Cedar is one of the lightest softwoods for commercial use. Its density is around 21 pounds/cubic foot in oven-dry conditions. It also shows dimensional stability, allowing it to absorb and discharge moisture to attain the necessary equilibrium with the ambient atmosphere. It is also an excellent thermal insulator. Moreover, it is durable. All these natural properties of the cedar make it ideal for furniture.
Nevertheless, leaving it untreated will not be recommended by experts. If you are desirous of increasing its longevity, you need to provide it with a protective coating or finish. You can either stain or paint it. Yet, cedarwood is known for its natural beauty. If you paint it, you obscure its natural beauty. So, your best option is to stain it.
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Understanding the Cedarwood
One of the most popular species of wood for outdoor use is the red cedar. It is characterized by its rich natural red color and its ability to resist decay. You can use it for trim, shingles, house siding, fences, decking, gates, and hot tubs. Cedar is also not expensive and is abundant. Moreover, it is easy to fabricate and can handle the vicissitudes of weather.
Yet, the red cedar has a unique color of lovely red which turns monotonous gray pretty fast. Once it turns gray, you don’t have any natural way of getting back its color. So, you need to tone your cedarwood using the right stain.
You need to know the timing and the steps on how to preserve the natural color of the cedar. Knowing the correct treatment type can help you maintain its natural color. But before you can fully comprehend the best methods of staining it, you need to understand how cedar undergoes the weathering process.
The other characteristic of cedar is its natural resistance to rot. But it doesn’t stop there, for the cedar is lightweight and is a softwood. But it is harder than other softwood. It is even harder than pine and fir. This is because it comes with structural stability and is not likely to split or crack.
Furthermore, you will find the rot-resistant oils of the cedar aromatic. Cedar has a natural insect-repelling property. Besides, one type of cedar—the red cedar—exhibits a high thermal coefficient. Hence, it remains cool even on hot days.
Sealing Cedar Siding
If you intend to apply a sealant to your home siding, you must clean the surface of the wood. Avoid pressure washing the wood, for it can damage the wood. So, it will be best to wash it by hand. Then, allow it to dry completely before you apply the sealant.
Of course, you can also use a solid-colored stain or paint as a sealant. You can apply a primer to allow the seal coat to fix the cedar wood totally.
Nevertheless, common stains don’t necessitate a primer. So, it will help to choose the paint or stain you would use with care, and the choosing process is a critical step in the sealing process.
You should not be rash in the choosing process. Instead, study the different products at hand and inquire from professionals about what is best for your use. Your best option, of course, is a resin-based sealer that is strengthened by high-quality paint or epoxy.
It will be best to cover the wood with sealant. You could use a small brush to reach the spaces in-between the panels if you got the siding already installed.
How to Seal Cedar Wood for Natural Weathering
If you like your cedar to have a uniform gray color caused by weathering, you can start sealing the cedar with bleaching oils. Of course, if you leave the cedar to the harsh elements of weathering, the cedarwood can get damaged by the harsh elements, especially if you live in a very wet climate.
Failure to seal the cedar can leave it at the mercy of the harsh aspects of nature. Yet, if you seal it wrongly, the cedar may bleed or undergo chemical bleeding. Cedar, for example, bleeds chemical extracts once it gets wet. These released chemicals can darken the surface of the wood when the wood dries.
These chemicals also leave streaks that you can see through the paint or stain layer. You can prevent this bleeding by sealing the wood tightly. It will be best to apply many coats of sealant on the wood surface if you inhabit a wet climate.
Sealing the Cedar Wood of Outdoor Furniture
You will naturally find the cedarwood used outdoors. You’ll find it used in railings, sidings, decks, and many other outdoor furniture. Yet, when used outdoors, it is exposed to direct UV light and other harsh elements. So, most likely, the natural look of the cedar will fade within several months. It will soon turn gray without any protection. So, you need to provide it with additional protection.
You can apply a semi-transparent sealer to the cedar’s surface to arrest the color pigmentation of the cedar. But if you are less concerned about the issue of color pigmentation, you can choose to apply water-sealing stains. These water-sealing finishes can come in transparent colors and would not alter the color of the cedar.
If the cedar is new, you should clean it. You can utilize a damp cloth to wipe the surface of the wood. If the wood is dirty, you can use a dishwashing liquid and a brush. You can start brushing the dirt off the wood surface. Moreover, you should not use a pressure washer, for it can damage the cedar.
Once the wood surface is thoroughly clean, let it dry before applying the sealant. You can either apply the sealer using a roller or a brush. As you apply the sealer, ensure that you coat the surface of the wood evenly.
Focus also on the edges and joints. These parts are more exposed to moisture. So, you need to apply multiple coating on these parts. Repeat the application of the sealer several times until you are confident that you’ve sealed the entire wood. It will also be best to apply sealer once a year.
Sealing the Cedarwood before Painting
Some homeowners would surely want to paint their furniture, and if you are one of them who likes to apply paint on cedar furniture, you also need to seal the cedar wood. As mentioned above, the cedar wood has natural oils that will bleed if not correctly sealed.
So, before painting, you need to seal the wood. The oil can readily bleed through oil paints and latex, leaving dark spots on your furniture surface. This bleeding can ruin the beauty of your wood. You can prevent this bleeding by sealing the wood well.
Nevertheless, you can’t just use any sealer. It will help if you choose a sealer that comes with primer ingredients. If there is no sealer equipped with a primer, you need to select and apply it to the wood before sealing.
The process of applying the sealer is like what was mentioned above. You need to clean the wood and use a primer. You can also sand the surface a bit to smoothen the surface of the wood. You can sand away a bit of the wood. Afterward, clean the surface. If the wood had been painted before, you also need to sand the wood before applying the sealer. Alternatively, applying clear finish for cedar wood is another best way to preserve its natural wood features.
When staining cedarwood, more often, you would come face to face with the question of whether to seal the wood after staining. Without closing the wood, you leave it vulnerable to the harsh elements of nature. Hence, you need to seal the cedarwood after staining.
Cedarwood needs to be sealed to add an extra layer of protection to it. You can also prevent chemical bleeding that could darken the cedarwood’s surface by sealing the wood. As long as you take care of outdoor cedar furniture and engage in regular maintenance, you can indeed extend the longevity of your outdoor cedar furniture.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker and carpenter who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.