Best Stain for Cedar Furniture 2023

October 4, 2023

Staining a set of cedarwood chairs and table with wood stain.

As you become more experienced in woodworking, you will soon find that each type of wood has distinct characteristics. Each wood has its specific dimensional stability and weight, and each reacts differently to paint or stain. Take, for example, cedarwood. Cedarwood is known for its outdoor usages like wooden decks and fences. It features a reddish-brown color, and it is rich and resistant to decaying and rotting.

Cedar, especially the red cedar, is perfect for any weather conditions. Moreover, you can easily buy red cedar, and it is relatively cheap. One downside of using red cedar is it tends to turn grey quickly. Besides, when it turns grey, it isn’t easy to restore to its pristine beauty. Nevertheless, you can tinge the wood using wood stain to bring back some of its old splendors.

Types of Stains Suitable for Cedar Wood Furniture

Several factors contribute to the greying of the color of the cedar. Such factors include UV light, moisture, mildew, and many other external factors. Once the greying process sets in, restoring the cedar to its natural hue and color becomes difficult. Yet, you can remedy such an issue by applying wood stain onto the wood surface. 

Wood stains come in different varieties. They may differ in opacity, color, durability, and ability to resist the effects of external factors. But when it comes to wood stain, you got four options: clear, semi-transparent, opaque, and semi-opaque. You can also use these stain types to enhance the beauty of the pecan, mahogany, and dark walnut. But most significantly, you can use it to stain cedar. 

When choosing a stain for cedar, it will be best to choose paraffinic oil-based stains. Choose likewise those which are deep penetrating and feature thinner viscosity. Moreover, the stains you should use for cedarwood should imbue the wood deeply to condition the very cells of the wood while providing enough protection from moisture and UV light. Below are short descriptions of the four types of stains that you can use for cedar furniture:

1) Clear or Natural Wood Stain

One excellent wood stain you can use with cedar is the natural wood stain. It can provide your cedar furniture with a warm appearance that you would surely love. The natural wood stain is transparent and will let the wood’s original grain come out. Moreover, it doesn’t leave any peel or residue. Nevertheless, its durability is not comparable to opaque stains. Hence, you need to apply this transparent wood stain annually or when required.  

2) Semi-transparent Wood Stain

The semi-transparent wood stain is best for staining cedar decks. It provides a light tone or shade. Thus, it also lets the natural grain or hue of the wood come out. Yet, it is more durable than the clear stains and needs only to be applied every two 2 to 3 years. 

3) Semi-opaque Wood Stain

The semi-opaque wood stain provides a semi-solid finish that leaves an intense hue or shade to the surface of the wood. Yet, it doesn’t hide the wood grain’s natural color. You can reapply this stain once every 4 to 5 years.

4 Opaque Wood Stain

The opaque wood stain provides a solid finish to your cedarwood. It also provides enough durability to the wood’s surface and enough protection. Moreover, it offers high pigmentation to the wood, covering its surface and hiding its natural grain. You also must reapply this stain every 4 to 5 years.

The Most Recommended Stains for Cedar Furniture

Finding the right stain for your cedar furniture may prove to be confusing, given the myriads of options at hand. Yet, you can narrow down your choices by being cognizant of the following most recommended stains for cedarwood in the market today:

1) DEFY Stain for Cedar

If you’re looking for a stain for your cedar furniture, one excellent option is the DEFY Stain for Cedar. It offers a quality semi-transparent finish that you would surely appreciate. It enhances your wood’s surface durability while protecting it from adverse factors like UV light. 

This wood stain comes with zinc nanoparticles that can help protect the wood surface from mildew buildup. It is very effective in protecting and enhancing the cedar’s durability, compared to its competitor. 

The good thing about the Defy Extreme is that it is water-based, so it doesn’t bring in harmful odor and is easy to remove if your hand gets stained. It is semi-transparent. Nevertheless, it comes in different colors. So, you got enough color options to choose from. 

The Defy Extreme is easy to apply. Moreover, you don’t need to dilute it. You only need to spray or brush it onto the wood surface. You can use an airless pump sprayer if you like to spray it on the wood surface. 

Then, leave the stain for 24 hours after application. It will be best to untidy the surface of the wood first using water and soap. Then, let the surface completely dry before you apply the stain.


  • Resistant to mildew buildup because of its nanoparticles of zinc
  • Doesn’t need dilution
  • Quick results within a day
  • Comes in different shades
  • Ease of application


  • Fades quickly and needs frequent reapplication

2) Ready Seal 512

Another excellent option is the Ready Seal 512. This stain doesn’t necessitate primer. When you apply it, you’ll see that it is at its darkest. But it manifests its actual color within two weeks. You must refrain from using this stain on a painted surface, for it will not penetrate deep onto the surface.

You can apply this stain using a sprayer, brush, or roller. Besides, it doesn’t necessitate back brushing. It doesn’t leave streaks, runs, or laps. Furthermore, you won’t need any dilution before applying it. 

This product is oil-based. It penetrates deep and protects the wood from within. You will have nine color options if you go for this stain. Moreover, you can choose the natural cedar variation to let the cedar’s natural beauty stand out.

This stain features UV-protecting properties and lets the wood withstand mildew. Thus, your cedar furniture will get protected by this stain. You will most likely need mineral spirits for the after cleaning.


  • Easy to apply and doesn’t need any primer
  • No diluting needed
  • Easy to maintain
  • Comes in ten color options


  • More expensive than other options
  • Comes only in a one-gallon size

3) Cabot 140.0003400.005

Another excellent stain concoction is the Cabot 140.0003400.005. You can use it for railings, decks, sidings, and other outdoor furniture. It is a unique concoction for protecting your cedar and different types of wood. Besides, it can penetrate deeply onto the wood fibers and accentuate the wood’s natural color. 

The Cabot 140.0003400.005 contains linseed oil for optimum penetration. It also comes with alkyds (long-oil) for optimum durability and tung oil for additional color depth. With these ingredients, it becomes resistant to water. It also contains pigments of iron oxide for added protection against UV light.

This stain is available in ten different colors. These options include a natural finish for enhancing the beauty of cedar furniture. It also comes with a minimal VOC variant for less irritation of the respiratory system.


  • Penetrates deeply onto the wood
  • Comes with Alkyds for better durability
  • Water-resistant
  • Features ten different colors


  • Relatively expensive
  • Comes in only one gallon

4) Krylon K03603000

The Krylon K03603000 provides your cedar furniture with excellent protection. You can use it for other wood furniture likewise. Moreover, you can apply it to your outdoor furniture, decks, and fencing. 

This wood stain helps make your furniture water-resistant while providing your furniture with excellent protection from UV light. Besides, it is an oil-based stain that offers a durable finish. 

This stain comes in aerosol spray, and you can buy it in cans. As a caveat, when applying it, you must be a bit careful to avoid damaging the wood surface. 

When applying this to your cedar furniture, you need to use a single coat and let it dry for fifteen minutes. Nevertheless, if you want to apply an additional coating, you must let two days pass before making the second coating. 

The spray can cover up to 25 square feet of furniture surface. You should also wear your protective gear when applying it. Plus, you got various shade options, from rustic brown to cedar. 


  • Dries quickly
  • Provides protection against water and UV light
  • Offers a durable finish
  • Comes in various shades


  • Comes only in aerosol spray cans.

Important Factors to Consider  

You inch closer to finding the ideal stain for your cedar furniture once you know the most recommended wood stains for cedar. Yet, it will also help if you are familiar with the essential factors you should consider when buying a wood stain for cedar furniture:   

Wood Surface Type

When choosing a stain for your furniture, you need to consider the wood surface type that you will stain. Each wood surface has distinct characteristics. If you apply stain, for example, to a softwood, the softwood surface will quickly absorb the stain compared to hardwood. Cedar is a softwood. It belongs to the gymnosperms group of plants which include fir trees and pine.

Some wood types will look darker when you apply the primary coat. Yet, some will only become darker after several coats. The softwood grain is unevenly distributed, while hardwood has consistent and even grain.   

Oil-based Vs Water-based Stains

The level of protection you would like your wood furniture to have will determine the type of stain you need to buy. Yet, generally, you can either go for water-based or oil-based when staining cedar furniture. 

Oil-based stains, of course, are more durable because they come with a unique formulation and wood pigmentation. Yet, they are hazardous to health and can affect your health. On the other hand, water-based stains might not be durable. Yet, they are less risky to your health. 


Stain colors come in a wide variety of colors. But when choosing a stain color, you should consider the opacity of the stain. The opacity, of course, comes in four types: clear, semi-transparent, semi-solid, and solid. It is related to the stain’s durability. 

Thus, a solid color offers better durability than clear color. But the color of the stain should match the color of the wood. In this way, the stain will enhance the natural color of the wood’s surface. 

Your Budget

You will find most exterior wood stains are relatively cheap. So, it will not dent your savings if you buy something of excellent quality. You will seldom stain your exterior furniture. So, it will be best to choose a wood stain of excellent quality. 

In this way, you can save in the long run because you don’t need to reapply stain more often. Moreover, your furniture will get extra protection from harsh external factors.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cedar Wood Stain

To make an intelligent purchase of a wood stain, you should know the abovementioned most recommended wood stains and essential factors to consider. Yet, it will also help if you are familiar with the following FAQs about wood stain:

Do you need a wood sealer when applying the wood stain? 

Wood stain, of course, can restore your furniture’s natural appearance. Yet, you still need to seal the wood surface to ensure that the surface will get optimum protection from harsh external factors like scratches, UV light, mildew, and many other external factors.

When Should You Only Stain the Cedar After Installation?

If you are installing cedar for your deck, you might be asking when to stain it after installation. Some woodworkers would suggest that you stain it after 3 to 12 months. In this way, you will allow the wood to dry. 

Others, however, believe that it will be best to stain the cedar wood immediately. Both answers, however, can be correct. Yet, the important thing is that you need to prep the wood before you apply the stain.

Which is Better for Cedar: Painting or Staining?

Both finishes for the cedar are highly acceptable. Yet, the right choice, more often, boils down to your preference. Cedarwood is mainly chosen for its natural beauty. So, if you paint it, you obscure its natural beauty.

How Should You Prepare the Cedarwood for Staining?

As mentioned above, you need to prepare the wood before you stain it. With proper preparation, the wood stain will last longer, and the wood will get protected longer. To prepare the wood, you can sand the surface using fine-grit sandpaper along with an electric sander. 

Check the deck thoroughly if you are installing the deck before sanding. Inspect likewise if it has warped boards or embedded screws.  

Which Color Stain Should You Choose for Cedar Furniture?

As mentioned above, cedar is known for its natural beauty, and many choose it because of its natural beauty. But you lose the chance of enjoying the natural beauty of cedar if you would use solid or semi-solid stains. On the other hand, semi-transparent or transparent stains will be best if you want the natural beauty of the cedar to stand out.


Cedar is a very appealing building material, and it can last long, given proper care. Maintenance, of course, is crucial to the longevity of outside cedar furniture. Hence, when choosing a stain for your outdoor cedar furniture, you need to select the ideal stain. This ideal stain should allow the natural beauty of the cedar to come out while protecting it from the harsh elements of the outside. 

However, given the myriads of options at hand, you might get confused if it is your first time staining cedar. But if you know the most recommended stains for cedar, the crucial factors to consider, and the FAQs, you can indeed zero in on the best stain for your cedar furniture.

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