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How to Refinish Cedar Outdoor Furniture: New Look in 7 Steps

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Cedar furniture is elegant and can resist insects, mildew, and moisture. However, over time the cedar may start to wear, and the wood surface may become faded or stained. You need to maintain cedar furniture to keep its natural beauty.

To restore the beauty of your cedar furniture and protect it from the elements, you may need to refinish it with an oil finish. You don’t know how to refinish cedar outdoor furniture for a stunning new look.

If this is the case, don’t worry because we are here to help. We will guide you through the process of refinishing your furniture with a protective finish step by step.

How to Refinish Cedar Outdoor Furniture: A Step-by-Step Guide

teak oil

If you have cedar wood furniture outdoors that is starting to look a little bit worn, you can refinish it and make it look like new again. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to do it. So gather your supplies, and let’s get started.

Step 1. Sand The Surface:

The first step in refinishing cedar outdoor furniture is to sand the surface. This will remove any old paint or finish, as well as any roughness. A power sander will make the job easier, but you can also sand by hand.

Be sure to use fine grit sandpaper or a power sander to smooth the surface. If the wood grain is flat, scuff the surface with 50-60 grit sandpaper. After sanding, be sure to clean up all the sanding dust.

Step 2. Clean the Wood Surface:

Use a tack cloth or damp cloth afterward and dip it into mineral spirits. Wipe down the entire surface of the cedar, making sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies.

You can use mild bleach and water solution to remove stubborn stains or mildew. Rinse the surface well and let it dry completely first.

Step 3. Apply Pre Stain:

Afterward, apply pre-stain to refinish the wooden surface. This will help protect the wood and ensure that the final finish is even and smooth. Clean the surface of the cedar with a clean rag.

Shake your bottle or can of stain thoroughly. Then, using a natural bristle brush, apply a stain to the surface.

Work the stain into the wood with a circular motion, and then wipe away any excess with a soft rag. Allow the stain to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before continuing.

Finally, using a foam brush, add a pre-stain conditioner to the surface of the cedar. Let the conditioner dry entirely.

Step 4. Apply First Coat of Wood Clear Finish:

oil finishes

A synthetic bristle brush will help to ensure even coverage and minimize brush strokes. Start in a well-ventilated area and apply the finish or stain in thin, even coats. Let it sit for about an hour so the stain or paint can set in, and then come back to check it.

Step 5. Apply Light Sanding:

Use a fine grit sandpaper and lightly sand the surface of the cedar. Remove all of the sanding dust with a damp cloth before proceeding to the next step. You may also use a tack cloth for this step.

Step 6. Apply Second Coat of Wood Finish:

Now that the first coat of wood finish has dried, it’s time to apply a second fresh coat. Begin by using a bristle brush to evenly spread the finish over the surface of the cedar. Work in small sections, and be sure to brush in the direction of the grain.

Once the entire piece is coated, we recommend allowing it to dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step.

Step 7. Apply Final Coat of Oil Finish:

Now you need to apply the final coat of oil finish. Use a clean rag or roller to apply the oil finish, using long, even strokes. Let the oil cure completely before using the piece, and enjoy the new look and smooth finish of your cedar wood.

Follow these steps and your outdoor cedar furniture will stay looking great and last for many years to come. Read the labels carefully so that you choose the right product for your needs.

Precautions and Tips:

When you are finishing outdoor cedar furniture, you need to take some precautions. By taking the below precautions, you can help to ensure that your cedar furniture will last a long time.

1. Make sure that you’re wearing the proper protective gear. This includes gloves, a respirator, and safety glasses.

2. Be sure to work in an area with good ventilation. The fumes from solvent-based products can be very strong, so it’s important to have good ventilation.

3. Don’t use a pressure washer to clean your cedar items. The high pressure can damage the wood.

4. Use a wood sealer if you plan on storing your cedar furniture outdoors. This will preserve the finish and help to protect the wood.

5. Store any leftover oil finish in a cool, dry place.

6. Use mild detergent and water to clean your cedar pieces on a regular basis.

Popular Wood Stains for Refinishing Cedar Outdoor Furniture

penetrating finish

There are two popular types of wood stains that you can use to refinish your outdoor cedar furniture. These stains are water-based and oil-based.

Oil Based Stain:

Oil based stain is a popular choice for restoring cedar wood furniture. They provide a rich, natural color that enhances the natural beauty of the wood.

In general, it is a better choice for treating outdoor cedar furniture because it provides better protection against the elements and highlights the natural wood grain.

There are different types of oil based stains, including tung oil, teak oil, and linseed oil. Tung oil is derived from the seeds of the tung tree, and it’s often used on indoor or outdoor furniture and decks to preserve its original color.

Teak oil comes from the wood of the teak tree, and it’s typically used on any indoor or outdoor furniture constructed of hardwoods or dense woods. This wood oil is easy to apply and dries quickly.

Linseed oil can be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, concrete, and stone. It’s also widely used for refinishing patio wood furniture.

Water Based Stain:

Water based stain is a more recent innovation and offers several advantages over the oil-based stain. It is easier to clean up, dry faster, and provides a more natural look.

However, water based stains do not penetrate as deeply into the wood and may require more frequent reapplication. Ultimately, the type of stain you use to refinish your cedar wood furniture is a matter of personal preference.

Which Elements Damage Cedar Outdoor Furniture?

other imported hardwoods

When it comes to outdoor furniture, cedar stands out for its beauty and affordable price. However, cedar furniture can be damaged by several elements, including Uv rays, rain, snow, wood rot, and harsh chemicals. Let’s take a look at each of these elements in more detail.

1. UV Rays:

One of the biggest threats to cedar furniture is sun damage. Cedars lose their natural oils when exposed to the sun. To protect your furniture, it is important to cover it when it is not in use or apply a UV-resistant finish.

2. Rain:

One of the biggest culprits is rain. Water can cause the wood to swell and warp, making it difficult to open and close doors and drawers. It can also lead to rot and decay, especially if the furniture is not properly sealed.

Covering the furniture when it rains. Applying an exterior wood stain can also help to repel water.

3. Snow:

Snowfall can also be damaging to outdoor furniture, especially cedar. This leads to wood warp and crack, and it can also promote the growth of mold and mildew.

Use a wood stain or finish to protect your cedar furniture from the elements. Be sure to apply a wood sealer to keep moisture away. Cover the furniture when it’s not in use.

4. Wood Rot:

One of the most common problems with outdoor furniture is wood rot. This is caused by fungi that grow in moist conditions and cause the wood to decay. Rot can weaken the furniture and make it unsafe to use.

Remove any dirt, leaves, or other debris that could promote the growth of fungi. If the furniture does get wet, dry it off as soon as possible.

5. Harsh Chemicals:

Harsh chemicals are one of the main elements that can harm cedar outdoor furniture. Over time, harsh chemicals can break down the protective outer layer of the wood.

In addition, harsh chemicals can also strip away the natural oils that help to keep the wood healthy and protected from the sun and rain. As a result, it is important to avoid using harsh chemicals on cedar wood furniture. Instead, opt for cleaner products that are designed specifically for use on wood.


Q: Will Linseed Oil Keep Cedar from Turning Gray?

Linseed oil will slow down the graying process but it won’t prevent it completely. The only way to do that is through regular treatment with a UV-blocking finish.

Q: Should Cedar Outdoor Furniture be Sealed?

Should Cedar Outdoor Furniture be Sealed

While sealing isn’t strictly necessary, it can provide a number of benefits. Sealing helps to protect the wood from UV damage and fading. In addition, it can make the furniture easier to clean and help to prevent water damage.

Q: Do I Need to Sand Cedar before Staining?

If you have new wood, you need to sand it before applying any type of stains. This will help to create a smooth surface and ensure that the stain or finish adheres evenly to the wood.

Q: What is the Best Way to Clean Weathered Cedar?

You need to mix one part bleach with three parts water in a bucket. Then, use a broom or brush to apply the solution to the cedar. Wear protective gloves and avoid getting the solution on any other surfaces, as it can damage them.


Cedar outdoor furniture is a beautiful addition to any patio or deck. Since cedar is a softwood, it is susceptible to damage from the elements. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can save your furniture from the elements and keep it looking its best.

If you follow our steps on how to refinish cedar outdoor furniture, you should have your furniture looking as good as new. You can prevent this by regularly treating the furniture with a UV-inhibiting finish, such as polyurethane or lacquer. 

It will keep the rich tones of the wood and add warmth and elegance to any space. We hope this guide was helpful in understanding, applying and taking care of your outdoor furniture.

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