What is the Best Wood Sealer for Cedar? (2024)

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Wood sealers are in great demand due to their potential to safeguard and maintain the integrity of wood. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that not all wood sealers perform equally. There are instances where certain products fall short of providing the anticipated level of protection, or they may prove to be tricky in terms of application. 

This can, unfortunately, leave the wood susceptible to damage and deterioration, undermining the very purpose of applying a sealer in the first place. That’s why I tested various options to identify the best wood sealers for cedar that not only provide lasting protection but also deliver an exceptional finish.

Premium Option
Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer
Editor’s Choice
HOPE’S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish
Budget Option
Thompsons Waterseal 21802 Voc Wood Protector
Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer
HOPE'S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish
Thompsons Waterseal 21802 Voc Wood Protector
• Clear finish
• One-gallon coverage
• Safe and eco-friendly
• Fast-drying formula
• Waterproof wood sealer
• Marine sealant
• Premium quality
• Food-safe
• Versatile
• Excellent protection
• Deep penetration
• Easy to use
• Versatile use
• Large coverage
• Easy application
• Low VOC formula
• Long-lasting protection
• Clear finish
• Waterproof barrier
Premium Option
Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer
Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer
• Clear finish
• One-gallon coverage
• Safe and eco-friendly
• Fast-drying formula
• Waterproof wood sealer
• Marine sealant
Editor’s Choice
HOPE’S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish
HOPE'S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish
• Premium quality
• Food-safe
• Versatile
• Excellent protection
• Deep penetration
• Easy to use
Budget Option
Thompsons Waterseal 21802 Voc Wood Protector
Thompsons Waterseal 21802 Voc Wood Protector
• Versatile use
• Large coverage
• Easy application
• Low VOC formula
• Long-lasting protection
• Clear finish
• Waterproof barrier

Reviews of the Top Wood Sealers for Cedar

1. HOPE'S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish

Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil is an excellent natural wood finish that is easy to use. The Tung oil deeply penetrates the wood fibers, solidifies into a flexible, non-greasy form, and integrates with the wood.

It can withstand daily wear, moisture, alcohol, and oil, ensuring lasting beauty and protection. It lasts many times longer than mineral oil and wax-based products. It is also a great value for the price, as a little goes a long way.

This product is formulated without the inclusion of any hazardous chemicals or additives, ensuring it is safe for both your health and the environment—a factor that I, as a professional, consider non-negotiable. 

Additionally, its food-safe certification makes it suitable for use on items such as cutting boards and other kitchen utensils, providing peace of mind for those who are conscious about the products they use in spaces where food is prepared.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

2. Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer

The Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer is an outstanding waterproof sealant and wood stain. One of the most impressive things about this product is its durability and resistance to water damage.

It is designed for wood surfaces exposed to harsh marine environments, making it ideal for boats, docks, decks, and other outdoor wooden structures. It creates a protective barrier that repels water, prevents mildew, and protects the wood from fading due to exposure to the sun.

Another standout feature of this wood sealer is that it is incredibly easy to apply and dries quickly. It does not require sanding or stripping the wood surface before application.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. Thompsons Waterseal 21802 VOC Wood Protector

The Thompsons Waterseal 21802 is water-based, making it easy to clean up and more environmentally friendly than other types of wood protectors. It also has a low VOC formula, which means it releases fewer harmful emissions into the air.

The application process is relatively easy, and the product goes on clear, which means that it won’t alter the natural color or appearance of the wood. It dries quickly and provides excellent water repellency, preventing moisture from penetrating the surface of the wood.

It doesn’t require any sanding or stripping before application. It also has a relatively long lifespan, and it doesn’t need to be reapplied as frequently.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. Olympic Maximum Wood Stain And Sealer

This wood stain features a semi-transparent formula, which enables the inherent beauty of the wood grain to shine through while delicately introducing a subtle touch of color.

One of the key features of the Olympic Maximum Wood Stain and Sealer is its weather-ready application, which allows for cleaning and staining even during rain or extreme temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, the deck will be ready for rain within only eight hours, making it an ideal choice for those who want to complete their outdoor projects quickly. The formula’s enhanced waterproofing protection and advanced sunblock UV defense ensure excellent durability.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

5. SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain

The SaverSystems #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain is one of the best wood sealers for cedar with a beautiful finish for wooden decks, fences, and siding. One of the most impressive things about this wood stain is its versatility. 

It can be used on various wood surfaces, including pressure-treated pine, cedar, fir, and redwood. It provides excellent protection against UV rays, water, and mildew, ensuring that your wooden surfaces remain in good condition for a long time.

Another standout feature is its semi-transparent formula, which allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. It enhances the wood grain and provides a subtle yet stunning finish that adds depth and dimension to the surface.

What i Like

What I Don't Like

6. Seal-Once Nano Penetrating Wood Sealer

The Seal-Once Nano Penetrating Wood Sealer is eco-friendly, so it doesn’t have any bad smells or risks of combustion. The unique thing about this product is that it uses nanoparticles to protect wood from moisture. This helps prevent mold and makes cleaning up easy.

Plus, it’s water-based, so it doesn’t create toxic fumes and is better for the environment.
It is also free from harsh chemicals and heavy metals, making it safer and more eco-friendly than oil-based sealers. 

You can use it in high-moisture areas like the kitchen or on stained wood to prevent mold for years.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. Ready Seal 512 Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer

One of the things I like about this product is how easy it is to apply as it blends into the wood surface without needing a primer or wet-line application.

It can be applied with a roller, brush, or sprayer and doesn’t leave any streaks, laps, or runs. Another feature of the Ready Seal 512 is that it requires no thinning or diluting before spray application, which saves time and effort.

The natural cedar color is stunning and provides a warm tone to any wood surface, making it perfect for exterior use. It is also easy to maintain, requiring no stripping or sanding for reapplication.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

8. STAR BRITE Premium Golden Teak Oil

Star Brite Golden Teak Oil is an excellent choice for those with decks exposed to water or wooden boats. It protects the cedar wood from harsh weather and salt water, decreasing the chance of decay from extended contact with water.

This teak oil also contains additives that prevent the wood from turning gray or fading due to sun exposure, helping maintain the natural beauty of the wood.

Applying the stain and sealer is easy as it quickly absorbs into the wood without leaving any brush marks. The product is fast-absorbing, effectively protecting the wood surface and restoring natural cedar oil that may have drained out.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

9. DEFY Crystal Clear Composite Deck Waterproofing Sealer

The Defy Crystal Clear Composite Deck Waterproofing Sealer gives protection against the sun’s damaging effects without changing the wood’s natural look.

This sealer is designed to prevent black stains when natural cedar is exposed to water. It is formulated with Zinc Nano-particle technology, making it resistant to fungal growth and color fade. The product’s advanced polymers provide fade-resistant color, and it is easy to apply with a regular paint roller.

The sealer’s long-lasting formula, ease of application, and UV-resistant properties make it an excellent choice for maintaining the durability and natural beauty of my cedar siding and deck.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

10. Ready Seal 110 Golden Pine Exterior Stain and Sealer

The stain can be applied using a brush, sprayer, or roller, and it goes smoothly without dripping or splattering. It also dries quickly, which is a plus. The Ready Seal 110 does an excellent job of sealing and protecting the wood. It repels water effectively and prevents UV damage, which helps extend the wood’s life.

Additionally, the sealer enhances the natural beauty of the wood by highlighting the grain and texture, creating a rich and inviting appearance. It is oil-based, which gives it excellent durability. It resists fading and cracking over time, so you won’t have to reapply it as often as other stains or sealers.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Wood Sealers for Cedar Buyer’s Guide

Color and Finish

The color and finish of the wood sealer play a significant role in enhancing the natural beauty of cedar. Various options are available, such as clear, tinted, and semi-transparent finishes.

Consider your desired look and how the sealer’s color and finish will complement the cedar’s natural tones.

Opacity

When choosing the best wood sealer for cedar, the pigment level will influence your wood’s final color once it dries. It’s essential to consider the desired color of your deck or other surfaces when selecting a sealer to ensure a suitable match.

Opt for a clear sealant if you prefer not to alter the wood’s natural color. Sealers typically come in various opacity levels, including semi-transparent, toner, opaque-solid, and semi-opaque categories.

Durability

The durability of a cedar wood sealer is crucial in ensuring long-lasting protection against moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors. High-quality sealers offer enhanced durability, requiring less frequent reapplication.

Cedar wood durability

When selecting a wood sealer for cedar, research the product’s reputation and performance to ensure you choose a durable option that will provide lasting protection.

Kind of Sealer

Water-Based

Pros

Cons

Oil-Based

Pros

Cons

Thompsons Waterseal 21802 Voc Wood Protector

Types of Protection

Moisture and Mildew

Cedar wood is prone to moisture and mildew damage, which can cause rotting and decay over time. To prevent this, look for moisture and mildew protection wood sealers.

These sealers penetrate the wood’s surface, creating a barrier that repels water and prevents mold and mildew growth.

Waterproofing

For cedar wood that is exposed to the elements, waterproofing is essential.

Look for sealers that protect waterproofing, as they create a barrier preventing water from penetrating the wood’s surface. This helps to prevent warping, cracking, and other types of water damage.

UV Rays

Exposure to sunlight can cause cedar wood to fade and discolor over time. To prevent this, look for wood sealers that offer UV protection. These sealers contain special additives that prevent the sun’s harmful rays from penetrating the wood’s surface and causing damage.

Method of Application

Brush

Brush-on sealers are the most common application method for small areas or hard-to-reach places. They offer greater control over the amount of sealer applied and can be easily brushed into the wood grain.

Cabot 140.0000061.000 4 Wood Stain Brush

However, they can be time-consuming and may result in brush marks if not applied evenly.

Spray

Spray-on sealers are a faster and more efficient application method, as they can cover large areas quickly and evenly. They also have a thinner consistency, which allows them to penetrate deep into the wood fibers for better protection.

However, they may require multiple coats to achieve the desired level of protection, and overspray can be an issue if not used carefully.

Eco-Friendliness

If you are environmentally conscious, choosing an eco-friendly sealer is necessary. Look for water-based sealers made with natural ingredients instead of harmful chemicals.

These types of sealers are not only safer for the environment but also for your health, as they release fewer toxic fumes. If budget permits, consider investing in organic sealers, although they may come at a premium.

applying TotalBoat Clear Penetrating Epoxy Wood Sealer Stabilizer to wooden board

Maintenance

The level of maintenance required for the sealer is also an important factor to consider. Some sealers require regular upkeep and reapplication; others provide long-lasting protection with minimal maintenance.

Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations to determine the level of maintenance required for the sealer.

How Does a Wood Sealer Work on Cedar?

A wood sealer works on cedar by penetrating the wood’s pores and forming a protective barrier that shields it from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors that can cause damage or decay.

The sealer helps maintain the cedar’s natural beauty and structural integrity by preventing water absorption and repelling harmful elements. Additionally, it can slow down the natural weathering process, preventing the cedar from turning gray over time.

To ensure optimal results, cleaning the cedar surface and allowing it to dry before applying the sealer is essential. This helps the sealer to penetrate effectively and provide lasting protection.

Sealing for Painting

Sealing for painting involves preparing and protecting a surface, such as wood, to ensure a proper and long-lasting paint job. The process typically includes cleaning the surface, applying a high-quality primer, and allowing it to dry before applying the paint.

The primer is a sealant that creates a barrier between the surface and the paint, preventing natural oils, stains, or imperfections from bleeding through the paint.

This step is crucial, as it enhances paint adhesion, provides a uniform base for the topcoat, and extends the paint job’s life.

To achieve the best results, ensure the surface is clean and dry before sealing, and if the cedar was previously painted, remove any peeling paint before priming.

Steps to Seal Cedar Wood

Step #1: Clean and Prepare the Wood

Before applying any sealer, it is important to clean the wood thoroughly. Remove dirt, debris, mold, or mildew from the cedar surface using a soft brush and a mild detergent solution. Rinse with water to remove any residue.

Cedar wood for cutting board

Step #2: Strip If Needed

If there is an existing sealer or stain on the wood, you may need to strip it before applying a new sealer. Use the best paint stripper and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Step #3: Brighten the Wood

Use a wood brightener to restore the cedar’s natural color and neutralize the pH after stripping. Apply the brightener, and the drying process may take 1 to 2 days, depending on the weather conditions.

Step #4: Allow the Wood to Dry

After cleaning and brightening, allow the wood to dry completely. This may take a few hours to a few days depending on the weather conditions.

This can be achieved by utilizing an advanced moisture meter. If the wood is not dry, it is necessary to let it dry entirely before sealing it.

Step #5: Apply the Sealer

Once the wood is dry, apply the sealer using a brush, roller, or sprayer, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

staining cedar wood

Be sure to apply the sealer evenly and work in small sections, starting at one end and working your way to the other. Allow the sealer to dry completely before applying a second coat if needed.

Tips and Tricks for Seamless Application of Sealer on Cedar

FAQ

How do I preserve the color and grain of cedar?

One solution is to apply a primer before staining, offering extra protection against discoloration. Consider using an alkyd oil-based primer, as it can help safeguard your cedar wood.

Which preservative should I use on cedar?

Depending on your specific needs and preferences, several preservatives can be used on cedar. You can use some popular options, including penetrating oils like tung or linseed oil on cedar wood, which can help protect and maintain its natural appearance.

Can you stain and seal cedar wood?

Yes, it is possible to stain and seal cedar wood. Staining cedar can enhance its natural beauty and give it a desired color while sealing the wood can help protect it from moisture, UV damage, and other environmental factors. Cedar takes stain well, letting you achieve your desired finish.

Is Thompson’s Water Seal recommended for cedar wood?

Thompson’s Water Seal is a popular choice for sealing cedar wood. It is designed to protect the wood from water damage, mildew, and UV rays and can help extend the lifespan of your cedar. For ease of use, here’s how to apply the Thompson’s Water Seal with a sprayer.

When should I reapply a sealer on the cedar decking?

You should plan to reapply the sealer every 1-3 years to maintain optimal protection for your cedar decking. However, monitor the condition of your deck regularly and reapply the sealer as needed to ensure that your cedar remains well-protected from weathering, UV damage, and moisture.

Should I use exterior wood stains for cedar?

Yes, exterior wood stains are a popular choice for cedar as they can help protect it from the elements. Exterior wood stains are specially formulated to resist water, mildew, and UV rays, making them a great choice for outdoor applications like cedar decking, siding, and furniture.

What is the best way to protect cedar wood?

Regular cleaning with mild detergent and water is the best way to protect cedar wood. Applying a protective finish like a sealant, stain, or paint can safeguard cedar from moisture and other environmental factors. Penetrating oils like tung and linseed can also effectively preserve cedar wood.

My Top Pick For a Wood Sealer For Cedar: HOPE'S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Waterproof Natural Wood Finish

Based on its qualities, it is clear that Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil is the best wood sealer for cedar. The inclusion of natural ingredients, coupled with its waterproof characteristics and the capability to deeply permeate the wood fibers, renders this product an outstanding option for safeguarding and enriching cedar wood creations. 

Additionally, the straightforward application process ensures a swift and effective job, allowing for high-quality and durable results without any compromise. This balance between efficiency and excellence is something I always seek out in wood sealers, and it’s a pleasure to affirm that this product hits the mark.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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