How to treat cedar wood with oil or latex

Written by megan mattingly-arthur
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Western red cedars, known botanically as Thuja plicata, are coniferous evergreen trees whose fragrant, red-brown wood is commonly used as a building material. Because of cedar's beautiful red-brown colour, many homeowners choose to forgo opaque paint products in favour of clear or semitransparent stain products that showcase the wood's natural beauty. Choose penetrating oil or oil-based semitransparent stain products for a treatment that soaks deep into the wood. Select semitransparent latex stain products for a non-penetrating, film-like finish.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Penetrating oil or semitransparent wood stain
  • Electric or manual hand sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper face mask
  • Cotton or plastic drop cloths
  • Three- or four-inch paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Choose oil or stain products that contain water repellent, ultraviolet light blocker and fungicide additives. Purchase a high quality penetrating oil, penetrating oil-based semitransparent stain or non-penetrating latex semitransparent stain to treat your cedar wood.

  2. 2

    Sand your cedar wood to a smooth finish using an electric or manual hand sander. Wear a face mask to avoid breathing in cedar dust.

  3. 3

    Protect surrounding surfaces from accidental drips of stain or preservative by laying down cotton or plastic drop cloths.

  4. 4

    Apply oil or stain to your cedar wood using broad, even brush strokes. For best results, use a high quality, three- or four-inch wide paintbrush when treating your cedar wood. Apply two coats of oil or stain to your cedar wood. Allow the wood to dry completely between coats for best results.

  5. 5

    Retreat cedar wood treated with penetrating oil products every one to two years. Retreat cedar wood that has been treated with oil-based or latex stain every three to six years.

Tips and warnings

  • Treat your cedar wood with an oil or latex-based paint product if you desire a more opaque finish.
  • Do not treat outdoor cedar wood with shellac products as it will not be water resistant.

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