Applying Teak Oil to Cedar: Pros, Cons & Alternative Finishes

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Cedar trees and the wood they produce are known for their natural resistance to rot and insects and are a popular choice for outdoor furniture.

Many woodworkers use the wood finish teak oil to help maintain cedar furniture’s appearance. But is it the best choice?

Let’s explore the pros, cons, and alternatives of using teak oil on cedar.

Why Cedar is a Popular Choice for Outdoor Products

Cedar is favored for outdoor use due to its natural resistance to rot, decay, and insects. Its lightweight nature and straight grain make it easy to work with. Plus, its inherent oils allow it to weather gracefully, making it ideal for furniture, decking, and siding.

Outdoor Table

Pros of Using Teak Oil on Cedar

Teak oil offers several advantages when used on cedar wood.

Firstly, it accentuates the cedar’s natural color and grain, resulting in a richer and more vibrant appearance. In addition to aesthetic enhancement, teak oil provides a protective barrier, shielding cedar from moisture and external factors, thereby extending the wood’s lifespan.

Some teak oils even come with UV-resistant components, which safeguard cedar from the sun’s harmful rays, preventing premature graying. The application process is straightforward, with teak oil drying relatively quickly.

  • Enhanced Appearance: Richer and more vibrant cedar appearance.
  • Protection: Shields cedar from moisture and prolongs its lifespan.
  • UV Resistance: Prevents premature graying due to sun exposure.
  • Easy Application: Straightforward process with quick drying time.

Cons of Using Teak Oil on Cedar

Teak oil, while beneficial in many cases, presents certain challenges when used on cedar. It’s primarily tailored for teak wood, leading to potential inconsistencies when applied to cedar.

The need for regular reapplication can be demanding, ensuring the wood remains protected. This frequent maintenance might not be ideal for everyone.

From an aesthetic standpoint, teak oil might darken cedar. This shift in color might not align with everyone’s preference, especially those who cherish cedar’s natural hue.

Furthermore, opting for premium teak oil often means digging deeper into one’s pockets, as it can come with a heftier price tag.

  • Not Specifically Designed for Cedar: Effectiveness on cedar can be inconsistent.
  • Frequent Reapplication: Requires regular reapplication to maintain its protective qualities.
  • Potential Darkening: Can alter the cedar’s natural color, making it darker.
  • Cost: Premium teak oil comes with a higher price tag.

Teak Oil on Cedar: Pros & Cons Chart

Accentuates cedar’s natural color and grain for a richer and more vibrant look.Teak oil might darken cedar, altering its natural hue.
Shields cedar from moisture, extending its lifespan.Requires regular reapplication for consistent protection.
Contains UV-resistant components to prevent premature graying.Primarily tailored for teak wood, leading to potential inconsistencies on cedar.
Easy and quick-drying.Premium teak oil can be expensive.

Alternatives to Teak Oil for Cedar

For those exploring options other than teak oil for cedar, several alternatives stand out. Linseed oil is a natural choice that enhances beauty and resists heat and water. Tung oil offers a clear, glossy finish, beautifying and protecting the wood.

Eco-friendly beeswax provides a warm look while defending against moisture and UV rays. DIY enthusiasts might lean towards homemade stains, using ingredients like vinegar and steel wool for a rustic touch.

Lastly, commercial sealers designed for cedar offer protection without frequent reapplication.

Here is a comparison chart of teak oil alternatives:

Linseed Oil– Enhances cedar’s beauty.
– Resists heat and water.
– Deep penetration.
– Can become sticky.
– Frequent reapplication.
– Might attract mold.
Tung Oil– Clear, glossy finish.
– Moisture protection.
– Durable.
– Longer drying time.
– May darken wood.
– Risk of streaks.
Beeswax – Eco-friendly.
– Warm, natural appearance.
– UV protection.
– Less robust protection.
– Frequent reapplication.
– Not for large projects.
DIY Stains – Unique rustic look.
– Customizable shade.
– Cost-effective.
– Unpredictable results.
– Less long-term protection.
– Requires experimentation.
Commercial Sealers/Stains – Tailored for cedar.
– Robust protection.
– Long-lasting.
– More expensive.
– Alters cedar’s appearance.
– Possible chemicals/VOCs.

Additional Thoughts

This video offers some additional thoughts on the use of teak oil on his cedar furniture that are worth considering.

In Summary

If you decide to go simply with teak oil (or tung oil or linseed oil), plan to apply a yearly coat to ensure a continuation of protection.  It will keep the cedar looking fresh and new and prevent it from graying in the elements.

It’s easy to apply and dries quickly, and the annual treatment will prolong the beauty of the wood for its lifespan as furniture.

2 thoughts on “Applying Teak Oil to Cedar: Pros, Cons & Alternative Finishes”

  1. My dad swore by boiled linseed, a customer once said that a cedar chest treated with linseed oil was the best finish he had ever seen. He would rub the linseed oil on with “water paper” fine grit sandpaper and keep adding more. I had a question about adding Spar varnish on top of some of these oils. Any thoughts?
    Thanks a bunch


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