Does Cedar Need To Be Sealed?

September 18, 2022

Sealing cedar wood with stain.

A question I often get asked by newbies in the use of cedar is whether they should seal the cedar. Well, the answer to that question usually depends on what you prefer. The cedarwood, of course, is a durable one and exhibits excellent resistance to deterioration. As such, as a newbie, you might think that it doesn’t require any sealing. Yet, that line of thinking is a bit logical, for the only time you will need to seal the cedarwood is when you want to alter its look. 

Although the decision to seal or not to seal cedar depends on your preference, it will be best to understand its inherent characteristics. In this way, you will make an informed decision about the abovementioned question.

Common Usage of Cedar

Cedar is mainly used for making outdoor furniture and applications. The reason for this is that the cedar exhibits weather-resistant properties. Moreover, it is easy to toy and work with because it is lightweight. It also has structural stability and is more durable than pine or fir. With all these fine characteristics of cedar, it is undoubtedly one of the go-to wood for outdoor usage. 

You can use the cedar for outdoor decks because it is durable and soft. These characteristics make it perfect for walkways. Besides, it will not crack or break quickly and is harder than most softwoods. You can also use it for building fences, gates, and outdoor benches.

When Should You Seal Cedar?

You might have two reasons to seal cedar. First, you would seal it because you like its present look. Outdoor applications of cedar will indeed meet abuses and be susceptible to damage. So, it will help to seal it to preserve its current appearance. 

On the other hand, you would seal it when you want to alter its color. You can use polyurethane varnishes to darken a bit the color of cedar. Changing its color, of course, is relatively easy.

Should You Seal the Cedar Fence or Treat It?

It will be best to seal the cedarwood used for fences. Cedar, despite its sterling traits, might be susceptible to decay and weathering. Moreover, you can keep the beauty of the cedar fence by cleaning it annually. You can schedule the annual cleaning of the fence and apply an excellent sealer every three to five years. 

Sealing it can protect it from the harsh outdoor elements that could damage it. To prevent significant repairs to the fence, you must maintain the fence regularly. Moreover, it will be best to seal it and reseal it once every three to five years. It will help if you also protect it from moisture by angling the sprinkler away from the fence.

Does Staining Your Cedar Fence and Decks Make them More Durable?

If you are desirous of prolonging the usefulness of your cedar fence, it will be best to stain it. Always bear in mind that decay and weathering are the two primary reasons behind the cedar fence deterioration. As such, if you stain it using an excellent stain and sealer, you make the cedar fence not susceptible to decay and weathering. 

You might be worried about losing the natural appearance of cedar when you stain it. Yet, you got to weigh between prolonging the lifespan of cedar and losing its natural beauty. 

Once you decide to stain the cedar fence and decks, you can choose an oil-based stain. The reason is that the cedar is porous. It can absorb the stain well. By absorbing the stain, the cedar wood gets an attractive and smooth finish. 

You can also choose a semi-transparent stain to give the cedar fence extra protection against UV light. UV light can cause fading and weathering. The semi-transparent can provide that protection from these outdoor factors. 

Lastly, you can choose a stain that features a sealer (built-in). In this way, you can protect the fence from decay and moisture. Ensure that you do it correctly when you stain the fence and follow the guidelines on applying stain on cedarwood. In this way, you will provide the cedar fence with utmost protection from harsh outdoor elements.

Is It Okay Not to Treat Cedar Fence?

Well, untreated cedar can last between 15 to 30 years, depending on how you look after it. Moreover, the specific species of cedar you use for your fence will also factor well in the longevity of your cedar fence. Yet, if you treat the cedar fence, you can add up to ten years of usefulness to your cedar fence. 

If you did not stain or paint the cedar fence, you could use a clear sealant once a year on your cedar fence to maintain and protect it from moisture. Nevertheless, if you would stain it, you can apply it first before applying the sealant.

What are the Other Best Ways to Seal a Cedar Fence?

Aside from the abovementioned ways to care for the cedar fence, you can also apply oil-based or semi-transparent wood stain onto your cedar fence. In this way, you can stabilize the cedarwood and provide it protection from sunlight. 

The solid stain will give utmost care from UV light. But you can also use a semi-transparent wood stain to allow the natural beauty of the wood to come out. The solid stain will also provide your wood with paint-like protection and appearance.

Does the Cedar Fence Need Waterproofing?

If you intend to use cedarwood outdoors, you must ensure it is protected from harsh external factors. So, if you can waterproof it, then it is fine. Moreover, cedar needs treatment every other year or every two years. 

But if you apply multiple waterproofing coats to your cedarwood, you can extend the longevity of the wood. You can use several coats of waterproofing agent on your cedar as long as the cedar can absorb the applications. Nevertheless, if you intend to paint the cedar after you’ve waterproofed it, you only need to treat it with one coat of waterproofing agent.


Sealing the cedar is a matter of preference. Since the cedarwood is durable and is resistant to decay and deterioration, you can forgo the sealing process. But cedar can also be susceptible to harsh outdoor elements. So, if you want to ensure that your cedar is protected, you can seal it. 

As mentioned above, you got two primary reasons for sealing cedar. Either you would like to preserve its appearance, or you want to change its color. If you don’t want the current appearance of your cedar to fade, it will be best to seal it. In this way, you can preserve its natural beauty and prolong the lifespan of the cedarwood.

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