To treat outdoor cedar benches or not. That is is question.

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Forum topic by Musky41 posted 04-23-2011 03:21 AM 44108 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2621 days

04-23-2011 03:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question cedar

Hey jocks!

I’ve been commissioned to build seven cedar benches for a local community park. These are very stable benches made of 2×4 and 2×6 cedar… over $300 per bench for materials alone. The customer is interested in the all natural look and feel but if treating it with a protective sealer would add life to the benches, they’d take that into consideration as well. So, my understanding of cedar is that it is naturally resistant to decay & wood rot and will turn gray over time. Will sealing it take away from this natural progression? Should I seal the benches or not? If so, any recommendations as to what to seal it with? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


-- The adventure doesn't begin until everything goes wrong.

8 replies so far

View pjones46's profile


1001 posts in 2672 days

#1 posted 04-23-2011 07:17 AM

Years ago we dipped our cedar siding in a BLO cut with Turps mix (2parts turps to 1 part BLO) on our cedar siding jobs and in time they do gray but not as fast. Cabots (a New England Company) years ago made a bleaching oil which we also used and this accelerated the graying and gave some protection. It was banned for use other than on Cape Cod in Massachusetts for some reason which I have long since forgotten why.

I have made a dozen or so English Garden benches and use Cabots Australian Timber Oil and have had great results on the test samples (4 years and still good) as well as the benches.

Just checked their site and the Bleaching Oil is still listed but do not know if available in your area. Good products check out their site and call or send them an email. Just noticed you are in NH and I think you can still get it.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Musky41's profile


5 posts in 2621 days

#2 posted 04-23-2011 05:18 PM

Thanks for the info, pjones46. So, are you suggesting that not treating the benches at all is NOT a good idea? I checked out Cabot’s website and did notice they offer a Cedar Clear Solution. My question there would be whether or not it’s actually clear. I suppose a sample test would be in order. On another note… beautiful paddles you made!

-- The adventure doesn't begin until everything goes wrong.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3677 days

#3 posted 04-23-2011 06:26 PM

Thompson’s Water Seal or something similar will extend the life of the
surface outdoors. Wood left outdoors in sun and humidity always
develops surface checks eventually and loses its color. The sealant
may slow the process. Clients may realize the color loss is inevitable
but may not realize the surface becomes rough over time due to
the checking.

The Cabots products may be better.

You can go back every year or so and sand off the raised grain on the
benches and eventually they’ll become smooth as they continue to
age, bleach, and check.

View pjones46's profile


1001 posts in 2672 days

#4 posted 04-24-2011 04:59 AM

Yes, I would treat the benches. I have used Australian Timber Oil colors exclusively but have not had a call for the Natural Australian Timber Oil. I would do a test to see if it suits you as in the description it indicates that it is translucent.

Also call them for tech info, see what they recommetnd, but still do a test.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2722 days

#5 posted 04-24-2011 05:48 AM

Welcome to LJs Musky, I see that you’re new here. Cedar does hold up to the outdoor weather better that many species of wood. My Grandpa explained to me that wood is a cellulose material and has the moisture leaves the wood that I should replace it with oil. He recommended linseed oil. It will not stop the wood from turning gray/silver but will preserve it, by filling the cells with oil it will repel water. This makes the wood harder too, and helps it last longer.

I have a cedar picnic table that’s been sitting out in the Texas sun for more that 10 years now. The end of the first & second year I applied Tompson’s water seal. This was to slow down the turning gray effect. Thompson’s has UV inhibiters to keep the wood from fading but eventually mother nature is going to win and it’ll turn gray. Around the 4th, or 5th year I painted it with linseed oil and haven’t done anything to it since. I did have to turn the screws that hold the seat down last year. They were sticking up about 1/16”th of an inch due to the raised grain. But checking has not been a problem. I’‘l take some pictures of the table tomorrow and post them here for you to see.

Something that you are going to have to think about, putting a pretty bench in a public place is theif. For this I’ve used 4×4 legs so I could use 4×4 post bases. Get the kind that you can screw a 3/4” alltread into the bottom of them. Use some big nuts & washers and set them it concrete. I just posted pictures of a bench that cemented the legs that way I put on a golf coarse. Check my new projects page if you want to see it.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3397 days

#6 posted 04-24-2011 06:08 AM

I would soak the bench parts before assembly with Thompsons water seal. This will not have any affect on the appearance of the benchs, but will help to seal out moisture and prolong thier life.

View Rick's profile


9753 posts in 3062 days

#7 posted 04-24-2011 09:41 AM

I’ll second what Loren said. We use to do a lot of Cedar Decks, some with built in seating, some with Free Standing Seating.

Most where stained with Olympic Oil Based Stain, not sure if they make a Clear Product, but we had a couple of Natural Finished ones. We used Cabots Clear and it Didn’t affect the New Colour of the Cedar. I would Definetly use a Clear Coat rather than none at all!! It DOES Seal and Protect the Cedar and it will still turm Gray over time.

-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2722 days

#8 posted 04-24-2011 10:12 PM

Musky41; Here are the pictures of my cedar picnic table that I said I would post. The table like I said is more than 10 years in the weather. And the table is still very tight, not loose or wobbly at all. I do use screws, not nails. In Texas our winters are milder than up north but the sun can really be like hell on the wood in the summertime.

Please pardon the bird droppings and where the dog likes to chew on the ends of the 2xs

Here is a close up picture of the worst checking that I could find on the table. The second and third board from the left on the table top. About time for anther coat of linseed oil.

Hope this helps some. Please post us some pictures when you get done.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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