How to Finish Rough Cedar

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Pressure washer

  • Wide-angle tip

  • Canvas drop cloths

  • Semi-transparent water-proof oil-based stain

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • Wooden stirring stick

  • 3- to 4-inch natural-bristled paintbrush

  • Shop rags

  • Mineral spirits

If you need to finish rough cedar, you'll find it much easier than staining smooth hardwoods like walnut and oak. Rough softwoods such as cedar are well-suited for inexpensive liquid wood stains. By properly preparing your work area, you can avoid permanent unwanted stains. Prepare the cedar to keep the finish from drying unevenly.


Step 1

Clean the rough cedar using a pressure washer. Focused water from one of these units can destroy soft cedar. Prevent this by taking the proper precautions. Equip the unit with a wide-angle spray tip and move the spray in the direction of the wood grain at all times. Let the rough cedar dry for 24 hours.


Video of the Day

Step 2

Place two layers of canvas drop cloths beneath the cedar. Liquid stain may soak through a single drop cloth and stain the floor you are working on. Overlap two drop cloths to be safe.

Step 3

Pour 2 gallons of semi-transparent water-proof oil-based stain into a 5-gallon bucket. Stir the stain for 60 seconds to ensure that the tannins are evenly distributed.


Step 4

Brush the stain onto the rough cedar, using a 3- to 4-inch natural-bristled paintbrush. Brush in the direction of the cedar wood grain. Wipe excess finish from the cedar with shop rags.

Step 5

Allow the rough cedar dry for three hours. Add a second coating if you'd prefer a deeper finish.


Refinish the rough cedar every year or two.

Stop to stir the stain every 10 to 15 minutes, or the tannins will settle near the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket.


Don't use polyurethane on rough cedar, as the wood's coarse nature will prevent the sealer from bonding properly. Semi-transparent water-proof oil-based stain will adequately seal rough cedar against wear and water-based rot.