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5 Best Clear Cedar Finish for Outdoors

Does your lawn look dull and unattractive? Are you thinking of spicing it up a little bit? Well, using cedar furniture, you can take the aura of your outdoor area to the next level.

Cedar is often preferred as the best alternative because of its durability, graceful look, stability, and more. You can use it for a rustic garden set, durable exterior door, or even a woody resting place for your kids outside.

If you think it’s a good idea, then it is the right time to start finding the best clear cedar finish for outdoors. Look up some companies that offer quality ones, get the best deal, and start your renovation.

Best 5 Clear Cedar Finishes for Outdoor in 2021

Utilizing Cedar is the best decision if you’re after durability and longevity. On top of the quality piece, take into consideration the products you need for further protection and functionality.

1. Thompsons WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector

This wood protector is ideal for outdoor cedar finish because of its enduring waterproof functionality. Exterior furniture is prone to water damage because of its exposure to rain and dew, thus using a maximum strength one-coat waterproofing product is a must.

Thompsons WaterSeal Advanced is also very flexible and can be applied on both damp and dry wood. Its resistance to UV damage, immediate fading and mildew growth makes it a perfect product for outdoor decks, fences, and pieces of exterior furniture.

Furthermore, the product is straightforward to use and can be cleaned up with soap and water. The application does not require a long time and can be done immediately. You can do the cleaning and treating, even on the same day.
The patented formula of this wood protector can preserve the natural color of your cedar wood and enhance its durability for years.

Special Features
  • Easy to use
  • Waterproof
  • Mildew growth, UV damage, and fading resistance
  • Long-lasting beading

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2. Minwax Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane

This water-based urethane is specially designed for outdoor projects. The UV blocker in this product reduces the sun’s graying and fading effects in cedar furniture and fixtures.

Aside from the Spar Urethane content, it also has special oils that allow the coating to expand and exhibit higher wood resistance against the changing season and fluctuating temperature. The product is ideal for indoor cabinets but also works best in the outdoor garden set, cedar fences, doors, and more.

Besides, the protective barrier of Minwax ensures that the wood withstands the rain and moisture outside. It is suitable for almost all types of Cedar but complements best the light-colored and stained ones.

The product is very easy to use, fast-drying and guarantees a smooth cleanup process. You can use soap and warm water to clean the surface up after application. Indeed, a suitable product if you’re after a quick and smooth finish.

Special Features
  • Suitable for interior and exterior project
  • Has a protective barrier against moisture and rain
  • Excellent to avoid graying and fading
  • Fast-drying feature

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3. Defy Extreme Exterior Clear Wood Stain

Defy Extreme wood stain is of premium quality, and it’s a water-based product suitable for wood decks, fences, outdoor playsets, patio furniture, doors, and more. Also, it is an environmentally friendly wood stain with a natural feature that prevents graying caused by direct sun exposure.

The zinc and nanoparticle technology of Defy Extreme wood stains serves as sun protection for your cedar pieces. It restrains color loss, fading, and premature graying by dispersing tiny zinc particles throughout the stained surface.

By using this over your wood, you can easily achieve a quality finish that could last a season with very little chance of fading and darkening.

Aside from it being user friendly, maintenance is also made easy for users. There is no need for sanding or stripping if you’re doing a maintenance coat. A simple brightener and a single layer of this wood stain will do the trick.

Special Features
  • Water-based and environmentally friendly
  • An exceptional sunscreen for your Cedarwood
  • Extremely durable with high fading resistance
  • Easy to use and maintain

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4. Howard Citrus Shield Paste Wax

Wax is often regarded as the icing on the cake when it comes to clear Cedar finish. Howard Citrus Shield Paste Wax enhances the natural beauty of any finished or unfinished wood. It does not affect the color and even brings back the authenticity of the material during the conditioning process.

This premium product contains real carnauba wax that is known to repel water, protect finish color and lessen sun fading effects. A long-lasting shine is something this product is taking pride in. Aside from clear Cedar, Howard paste wax can also be used in painted surfaces, concrete, marble, and metal.

The product is toluene-free and specially formulated to be used as a final finish or as a reconditioner. There is no need to worry about the color or the natural look of your Cedar furniture because the natural contents are enough assurance that the finish will be as shiny as the sun outside.

Special Features
  • Suitable for finished and unfinished wood
  • Ability to bring back the natural color
  • With UV shield for sun protection
  • Guarantees brilliant and long-lasting shine

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5. Cabot Australian Timber Oil

This timber oil is specially formulated for outdoor use. The product contains a unique blend of linseed which protects dense wood and increases the durability of any piece of furniture.

Long oil alkyds of this product are for a long-lasting finish while the pure tung oil is for water repellency and color depth. Furthermore, the iron oxide pigments of this superb timber oil ensure a continuing UV-absorbing surface. This is to retain the natural color and dimension.

The application of the product is easy to follow, too, as you only need one coat to achieve a good-looking outcome. Drying may take a little time (24 – 48 hours), but when adequately followed, it can result in a quality and long-lasting finish.

In general, oils are prone to moisture and a strong absorber of dust, but the proper application of this product can save you or any user from these issues.

Special Features
  • Uniquely blended for outdoor use
  • Ideal for exterior decks, railings, and furniture
  • Deep penetrating oil protection
  • Ensures long-lasting UV-absorbing surface

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Can You Clear Coat Cedar?

Cedar is an ideal material for indoor and outdoor projects. Its high resistance to rotting, insects, moisture, and decay makes it a recommended option for exterior applications. But like any other type of wood, you need to know the basics and the possible upgrades you can do to enhance its functionality.

The natural properties of Cedar lead designers and homeowners to leave it unfinished while some opt to go for a clear coat. The latter can protect the surface while keeping the natural aroma and inherent properties of the material. 

Clear coats are mostly done for indoor cedar finish but also are naturally flexible with outdoor fixtures. Applying transparent coats preserve the raw color of the wood though you have to position it somewhere indirectly from the sunlight.

You can also choose from paints, oil, or semi-transparent stain containing ones to give your Cedar finish a boost or a little twist.

How to Apply a Clear Finish to Outdoor Cedar Woods?

Clear finish is one of the best options for your Cedarwood to retain its natural beauty and aroma. But what is the best procedure to successfully get that best-looking and remarkable result? 

One of the keys to an excellent finish is exceptional surface preparation. Sanding is essential to achieve a smooth, clear finish for your cedar pieces. Sand the project up through the grits, covering the hard to reach parts for easier assembly. You can do it until at least 220grit or even go up to a maximum of 600.

Before applying your sealer, it’s best to wipe out some glue splotches using mineral spirits. Splotch can absorb the finish differently and will show up even after the topcoat. You can then flood the surface with a clear sealer coat (specifically for outdoor) and wipe it off.

Check on any holes, cracks, or existing defects and fill them with wood filler before proceeding to your final coats. Apply one to two coats of your exterior wipe-on transparent wood stain or clear semi-gloss spar urethane.

To top it up, you can apply a thin coat of wax for polishing, but again, this is optional and not mandatory.

Factors to Consider Before Buying The Best Clear Cedar Finish for Outdoors:

Cedar furniture is a sought-after material these days because of its durability, rusty and light colors, and exceptional resistance to insects. This type of wood is a popular choice for exterior renovation, decks, fences, garden sets, and more.
A lot of DIY videos are available online, and some are super simple for beginners like you. However, some people would opt to hire a professional to ensure that the results exceed their expectations.

Surely, you need to make that quick decision, but this doesn’t mean you should pick something by impulse.

Below are the factors you should consider to end up with the best exterior finish for your western red Cedar:


Surely, the stability of the cedar pieces is unquestionable. But weather conditions or the temperature in your area is a deciding factor for decks, garden sets, and other exterior furniture. Avoid an oil finish if you frequently experience dry months and opt for a clear or natural one for your Cedar.


Red Cedars are known to last for years and even decades if finished and appropriately maintained. Go for a finish that retains the color of the wood, enhances its durability features, and requires low maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What makes Cedar an Ideal Option for Outdoor Use?

There are many materials you can choose from for exterior furniture and fixture, but Cedar is often cited as the best choice for several reasons. First, Cedar has a natural resistance to water and decay because of its natural oil content.

Second, this wood has tested stability when it comes to warping and sagging. Its durability can last up to 30 years.

Lastly, Cedar is known for its graceful aging. You can leave it unfinished or settle with a clear coat as the wood would gradually weather into a grayish shade or silvery one.

2. How can I Protect My Cedar Furniture?

It’s undoubtedly a fact that Cedarwood is a substantial investment because of its inherent stability and beauty. But of course, you can stretch a product’s longevity if you take some necessary steps to preserve it.

For Cedarwood, you need to pick a quality sealer for absolute protection. Sealants can protect the wood from water, molds, dust, and possible fading. For the latter, it’s best to coat your furniture with a product that contains UV chemicals for added shield. 

Furthermore, positioning your outdoor woody sets to a covered area is another way to make it last for years.

3. Can I Leave My Cedar Unfinished?

Yes, you can absolutely do nothing with your cedar wood because of its outstanding inherent properties. The natural oils present in every piece act as natural preservatives. These are helpful to resist fungi, keep the wood free from insects, and produce the distinctive cedar aroma.

On the other hand, it’s also a wise decision to use some clear sealant, paint or even oil to do a little upgrade with your cedar finish. Just make sure to check on essential factors like climate to pick a product that could maximize your wood’s look and endurance.


Indeed, Cedar is an excellent pick for both indoor and outdoor furniture. Although it’s a flexible type of wood, it still needs primary care and protection. You may leave it unfinished or use the best exterior finish for western red Cedar to stretch your wood’s durability and preserve its natural beauty.