Reclaiming Cedar Siding

Man, there was a lot of wood around when they built the pink house at #### - ## Avenue in 1916. It turns out that the pink paint on its exterior is covering cedar siding. 

So as part of deconstructing the 100-year old house that the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) will replace, I've been removing the cedar siding.

The siding is covered in paint that probably has lead in it, so the best way for us to recycle it is to just paint it again. We'll rip it from 5" wide to about 3.5" wide, and use it for exterior window and door trim on the MCNZH. Peter Amerongen's Habitat Studio crew has a technique that keeps the trim a few millimetres from the surface that its covering so that it dries off quickly, and given that it's cedar, it should be very durable.

I feel good about being able to save so much of this cedar. After all, cedars are beautiful, gigantic trees, and I'm kind of, you know, a treehugger and all.

Underneath the pink yuckiness is durable cedar.

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I've just discovered some beautiful cedar siding under the stucco we've just peeled off our home. I'm curious to know if it can be flipped over (painted smooth side in, rough natural side out) and reused again as siding. If I could get away with this and could find some extra reclaimed cedar siding to make up damaged pieces I wouldn't have to put up vinyl siding this summer, which would make me very happy and make my yard smell glorious after the rain. Any ideas?

Does cedar siding have a certain life-span? Is it still legal to side a house with cedar in Edmonton? Does it have to be painted, or can it stay natural (similar to untreated cedar shakes on a roof)? Any ideas on where to get reclaimed cedar siding? I'm remiss to buy new wood for this luxury, but also hesitant to see all this siding go to landfill.

The key is whether or not the siding is thick enough. To my chagrin, we ended up land filling all of the siding that I had reclaimed. I wonder if you could have used any of it...

I'm confident that it's legal to side a house with cedar, but I'm just a layperson. As for life span, if it doesn't look like it's been rotted, it's as good as new. Wood lasts indefinitely if it's kept dry.

You could phone up Big Dave from Home Re-use-ables. He won't have any himself, but he may be able to direct you to a home that is destined for tear-down that has cedar siding.

As for whether you can just turn cedar siding around, again a contractor would have to answer that.

Take care,


Thanks for this--I'll definitely give Big Dave a shout. I'm pretty excited that this might actually work out.

Please keep us readers posted Clint. I'd love to see some pictures of the process. In fact, you should do a write-up for us all!

Turns out that a lot of the siding is too old and heavily damaged to reclaim and still no luck finding used cedar. What siding options are other people using that avoid vinyl? I'd love to know. As far as I can tell from pictures and a visit to some of the NetZero sites is most are opting for concrete plaster. Is that any environmentally better than installing cheap vinyl?

Too bad about the old siding. It's really hard to reuse stuff, and it usually has to be in pristine condition.

I haven't really looked into stucco versus vinyl. Stucco definitely isn't as toxic when manufactured, but as far as GHGs go, I'm not sure. Does the movie "Blue Vinyl" have any insight into the issue? It's all about vinyl siding.


Im in the process of deconstructing a 125 year old house and it is covered in cedar shingles,
they are from old growth tree in 1800s any idea if they can be re-used,I would like to re-use them for any purpose,any suggestion's?

I have a 45 year old house in Central NJ with thick dark paint over cedar siding. Almost immediately after moving in - March 2010 - we've had a nasty almost indescribable odor around our house. No neighbors have it, but smell it on the wind from our house. Smells like a cross between natural gas and pesticide or fertilizer. Could it be the siding? We've had every other conceivable cause eliminated. Not gas, not pesticide or fertilizer, not sewage, not an interior plumbing problem, not plumbing vent pipes, I've had DEP, Health Department, Gas one knows what it is.....oh, and it's not rotting vegetation or mulch. Any ideas? It's really gross I'm ready to sell at a huge lose.

I know it's way too late for the previous poster, but if you're looking to isolate the source of a smell, you need to take a sample of it, put it in a sealed plastic bag for a couple of hours to let the smell saturate the air in the bag, and then open the bag and smell it.

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