How to Care for Your Cedar Furniture

cedar furniture

With it’s rich, honey-tone wood, cedar furniture makes a beautiful choice for any patio. Whether you stain and seal it, or allow it to weather to its characteristic dusty gray, this naturally durable wood can suit any style. Plus it’s scent is unmistakable.

The way you care for your cedar furniture will make a big difference in its lifespan. It contains natural oils that make it resist insects and decay. If left unsealed to weather, it will still last approximately 25 years.

However, if your furniture is properly cared for, you can extend this lifespan up to 40 years. If the wood has been kiln dried, it increases the lifespan even further.

This article will show you how to properly care for your cedar furniture so you can enjoy it year after year.

Using Oil For a Natural Look

Oil is likely the ultimate when it comes to caring for your cedar furniture and ensuring it looks great, year after year.

Cedar is naturally rich in oils, which help protect it from insects and rot.

When you apply an oil treatment to your furniture, it helps supplement this natural protection. It is also the best way to show off and enhance the natural grain.

However, oil won’t provide much durability protection, so the furniture will be susceptible to scratches and other minor damages.

Oil finishes can also be supplemented with wax treatments to help increase their durability.

Just make sure that you are choosing an outdoor oil finish. Otherwise, you won’t be getting enough protection for your furniture and it will be more easily damaged by the elements.

Staining Your Cedar Furniture

After oil, stain is the next most popular way to make your cedar furniture last. Staining lets you choose the exact look and color that you want while protecting your wood from the elements.

The right stain will provide mildew protection and help prevent your wood from cracking.

Look for stains that have mildew protection and water resistance. Deep penetrating stains will soak right into the wood for more thorough protection.

Different types of stains provide different benefits and drawbacks. The three types you can choose from are solid, semi-transparent, and clear sealer.

Solid Stains

Solid stains last the longest, usually at least three years before you have to stain your furniture again. They also provide the most weather resistance.

On the other hand, they hide most of the grain of the wood, acting a lot like paint. Plus, solid stains can build up use after use and crack and chip.

This can be reduced by properly sanding the old seal before using another coat.

Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stains are a good middle ground. They add some color and protection against the weather while still showing off the wood’s natural grain.

You’ll need to redo these sorts of stains once every year or two.

Clear Sealer

Clear sealer lets you show off the natural wood while still adding a layer of weather protection.

They provide UV protection and wood preservatives. Your cedar furniture will likely still go gray with a clear sealer. They are a great way to extend the life of your furniture while retaining a natural look.

Painting For Added Protection

Painting your cedar furniture will give it additional protection from the elements. However, this method is often less popular, since it will entirely hide the grain of the wood.

Painting is a great choice for a non-natural or more modern look for your furniture. You could go with a bright blue or green for a fresh look. This way you get the solid quality of wood instead of more modern materials like plastic while still having a modern-feeling patio.

Paint also requires a bit more maintenance than most stains.

Paint will begin to chip and peel over time. Before your furniture can be repainted, it will need to be sanded and prepared before you can repaint.

Cleaning and General Care

Once your furniture is stained or painted, there is still more that you can do to keep it beautiful and extend its life.

For general cleaning to get rid of dirt, a detergent and water mix is enough to clean without causing damage to the wood. Wiping with a damp cloth once a week is enough to keep dust at bay.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for mold or mildew growth. Stopping this early will help keep your furniture from decaying.

Use a mild bleach solution or a mildew remover. Just make sure to read the label to ensure it is safe for stained or painted wood.

Ensuring your patio has proper drainage so your furniture isn’t sitting in puddles or damp foliage will also help reduce the chances of rot and mildew.

A Note on Caring for Unfinished Cedar Furniture

If you prefer the natural look for your furniture, there are still things you can do to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Periodic cleanings will get rid of mold and mildew. It will also scrub away any unsightly stains and refresh your furniture to its original beauty.

For quick messes, a bit of dish detergent mixed with water will be gentle enough to clean without damaging the wood.

For a deeper clean to stop decay in its tracks, mix a tablespoon of vinegar with a few ounces of water. A spray bottle is best since your furniture getting too wet could lead to warping. Wipe it down with a dry cloth.

This method also works with bleach. Just use a weak solution of bleach mixed with water. It should be approximately 20% bleach. Remember to always use protective gloves.

The wrong types of cleaners will damage the wood. In its unfinished state, any wood is very sensitive to damage. So be careful, and don’t experiment with cleaning products!


This article has shown you how to care for your cedar furniture. By following these tips, you can make sure your patio set lasts and looks great year after year.

Whether you use oil, stain, paint, or leave it unfinished, proper care and cleaning will extend the life of your patio furniture. You can take advantage of the natural beauty and resilience of cedar and give it a bit of extra protection.

To know more about how to care for your cedar furniture, contact us today.

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