Best finish for outdoor cedar furniture

Best finishing for red cedar

Many options for finishing red cedar; Red Cedar wood adheres excellently, which means that you can use many types of a red cedar stain.

Experts believe that of all softwoods, red cedar has the best finishing properties. So you have every choice. The secret of that versatility lies in the lack of resins.

In addition, the low shrinkage and swelling factors, the small amount of sapwood, and the refined structure of cedar wood also play a role.

All these elements make western red cedar unique. It’s going too far to say you can put anything on it, but there’s very little chance that you’ll buy something completely unsuitable. A comforting thought!

With which product can I treat the cedar wood?

If left untreated, Cedar wood tends to discolor. In principle, you do not need to treat/preserve cedarwood. The wood will indeed age, but in principle, this offers an aesthetic added value.

The quality of the wood does not change. Cedar wood can easily last 20 years untreated, and If you do not like this gray color, you can treat the wood with a glaze. This gives the wood a shiny effect and keeps it looking new.

Specific properties of cedarwood

Cedar is known for its durability. The type of wood has a durability class II.

Furthermore, it works moderately with fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Another advantage is that the fine-grained wood is easy to process and that the wood tissue contains natural Thujaplicin and water-soluble phenols.

They protect the wood against wood rot and insect infestation.

It is therefore not necessary to treat cedar with a wood preservative. Red Cedar is a type of wood with excellent properties.

It has a smooth, tight structure without knots. Cedar does not warp, does not rot, and is extremely easy to maintain.

Cedar wood naturally contains pleasantly scented oils, which protect the wood against insects and rot.

These natural ingredients further restore disturbed energy balances, have an expectorant effect, and are highly antiseptic. Western Red Cedar is also energy-saving due to its highly reflective capacity.

Things to consider when processing Red Cedar wood for siding

You can choose to apply a protective layer of paint or to stain. Cladding can be significantly affected by the weather.

Red Cedar is known for slightly aging, which is why many people choose this type of wood. The light graying is seen as very beautiful.

However, the risk is that this aging does not happen gradually with spots in the process.

Protect cedar wood with stain

There are special types of facade stains for Red Cedar, but regular stains for outdoor wood are also suitable.

By choosing a transparent stain with pigments, you optimally protect your Red Cedar cladding without losing the wood’s unique appearance.

The veins and color remain visible, and this way, you have the best result.

However, you can also choose to use a colored stain. As a result, the unique color of the wood is lost.

Completely transparent stain without pigments provides a more natural look but also protects less against the sun.

To protect cedar wood as much as possible, choose to use paint.

You can also choose a color yourself. It would be best if you chose moisture-regulating paint. This type of wood absorbs a lot of moisture.

If you do not use moisture-regulating paint, the wood can no longer breathe, shortening its life.

You can also choose to use wood oil for cedar wood.

Of all the options, oil ensures that the original appearance of the wood is best preserved. This gives your facade a beautiful natural look.

Red Cedarwood is a softwood

Yet, it is relatively strong and expands little, making it suitable for many processing options. Nevertheless, this type of wood deserves special attention.

This is because it must be very dry when applying stain, oil, or paint. The wood should be processed as early as possible in the process, and this certainly applies to a transparent finish.

If cedarwood has been exposed to the weather for more than a week, this can cause major problems during processing.

If you want to edit your facade after assembly, it is important that you only use rust-free and dry screws during assembly.

Cedar oil for an outdoor finish

Cedar is a rewarding type of wood that you can use for many applications. It is durable but quickly weathers under the influence of sun and rain and then takes on a silver-grey look that is often blotchy.

Painting cedar or treating it with a film-forming oil is not always a good idea. Due to the rapid weathering, the chance of early peeling is high.

That is why Cedar Oil was developed, a non-film-forming stain that gives cedar wood an even look. Cedar oil is available in many colors, but choosing a white or gray shade is best for the best and most durable result.

Cedar oil can be painted over after 16 to 24 hours, depending on temperature and humidity.

Apply Cedar oil with a flat (long-haired) brush or spray in 1 or 2 undiluted layers according to the desired appearance.

Satisfy well, maintained every 2 to 3 years with two coats of cedar oil, Coloring and protecting cedar wood outside.

Protects the wood against weather influences and greying.

Cedar oil for Untreated wood

Clean the wood with a stiff abrasive brush. Treat any green vegetation with diluted bleach, let it soak for a few hours, and then remove with a stiff brush.

Rinse with water, and then let the wood dry out. The wood does not necessarily need to be sanded beforehand. In the case of disturbing stains, sand the wood coarsely and thoroughly until an even appearance is obtained.

What happens to untreated wood?

Depending on the durability of the wood, each type of wood ages when it comes into contact with water and sunlight; this process is very fast, especially outdoors.

So when working with untreated wood, make sure that you protect the wood very quickly if you do not want discoloration.

Which types of wood can be used untreated?

On our page about the durability classes of wood, you can see how sustainable the wood types are. In principle, the more durable the wood, the longer the untreated wood remains good in the open air.

The following types of wood can therefore be used untreated  :

Azobe  (class 1) will remain untreated for up to 25 years or more. It is therefore widely used for foundations and bank protection.

Western Red Cedar  (grade 2) has a lifespan of 15 to 25 years, Is mainly used as wooden facade cladding.

Larch Douglas is also called Douglas Wood (class 3) 10 – 15 years. A popular type of wood for garden sheds, fences, and canopies.

The above types of wood are therefore used in the open air without any protection against the weather.

The higher the durability class, the longer the lifespan of the wood species. In addition, there are many more types of hardwood that can be used untreated. The aging does not affect the lifespan of the wood.

Methods to treat wood

There are several methods To extend the life and color of wood that you can efficiently perform yourself:

Exterior oil

Woca is a Danish manufacturer specializing in the treatment of wood for both indoor and outdoor use.

This Exterior Oil series is very useful for treating different types of wood and has a specific pigment for various types of wood, such as Douglas Wood.

In addition, many more colors are possible, see the color chart on the right. This makes it possible to keep the original color of the wood!


  • Matte natural look
  • For both planed and raw wood
  • Faster than painting
  • Pulls into the wood
  • Easy to update locally


  • The transparent/natural version contains little UV protection and should be treated more often (once a year).
  • The advantage is that the same color is well maintained. In addition, there are also other colors/pigments to choose from.
  • These offer a higher degree of protection. This results in a lower maintenance interval.
  • The maintenance depends on the sun on your facade, the chosen oil, and your wish for color retention.
  • Keep an eye on it yourself. Do you think there is a discoloration process? Then you can put it back in the same oil.

Glaze Paint / Stain

The glaze is the German word for stain. So glaze paint is nothing more than stain. Outdoor stain is available in many types and qualities.

Any wood can last a long time if it is appropriately treated. With glaze, you protect and treat the wood so that it remains in optimal condition.

Different types of wood also react differently to the various paints, stains, and oils.

Below are some tips and specific properties of wood.

Oakwood contains tannic acid, and because of this, it reacts differently to some substances. For example, if you use normal steel instead of stainless steel, you will get black spots in the wood.

With hardwoods such as Azobe, Padauk, Bankirai, and Abiurana, what you apply to it is more difficult to absorb by the wood.

Therefore, it can take longer before the material absorbs into the wood or a covering layer does not adhere well.

Rough/brushed/fine sawn wood absorbs more material than smooth planed wood. In addition, it lasts longer.

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