or comes off onto the rag, you’ll know that the cedar coating is acrylic paint.

On the other hand, if the existing coating goes gummy and sticky quite quickly, it will most likely be a water-based stain.


2. Appearance Test

You can also tell the type of cedar coating you have by simply judging its appearance. If the semi-transparent coating on the cedar cladding has a shiny or plastic appearance or is clearly flaking, then it’s most likely a film-forming stain.


3. Burnish/Dry Rub Test

A burnish/dry rub test will help tell you if your coating is a migrating oil, such as Dryden WoodOil, or a stain.

Use a clean rag to burnish/dry rub a small area of the cedar coating for approximately 15 seconds to see how easy it is to remove the pigment. If the pigment is easily removed, then this is evidence your existing coating may be a migrating oil or stain.

These tests are not foolproof and are indicative only. The best option is to get a professional opinion, so get in touch with us, and our experts will be able to advise you on how to get an accurate idea of what your existing coating is.

Wrap-Up: Key Points Of Checking Existing Cedar Coatings

Now that you know the value of cedar for your home’s exteriors and the importance of first checking the existing coating first before updating, the next step is to start your cedar maintenance journey. But before that, here are a few key points to remember;

  • The three types of cedar coating commonly used in New Zealand are acrylic film former, solvent-based stain or trim paint, and migrating oils and stains.
  • A migrating oil like Dryden WoodOil is the best coating for cedar wood as it migrates into the cedar and protects it from the inside out.
  • Dryden WoodOil helps prevent common issues faced by cedar exteriors, such as warping, cupping, splitting, mould and lichen growth, decay, and rot.
  • Colourtone+ provides enhanced UV protection and comes in 37 colours.
  • Three tests can be used to check the existing coating on cedar cladding: the solvent resistance test using methylated spirits, appearance test, and burnish/dry rub test.
  • However, professional opinion is always the best option to accurately determine the type of coating used.

Visit your local Dryden reseller and start your cedar maintenance journey today.

Pick The Best Colour For Your Cedar Stain

Adding colour to your exteriors is easy and straightforward with Dryden Colourtone+, which comes with over 37 shades to choose from. It helps enhance cedar cladding’s

UV protection while complementing your timber’s character and colour without hiding the grain.


*Will silver as product weathers overtime


*Will silver as product weathers overtime


Lite Oak










Weathered Cedar



Silver Grey







Black Teak













Soft Grey


Dryden WoodOil colours and finishes shown here on Western Red Cedar are representative only. The colour you choose and the amount of oil applied may change the final achieved colour.