How to Care for Cedar Patio Furniture

If you are looking to refinish your patio furniture item, or simply want to enhance an unfinished item, then here are some helpful hints in deciding what type of finish, to apply or reapply to your cedar outdoor patio furniture.

Natural Weathering

First off, if you’re considering how to finish your furniture because you’re afraid of keeping it outside, then you should know that the inherent nature of Western Red Cedar is to withstand outdoor elements such as decay and rot. Therefore, your Cedar Furniture does not really need to be finished. In fact, many folks prefer to allow their cedar furniture to “naturally age” outdoors without any finish at all. Over time, the color will weather to a handsome silver-gray, highlighted by darker streaks, and the grain of the wood will become slightly raised.

Wood Sealer

If you go this route you may find a wood sealer such as Thompson’s Wood Sealer to be useful for blocking the pores of the wood. This inhibits the grain from becoming raised, yet allows the natural fading to a gentle silvery-gray color that unsealed wood experiences.


If you would like to preserve the color of the freshly sanded cedar, the manufacturer recommends two coats of a semi transparent stain with a UV inhibitor such as “Sikkins Cetol 1 (natural)” to preserve the handsome tone of the Cedar Wood. Every other year, you might re-apply a coat of stain to freshen the finish. Little or no sanding, preparation, or primer is needed when you use a stain.

Wood Oil

An alternative to using stain is to rub a light coat of teak oil or linseed oil over the finished surfaces of your furniture. This gives a rich deep appearance to the wood.


The manufacturer does not recommend painting, unless the piece is located in a sheltered area where there is little or no moisture and no direct sunlight. You see, over time, sunlight will shine on the furniture and cause any moisture within its fibers to be released. On a painted finish, the pressure of the evaporating moisture will cause the paint to blister and peel, leaving you with a mess to sand down and re-finish. Stain, however, is “breathable” and will not trap the moisture like paint does, therefore – no blistering, and no peeling.

Ground Applications

Western Red Cedar should be treated with a preservative if it is intended for use in applications where it is dug into the ground, like fence posts or landscape ties.

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