Does Cedar Stain Well? All You Need To Know!

does cedar stain well

Cedar is a useful wood in paneling, siding, flooring, fencing, interior, and exterior furniture. But because of being a softwood, finishing is a must to increase its durability. When it comes to finishing by staining, most people are curious about the staining Cedar and how to do that! So, let’s find out, Does Cedar stain well?

Yes, Cedar stains pretty well. There’re four staining options for Cedar: opaque, semi-opaque, semi-transparent, clear, or natural. Stain can protect Cedar wood from turning grey because of UV rays, moisture, and mildew. By sanding and applying wood conditioner before staining, Cedar accepts stain so well and improves its natural beauty.

But that’s a lot more to know about staining Cedar wood than just that!

So, in this article, we’ll explore, does Cedar stain well, is Cedar good for staining, the best stain products for Cedar, and how to stain Cedar properly using correct finishing methods.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about staining Cedar as well.

Let’s jump in!

Is Cedar Good for Staining?

Cedar is an excellent wood for staining. It takes stain so well. Staining Cedar is useful to prevent the wood from greying and weathering due to UV rays, moisture, mildew, and other climate changes. Stain can protect the wood from environmental elements while enhancing the natural beauty of Cedar wood with a nice, smooth, and shiny finish.

After you install or make Cedar woodwork or furniture, stain within the first 2-3 months period is best to avoid wood from cracking, chipping, and peeling. You’ll get better results by staining your Cedar sooner.

Even though Cedar has natural resistance against rotting, and it has the ability to repel bugs and insects, the durability of the wood is less because of being a softwood. Stain helps the wood to prevent deterioration and improve its lifetime.

Cedar can be stained easily compared to wood types like Pine, Poplar, and Fir because it spread out stain evenly throughout the wood. Even a beginner in woodworking can stain Cedar pretty well by following the correct procedure.

There’re four different types of stains you can use on Cedar,

  • Opaque stains
  • Semi-Opaque stains
  • Semi-transparent stains
  • Natural or clear stains

So, let’s discuss each of the above stain types and how they work on Cedar wood.

Opaque Stains on Cedar

Opaque stains mean solid color stains that protect Cedar wood from water, UV light, mildew, and many more while increasing the durability of the wood. it has a high concentration of pigments.

Opaque stains give a glossy and shiny look to your Cedar wood surface by entirely covering the natural grain of the wood. Opaque stains hide the wood grain, knots, and blemishes and help to cover up surface imperfections as well.

Some people misunderstand opaque stains by thinking they are the same as paint. But it’s not. Because paints cover up the wood grain 100% completely, after applying opaque stains, you’re able to see some sort of details of wood grain means it does not cover up the wood grain 100% as paints do.

  • Opaque stains should reapply once every 4 – 5 years.

Here’re some advantages and disadvantages of using opaque stains on Cedar,

ProsCons
Protect from UV raysCover up the almost entire wood grain
Protect from water 
Cover up surface imperfections 

Semi-Opaque Stains on Cedar

Semi-opaque stains cover up the entire Cedar surface just like the opaque wood stain, but it does not hide the wood grain completely. After applying semi-opaque stains on Cedar, we’re able to notice details of the wood grain through the stain layer.

  • Semi-Opaque stains should reapply once every 4 – 5 years.

Here’re some advantages and disadvantages of using semi-opaque stains on Cedar,

ProsCons
Protect from UV raysResults blotchy surface it not dried enough
Protect from water 
Does not hide the wood grain completely 

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stain is the best stain for Cedar when you want to emphasize the natural color of Cedar wood with a little amount of hue with good protection from environmental elements.

Semi-transparent stain does not hide the wood grain entirely. It prevents water from getting inside wood fibers. But make sure to dry completely after the application to prevent getting a blotchy surface.

  • Semi-Transparent stains should reapply once every 3 – 5 years.

Here’re some advantages and disadvantages of using semi-transparent stains on Cedar,

ProsCons
Protect from waterResults blotchy surface it not dried enough
Does not ruin the natural look of the wood 
Does not hide the wood grain completely 

Natural or Clear Stains on Cedar

Natural stain is useful if you just want to improve the natural color of the wood with protection from moisture and UV rays. The natural stain gives a shinny smooth look to your Cedar furniture or woodworks without affecting the true color of the wood.

But natural stains are not durable as opaque stains. It needs regular maintenance to remain on wood with a warm touch to the Cedar surface.

  • Clear stains should reapply at least once per year.

Here’re some advantages and disadvantages of using clear stains on Cedar,

ProsCons
Protect from waterResults blotchy surface it not dried enough
Give a warm feel to the woodPoor durability
Does not hide the wood grainNeed regular maintenance

Best Stain for Cedar

Water-based stain is the best stain for Cedar. Water-based stains are able to give rich deep color to the Cedar wood and emphasize its natural beauty. It gives good protection against environmental elements such as moisture, UV light, and climate change.

Water-based stains are easy to clean. You just need to wipe off the surface with a soft cloth after soaking it in soapy water.

There’re some oil-based stains as well that work pretty well on Cedar. They usually have high durability than water-based stains. But on the other hand, oil-based stain surfaces are hard to clean and maintain.

Here’re some popular stain products for Cedarwood,

  • DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent stain
  • READY Seal Exterior stain
  • Thompson’s WaterSeal stain

So, let’s discuss how each of the above stains works on Cedar wood.

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Stain On Cedar

DEFY Extreme semi-transparent stain is a water-based stain that works perfectly on Cedar. as per my experience, DEFY Extreme semi-transparent stain is the best stain product for Cedar.

It gives a deep rich look to your Cedar wood furniture and woodworks without affecting its natural beauty. It protects wood from decay, mold, and mildew.

DEFY extreme semi-transparent stain is available in many different colors. Take the one that matches your Cedar wood perfectly.

Here’re the main qualities of DEFY Extreme semi-transparent stain,

  • It gives a lustrous finish to your Cedar wood furniture
  • Has good resistance against darkening and fading
  • Able to apply evenly
  • Easy to maintain
  • Protect wood from UV light

Here’re some specifications of DEFY Extreme semi-transparent stain,

Drying Time24 Hours
Wood Stain TypeWater-based
ApplicationsExterior and interior Cedar furniture

READY Seal Exterior Stain on Cedar

READY seal exterior stain is an oil-based stain that works perfectly on Cedar. It protects Cedar from UV light and is commonly used for fences, decks, rooftops, and many other exterior Cedar woodworks and furniture.

Here’re the main qualities of READY seal exterior stain,

  • It gives a unique aesthetic appearance to the Cedar furniture
  • Able to apply evenly
  • Difficult to clean
  • Need regular maintenance
  • Protect wood from UV light
  • Mildew resistant

Here’re some specifications of DEFY Extreme semi-transparent stain,

Drying Time48 -72 hours
Wood Stain TypeOil-based
ApplicationsExterior Cedar furniture

Thompson’s WaterSeal Stain on Cedar

Thompson’s water seal stain is the best transparent stain for Cedar. It does not change the color of the wood grain. it only gives a glossy finish while emphasizing the natural color of Cedar wood.

Thompson’s water seal stain is extremely resistant to environmental elements such as moisture and UV radiation. But in terms of durability, transparent stains need regular maintenance and have poor durability.

Here’re the main qualities of Thompson’s WaterSeal stain,

  • Protect wood from UV light
  • Able to apply evenly
  • Resistant to mildew, decay, and weathering
  • Need regular maintenance
  • Poor durability

Here’re some specifications of Thompson’s WaterSeal stain,

Drying Time24 hours
Wood Stain TypeWater-based
ApplicationsExterior Cedar furniture, fences, decks

Now you have a clear idea about the best stain products that can use for Cedar woodworks and furniture to gain the best results.

So, let’s consider the need for a wood conditioner before staining Cedar wood.

Does Cedar Need Wood Conditioner Before Staining?

Cedar takes wood stain pretty well even with or without using a wood conditioner. But by applying wood conditioner before staining, most of the wood staining mistakes will be minimized. However, not unlike other woods, when it comes to Cedar wood, applying wood conditioner before staining is an optional step.

But if live in an area that can find wood conditioner without much effort and if it’s under your budget, I highly recommend you apply wood conditioner before staining to get the maximum output.

Wood conditioner helps the wood stain to spread out evenly throughout the wood without getting a blotchy or splotchy surface. It limits the absorption ability of Cedar wood and helps to get a thin coat of stain uniformly without missing any spots.

After applying wood conditioner, let it soak into the Cedar for about 15 -20 minutes and wipe excess to apply stain even better. Wood conditioner basically prepares the wood surface to take on stain well.

I advise you to use a pre-stain wood conditioner and the stain product from the same manufacturer to avoid any incompatible issues between stain and wood conditioner layers.

So, let’s get into the hot topic, Does Cedar stain well? Yes, and this is how to do that!

How To Stain Cedar?

Cedar takes stain so well to achieve a nice, smooth, glossy surface with excellent protection from environmental elements. By following the procedure below, you’ll be able to stain Cedar without making any wood staining mistakes.

Supplies You Will Need

  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Pre stain wood conditioner (optional)
  • Wood stain product
  • Gloves
  • Clean rags
  • Paintbrush

Here’re the steps you need to follow when staining Cedar wood.

  1. Clean the wood
  2. Sand and remove sawdust
  3. Apply wood conditioner
  4. Let the wood dry
  5. Apply wood stain
  6. Let it dry completely

Tip:

Test the staining Cedar wood method with the same kind of Cedar scrap wood before heading on to the main project. By practicing with scrap wood, you’ll be able to discover your way of staining Cedar wood correctly

So, let’s discuss each of the above steps in-detail to get an idea about staining Cedar wood using the proper method.

1. Clean The Wood

Cleaning the wood before staining is an essential step in wood finishing. Cleaning helps to eliminate dust and debris from Cedar wood surfaces. If you directly go for the staining part skipping the cleaning step, the dust will probably get trapped inside the wood stain and you’ll end up with a blotchy or splotchy surface which is so hard to recover

 Take a clean rag and soak it in soapy water and wipe down the entire Cedar wood surface without missing any spots.

After cleaning the wood properly, let it dry completely before moving on to the next step. While the wood is drying, you’ll notice some areas dry faster than other areas. This is due to random densities of Cedar wood surface.

Those random areas should sand well during the next step because surface randomness causes trouble when staining the wood.

2. Sand and Remove Sawdust

after cleaning and drying the wood properly, and the entire Cedar wood surface with 220 grit sandpaper without missing any spots. Plus make sure to sand the random areas that we have already noticed during the wood drying more to make them ready to accept wood stain.

Sand along the direction of the wood grain to avoid wood from scratching. Never use higher-grade sandpapers because they might ruin the beautiful grain of Cedar, especially because of being a softwood.

Once you’re done with sanding, clean the entire surface to remove sawdust. At the end of the sanding process, you’ll get a nice and smooth Cedar wood surface that is ready to accept wood stain evenly.

3. Apply Wood Conditioner

Even though this is an optional step in staining Cedar wood, most woodworkers highly recommend using wood conditioner because not every Cedar wood works the same with all the stain types.

If the wood doesn’t go well with stain type, that can lead to a blotchy and tacky surface. In those cases, you’ll have to remove the remaining stain and start over from the beginning. Therefore, highly recommend applying wood conditioner before staining Cedar to accept wood stain evenly all over the wood.

4. Dry the Wood Completely

After applying the wood conditioner, let the wood dry completely before staining the wood. Usually, it takes around 2 hours to settle the wood conditioner layer.

Drying helps the wood to gain a nice and beautiful finish. Patience is the key to succussing Cedar wood staining.

5. Apply Wood Stain

Apply wood stain along the direction of the Cedar wood surface using the paintbrush. Make sure to apply thin coats of stain for better absorption and spread-out stain evenly all over the wood.

Make sure not to miss any spots during staining because filling gaps is so difficult once the applied stains were already settled. Plus, apply stain by applying even pressure to the paintbrush because when the pressure is high, the resulting tone will get much darker and deeper.

Apply two coats of wood stain for a better finish. You can increase the number of stain coats up to a maximum of 5 times to get a much deep and darker color. To get lighter colors, 2 coats of stain are well enough.

Make sure to let the stain dry completely between each coat and once you’re done with staining let the wood dry completely for about 24 – 48 hours before using it.

Now you know how to stain Cedar correctly with the simplest method. the method that I discussed above is applicable even for beginners in woodworking to sharpen their knowledge in wood staining.

So, let’s have a look at the frequently asked questions about staining Cedar.

Does Cedar Stain Fade?

The stain will last on Cedar for about 5 to 7 years. After that, Cedar stain tends to fade away with time. Cedar stain fades away because of high temperature, moisture levels, climate changes, and many more.

Reapply stains on Cedar once per two years to prevent the stain from fading away. But always make sure to apply Cedar using proper staining methods because with the incorrect method the Cedar stain fades much faster than its average age of fading.

Can You Stain Cedar Grey?

Yes, you can stain Cedar grey. But after staining Cedar into a grey color, you cannot reverse the process and get the natural color back. You’ll have to take down the applied wood stain using methyl alcohol.

In order to stain Cedar grey, soak steel wool in white vinegar for 4 – 5 hours and apply it on the Cedar wood surface. Or you can directly apply grey stain on Cedar wood to make it look grey.

Can You Stain Cedar White?

Yes, Cedar can be stained white. Cedar takes white stain pretty well. Therefore, applying wood conditioner before staining is not necessary.

Apply along the direction of the wood grain for better absorbance and to gain a nice and smooth finish.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Does Cedar Stain Well?

In this article, we have deeply talked does Cedar stain well, whether Cedar is good for staining, and how to stain Cedar without getting any wood stain mistakes as well.

Cedar takes stain so well only if you apply the stain using the correct procedure. Even though applying wood conditioner prior to the wood staining, I highly recommend you to do that because you can stain Cedar with confidence once you apply pre-stain wood conditioner first.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions about staining Cedar as well. Hope you have gained good knowledge about does Cedar stain well with many different staining techniques. So, let’s give try to stain Cedar wood furniture to sharpen your knowledge with some particle examples. Have fun in woodworking!

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Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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