Preserving Your Cedar Furniture With The Proper Finish

Posted on: 30 March 2015


When you're investing in new furniture for your home and yard, one of the most elegant materials you can choose is cedar. Known for its traditional red color and unique fragrance, cedar is durable and resistant to warping, shrinkage and other wear. If you want furniture that will last for years to come, pretreat and finish your cedar furniture right away. Here are some tips to help you care for your new cedar furnishings.

Pre-Treating Cedar

Before you can apply any finish to cedar furnishings, you'll have to treat the wood to condition it. Place the furniture in the room of the house or the outside location where you plan to keep it. This allows the wood to settle and adapt to the atmosphere in that space.

Once the furniture has been in place for a couple of days, it's time to treat the surface so that it will take a finish. If your furniture has a smooth, soft surface, you'll need to sand it to create texture. This will allow the finish to adhere to the wood. If you've purchased cedar furniture that already has a textured surface, you should be able to finish it without the sanding step.

Opt for fine-grit sandpaper to sand the wood surface. This allows you to create a subtle texture on the wood surface without actually causing damage.

Selecting a Finish

Applying a finish to the cedar furniture will let the natural color and beauty of the wood shine while protecting the wood's integrity. Choose the type of finish based on the features you want to spotlight.


Bleaching cedar wood gives it a premature aged appearance. If you like the silver-grey look of old cedar furniture that's been exposed to the elements and weathered for centuries, this is the option to choose. Select a bleach finishing agent and apply it according to the product's instructions. Then, protect the wood with a clear coat.


You can find cedar varnish in two forms – stains and clear varnish. Stains add a touch of color to the cedar wood. If you want to give your cedar a hint of another color or you want to enhance the existing color of the wood, a varnish stain will work. It won't drastically alter the color of the wood, but it will give it a subtle tint.

A clear varnish product seals the wood the same way as a tinted varnish, but does not contribute any color. If you want the natural red of the cedar wood to last for years to come, a clear varnish is the best way to go. For cedar furniture that's going to be in a high humidity area, you'll want to add an extra coat or two of varnish to help seal the wood further against the dampness and humidity. Once the varnish is dry, you can keep the furniture clean by wiping it down with a damp cloth.

Applying a finish to your cedar furniture is the safest way to preserve it and get the longest possible life from your investment. With the tips presented here, you can select a finish and apply it to get the look that you want. If you're uncertain about applying the finish yourself, talk with your local furniture store about finishing it for you before you bring the furniture home.

For more information, contact Design Center Furniture or a similar company.