How to Finish Cedar Wood for Outdoors

Finishing cedar wood is one of the most gratifying steps in any outdoor project. Whether you’re building a deck for your backyard, patio furniture for your outdoor living space, or cedar storage boxes to decorate your garden, you’ll want to make sure that it looks great and can withstand the elements. It is important to know how to finish cedar wood for outdoors. 

How to Finish Cedar Wood for Outdoors

That’s why choosing the right finish for cedar wood is so important — without proper protection against moisture, harsh UV rays from sunlight, and intermittent rainstorms, these structures can break down much more quickly than expected. In this article, we’ll cover all of the essential tips and techniques to help you finish cedar wood properly outdoors so that whatever structure you create will last a lifetime!

Tools You Will Need

Before you start your cedar wood finishing project, make sure that you have all the necessary tools. You will need 

  • Sandpaper
  • Paint brushes 
  • Rollers
  • A putty knife 
  • Caulking gun
  • A clear sealer 
  • Other protective finish of your choice (such as oil-based polyurethane)
  • A clean cloth. 

If you don’t have all of these items, you can find them at most hardware stores.

7 Steps on How to Finish Cedar Wood for Outdoors

1. Sanding

The first step to finishing your cedar wood project is sanding. Use medium- to fine-grade sandpaper and lightly sand the entire surface of your structure until it’s smooth. This will remove any splinters, bumps, or irregularities that may have been caused by sawing the wood.

2. Clean the Wood

Taking the appropriate steps to care for outdoor cedar wood is essential to a healthy and long-lasting product. Cleaning the wood before finishing is the first step. An easy and effective way to clean this type of wood is by using a damp cloth and mild detergent solution. 

Care for Outdoor Cedar Wood

Gently wipe down the wood surface, avoiding excess quantities of liquid and scrubbing too hard, then leave it to dry completely before finishing. When done correctly, this method ensures that the finish adheres properly and prevents any damage from occurring in the future.

3. Apply One Coat of a Clear Wood Sealant

Applying one coat of clear wood sealant or stain is an easy way to make your cedar wood gleam. This simple step can help protect the wood from weathering, and bring color and grain into sharp focus. Before you begin, make sure that your surface is clean and completely dry. 

Apply a thin coat of sealant or stain using a brush or roller, then let it dry for 48 hours before using your newly finished cedar. This will allow the sealant enough time to penetrate the wood correctly and fully protect it against outdoor elements such as water, dirt, and ultraviolet rays. Follow these steps for beautiful results!

4. Use an Oil-based Paint

Finishing cedar wood for outdoor use can be an intimidating task, as there are many options to choose from. However, oil-based paint is an excellent choice for cedar wood if you want a durable and long-lasting finish. This type of paint provides greater protection against extreme weather conditions because it forms a waterproof barrier that prevents moisture from entering the wood. 

Furthermore, oil-based paint helps prevent thermal shock which can occur when exposed to extreme changes in temperature when placed outdoors. Applying two coats of oil-based paint will further ensure your outdoor cedar surfaces remain safe and attractive for years to come!

5. Use a Roller or Brush to Apply a Clear Sealer

Finishing cedar wood outdoors is a great way to protect it from damage and give it an attractive, polished look. To do this, start by painting the wood, making sure you wait for the paint to dry before you move on to the next step. Once your paint dries, use a roller or brush to apply a layer of clear sealer over the surface. 

Start by Painting the Wood

The sealer helps keep out harsh UV rays and moisture, which could cause deterioration and fade over time. Plus, it will help lock in the color of your paint and make sure that it stays vibrant and doesn’t become dull or faded.

6. Use Caulking Around Any Joints

When finishing cedar wood outdoors, using caulking around any joints can provide extra protection from water damage. This is an important step to ensure that the piece of cedar wood lasts for a long time in the outdoor environment. Caulk helps to seal out moisture by filling gaps and cracks in walls or where two different types of material come together. 

When using a caulk with a cedar wood project outdoors, make sure that it is appropriate for exterior use and rated to withstand weathering. Such as ultraviolet exposure and rain or snow. 

Applying caulk correctly can help provide lasting protection against water damage both on its own and when protecting finishes as well.

7. Use a Coat of Oil-based Polyurethane

To complete your outdoor project with cedar wood, finish it off with a coat of oil-based polyurethane. This protective layer is great for any wood because not only does it protect against moisture, but also blocks UV rays. It won’t change the original appearance and even gives the wood a warm glow. 

You may need to apply additional coats to achieve good coverage and the maximum protection available but it is certainly worth the effort. With only a few steps you can get superior protection that will last through years of sun, rain, and snow.

These steps will help ensure that your cedar wood projects last as long as possible, even in harsh outdoor conditions. With the proper finishing techniques, you can enjoy your beautiful cedar wood structures outside for years to come!

Apply Additional Coats

Tips to Finish Cedar Wood Outdoors

  1. Inspect the wood for any damage.
  2. If the wood is weathered, sand it down to bare wood.
  3. Apply a stain or sealer to the wood.
  4. Let the stain or sealer dry completely.
  5. 5. Apply a second coat of stain or sealer, if desired.
  6. 6. Let the second coat of stain or sealer dry completely.
  7. Apply a clear topcoat to the wood.
  8. Let the topcoat dry completely.
  9. Enjoy your beautiful, finished Cedar Wood!

How to Get the Perfect Finish for Your Outdoor Cedar Wood?

To get the perfect finish for your outdoor cedar wood, you’ll need to take several steps. 

First, power washes your wood to remove any dirt or debris that’s settled on its surface. Once complete, let the surface dry completely before beginning to sand it down – be sure to use fine-grain sandpaper, starting with 80 and then moving up to 120 or higher if needed. Next, apply a coat of oil or sealer. 

After waiting 12-24 hours (or as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions), carefully apply a second coat of sealer. Allow several days for the wood to dry completely before enjoying the beautiful new look of your outdoor cedar wood!

How To Seal and Protect Your Outdoor Cedar Projects?

Cedar is a beautiful and beloved material for outdoor projects, such as benches and chairs. It is also strong, lightweight, and naturally durable. So how can we ensure that our cedar projects last for years? Sealant! By coating the surface of the cedar with a protective sealant, you can prevent water saturation, which often leads to rotting. 

Sealing the cedar will also keep it looking vibrant and new for longer by protecting it from weathering and UV rays. Once you’ve chosen a sealant, be sure to apply it evenly with a generous amount then allow the protection to soak in before applying additional coats as needed. And with that extra step, your cedar projects will be on their way to lasting through both sunny days and rainy nights.

How to Keep Your Outdoor Cedar Looking Great Year-Round?

Keeping your outdoor cedar furniture looking great all year round may sound like a difficult task, but with a little effort and regular maintenance, it can be done. Start by cleaning the wood regularly using a mild soap and water mixture to remove any dirt or dust build-up. 

Once cleaned, applying a sealant like Thompson’s Water Seal or another specialized cedar wood protector will help maintain the wood’s natural beauty while protecting it from potential damage due to moisture and insects. 

Cleaning the Wood Regularly Using a Mild Soap

Finally, try to move your cedar furniture around on occasion so that each side of the piece receives an equal amount of sun exposure – this will help keep things symmetrical and prevent any fading or discoloration over time. With these easy tips in mind, you can keep your outdoor cedar looking great year-round!

How to Finish Cedar Wood Outdoors?

To finish cedar wood outdoors, begin by inspecting the wood for any damage. If the wood is weathered, sand it down to bare wood. Then apply a stain or sealer to the wood and let dry completely before applying a clear topcoat. 

Allow the topcoat to dry completely, then enjoy your beautiful, finished cedar wood! For the perfect finish, power wash your wood to remove dirt and debris before sanding down. Then apply oil or sealer before carefully applying a second coat of sealer and letting dry completely. 

Finally, protect the wood by regularly cleaning it with soap and water, applying a sealant, and moving the furniture around on occasion. With these steps, your cedar wood will stay beautiful year-round!


In conclusion, finishing cedar wood outdoors can be done in several steps. You should carefully determine how to finish cedar wood for outdoors. Inspect the wood to determine any damage and sand it down if necessary. Apply a stain or sealer before applying a clear topcoat and letting dry completely. 

To get the perfect finish, power wash your wood, apply oil or sealer, and apply a second coat of sealer. To keep your outdoor cedar looking great year-round, clean the wood with soap and water, apply a sealant, and move the furniture around on occasion. With these steps, you can enjoy your beautiful cedar wood for years to come!

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Adrian Green

Adrian has been interested in woodworking since he was a child. His father had a woodworking shop, and Adrian would help him out and learn from him. He gained basic carpentry knowledge as well as an understanding of how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others. So he started this blog to spread his passion and knowledge to those interested in DIY wood-working projects. He knows that with a little guidance and practice, anyone can create beautiful pieces of furniture or décor from scratch.

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