How to keep cedar from turning gray

Written by jamie farber
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How to keep cedar from turning gray
Cedar is a beautiful red wood, but can turn grey if not properly cared for. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Cedar wood is a red-coloured aromatic wood that can be used for decks, furniture, siding and even to line closets. According to Cedar Wood Information, what is commonly referred to as red cedar is actually a species of juniper that grows throughout North America north of the Mexican border and East of California. The wood has a fine grain and is very light and durable, but extended exposure to outdoor elements including wind and rain can turn the wood grey. But, proper care and protection can keep cedar looking new. Cedar, however, should not be finished right after it is installed or placed outside, but should be allowed to get used to the new environment for at least two weeks before being finished.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Broom
  • Exterior wood wash
  • Bucket
  • Rags
  • Stiff brush
  • Power washer or garden hose
  • Fans
  • Wood sealer
  • Large paint brush

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  1. 1

    Sweep or brush off the cedar area completely with your broom, removing any large debris and any dirt that can be brushed off easily.

  2. 2

    Mix the exterior wood wash, according to package directions, with water in the large bucket. Apply the wash mixture to the wood with rags and scrub, as needed. Use your stiff brush to work the wash into any areas with stains or large amounts of dirt.

  3. 3

    Clean off the wood wash mixture using a power washer or garden hose. You will know you are finished when the water runs clear, and there are no more soap bubbles remaining on the wood surface.

  4. 4

    Dry the cedar. This will normally be done by simply leaving the surface alone. If you are working with a small area or are under a time crunch, you can use fans to speed the process up, placing them so they blow air over the wood. Plan to allow the wood to dry for at least 48 hours.

  5. 5

    Sweep the cedar once again when it is completely dry. This time, you want to sweep it lightly, just to remove any dirt that has settled within the last few days.

  6. 6

    Brush the wood sealer on the deck using a large paintbrush. You want to remove any extra sealer by brushing it onto another, unfinished location or just brushing it back into the can. You can choose to use a clear sealer or you can use a coloured finish, if you choose. If you are using a coloured sealer, make sure the colour looks even during application. Allow the sealer to dry completely before using the cedar.

Tips and warnings

  • The sealer will protect your cedar for several years. The exact amount will depend on the brand you use. But, you still want to sweep and wash your cedar area at least once a year to keep it from greying.

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