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How to Finish Cedar Wood: Explained in 2 Methods

Cedar Wood is a little different from most wood. So if you’ve never worked with it before, you can run into a few issues. Fret not, we’ve covered everything there’s to know.

How to finish cedar wood?

When a hard, glossy surface on a countertop or windowsill is wanted. A sealing layer of diluted varnish or lacquer must be applied. The sand sealer makes smoothing cedar simpler in preparing for topcoats. Most treatments work fine with cedar. It contains penetrating oils like tung and linseed oil.

Have we held your interest till now? If you’re looking to read more, then continue because we’ve covered it all.

What is Cedar Wood?

Cedar is a form of deciduous wood. This means it is softwood and its cones/needles persist throughout the year. 

There are many benefits to using Cedar Wood. Outdoors, cedar’s natural climate resistance makes it an excellent choice for different things. Such as flooring, roofing, decks, conservatories, trellises, and gates. It’s a “durable” wood that can tolerate contact with the outdoors. But it’s not totally rot-proof. 

Cedar wood is generally selected for its natural beauty. So it isn’t buried in the framework of a building project. Because of its aesthetic value, cedar adapts itself to a variety of uses. Such as fences, deck, flooring, and decor.

Some varieties of cedar could also be utilized in the manufacture of wardrobes. They are also used for other clothing shops due to their pleasant smell and natural insect repellent.

Western Red Cedar, in particular, is valued for its natural moisture resistance, condensation, and pest repellent properties. It is strong and stable. And its visual appeal makes it suitable for a variety of interior and exterior applications.

It’s also exceptionally light, making it suitable for both pro and amateur use. What’s the best part? Western red cedar wood is incredibly adaptable. Here unlike other woods, you are not bound to traditional hues and styles.

2 Methods to Finish Cedar Wood

We’ve covered 2 methods that you can follow to finish cedar wood. For the methods that we’ve covered here, it’s necessary that you know how to sand wood.

Method #1 Pre-Wood Stain Wood Conditioner

Let’s now get into the first method!

Necessary Tools

  • Sandpaper
  • Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner

Step #1 Sand the Wood

To prepare the wood for staining, gently sand this. Sand it in the grain direction with moderate sandpaper, proceed with fine grit.

If the wood is soft or porous, use a pre-stain wood conditioner. Make sure to follow the sanding to eliminate blotching. Irrespective of the wood type, employ a pre-stain wood conditioner if you’re using a water-based stain.

Step #2 Selecting Wood Stain

Selecting a wood stain is a question of personal taste. Liquid Stains permit you to choose a staining color that matches your decor.

NB: Carefully check the stain on a concealed section of your work prior to staining it. Otherwise, you can use reclaimed wood that is the same type as the wood used previously.

Step #3 Preserve the Wood

Apply a topcoat with a highly reflective gloss after staining. It will preserve the wood from rain, chemical products, food stains, and general wear and tear.

NB: “Tip-off” each portion of your work prior to the finishing hardening to reduce brush streaks and blisters. Gently hold the brushes at a 45° angle. Then run the bristle along the length of the board.

Method #2 Spray on the Final Coat

Let’s learn about the second method.

Necessary Tools

  • Gloss Polyurethane
  • Cloth
  • Vacuum Cleaner

Before we get into the details let’s have a look at some good quality vacuum cleaners:

eureka PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum CleanerExtremely  lightweight and easy to maneuver
Dirt Devil Endura Reach Bagless Upright Vacuum CleanerConsistently powerful performance 
Shark Navigator Lift Away Upright VacuumVersatile and the HEPA filter trap dust and allergens


  1. Here’s how to create crystal polish on your next carpentry job. Begin by applying a coat of glossy varnish. Allow it to dry overnight. Then, using 320-grit sandpaper, softly sand to remove any defects.
  2. To clear the dirt, use a cotton cloth or a vacuum cleaner with a gentle brush connection. Continue this procedure for the undercoat. Finish with a final layer of spray paint. 
  3. Sweeping on the first two shades helps to create a protective coating of finishing. This can be done at a lower expense and hassle than spraying from cans. 
  4. Also, you can utilize a spray to paint the final coat. The results it will provide is a power that is devoid of bristle marks.

When working with wood, it may seem like a lot for a beginner. But as you continue you’ll start to get a hang of things. You’ll also discover a lot of woodworking tips if you look them up online.

Problems with Untreated Cedar Wood

While cedarwood does not shrink or warp when exposed to damp, it does check. Checks are fissures or holes that develop around the edges of wood surfaces. It corresponds exactly to the natural grain direction of the wood. Although checks do not create major damage to cedar, they can make it seem unappealing.

Checking is caused by weather patterns in the humidity of wood. The exterior layers of wood fiber can swiftly release wetness when temperatures rise. But the core structure releases humidity at a much slower rate. 

As a result, the upper edges reduce inward. But it will crack if it comes into contact with the denser, moisture-laden inner layers.


Question: Is it OK to use polyurethane on cedar?

Answer: Cedar wood, like other good woods, ought to be protected with polyurethane. Polyurethane will prevent dirt, dust, and oil from adhering to the cedar, dulling and damaging the color. Let the wood fully dry prior to adding the polyurethane.

Question: Is it necessary to seal cedar? 

Answer: Cedar offers a durable option for exterior and interior building projects. It offers natural resistance to rot and decay, so a protective finish is optional. If you’re using cedar for an outdoor project, then give it a light seal coat. This will guard the wood against moisture and sunlight.

Question: What is the best way to seal cedar without losing its color?

Answer: A water-based polyurethane treatment is ideal for preserving wood without changing its color. Acrylic lacquer is another viable alternative. Overall, everything depends on personal preferences.


We’ve covered everything there’s to know on how to finish cedar wood. The methods that we’ve covered should protect your cedar wood. 

Wish you all the best with your next task!