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How to Protect And Safeguard Cedar Wood For Outdoors in 5 Simple Ways

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Cedar is an aesthetically appealing wood with the durability to match, and this is why it is so popular among woodworkers. No matter the type of project, using cedar wood is always an option. Cedar can be an expensive option, but once you can get past this, you’re well on your way to enjoying its many benefits.

Using cedar wood for outdoor projects can be fulfilling as you showcase its beauty while enjoying its functionality. However, something that stands in your way is durability. Despite the cedar wood being a durable option, its reliability is reduced when used outdoors.

When wood is placed outdoors, it is exposed to harsh weather conditions like UV light from the sun, water from rainfall, and others like insect attacks. Cedarwood has a natural resistance to insect attacks, but some of these other factors will damage the project before you know it.

Protecting your outdoor woodwork should be of utmost priority, and there are several ways to achieve this. These methods vary in style, application, and even cost, so you can choose the one most suited to your needs.

Ways to Protect Cedar Wood For Outdoors

There are several ways you can protect your outdoor cedar wood to ensure longevity. As earlier stated, using cedar wood is already advantageous since the wood is more durable than many others. Here are what you can do to improve that durability when using cedar outdoors:

1. By Using Linseed Oil

By Using Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is a naturally occurring substance and is the main ingredient in any oil finish that is clear when it dries. Clear finishes are in huge demand from people who would want to maintain the wooden look while protecting the cedar, especially from moisture. Linseed oil stain on your cedar wood may not be the cheapest to use, but it guarantees protection for your wood if used correctly.

Materials Needed

  • Sandpaper
  • Linseed oil
  • Clean cloth
  • Mineral spirits
  • Chemical resistant gloves

How to Apply Linseed Oil

You need a smooth cedar surface for this task, so you can use sandpaper to smoothen the surface. Typically you should start with coarser grit papers and move to finer ones. After smoothening the surface and clearing off excess dust with a clean rag, soak a rag with mineral spirits, ensuring it is only damp, not dripping. You can then use long strokes to wipe the surface of the wood with the soaked rag. This will clean the wood and prepare it for the linseed oil.

You can get already prepared linseed oil; however, you need to be sure that there aren’t any petroleum additives in it. You can prepare it yourself by boiling the linseed. Pour some of it on the wood surface and use a clean cloth to rub it in with a steady circular motion. Do this till you’ve covered the whole area. Allow it to dry for about 1 to 2 days before applying a second layer. You may apply a third in some cases 15 minutes after applying the second.

2. By Using Polyurethane

By Using Polyurethane
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Polyurethane is a wood stain that provides water, dust, and dirt-resistant abilities. It can be used on cedar wood outdoors to protect them against harsh environments. Polyurethane seals the wood keeping all these damaging factors out.

Materials Needed

  • Sandpaper
  • Polyurethane
  • Drop cloth
  • Stirring stick
  • Mineral spirits
  • Foam brush

How to Apply Polyurethane

Applying polyurethane uses the same principle as most wood stains. First, clean the wood properly as any dirt on the wood would get trapped after the application of the polyurethane. Smoothen the surface using sandpaper or a sanding box.

Select the type of polyurethane and prepare it with the right thinner. Water-based polyurethane uses water to thin, while oil-based uses mineral spirits. Do not shake the polyurethane; instead, use a stirring stick to mix properly. Dip the foam brush into the mixture and let it drip off before applying it to the surface. Use one clean and steady wipe to apply. Do this till you’ve covered the area, and then allow it to dry.

Sand lightly using sandpaper before applying the final layer. You can use spray form to apply this layer. Allow it to dry for a long time, depending on the type of polyurethane you choose.

3. By Using Paint

By Using Paint

Using paints on your cedar wood will change the color, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you want a little bit of shine as you can paint the wood in any color you want. Paint protects the wood from UV light from the sun that damages the wood and reduces its longevity. However, paint provides only a little protection against water.

Materials Needed

  • Paint
  • Tack cloth
  • Primer
  • Drop cloth
  • Brush
  • Rubber glove
  • TSP

How to Apply Paint

Cover the work area with plastic sheeting and then a drop cloth to protect it from oil spills which can stain the surrounding. Clean the wood by dipping a cloth in a mixture of TSP and water to remove oil, dirt, and dust from the surface. Smoothen the workpiece using your sandpaper and brush off the dust.

Mix and apply the primer to the surface of your workpiece using a brush or roller. Ensure it does not look transparent after application. Reapply if it is transparent. Allow the primer to dry out, and then sand lightly with fine sandpaper. Remove dust from the surface using a clean cloth or brush.

Use a roller to apply the paint on surfaces that are wide and flat. Make use of a brush where the surfaces are thin or irregular. Dip more than half of the brush into the paint and rub on the cedar wood surface in a straight and steady move. Ensure the brush edge is always wet to avoid lap marks.

Sand the first paint layer to remove air spaces and bumps. You will have to sand lightly with fine sandpaper, so you don’t chop off the paint layer. Apply a second paint layer for a cleaner look. Leave the paint to dry for some hours before using it or before it is exposed to moisture or dust.

4. By Using Olive Oil And Lemon

By Using Olive Oil And Lemon

This combination feels like something you only make in your kitchen, but it can also be used to protect your cedar wood from outdoor damage. It is perfect for people looking for natural and safe ways to protect their wood. This combination does not contain harmful chemicals and can be used easily, even without the need for gloves.

It polishes the wood, thereby increasing its shine and protecting the surface from mild dents and scratches. This recipe is great on both finished and unfinished wood.

Materials Needed

  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Clean cloth
  • Small bowl

How to Apply Olive Oil and Lemon

Prepare the wood making sure it is clean and free from dirt and dust. If you’re dealing with unfinished wood, you may want to smoothen rough surfaces with sandpaper so you can get a clean shine after application. This process is not necessary when dealing with finished wood.

Mix two parts of olive oil to one part of lemon juice squeezed out from a lemon fruit and not from premade lemon juice. Already made lemon juice contains additives you don’t want on your wood.

Rub the mixture on the wood surface with a clean cloth in a circular manner. Pay more attention to areas with drink marks and dirt to eliminate them and create an even shine. Dry the excess oil using a towel and allow the cedar wood to dry completely before using it.

5. By Using Coconut Oil

Using Coconut Oil

You can protect your outdoor cedar by applying coconut oil to it. It is another deviation away from the more popular chemical options that can be unhealthy and dangerous if inhaled over a long time. Coconut oil is a wood conditioner that prevents warping and keeps the wood safe even when placed outdoors. Pure coconut oil is preferable as it is free from additives that may not be good for your cedar wood.

Materials Needed

  • Coconut oil
  • Clean cloth

How to Apply Coconut Oil

Clean the cedar wood surface properly to ensure there’s no dust or dirt on it. If you’re working with unfinished wood, you may have to work with sandpaper to smoothen rough surfaces. This will make your application easier and more effective.

Soak a clean cloth with coconut oil and gently rub it onto the wood surface using circular motions. This will work the mixture into the wood grains and ensure its effect is felt for a longer time. Allow the coconut oil to dry before handling the wood.


Despite being a durable wood type, cedar wood will need additional protection when used outdoors due to the harsh weather conditions present. Luckily, cedar is naturally resistant to some outdoor events like insect attacks. However, for you to enjoy your cedar wood for long, you’ll need to do more to keep it safe from UV light, and moisture, among others.

One of the most effective protection against UV light is paint, while moisture can be prevented by using several methods like oil-based finishes and stains.