5 Best Clear Cedar Finish for Outdoors

One of the natural materials that many people prefer for exterior furniture is Cedar. And the material is now being used for construction purposes as well. Many even make fixtures like decks, sidings, and other structures using this.

Now, you might be wondering why it is preferred by many and why the material is being used for so many purposes. Well, the answer would be pretty straightforward. It has the natural ability to prevent the formation of microbes and fungus.

However, if you do not get the best clear cedar finish for outdoors, you would not be able to get the material's full advantage. Also, the furniture and the structure will not last that long without being covered with one of them. So, getting one of them is pretty important.

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5 Best Clear Cedar Finish for Outdoors

Even though there might be plenty of finishes for Cedar out there, not all of them will be able to provide the adequate amount of protection that is needed to enhance the lifespan of the material. However, the ones that we have picked are capable of offering that. And they are as follows:

1. Thompsons WaterSeal TH.A21711-16

Thompsons WaterSeal TH.A21711-16

Natural wood such as Cedar requires long-lasting protection. And as we have mentioned, there are only a few that are capable of providing that. This one that is from Thompsons is one of those few.

First of all, the application process of the unit is reasonably straightforward. You can coat both the dry and damp surfaces using it. And it would not take you that much effort because you would be able to cover most of the area using a single coat. That means you would not need that amount of liquid to finish your project either.

Other than the easy application process, the unit is capable of providing long-lasting protection. It does not get damaged by UV rays, nor does it fade that easily. That means it would be able to prevent mildew growth and resist fungus for an extended amount of time.

As the formula is water-based, you would not have to worry that much if you have spilled some on the surface you were not trying to coat. You would be able to clean it easily using soap and water. Also, after curing properly, it can resist water reasonably well. So you would not have to worry about water damages as well.

Lastly, as it comes in a container that is a gallon in size, you will have plenty to finish multiple projects.


  • Provides a long-lasting protection
  • Capable of preventing water reasonably well
  • Works on both dry and damp surfaces
  • Application process is pretty straightforward
  • Utilizes a water-based formula


  • Tend to obtain a bit yellowish color after drying up
  • Shelf life of the container is short

2. Minwax 630510444

Minwax 630510444

UV rays and harsh sunlight are two of the reasons why the coatings fade over time. And Minwax knew that exactly well, and that is why they have implemented a special formula in this unit that they are offering.

To start with, it has a formula that will enable it to block off UV rays. That will make it capable of reducing the fading effects and sun's graying effects. You would not have to worry about the coating being ineffective over time.

And the formula is specially engineered to provide a clear finish. As a result, it is ideal for most of the light-colored stains and woods. Also, it is capable of creating a protective layer that will protect the surface from temperature changes.

That will eventually enhance the overall lifespan of the structure or the furniture that you are applying it on.

Alongside that, the special oils that the formula has will enable it to expand and get better contact on the surface. That means it will stay on the surface for an extended amount of time without showing any signs of wearing off. Also, it can provide excellent protection from rain and water.

Other than that, as it is water-based, you will not have to go through any hassles in applying it. It dries off reasonably fast. You can clean it off pretty quickly as well if you do any accidental coats on surfaces.


  • Can efficiently block off UV rays and harsh sunlight
  • Creates a protective layer to offer better temperature change protection
  • Protects from rainwater and moisture
  • Easy to apply and easy to wash off
  • Dries of reasonably fast


  • Container does not have a proper sealing
  • Viscosity might be too thick for some applications

3. DEFY Extreme 1

DEFY Extreme 1

Being able to offer superior protection from the UV rays and sunlight is a must for the cedar finish. And this one from Defy can deliver that accordingly.

To begin with, it packs zinc nanoparticle technology. That will enable it to work as a sunscreen for the natural wood that you have.

The nanoparticles are dispersed evenly through the surface, which will eventually offer superior protection from sunlight and UV rays. It does a decent job in preventing premature graying and color loss as well.

Apart from the superior protection that it offers, the formula that it utilizes is of high quality. For that reason, it will be able to resist fading exceptionally well. It will also prevent darkening, which usually makes the exterior of the furniture look a bit unpleasant to the eyes.

As the formula is of high-quality ingredients, it can also offer a long-lasting finish that will not easily wear off. Also, it is a 250 VOC complaint. That means you will be able to use it in most of the states.

Alongside that, it is pretty easy to coat the structures using this. You would not need any sand, nor will you have to strip the surface to apply this.

Besides that, it also features a water-based formula. That will let you clean it off quickly even if you put accidental coats on any surface.


  • Utilizes a high-quality formula
  • Sports a zinc nanoparticle technology
  • Prevents premature fading and discoloring
  • Application process is easy
  • 250 VOC complaint


  • Container tends to leak pretty easily
  • Can not resist water that well

4. Howard CS0014

Howard CS0014

Aside from just protecting the surface from the harsh environment, you might also want it to gain a natural shine. Well, in that case, you should check out what Howard has to offer here.

First of all, the formula that it utilizes is all-natural. That means it does not have any chemical formulation, just like the other finishes out there. It has authentic Orange oil that will create a protective layer on the upper surface of the furniture.

As a result, the surface is going to be well protected from harsh sunlight and UV rays.

Alongside that, it utilizes a citrus shield that will create a polishing look. That means you would be able to gain a shiny surface after coating the furniture using this. Because of that shine that it can provide, it is not only ideal for the outdoor furniture but also the interior ones as well.  It is exceptionally versatile.

Other than that, the hard protective coating of the carnauba wax is going to provide the furniture superior protection from water. It can repel water and prevent the build-up of water on the surface. As a result, you would not have to worry about the water damages that might occur over time to your outdoor furniture.

Lastly, it is toluene-free. That means you would not have to worry about any adverse effects after applying this.


  • Utilizes an all-natural formula
  • Provides a shine to the surface
  • Capable of repelling water
  • Formulation is toluene-free
  • Creates a hard carnauba wax protection layer on the surface


  • Can get crusty if not applied properly
  • Container is not that easy to open and close

5. Cabot 140.0003400.005

Cabot 140.0003400.005

Not all of the finishes can provide an adequate amount of protection and can accentuate the patina and the depth of natural woods at the same time. However, if you were looking for something of such kind, you should definitely put this one on your consideration list.

To start with, instead of utilizing chemical ingredients, it implements a natural blend of oils for the overall formulation. Because of being chemical-free, you would not have to worry about having any adverse effect on the wood that you are applying this on. It will not cause any damages, even if the surface is a bit delicate.

Apart from being natural, it does not have any pesky smell that the other chemical-based finishes have. That means you would not have to apply any sort of coating on this just to get rid of any kind of weird smell from the surface.

The natural formulation that it utilizes will also enable it to accentuate the patina and the depth of the natural woods. As a result, the exterior is going to look more pleasing.

Other than that, it can penetrate the surface reasonably well. For that reason, you would not have to go through multiple coats just to cover the entire surface of the furniture. One coating should be enough for most of the cases.

And the complex translucent iron pigments that it has will enable it to provide superior protection from UV rays and sun rays.


  • Utilizes a natural blend of oils
  • Does not have any weird smell
  • Offers superior protection from UV rays
  • Easy to coat
  • Accentuates the depth and the patina of the surface


  • One container might not be enough for a large project
  • Dust and debris tend to stick the coating pretty easily

What to Look for Before Buying?

Just like any of the other products, if you really want to get all your money's worth, going through the reviews will not be enough. You would also have to keep these crucial factors in your mind:


First and foremost, you have to consider the formula that the finish is utilizing. The type of formula is what is going to determine how easy it will be for you to apply the coating on the surfaces.

Clear Cedar Finish for Outdoors

There are usually two types of formula that the manufacturers are going to utilize. One of them is water-based, and the other one is all-natural.

Water Based Formula

Among those two, the water-based ones are usually the easiest to apply. You would not have to put multiple coatings for most of the cases. Those are going to get coated on the surface easily because of how penetrable they are. Alongside that, they are quite easy to clean as well.

All you are going to need is some soapy water, and you would be able to take the coating off before they cure.

All Natural Formulas

On the other hand, the all-natural formula will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. While many are going to implement oil-based, some might go for wax-based. And the difficulty of the application will depend on the viscosity and the penetrable characteristics of the formula.

For most cases, the oil-based ones are more penetrable than the wax-based ones. However, some of the wax-based finishes can also be easily applied to the surface. So the main thing that you have to consider is how penetrable the formula is if you are opting for an all-natural formula. Also, make sure the formula is compatible with your wood sealers for cedar.

UV Ray Protection

One of the main reasons to opt-out of these finishes is to protect the outdoor furniture and wooden structure from sunlight damages. Considering that, if you happen to get something that can not offer a good amount of protection from the UV rays and harsh sunlight, you would basically waste your money on something that is not useful.

 Clear Cedar Finish for Outdoors

So you should consider whether the one that you are shooting for can provide an adequate amount of protection from the sunlight and UV rays or not.

Water Protection

Aside from the harsh sun rays, the furniture and the wooden structure is going to have to go through harsh rains as well. For that reason, it is important for a coating to have the capability to protect water.

The finishes that can repel or resist water are what we would recommend you to opt for if you're hunting for transparent coatings for kitchen cabinets. Those can offer superior water protection.

Fade Resistance and Neutral Formulation

Lastly, you need to ensure that the formulation is clear and can resist fading. Without those capabilities, the exterior of the furniture or the structure will not lose the vibrancy over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I coat the outdoor Cedar furniture with a finish?

First of all, uncoated or untreated furniture will lose the overall vibrancy over time. That means that color will be faded, and the structure will look old reasonably fast. Aside from that, some of the permanent stains are going to develop over time if you do not coat or treat the outdoor Cedar furniture.

2. Does Cedar finish offer protection from moisture?

Yes, most of the Cedar finishes are capable of resisting or repelling water. That means they would be able to offer good enough protection from moisture alongside just protecting from rainwater. So you would not have to worry that much about moisture damage if you coat the surface with a well-performing finish.

3. Do I need to sand the surface before applying the finish to the surface?

Most of the finishes will implement a highly penetrable formula. That means they would be able to bond well with the surface without any need for sanding. If you get one of those, you would not have to go through the hassle of sanding the surface before applying the coating.

4. Are oil-based finishes better than the other types?

It depends on the blend of the oil that the unit has. There are many of the oil-based finishes that have a better penetrable capability than the other types. In fact, many can even penetrate deep enough to offer long-lasting nurturing to the wood. Those are better than the regular types of finishes that are out there.

5. Why are clear Cedar finishes preferred by many?

One of the biggest advantages you will get from these is that the surface will have the original appearance. These do not ruin the color of the exterior that much.

Although some might cause the surface to become a bit yellowish, the discoloration is not that noticeable. And because of this characteristic, many prefer these over the other ones.

Final Words

If you want to get extended use out of the outdoor wooden Cedar furniture or structure you have, there is really no alternative than getting the best clear cedar finish for outdoors.

And we hope that we were able to narrow down the overall options to the extent that it now an effortless task for you to choose the right one for your project. Before bidding you goodbye, we would like you to check out this article if you're interested in a door security bar.

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