How To Protect Cedar Wood For Outdoors? [3 Ways to Follow]

Cedar works as the most reasonable yet stylish wood for decorating your residence site. It’s a really popular wood for decoration purposes. People even use cedar wood to decorate outdoor areas. 

But how to protect cedar wood for the outdoors?

Well, cedar wood can easily get discolored. But you can resolve the issue by sealing, staining, and oil finishes. A sealer will lock the pores and protect the cedar from any harm. Stains create a layer that enhances the beauty as well as protects the outer layer. Lastly, an oil finish is the ultimate solution to protect the cedar wood outdoors.

Seems too confusing? Don’t worry! We will be discussing all the 3 ways to protect your cedar wood from discoloration. Also, you’ll provide solutions for each issue.  

So, let’s get started-

6 Reasons Why Protection Is Necessary

People have been using cedar wood furniture outdoors a lot. This is because the wood is versatile, easily available, and durable for domestic uses.

If you want to use this wood, you need to know how to maintain it. And knowing the reasons behind a cedar wood discoloration will surely help you.

So, let’s take a look at the reasons quickly-

Reason 1: Dust & Dirt

Dirt and dust are the first ones to occupy your cedar. The two remain on top for the discoloration of the wooden surface.

Moreover, as your cedar wood furniture is placed outside, dust will be its new best friend. 

Reason 2: Mildew

Another common reason behind discoloration is mildew. After a few months of setting your cedar object, mildew might take place on it. Mildew is a staining fungus that causes paint discoloration and stains. 

Reason 3: Extractive Bleeding

Extractive bleeding is mostly caused by moisture and it results in discoloration. You can stop this problem by preventing moisture from taking place.

Usually in residential areas of building the stain might persist and form dark patches. Then it becomes super hard to get rid of it. 

Reason 4: Iron Bleeding

As time flows, you’ll notice iron stains on your outdoor object. Usually, you may find iron stains in two forms. One is caused by rust. You can identify it through reddish-brown discoloration.

Also, you might find blue-black discoloration sometimes. It happens when iron nails or metal objects react with your red cedar. 

Reason 5: Water Stains

Water stain occurs due to extractive bleeding and mildew growth. Moreover, it can take place during the rainy season as your object is under the open sky. These stains are hard to clean. 

Reason 6: Chalking

Lastly, chalking is a common reason behind the discoloration of wooden surfaces. It is caused by the pigment release and degradation of resin particles. 

In this case, cedar is not the culprit behind it. Degradation of the paint film causes chalking on your cedar.

So, quite a lot of things can cause your beautiful cedar wood object to get damaged. But if you apply some preventive methods beforehand, you can easily avoid this. 

3 Protective Methods To Save Your Cedar Wood Outdoors

You have already understood your outdoor cedar is softwood. And it requires extra care. Or else, cedar wood will be damaged by the flow of time.

So, the best option is to make the wooden surface waterproof and weatherproof. This will prevent the wood from getting any patches and also secure it from any harm.

Here, we will instruct you on 3 ways to protect your cedar-

Method 1: Seal Your Cedar Wood with Sealant

Ultraviolet rays of the sun affect cedar’s color condition. Thus the furniture or object will turn into a greyish color.

The best way to protect the warm tone of cedar is using ultraviolet inhibitors. This is why a good quality sealer must be applied once a year.

Wood sealer or sealant is a good option as it locks the pores. Thus, it protects the wood from getting dust, extreme sunlight, and moisture.

Now, let’s see how to use a sealant-

Step 1: Clean and Dry Your Cedar Wood

First of all, it’s important for you to clean the surface of the cedar wood. Because the sealant coating will not be even or work if the surface has grime or dirt. Sometimes you will not be able to apply the sealant on a wet wood surface as well.

This is why you need to clean the wood first. Wash your wood by hand. Because this way there will be less chance of it getting damaged. So, don’t use your power washer.

Once the dirt is gone, let the wood dry completely. It might take 2-3 hours or so. 

Step 2: Apply the Sealant

Now, it’s time to apply your sealant. Use a roller or paintbrush to apply it. You must apply the first coating evenly.

Don’t forget the edges, joints, and board ends. All the places should be covered with the sealant evenly. You can apply another coating if you think your cedar wood needs it.

But remember, after 1 year, you have to repeat this process. Otherwise, the wood will start discoloring after 1 year. 

Method 2: Stain the Cedar Wood

If you want to keep a natural warm shade of cedar, staining is a useful solution. While choosing a stain, you might come across many options.

But 3 types of stains are super effective to protect your cedar wood. These are semi-transparent stains, oil-based stains, and solid color stains.

We have mentioned how to use oil-based stains separately. Because the application process is a bit different from the other two. So, here let’s check out how to apply semi-transparent and solid color stains-

Step 1: Prepare the Wood Surface

First, prepare your wood surface by washing it. You can use any mild detergent to scrub the dirt and grime away. Then rinse your cedar wood thoroughly.

Once it’s cleaned, allow it to dry fully. After it’s dry, you can sand it with 50 grit sandpaper. This will help the stain to absorb better. 

Step 2: Apply the Stain

Now, grab your stain and a brush. Apply your stain while your cedar objects are under a shade, away from sunlight.

Remember, the application should be even. And it should dry after you are done applying the stain on the entire surface. This will prevent the wood from having lap marks.

Once the first coating is done and has dried up, apply the second one. Then wait for it to dry completely. And voila! Our job is done. 

Method 3: Stain Your Cedar Wood with Oil-Based Stain

You can oil finish the cedar wood in two different ways; teak, and linseed. Both are applied in the same way. 

Let’s dive into the applying process-

Step 1: Clean Your Wood Surface

Grab a dry cloth to wipe off any dirt on the furniture. If the dirt is stubborn, scrub and wash the wood surface. Then let it dry for a while afterward so it dries completely.

Step 2: Apply the Oil Stain and Dry the Cedar Wood

Now, dip your brush with heavy linseed oil and brush it onto the cedar. Coat each and every side of the outer layer of the object. Then leave it to absorb the oil for half an hour.

Remove excessive oil using a fresh rag. Now, leave the setup to completely dry overnight. 

Step 3: Sand the Wood Surface and Apply the Oil Again

The next day, lightly sand the object with ultrafine-grit sandpaper. Apply another layer of oil coating, and let it dry overnight once again. 

Try to maintain reapplying oil at least once a year. This way your cedar will be protected from dust, mildew, or even discoloration issues.


How to waterproof cedar wood?

Remove dust from the upper layer of cedar wood. Then scuff sandpaper all through your wooden surface. Grab any wood waterproofing material and apply through brush or roller. Repeat the process multiple times to get a better result.

What are the disadvantages of cedar wood?

The main disadvantage of cedar wood is it gets faded real quick than other wooden structures. It can be too expensive yet not strong enough to hold its actual color. It’s a big turn-off for a huge number of people.

Can I put polyurethane on cedar wood?

Yes, definitely you can use it. Polyurethane protects wood from getting dirt, dust, etc that damages the color. Every type of wooden surface should get coated with this liquid solution. But you must dry out the cedar wood properly before applying the solution.


Let’s wrap up the discussion here. Hopefully, you are all clear about how to protect cedar wood for outdoors?

Try to maintain every path we discussed. Thus, your cedar wood will be long-lasting.

Good luck!

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