Does Cedar Stain Well?

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We recently wrote an article about painting cedar wood white.  While we wonder why anyone would want to since cedar is a beautiful wood on its own, we had been asked, and so we answered.  Everyone walks their own woodworking path and is entitled to do as they wish.

For us, though, we prefer to let the natural beauty and wood grain to show through on cedar.  Whether it’s Eastern White cedar or Western Red Cedar (thuja plicata), we think the wood is worth leaving pretty much alone with its natural color.  Painting cedar white?

Not so much, but we would consider and have used stains on cedar.  

Key Points:

  • Yes, it does stain well.
  • No, don’t hide its beauty with an opaque or solid stain or paint it white (a personal no-no).
  • You’ll pay a premium for Western Red Cedar, but its beauty can be matched; the more economical will be Northern or Eastern White Cedar, also a beautiful wood.

What Is Good About Cedar Wood?

There are many good things about cedar wood. Here are some of the most notable benefits:

  • Durability: Cedar is a very durable wood that can withstand harsh weather conditions and pests. It is often used for outdoor applications, such as decks, fences, and siding.
  • Natural insect repellent: Cedar contains natural oils that repel insects, such as termites, ants, and moths. This makes it a good choice for storing clothing and other items that are susceptible to insect damage.
  • Aroma: Cedar has a pleasant, woodsy aroma that can be calming and relaxing. This makes it a good choice for use in furniture, flooring, and other home décor items.
  • Renewable resource: Cedar is a renewable resource that can be harvested without harming the environment. This makes it a sustainable choice for use in a variety of applications.

Overall, cedar is a versatile and attractive wood with many benefits. It is a good choice for a variety of applications, including outdoor construction, furniture, and flooring.

Here are some specific examples of how cedar wood is used:

  • Outdoor construction: Cedar is often used for decks, fences, and siding. It is a good choice for these applications because it is durable, rot-resistant, and insect-resistant.
  • Furniture: Cedar is a popular choice for furniture because it is strong, lightweight, and has a beautiful natural finish. Cedar furniture is also naturally resistant to insects and mold.
  • Flooring: Cedar flooring is a popular choice for homes because it is durable, attractive, and has a natural resistance to insects and mold. Cedar flooring is also known for its ability to improve air quality.
  • Clothing storage: Cedar chests and closets are a popular choice for storing clothing because cedar wood naturally repels moths and other insects. Cedar can also help to keep clothing fresh and free of odors.

If you are looking for a durable, attractive, and sustainable wood, cedar is a great option. It has many benefits that make it a good choice for a variety of applications.

What Are Some Common Uses For Cedar Wood?

Cedar Board with Brown Stain

Cedar wood is a popular choice for a variety of applications, including:

  • Outdoor construction: Cedar is often used for outdoor furniture, decks, fences, shingles, and siding. It is a good choice for these applications because it is durable, rot-resistant, and insect-resistant. We’ve used Eastern white cedar shingles on houses with great effect and success, and love the look. 
  • Furniture: Cedar is a popular choice for furniture because it is strong, lightweight, and has a beautiful natural finish. Cedar furniture is also naturally resistant to insects and mold.  This applies both to indoor and outdoor furniture.
  • Flooring: Cedar flooring is a popular choice for homes because it is durable, attractive, and has a natural resistance to insects and mold. Cedar flooring is also known for its ability to improve air quality. It is a fantastic wood for flooring since it won’t warp or break like most woods due to its capacity to withstand shock loads. Cedar is a softwood, which might disqualify it in rooms with a lot of foot traffic, but an area rug over it can help.
  • Clothing storage: Cedar chests and closets are a popular choice for storing clothing because cedar wood naturally repels moths and other insects. Cedar can also help to keep clothing fresh and free of odors.
  • Boatbuilding: Cedar is a popular choice for boatbuilding because it is strong, lightweight, and rot-resistant. Cedar boats are also known for their durability and longevity. While teak might be a more preferred choice because it is a hardwood, cedar can hold its own in boatbuilding, too.
  • Musical instruments: Cedar is a popular choice for making musical instruments, such as guitars, violins, and cellos. Cedar is known for its beautiful tone and its ability to project sound.
  • Totem poles: Cedar was traditionally used by Native Americans to make totem poles. Totem poles are carved with images of animals, spirits, and other important symbols.
  • Masks: Cedar was also used by Native Americans to make masks. Masks were used in ceremonies and dances.
  • Longhouses: Cedar was used by Native Americans to build longhouses. Longhouses were large, communal dwellings that could house dozens of people.

Cedar wood is a versatile and attractive wood with many benefits. It is a good choice for a variety of applications, including outdoor construction, furniture, flooring, clothing storage, boatbuilding, musical instruments, totem poles, masks, and longhouses.

Can You Stain Cedar Wood?

Closeup of Cedar Board Stained

Sure, why not?  We have and have always been thrilled with the results.  So, yes, you can stain cedar wood.  

Cedar is a naturally beautiful wood, but staining can help to enhance its color and protect it from the elements. There are many different types of stains available, so you can choose one that will give your cedar project the look you want.

Keep these thoughts in mind when staining cedar wood:

  • Choose the right stain: When choosing a stain for cedar wood, it is important to consider the type of finish you want. If you want to preserve the natural beauty of the wood, choose a transparent stain. If you want to add color to the wood, choose a semi-transparent stain or opaque stain.
  • Prepare the wood: Before staining cedar wood, it is important to prepare the surface. This includes sanding the wood to remove any dirt, dust, or imperfections. You may also want to use a wood conditioner to help the stain penetrate the wood evenly.
  • Apply the stain: Apply the stain evenly to the wood using a brush or roller. Be sure to work in the direction of the wood grain. Apply two coats of stain for best results.
  • Allow the stain to dry: Allow the stain to dry completely before using the cedar wood. This may take several hours or even overnight.

Here are some of the benefits of staining cedar wood:

  • Protection from the elements: Stain can help to protect cedar wood from the sun, rain, and snow. This can help to extend the life of your cedar project.
  • Enhanced color: Stain can help to enhance the natural beauty of cedar wood. This can give your project a unique and attractive look.
  • Easy maintenance: Stained cedar wood is relatively easy to maintain. You can simply clean it with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust.

If you are looking for a way to protect and enhance the beauty of your cedar wood, staining is a great option. With a little care and attention, your cedar project will look great for years to come.

Should You Use An Oil-Based Stain or a Water-Based Stain on Cedar Wood?

Those are the choices, yes – oil-based and water-based stain on cedar wood. However, there are some key differences between the two types of stain that you should be aware of before making a decision.

Water-based stains are typically less expensive and easier to apply than oil-based stains. They also dry more quickly and emit less odor. However, water-based stains may not be as durable as oil-based stains and may require more frequent reapplication.

Oil-based stains are typically more durable than water-based stains and can provide a longer-lasting finish. They are also more resistant to fading and staining from sunlight and water. However, oil-based stains can be more difficult to apply and dry more slowly than water-based stains. They also emit a strong odor that can linger for several days.

Ultimately, the best type of stain for cedar wood depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you are looking for a stain that is easy to apply and dries quickly, a water-based stain may be a good option for you. If you are looking for a stain that is durable and long-lasting, an oil-based stain may be a better choice.

Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing a stain for cedar wood:

  • The type of project: If you are staining a small project, such as a birdhouse or a piece of furniture, a water-based stain may be a good option. If you are staining a larger project, such as a cedar deck or a fence, an oil-based stain may be a better choice.  We love the look of cedar decks and cedar fences.
  • The climate: If you live in a humid climate, an oil-based stain may be a better choice than a water-based stain. Water-based stains can be more susceptible to fading and staining in humid climates.
  • The personal preference: The best type of stain is the one that you are most comfortable using and that gives you the results that you want. Experiment with different types of stains to find the one that works best for you.

Does Cedar Wood Take Stain Well?

We’ve already established that you can stain cedar wood.  But does it take staining well?

Yes, cedar wood takes stain well. It is a naturally beautiful wood, but staining can help to enhance its color and protect it from the elements. There are many different types of stains available, so you can choose one that will give your cedar project the look you want.  If the use is for an outdoor application, use an exterior stain, too.

When choosing a stain for cedar wood, it is important to consider the type of finish you want. If you want to preserve the natural beauty of the wood, choose a transparent stain. If you want to add color to the wood, choose a semi-transparent or opaque stain.

When staining cedar wood:

  • Choose the right stain: When choosing a stain for cedar wood, it is important to consider the type of finish you want. If you want to preserve the natural beauty of the wood, choose a transparent stain. If you want to add color to the wood, choose a semi-transparent or opaque stain.
  • Prepare the wood: Before staining cedar wood, it is important to prepare the surface. This includes sanding the wood to remove any dirt, dust, or imperfections. You may also want to use a wood conditioner to help the stain penetrate the wood evenly.
  • Apply the stain: Apply the stain evenly to the wood using a brush – we recommend a natural bristle brush that will reach into all of the nooks and crannies of the wood. Be sure to work in the direction of the wood grain. Apply two coats of stain for best results.
  • Allow the stain to dry: Allow the stain to dry completely before using the cedar wood. This may take several hours or even overnight.  We also recommend two coats unless you have used a pre-stain conditioner and that first coat gives you the look you want.
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Here are some of the benefits of staining cedar wood:

  • Protection from the elements: Stain can help to protect cedar wood from the sun, rain, and snow. This can help to extend the life of your cedar project.
  • Enhanced color: Stain can help to enhance the natural beauty of cedar wood. This can give your project a unique and attractive look.
  • Easy maintenance: Stained cedar wood is relatively easy to maintain. You can simply clean it with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust.

If you are looking for a way to protect and enhance the beauty of your cedar wood, staining is a great option. With a little care and attention, your cedar project will look great for years to come.

Here are some of the most popular stains for cedar wood:

  • Transparent stains: Transparent stains allow the natural beauty of the cedar wood to show through. They are available in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that will match your décor.
  • Semi-transparent stains: Semi-transparent stains add a hint of color to the cedar wood while still allowing the natural grain to show through. They are a good option if you want to add a little bit of color to your cedar project without hiding the natural beauty of the wood.
  • Opaque stains: Opaque stains completely cover the natural color of the cedar wood. They are a good option if you want to change the color of your cedar project completely, although we are not fans of an opaque finish on cedar.

We also urge you not to use a solid stain, again, for aesthetic reasons.  But, no matter what type of stain you choose, be sure to apply it evenly to the cedar wood. This will help to ensure that the stain dries evenly and that you get the results you want.

What Is A Wood Conditioner?

1 qt Minwax 61500 Clear Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner

We have recommended using a wood conditioner when staining cedar wood.  But what is a wood conditioner?

A wood conditioner is a clear liquid that is applied to wood before staining or finishing. It helps to ensure that the stain or finish penetrates the wood evenly, preventing blotchy or uneven coloration. Wood conditioners are especially beneficial for softwoods, which have a porous grain that can absorb stain unevenly.

Wood conditioners work by filling in the pores of the wood, creating a more uniform surface for the stain or finish to adhere to. This helps to prevent the stain or finish from pooling in the pores, which can lead to blotchy coloration. Wood conditioners also help to raise the grain of the wood, which can give the wood a more pronounced grain pattern.

There are two main types of wood conditioners: water-based and oil-based. Water-based wood conditioners are less likely to yellow the wood, but they may not provide as much protection as oil-based wood conditioners. Oil-based wood conditioners provide more protection, but they can be more difficult to apply and dry more slowly.

To apply a wood conditioner, simply brush it on in the direction of the wood grain. Make sure the wood conditioner has dried completely before applying stain.

Here are some of the benefits of using a wood conditioner:

  • Prevents blotchy staining: A wood conditioner helps to ensure that the stain or finish penetrates the wood evenly, preventing blotchy or uneven coloration.
  • Protects the wood: A wood conditioner can help to protect the wood from the elements, such as water, sun, and heat.
  • Enhances the wood grain: A wood conditioner can help to enhance the natural beauty of the wood grain.
  • Makes the wood easier to stain or finish: A wood conditioner can make it easier to stain or finish the wood, as the stain or finish will be more likely to adhere evenly.

If you are staining or finishing wood, it is a good idea to use a wood conditioner. Wood conditioners are a relatively inexpensive and easy way to improve the look and longevity of your wood projects.

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What Is The Best Way To Apply Stain To Cedar Wood?

Approach the staining of your cedar wood the same way you would approach the staining of any other wood for the most part.

  1. Prepare the wood. Either wash the wood with soap and water, allowing it to dry fully before staining, or sand the cedar wood, both of which will remove any dirt, dust, or imperfections. As we have recommended earlier, use a wood conditioner to help the stain penetrate the wood evenly.
  2. Choose the right stain. When choosing a stain for cedar wood, it is important to consider the type of finish you want. If you want to preserve the natural beauty of the wood, choose a transparent stain. If you want to add color to the wood, choose a semi-transparent stain or opaque stain.
  3. Apply the stain. Apply the stain evenly to the wood using a natural bristle brush, as mentioned earlier. Be sure to work in the direction of the wood grain. Apply two coats of stain for best results unless you have used a wood conditioner, and you can see that one coat is sufficient.  Be sure to wipe away any excess stain after a minute or two.  Use a high-quality stain, too. Cedar wood is comparatively inexpensive, so you can afford to use a higher grade of stain.
  4. Allow the stain to dry. Allow the stain to dry completely before using the cedar wood. This may take several hours or even overnight.

Here are a few general thoughts for staining cedar wood:

  • Work in a well-ventilated area. Stain can be harmful if inhaled, so it is important to work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Protect your clothing. Stain can be difficult to remove from clothing, so it is a good idea to protect your clothing with an old shirt or apron.
  • Clean up spills immediately. If you spill stain, clean it up immediately with a damp cloth.

With a little care and attention, you can stain cedar wood to create a beautiful and lasting finish.

A few further thoughts on stains for cedar wood:

  • Minwax Cedar Stain: This stain is a clear, water-based stain that allows the natural beauty of the cedar wood to show through. It is available in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that will match your décor.
  • Rust-Oleum Cedarwood Stain: This stain is a semi-transparent, oil-based stain that adds a hint of color to the cedar wood while still allowing the natural grain to show through. It is available in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that will match your décor.
  • Valspar Cedartone Stain: This stain is an opaque, oil-based stain that completely covers the natural color of the cedar wood. It is available in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that will match your décor.

No matter what type of stain you choose, be sure to apply it evenly to the cedar wood. This will help to ensure that the stain dries evenly and that you get the results you want.

Can You Use A Pressure Washer on Cedar Siding and Shingles?

You can use a power washer on cedar as long as the sprayer is set to low pressure. Cedar is very soft, and higher pressure can permanently damage the wood. You should only power wash your cedar siding if you are sure the wood is not cracked or damaged.

To avoid damaging the wood’s soft surface, you should use low pressure and not work too closely to the siding. You should keep the nozzle horizontal, start at the top of the fence and work to the bottom using long, sweeping motions that follow the grain. Be careful not to keep the spray in one spot for too long, as this might damage your cedar fence.

You can also clean dirt from your cedar siding by simply using warm, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush.

Quick Video On Western Red Cedar

Trees that grow up to 200 feet tall, beautiful in color, and low shrinkage, this cedar is amazing.  Check the video out.

Paint it white?  Heck, no.  Go with stain, either transparent or semi-transparent, for the loveliest results.

Last update on 2024-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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