Sealing Cedar? 9 Best Wood Sealers

Sealers for Cedar Wood

Sealers for wood are meant to protect it from damage. They act as a layer of protection for your wood and include shellac, stain, oil, and paint. Additionally, they also help add depth of color to the wood and prevent the grain from rising.

When it comes to wood, cedar is lightweight, structurally stable, and resistant to rot. Moreover, It does not split or crack easily. Additionally, its highly aromatic, rot-resistant oils make it an effective insect repellant. While we have established that cedar wood doesn’t wear and tear so easily, you can’t ignore its treatment. If you ignore upkeep and maintenance, cedar wood ages faster.

If you would like to prolong its life, the right cedar wood sealer is all you require. Even though there are several great wood sealers in the market, our pick for you would be Agra-Life TriCo Polymer Lumber Seal for its environment-friendly ingredients. However, when it comes to picking the right sealer, you should consider factors other than the environment.

Therefore, here are the nine best sealers for cedar wood.

#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Deck Stain

It protects and enhances durability due to its high penetration into the wood. It is useful for fences and decks. It acts as a sealant and stain at the same time. Moreover, its formula includes protection against UV rays and gives your cedar a natural finish once it dries. Since it is water-based, it is easy to clean. It comes in several colors, such as light walnut, dark walnut, and natural.


  • Can easily be used on cedar and other softwood types such as redwood and pressure-treated pine.
  • The product is two in one (sealant and stain)
  • Can resist potential damage by the UV rays
  • Available in 4 types of semi-transparent finishes
  • Easy to clean as it is water-based
  • Contains low volatile organic compounds


  • Its water-resistant property may not be entirely reliable as per some users

Ready Seal 525 Exterior Stain and Sealer for Wood

This product is an oil-based, semi-transparent sealer. It offers great visibility to cedar wood’s texture and grains, improving its natural look. It may prove to be a great cedar wood sealer as it adds color to the wooden structure and protects it against external elements. This product does the job of a sealer and stain, making it an economical choice. To paint your cedar playset, clean the surface first and remove any stains on the surface. Make sure to let it dry for at least three days before you apply this product.


  • Does not need a primer
  • Gains complete color in 2 weeks after being dark since you first apply the product
  • Does not leave any streaks, laps, or runs
  • Does not need back brushing
  • Can easily blend itself
  • Can be applied at any temperature
  • No need to thin or dilute the formula
  • Covers an area of about 150 square feet per gallon

Agra-Life TriCoPolymer Lumber Seal

This cedar wood sealer places a lot of focus on environmental issues. It has been made as non-toxic and safe as a sealer can be. While most sealers offer a waterproof surface, this one takes it a step ahead and offers flood resistance. You can leave it underwater for as long as you like and still not worry about it getting ruined. However, it may leave a sticky effect in the end.


  • Protects against flood damage
  • Does not have any toxic properties
  • No issues with yellowing
  • Re-coating isn’t required much
  • Works well with most types of paint


  • Not an economical choice
  • Could have problems with curing

Thompsons Waterseal

The Thompsons Waterseal is a highly rated cedar wood sealer that again acts as a sealant, as well as a stain. It’s potent formula protects your wood from external damages through UV radiation and mildew, for example. Your wooden structure’s beauty becomes more apparent through the grains. Since it has acrylic polymers, they improve the cedar’s resistance to scuffing and marring. Its quality speaks for itself as a single coat of this product can last for up to six years on fences and four years on decks.


  • Comes with pigmented components to enhance beauty
  • Inclusive of advanced polymers that resist color fading
  • Gives complete outdoor wood protection
  • Prevents water damages and also resists mildew
  • Wide coverage of up to 400 square feet
  • Gives years of protection

The Con

  • Strips can be formed after application

Seal-Once NANO Penetrating Wood Sealer and Stain

The NANO penetrating Wood Sealer is one of the most premium quality sealers for wood. It penetrates the wood effectively and comes with a waterproof finish. Due to its high penetration standards, it protects timber against any damage by decay or water. The product is water-based and uses nanotechnology. Therefore when it coats the wood fibers, it forms a breathable and flexible material. It is also available in eleven different color tints such as brown, mahogany, cedar, shale gray, etc.


  • Excellent formula to extend your wooden structure’s life
  • Can protect against damage for up to 10 years on vertical surfaces and six years on horizontal surfaces.
  • Safe for pets, plants, marine life due to low VOC
  • Easy application and easy clean up with water and soap
  • Protects against UV rays and prevents from fading
  • Comes in many colors
  • Dries in two hours

The Con

  • Can’t be applied on the surface temperature of higher than 35 degrees Celsius and lower than 7.22 degrees Celsius.

ToughTimber – Waterproof Deck Sealer, Wood Sealer

As the name is self-explanatory, this is a tough and high-end sealer that protects your wooden structure for years. It can be used on many surfaces like cedar roofs, wooden decks, shingles, fences, and several other woodworking projects. By penetrating deep into the cedar wood, this formula reduces water uptake by up to 95%. Moreover, it has anti-freezing properties, and can resist gas and oil.  You can seal a structure with just one coat of this product. You may notice it getting a bit cloudy after the first application. However, it becomes transparent and glossy eventually after drying out.


  • Protects against mildew and mold
  • High-end deck, roof, and wood sealer providing lasting protection
  • Covers up to 1000 square feet after you mix it with water
  • Has a deep wood penetration


  • It only acts as a sealer
  • Could be an issue for someone who does not like a glossy finish

Ready Seal Natural Wood Stain and Sealer

It is an effective cedar wood sealer and is oil-based. It provides deep penetration into the wood and gives a smooth finish. Moreover, the finish it gives is odorless after drying out and not tacky at all. It allows the grains to be apparent, enhancing the wood’s natural beauty while also giving it a durable finish.

Even though it is unavailable for interior surfaces, you can use it indoors with adequate ventilation in your working room. Let it dry out completely before using the wooden structures.


  • Can be applied easily using rollers, paint sprayers, and brushes
  • The formula reaches its original color in 14 days
  • Does not need a wet-line application
  • Can be applied without thinning or diluting
  • Best suited for projects that are exterior as it is able to resist UV rays, mildew, and water
  • Doesn’t affect the grain texture and enhances the wood’s original beauty
  • Available in many colors
  • Is not subject to any temperature ranges for application


  • For some, 14 days could be a long time for the full-color to show
  • Unsuitable for painted or stained surfaces

Ready Seal 110 1-Gallon Can Golden Pine Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer

This product is among the best performing sealers for wood, particularly cedar. It’s a semi-transparent and oil-based stain that also acts as a sealer. It gives you a unique blend of high-end resins, oils, and colorations that protect the cedar wood’s elements by penetrating deep into the wood. This sealer enhances the wood’s beauty by making the grains appear more prominently. It is well-suited to exterior wood projects and works effectively on Red Cedar, Redwoods, Douglas Fir, Cypress, etc.


  • It can be applied at any temperature
  • Has a goof-proof formula
  • Back brushing is not required
  • Doesn’t leave any streaks, runs, or laps
  • Does not chip or crack
  • Gives a broad coverage of 150 sq ft per gallon
  • Gives a natural flat finish
  • VOC contents are low
  • Can be applied easily by rolling, brushing, and spraying

The Con

  • It may be thinner than what one would expect

Thompsons Waterseal Transparent Waterproofing Stain

Last but not least, this all-in-one cedar wood sealer acts as a stain to protect your exterior woodwork. It also has waterproof properties and advanced polymers that prevent it from fading. It can resist UV rays as well as mildew. It can also be used on damp or freshly cleaned wood with zero complications. Like other sealers, it also allows the grain on your structure to show.


  • Can be applied with a paint roller
  • Dries within a few hours
  • Prevents damage from water
  • Resists mildew and UV light
  • Seals and stains wood simultaneously
  • Can be applied on dry or damp wood

The Con

  • Application can go wrong if not mixed properly

How to Seal Exterior Cedar

Due to its stability and rot-resistance, professionals use cedar wood for projects such as play structures, fences, siding, and furniture. It lasts for many years due to its durability. If exposed to direct sunlight, it can retain its natural color but only for a few months. You can prevent cedar from turning gray by using a product to create a finish on the surface that  reflects UV sunlight.

The best option, in this case, should be a semi-transparent stain that has cedar-colored pigments. Refresh it as per your needs to maintain the wood’s natural colors. If your concerns involve the weather more than the color, then using a water-sealing finish is the right way to go. Most products also have paraffin that forms a light coating in the grain and repels water.

Make sure that your structure is dry and clean before you apply the cedar wood sealer. If you apply it to wet wood, it may not turn out ideal. Similarly, grime or dirt on the wooden surface can make it extremely hard to get an excellent final finish. Therefore, first wash the wood using your hands instead of a power washer, which may cause damage. Before you start, let it dry completely.

Sealant can be applied using a roller or a brush. However, if you apply it to a smaller area, use a brush to get an even coat. Also, pay close attention to the edges, board ends, and joints because these areas can have moisture. It is essential to repeat the coatings every one or two years.

How to Seal Interior Cedar

If retaining the aromatic qualities of cedar in interior woodwork is not a priority, you can use a seal coat to clean the wood. You can also use a seal coat of lacquer sanding sealer or thinned varnish to smoothen the cedar if you wish to have a hard glossy surface on a window ledge or tabletop. Cedar is open to most finishes, such as penetrating oils like linseed and tung. Penetrating oils work well to seal the grain while making the wood look natural and raw.

Similar to exterior applications, you should start your interior sealing projects using clean cedar. Keep the area ventilated by opening a door or a window in your workroom. Use a roller or a brush on the interior cedar object to apply the selected sealant and before you apply the second coat, let it dry completely.

Sealing to Paint

Even though cedar accepts paint, you must coat it with primer before applying paint. There are natural oils in cedar, and they can bleed through oil paints and latex and cause dark areas around sap lines and knots.

 You can use a high-solid primer before painting to avoid this. Many primers offer protection from discoloration, and one such is an alkyd oil-based primer. Make sure to use a primer that has a high pigment percentage to prevent bleeding. It also has additional benefits such as increasing the topcoat coverage and decreasing the time to apply it.

Primer can also be applied using a roller or a brush, and just like any other coating, it also requires a clean surface. However, make sure to remove and peel paints before applying the primer in case the cedar was painted previously. Before applying the paint, cover your cedar adequately with the primer.

How to Make Use of Wood Sealer

Wood sealers work best through penetration. Once you put the product on to your desired surface, it gets soaked into the wood. Therefore, when it becomes stiff, it reinforces and fills the wood surface. Depending on how porous your wood is what the consistency of your cedar wood sealer is, the penetration, as a result, should be good enough.

It is important to understand that while products act as both sealers and stains, they are two completely different things and should not be used interchangeably. Sealers protects the wooden surface from moisture, whereas stains are used for coloring wood.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Sealer


Not all sealers for wood are the same. Most cedar wood sealers are different based on their characteristics. While some characteristics may be present in some sealers, they may be absent in others. Quality is among the most important factors when choosing a sealer. However, several other factors also come into play, such as:


Base Type

Most sealers are of two types, water-based and oil-based. Water-based sealers are also water-soluble. After being dried, it can give a dark finish and may become harder. This will not necessarily blind the natural grains or change the wood color. Consumers often prefer this type because it dries up quickly.

Oil-based sealers, on the other hand, are not water-soluble and produce a glossy shine when applied. If you are particularly concerned about the appearance, it can bring out a shiny finish that also reflects light. Therefore, if you wish to bring out your furniture’s aesthetic element, you can keep the base type as a primary factor to choose the right sealer.

Eco-Friendly Components

If you are someone concerned about the environmental factors when purchasing a sealer, then go for products that are least damaging to the environment and you. If a sealer or a stain is of good quality in terms of eco-friendly components, it will allow you to apply without causing skin irritation. Moreover, if your pocket allows, you can also purchase organic sealers as they come at a higher cost.


When selecting sealers for wood, the quantity of pigment will also affect what color your structure turns out after drying. You should keep the deck color in mind while choosing your sealer to ensure that it is close to the deck’s color or any other surface. However, if you don’t want the color to be affected, then go for a clear sealant. The sealer’s opacity is usually categorized under semi-transparent, toner, opaque-solid, or semi-opaque.

UV Protection

Protection from ultraviolet rays is a huge factor when considering a cedar wood sealer or any sealer, for that matter. UV rays can affect any outdoor wooden décor; therefore, for any structures outdoor, make sure to get a sealer that provides UV protection. If not, they may cause your sealer to peel off and crack, exposing the wood.

UV radiation can also cause the natural color of the wood to fade. Consequently, it takes the coveted beauty away. For any indoor furniture, this may not be an essential factor to consider; however, your choice of the right cedar wood sealer for indoor use may still need some level of UV protection.

Tips to Apply Sealers Correctly

The ideal temperature to apply the finish is usually above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the ideal weather should be dry. Additionally, keep the following tips in mind while applying a sealer.

  • Don’t forget to wear eye protection and long sleeves and pants. Wear rubber gloves, too, especially when you are using a stripper.
  • Protect the surrounding vegetation by covering it with plastic tarps before you apply a finish.
  • On new decks, finish the bottom of the boards first. On other decks, finish all the exposed sides and the top.

In conclusion, sealers for wood may seem like simple products, but their purchase should be made thoughtfully. Even though we all seem to trust manufacturers not messing up simple deaiks, there is still a chance for it to happen. Therefore, never go for products that have a questionable reputation. Have adequate knowledge about the structure you’re going to apply it on, and don’t forget the weather factor. Keep all the other things around your surface covered while you apply the sealer and take adequate safety precautions if you have a skin condition. Research what others around you are using and why. If that’s not possible,simply keep this review at the tip of your fingers at all times.

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