Preserving Cedar’s Natural Color: An Expert Guide to Seal Cedar Without Any Alteration

You’ve chosen cedar for your next project, drawn in by its rich, natural color and unique grain patterns. But you’re facing a common dilemma: how do you protect this beautiful wood without altering its authentic hue?

Sealing cedar without changing its color isn’t as complex as it might seem. With the right products and techniques, you can preserve its natural beauty while ensuring it stands up to the test of time. This article will guide you through the process, offering expert tips to help you achieve the best results. So, let’s dive into the world of cedar sealing and discover how you can maintain that stunning color while providing the protection your woodwork deserves.

Key Takeaways

  • Cedar is a beautiful wood type known for its warm hues, unique grain patterns, and natural resilience against rot and insects. Color changes in cedar mostly occur due to exposure to UV rays and natural tannins reacting with moisture.
  • Preserving the natural color of cedar enhances its visual appeal and longevity by protecting it from harmful external factors, therefore amplifying its charm and durability.
  • Sealant selection involves understanding individual cedar wood characteristics and striking a balance between preservation of natural color and protection of unique properties. Sealants should ideally have strong UV resistance, non-yellowing properties, and water resistance.
  • Notable sealants that preserve cedar’s color include Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer, and Cabot Clear Wood Protector.
  • Before applying sealant, ensure that your cedar surfaces are clean and free from rough patches. Performing the application process rightly is essential for optimal color preservation – apply thin coats using a high-quality brush and allow ample time for each coat to dry.
  • Maintenance of sealed cedar includes regular inspections for any sign of damage, frequent cleaning to avoid build-up of dirt and mildew, and minimizing exposure to harsh weather conditions.
  • Despite best maintenance practices, wear and tear on cedar surface is inevitable. Addressing this may involve reapplying the sealant, using special cleaners for mildew or mold, and utilizing UV-protective sealants in case of consistent discoloration due to sunlight exposure.

Understanding Cedar and Its Natural Qualities

To fully appreciate what it takes to seal cedar without changing its color, it’s crucial to look at the inherent qualities of cedar and understand why it undergoes color changes. Cedar, enjoyed for its rich, warm hues and striking grains, also boasts natural resilience against rot and insects. However, its beauty can fade without proper maintenance.

Why Cedar Changes Color

Cedar changes color primarily due to exposure to elements. UV rays from the sun cause the wood to adopt a silver-grey tone over time, a process known as graying. Additionally, natural tannins in the wood, when exposed to rain or dew, can also result in dark spots or streaks. Therefore, Cedar’s longevity and aesthetics often become a battle between nature and preservation.

Benefits of Preserving Natural Cedar Color

Preserving the natural color of cedar doesn’t merely maintain its visual appeal. It also extends its life expectancy by shielding it from harmful external factors. Cedar, in its natural color, improves the overall design aesthetic, transforming spaces with its warm and earthy tones. A well-preserved cedar piece also projects attention to detail and care for materials, enhancing the perception of quality. By sealing cedar without changing its color, you manage to conserve its unique characteristics while amplifying its charm and durability.

Choosing the Right Sealant for Cedar

Sealant selection depends largely on understanding individual cedar wood characteristics. Arriving at the best choice involves a balance between preservation of the natural cedar color and safeguarding its other unique properties. In this section, we’re going to consider the critical criteria for selecting sealants and subsequently introduce top recommended sealants that prevent color change.

Criteria for Selecting Sealants

While selecting the most suitable sealant for cedar, you must look into various aspects. Following are the key factors to consider:

  1. UV Resistance: Opt for a sealant that has a strong UV resistance rating to protect the cedar against destructive UV rays. Increased UV protection, for example, can be found in sealants such as “Thompson’s WaterSeal Advanced Natural Wood Protector.”
  2. Non-Yellowing Properties: Select a sealant that claims no yellowing over time. A clear, non-gloss sealant offers this attribute, allowing the cedar’s natural color to shine through. The “Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish” is an illustration of such a sealant.
  3. Water Resistance: Choose a sealant that protects cedar from moisture, rain, snow, and other forms of liquid contact. Effective examples include “Olympic Stain Waterguard Waterproofing Sealant.”

Top Recommended Sealants That Prevent Color Change

Highlighting a few top-quality sealants can assist in making the most judicious choice. Here are some sealants that does a remarkable job in preserving cedar’s color:

  1. Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer: This product is a potent mix of stain and sealer that offers superior protection to cedar and maintains its color.
  2. Cabot Clear Wood Protector: It’s a deep penetrating, 100% acrylic formula that clings to wood fibers for robust, waterproofing protection, preventing any color change in cedar.

By carefully weighing these considerations and opting for one of our recommended sealants, you can maintain cedar’s natural color & texture while enhancing its durability and overall appearance.

Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Sealant

Apart from sealant selection, understanding the application process significantly impacts cedar’s color preservation. This section simplifies the sealant application process into steps, starting with preparations and culminating in a sealing technique that won’t compromise color.

Preparing the Cedar Surface

  1. Start with Cleanliness: Remove any debris, old paint, or mildew from your cedar surfaces before using sealant. Products such as “OxyClean Stain Remover” or “Minwax Wood Cleaner” work well for these tasks.
  2. Employ Sanding: Use sandpaper, specifically 120-grit paper, on rough spots. You’re not aiming for a thoroughly sanded surface, just removing any unusually rough patches.
  3. Wipe Off Dust: Use a damp cloth to remove dust or debris after sanding. Remember, the surface should be as clean as possible to ensure the sealant applies evenly.

Once you’ve prepped your cedar surface properly, it’s time to apply the sealant. The technique you use is critical in keeping cedar’s natural color intact.

  1. Stick to Thin Coats: Applying numerous thin coats works better than a single thick one. Thicker coatings tend to change the previously noted cedar color, while lighter applications preserve it.
  2. Use a Brush: Choose high-quality, synthetic brushes that don’t leave streaks. A brush helps you control the sealant’s thickness, essential in maintaining cedar’s color.
  3. Observe Drying Times: Each coat of sealant needs ample time to dry before applying the next one. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for appropriate drying times.

The importance of these steps can’t be overstated. They’re the backbone of an effective sealant application process to preserve your cedar’s natural tint while fortifying its finish.

Maintenance Tips for Sealed Cedar

After choosing the right sealant and applying it appropriately to your cedar surface, consistent maintenance is key to retaining its original color while keeping the wood healthy. Let’s delve into regular maintenance practices and addressing wear and tear in cedar.

Regular Maintenance Practices

To keep your sealed cedar in top condition, engage in regular, preventative maintenance measures. Firstly, conduct consistent inspections to spot issues early on. Check for indications of damage such as discoloration, flaking, or peeling once a month. Remember, spotting damage early simplifies the repair process. Much like maintaining the vibrant colors of your home’s exterior, these inspections ensure longevity and appeal.

Secondly, clean your cedar surfaces frequently. Over time, dirt and mildew can build up on the surface, creating a layer that blocks the protective sealant and can speed up wear and tear. Use a mild detergent and gently scrub the surface with a soft brush before rinsing with water. This practice is similar to maintaining cleanliness around pools or lakes, where regular upkeep prevents long-term issues.

Lastly, avoid direct exposure to harsh weather conditions, if possible. Over time, strong UV rays, heavy rain, and drastic temperature changes can affect the performance of the sealant. Just as trees provide natural protection and shade, keeping your cedar shielded from extreme elements can preserve its condition. Additionally, consider grilling under a covered area to protect your cedar surfaces from direct sunlight and rain.

By following these steps, you can ensure your cedar remains in excellent condition, much like the effort you put into maintaining your home or the care you take when grilling chicken to perfection.

Addressing Wear and Tear

Despite your best maintenance efforts, wear and tear on a cedar surface is inevitable. Here are some key steps you can take to address this.

Firstly, if the sealant begins flaking or peeling, it might be necessary to reapply it. Generally, this involves cleaning the surface, gently sanding it down to remove the old layer of sealant, and applying a new coat.

Secondly, if there’s an issue with mildew or mold on your cedar surfaces, consider using a specially designed cleaner that kills mold and fungus. Afterward, reconsider where you’re storing this cedar, as it might be too damp.

Finally, for discoloration caused by sunlight, you might have to resort to using a UV-protective sealant. Realize that UV rays can exceptionally be harsh and strong protective measures are necessary.


Now you’ve got the tools and knowledge to seal your cedar without changing its color. Remember, the right sealant makes all the difference. Products like “Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer” and “Cabot Clear Wood Protector” are your best bets for maintaining cedar’s natural charm. Don’t forget, prepping the surface is just as crucial as the sealing process itself. Regular maintenance, from inspections to mild detergent cleanings, will ensure your cedar continues to look its best. And when life happens – be it mildew, mold, or UV damage – you’re now equipped to handle it. So go ahead, protect that cedar and keep its color vibrant. You’ve got this!

Preserving cedar’s natural color involves using expert techniques to seal the wood without altering its appearance. Bob Vila recommends using clear, UV-resistant sealants to protect cedar from weathering and fading while maintaining its natural hue. Additionally, The Spruce advises applying the sealant evenly and reapplying it periodically to ensure long-lasting protection and beauty.

How can the natural color of cedar wood be preserved?

By properly sealing the wood with a quality sealant, you can protect the cedar’s color. The sealant should ideally be UV-resistant, non-yellowing, and water-resistant to preserve cedar’s distinctive properties—an excellent balance between color preservation and protection.

What factors should be considered when selecting a sealant for cedar wood?

The key criteria when choosing sealants include UV resistance to combat sun damage, non-yellowing properties for color preservation, and water resistance to ward off moisture-related damage. It’s important to carefully choose a sealant to maintain the cedar’s natural beauty and longevity.

Are there any specific cedar wood sealants recommended in the article?

Yes, the article mentions ‘Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer’ and ‘Cabot Clear Wood Protector’ as effective options. They hinder color change while preserving cedar’s inherent properties.

How should the sealant be applied to cedar wood?

Focusing on thorough surface preparation is essential, encompassing cleaning, sanding, and dust removal prior to application. Proper surface preparation ensures that the sealants perform optimally, adding protection while maintaining aesthetics.

What are some maintenance tips once cedar wood is sealed?

Regular upkeep is paramount for sealed cedar’s health and appearance. Practices like regular inspections, gentle cleaning with mild detergent, and avoiding exposure to harsh weather conditions are recommended. In the event of wear or discoloration, reapplication of UV-protective sealants is advised.