Storing Tips for Western Red Cedar Outdoor Furniture

Storing Tips for Western Red Cedar Outdoor Furniture

At Dan’s Outdoor Furniture we are often asked what are the best storing tips for western red cedar outdoor furniture.  If you have invested in our  quality products with durable hardware, then your outdoor furniture  should for last decades.  Some basic knowledge of how and when to care for your products will reward you with beautiful furniture and provide you with the perfect outdoor living space.

Cedar is an excellent choice for patio furniture  because it is beautiful, durable and naturally resistant to rot, insects and warping, If you have cedar furniture, it is important that you know and completely understand how to appropriately care for it, allowing it to age in a graceful manner without jeopardizing the appearance of the color. 

Western Red Cedar

Western red cedar is one of the best outdoor building materials for picnic tables, swings, gliders, benches and chairs.  It is lightweight yet strong.  It has many beautiful colors ranging from light amber, red and even dark brown.  It is naturally resistant to insects and decay and has no sticky sap.  Furthermore western red cedar is naturally sustainable.  

Should I Seal, Stain or Leave Naturally

Unfinished cedar ages naturally to a silver-gray finish with a raised grain. Many individuals enjoy the appearance of raised grain, but if you prefer a smoother surface,  the piece should be protected with a sealant that is designed for wood.  Wood sealer helps preserve the original warm color and protects the wood against dirt, dust and other types of debris and also works to create a moisture barrier on the cedar.  Using a wood sealer will also keep the grain from raising, and will help ensure that the harmful rays of the sun do not inflict damage on the wood.  While cedar furniture will last up to 3-4 decades, over time it will turn a patina gray and develop checks or cracks.  To avoid this, we recommend sealing as soon as you purchase your furniture.  Check out our Finishing Suggestions here.

For a colored finish, apply a transparent or solid stain every couple of years. Breathable stains, available in many colors, are a better alternative than paint, which traps moisture, and will blister and peel.

To keep it looking great and performing well for years, follow these simple tips.

Clean and Inspect

Western red cedar is considered to be a soft wood, so it is important to understand that cleaning and basic maintenance should be done with care. Hand wash periodically with mild detergent that does not contain harsh chemicals using a soft rag or sponge and low pressure water hose. Do not use a pressure washer or scrub with a harsh bristled brush as it may damage the wood. This will help eliminate the debris that may accumulate on the piece while outdoors without jeopardizing the rich color of the wood, or the wood itself.

For stubborn stains or mildew, apply a mild bleach and water solution, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry before applying any stain or sealant. 

A Fresh Maintenance Coat

The fall is a great time to refresh the sealer or stain.  When applied in the fall,  you will have better protection throughout the winter months.  Most sealers and semi-clear stains should not flake or peal off.  However if you see such signs be sure to scrape and remove all loose material.  A light sanding will also open the grain of the wood fibers to accept the new coat of sealer.  Keep in mind that you should try to use the same product each time.  

Leaving it Outdoors

Your western red cedar furniture is designed to be left outdoors all year.  However, if you have a place to store your furniture during the winter months,  you will find that your finishes with last much longer and the surfaces will stay smoother over time.  

Stacking and Leaning

If you have several of the same products, try stacking them.  Two chairs or benches will stack nicely arm to arm or seat to seat.  A storage method used by National Parks is leaning picnic tables up against trees.  This is especially beneficial for longer rectangular tables where the snow load may get heavy and over many years cause the top to slightly sag.  

Cover with a Tarp?

Covering your outdoor furniture with a tarp is not a good idea.  A tarp will act like a greenhouse and trap the moisture.  In colder climates, this can cause a freezing and thawing cycle.  In southern or warmer climates a tarp may be beneficial as long as the tarp is waterproof and held in place.

Investment for the Future

Spending a little time each year maintaining your western red cedar outdoor furniture will go a long way to it lasting for 30-40 years.  The beauty and warmth of real western red cedar products cannot be found in any other substitutions.  We hope this article has given you some storing tops for western red cedar outdoor furniture.  Enjoy the outdoors!

Great Video from Real Cedar
Cedar 101

Western Red Cedar Picnic Table Comparisons
Western Red Cedar Picnic Table Comparisons