Western Red Cedar, Naturally
Western Red Cedar in its natural, unfinished state has a richly textured tactile grain and a glowing palette of warm, mellow tones ranging from light amber to deep honey brown. No man-made material can duplicate the depth of cedar's natural luster.
WRC remains subtly aromatic, and the characteristic fragrance of Red Cedar adds an aromatic dimension to its universal appeal.
Many folks prefer to allow their cedar furniture to "naturally age" outdoors without a stain or finish. Over time, the colorful tones of the wood slowly weather to a handsome silver-grey and the grain of the wood becomes slightly raised. If left completely natural, this silver-gray color eventually is highlighted by darker streaks formed from the reaction between the cedar resin and the zinc hardware. If you don't fancy the dark streaks, we suggest using a simple wood sealer (see below).
We do not recommend using oil finishes on your cedar outdoor furniture.
A good wood sealer such as Thompsons Wood Sealer helps by blocking the pores of the wood. This inhibits the grain from becoming raised, yet allows the natural fading of the wood to a gentle silvery-gray color.
If you would like to preserve the colorful tones of the freshly sanded cedar, a number of finishes can be used on cedar furniture. The types we have tried and recommend are good-quality penetrating sealers and transparent or solid exterior stains. You may choose from a wide variety of colors, which makes it easy to match your existing decor. We recommend a single coat of a semitransparent stain with a UV inhibitor, such as Sikkens Cetol 1 (natural) or Thompsons Stain to preserve the handsome look of your furntiture. Every third year you might reapply a coat of stain to freshen the finish. Cedar requires little or no sanding, preparation or primer when you use a stain.
Paint is fine; but, over time, on exterior surfaces it flakes and eventually requires scraping and refinishing. Stain, however, is "breathable" and won't trap moisture; so, no blistering, no peeling. Stain is the best choice for cedar. Many colors are available in semitransparent and solid finishes.
Western Red Cedar should be preservative-treated if it will be embedded in the ground; for example, fence posts, landscape ties or garden arbor posts.