If you have just made some cedar outdoor furniture, you are fortunate, because cedar can be a durable and attractive wood. Because your furniture will be used outdoors, you may be wondering whether or not you should treat it for protection. The following are some options and considerations that will provide you with the information you need to make your decision.
To Protect or Not to Protect
Cedar is a remarkable wood because of certain intrinsic qualities that make it resistant to insects, rotting, and decay. Therefore, you don't have to do anything to protect it from these kinds of potential damage. There is also the pleasant smell of the natural oils in cedar outdoor furniture to consider, which is something you may wish to retain. If so, you may want to leave the furniture untreated. If you choose to leave your wood unfinished, be aware that cedar wood, as it ages, will eventually develop a silver-gray patina, and the grain of the wood will rise and become more noticeable. If you decide to leave your cedar furniture unfinished, you should consider placing your furniture on a deck or patio where it is more protected from sun, rain, and colder temperatures.
Although leaving your cedar wood unfinished is an option, treating it will make it even more durable. If you are interested in using a less expensive sealer, a wood sealer would be a good choice. A wood sealer acts as a water repellent and reduces the water absorbed into the wood. If you decide to use a wood sealer, you may also want to consider using a product that contains an anti-fungicide, particularly if your furniture comes in direct contact with the ground (especially where there might be termites).
Using Oil as a Sealer
The use of a high quality oil will aid in protecting your furniture, as well as making it look rich and natural. Teak oil is one of the better choices in oils to protect your cedar furniture. Whichever type of oil you choose, use one that has an ultraviolet blocker. The downside of using oil for outdoor furniture is that dust particles are easily captured by the oil on the furniture and your furniture may begin to appear dirty and will be more difficult to clean.
Using a stain on your cedar will prolong the life of the wood. If you do decide on the staining option, it is best to stain it before it has weathered. If your furniture has been exposed to the elements for over a few weeks, it is less likely to hold the finish. Whether you purchase a semi-transparent or a solid color stain, be sure to choose a product with UV inhibitors. When applying stain to your new furniture, you will not need to sand the furniture first. In addition, make sure you have removed any dust or debris from the furniture before staining. It is also important that the wood be completely dry or the stain will not adhere properly. You will want to consider adding a couple of coats of stain to the cedar initially, then stain it every year or so.