Exterior Paint Job: Shave, Sand, Wash, Stain, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Usually I appreciate textured surfaces, and the occasional chippy paint. I love an “old wall” look. But I don’t love it when my house looks like this:

Peeling Paint on Cedar Siding

Peeling Exterior Paint

Twice in the past 10 years, we paid contractors to scrape and paint our cedar-sided house. But they scraped pretty much half-heartedly, kind of just barely. It’s not a fun job, for sure. Now we’re doing the job. On all 3,000 sq ft of siding.

Removing Paint from Cedar Siding

Scraping Paint from Cedar Siding

Shave. Sand. Wash. Stain.




For 4 months. This was my Summer of ’17 AND Fall of ’17. Days and evenings!


We HAVE to. Because when you’re up close, it looks like we have the haunted house on the block. And beyond the looks, the siding and house are not protected from the elements. Though we have cedar which is rot-resistant, some areas are starting to rot and rot is spreading.

Some neighbors warned us, don’t do it yourselves!! Replace the siding instead! It’s easier! Yeah and that’s really expensive. And there isn’t much wrong with the cedar. Sure there are a few rotten areas and some woodpecker holes. But they can be easily fixed with epoxy and rot terminator, or replaced with a few new cedar boards. Our house is nearly 50 years old. I think that 50-year-old cedar is better than today’s new cedar?

We talked with several contractors about doing this full job of scraping all wood down to raw wood. Some wouldn’t even do it. Others quoted way more than we can pay for the entire job, I’m talking some quotes were around $18,000! We’ve already paid many thousands — twice — in the last 10 years for re-painting.

So, this time we’re doing it.

PaintShaver Pro on Cedar Siding

Removing Exterior Paint from Cedar Siding

Removing Exterior Paint with PaintShaver Pro

Shade Seekers

We live near Chicago, so we’re in a race against the weather. We have to finish before snow flies. But seeing that it’s 95 degrees on September 23 — thus I’m indoors writing a blog post at high noon and not scraping, sanding etc. outdoors — maybe we’ll have more time than we think.

Here’s a video from this morning. We have to organize our days around the sun, so we work as much as possible in the shade. For awhile, the wall over our garage was shaded:

So, this blog has been quiet for a long time because I’ve been very busy. I’ve been busy since spring on this project. It started with researching everything we’re doing, and then actually doing it. I don’t know how bloggers who do serious big-time renovations can do the work AND edit the photos AND write about it. I’ve been physically and mentally exhausted after days of this work! But I will say, this also feels like good healthy work for the body.

This project is also a perfect time for design changes on the exterior of the house. Of course you know I love opportunity for that!

  • I’m changing the color on all the trim, windows and doors from white to a warm gray.
  • New shutters! Real functional shutter hardware with wood framed board and batten style shutters. And, shutters properly sized for the windows. The real deal.
  • It’s hard to see lights in the photo above, but we’re replacing porch and garage lights. From cheap traditional colonial lights, to bigger “modern industrial farmhouse” trendier lights. With motion sensing, so every time deer, raccoon, skunk, fox and coyote walk by at night, I can freak out and think it’s a burglar.
  • We’re adding a big walkway from the driveway to the porch. I am pining for bluestone but we’ll likely do pavers with a bluestone look.
  • Next spring, more of a garden in the front. We chopped down a row of bland evergreen bushes that ran along the front of the porch. I’ll be researching shrubs with four-season interest.
  • I think we’ll run out of time this year, so likely next spring we’ll add stone veneer along the bottom half of the sunroom that’s on the back of the house. And eventually a patio will be added to wrap around the sunroom.

Future Blog Posts

I’ll follow-up later with more posts about this big exterior paint project:

  • Product reviews – I’ll do a post about all the products that helped us.
  • Paintshaver Pro review. This tool is a dream come true and makes this job possible. You can see my husband using it in the video above. I’ll do a whole post about the tool.
  • There are color and design decisions to share — not just a show n’ tell but the reasons and why’s behind the decisions.
  • DIY shutters and functional shutter hardware. I still have to make samples of the shutters. There’s more than 30 shutters to make. I am more of a “one & done” DIY’er, not a production person, so I honestly think making all those shutters will be more painful than this exterior paint job!
  • Some safety tips. Some people might say we’re going overboard – we’re renting a big boom lift for the highest parts of the house next week, instead of rigging up DIY things to get higher up. I worked in safety for decades, and I’ve worked in a trauma center and seen first-hand what can happen to people. So I’m cautious. Not overly-scared because I’m up there on the roof too, but cautious. So I’ll have some things to say about fall prevention and the importance of investing in safety.

So this was a quick update for now, more later!

Boom Lift for Exterior Paint Job


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One Reply to “Exterior Paint Job: Shave, Sand, Wash, Stain, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat”

  1. Hi Nomadic Decorator,
    I found your blog post as I was faced with the same shave, scrape, stain restoration challenges as you. I also found the tool, Paint Shaver Pro, mine is a Hitachi model that just ripped the paint right off. I followed with 9″ round 3500 rpm Sears Craftsman grinder and a 6″ pad fitted on a Dewalt variable speed disc sander (DWE6401DS). The 40 grit velcro sanding pads worked fantastic to buzz the rest off after the shaver and then the various palm sander, mouse sander, multi tool scraper/cutter blades to detail the corners.

    My project started out to be a re-painting job, but when our decorator design consultant saw the cedar, she asked why would you want to cover up that beautiful wood. Like you we have 50 year old siding and would be foolish (especially for the cost) to tear it off and reside with fake wood after I learned of the paint shaver and sanding methods to fully restore the luster of the original cedar siding. We also have plans to upgrade the trim and windows and lighting to bring the farm house look we like in the Pacific Northwest. After consulting the experts, we chose a top of the line Cabot stain called Australian Timber Oil and it is bomber. While the product is considered a semi – transparent stain, the Honey Teak color has a fair amount of solids to protect the cedar from UV and prolong the intervals between maintenance re-coatings every 7 to 12 years depending on the aspect and exposure.

    On a rainy day the siding beads up like a freshly waxed car finish. Our homeowners association is questioning the “reasonable compatibility” with the rest of the homes that have LP or Hardie Plank fake wood siding that is engineered to hold the paint, whereas the real cedar has different needs to weather the elements.

    I couldn’t find a follow up blog to tell the rest of the story. Your work looks fantastic by the way. True satisfaction of being able to bring back the new look of 50 year old cedar including portions that are sided with 1 x 10 bevel ship lap clear heart vertical grain cedar….Priceless!…it would be crime to cover that material with solid paint/stain. So we need to come up with a color and decor scheme to tie the natural parts with some highlighted solid stained walls that will make our home blend in a little better. We are considering some board and batten sections and then salvaging the cedar to fix some areas that were ripped off and replaced with LP siding.

    As I read into your blog, the budget was a driver for your paint shaver pro endeavor to work with what you have. That is exactly the direction that my wife and I went. Your title of your blog said that you finished the job with STAIN, and that is the reason for my writing you. Could you please share what product(s) you used to finish you home after stripping off that ugly peeling flaking mess that we also had to address when we closed on a bank foreclosure purchased property…a 1973 split level with the cedar siding that was so plentiful and rot resistant and commonly used to side the homes back then. Much of the homes in the area are painted over, but the care and process to revive that wood is so rewarding. Nice work and we look forward to hearing from you about the final look and the products you stained your home with.

    Thanks for posting the blog on this project that I repeated almost exactly in Sequim, Washington on our retirement retreat. With the tools I bought including the Paint Shaver Pro, I eliminated the scrape step and found MUCH easier ways to accomplish the HUGE prep task that ended up as a complete sanding of the entire exterior of our house. Still a project in the works and hopefully get the final color scheme and trim colors that help our house blend into the neighborhood but also doesn’t cover up all the beauty of that restored siding. Solid pigment stain is pretty much the same look as a latex paint that the Hardie Planked homes around us look like, but we certainly hope that by following the experts at Cabot’s with their oil based stain products we will NEVER have to get that Paint Shaver Pro back out….nor do the neighbors ever want to endure the 2 weeks worth of stripping it took on this 2400 sf house plus a detached garage. Weeee, Weeee Weee. Uggg!

    Would be glad to share photos and videos with you of our house project in the various stages of restoration and finish.

    Kind regards,

    Chuck and Stacie Taylor

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