How to Restore Cedar Furniture: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

If you have cedar that has lost its luster and needs some TLC, don’t worry! Restoring cedar is a straightforward process that can bring back its natural beauty. In this tutorial, I will guide you through the step-by-step process to clean, seal and restore cedar, making it look as good as new.

I made a cedar plant stand and cedar planter benches in 2020. They sat out on my deck in the elements for years and were starting to look very weathered. My husband and I recently relocated to Chicago and I decided that my first DIY project at our new place was bringing these lovely cedar pieces back to life!

In this post I will cover the method that I used to clean and restore my outdoor cedar furniture.

Oil for cedar furniture

How to Refinish Weathered Cedar

Cedar is a popular wood species for outdoor furniture, fencing and even siding. It’s a beautiful wood but over time it can become weathered and develop a gray color if not maintained. The gray color can look great when it’s an entire fence or siding but when just portions of your cedar pieces have grayed it may be time to refinish and restore that cedar back to it’s original glory.

You’ll need just a few tools and materials to restore cedar furniture and the process is easy and not very time intensive if you’re working with smaller pieces.

Here is everything you’ll need on hand and how to restore your cherished cedar furniture.

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Materials & Tools

How to Restore Cedar

  1. Assess the condition of the cedar

    Before you begin the restoration process, it’s important to assess the condition of the cedar. Look for any signs of damage, such as cracks, rot, or discoloration.

    If the cedar is severely damaged, you may need to consider replacing it instead of restoring it. However, if the damage is minor, you can proceed with the restoration process.

  2. Clean the cedar surface

    The first step in restoring cedar is to clean the surface.

    Add 1/3 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water to a garden sprayer. First wet down the cedar with water and then spray the area that you want to clean with the bleach water. Use a soft brush to lightly scrub the dirt and other residue from the cedar. If you have tight spaces you can use a toothbrush to access those. Work in small sections at a time until all of the cedar has been scrubbed.

    I would not recommend using a pressure washer on cedar. It is very soft wood and pressure can damage it very easily.

    Once the cedar is clean, allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
    Bleach, hand brush and sprayer

  3. Sand the cedar to remove any roughness or imperfections

    After the cedar has dried, it’s time to sand the surface to remove any roughness or imperfections.

    Start by using a coarse-grit sandpaper to smooth out any large bumps or rough areas. Then, switch to a finer-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid causing any damage or scratches.

    Once you’re satisfied with the smoothness of the cedar, wipe away any dust with a clean cloth before moving on to the next step.
    Sand paper on top of cedar bench

  4. Apply oil to restore the natural color of the cedar

    After sanding the cedar, the next step is to seal it. This can be done by applying oil.

    Be sure to follow the manufacturers direction on how to apply the oil. I used teak oil and brushed it on. I applied two coats letting it dry overnight before applying the 2nd coat. Oil for cedar furniture

  5. Allow the cedar to dry completely

    After applying the oil it’s important to allow the cedar to dry completely before using the furniture. Depending on the weather conditions, it may take anywhere from a few hours to a day for the cedar to dry completely.

Before and After Photos

I’m very pleased with how my cedar planter benches turned out. They are richer in color and have a solid coat of oil that will protect them for at least another year. There are still some gray spots as I would have had to sand too much off to remove them completely. I think that they add character but if you want to remove more of the gray on your pieces you could add a step of wood brightener after sanding and before applying the oil.


What is the best oil for cedar wood?

Teak oil and Linseed oil are both great choices for finishing cedar wood. They add a beautiful finish and provide a protective barrier against UV rays, mold and mildew.

Can you use a pressure washer to clean cedar?

It is best to hand wash cedar as pressure washers can damage the soft wood.

How long will cedar furniture last outside?

When maintained regularly, outdoor cedar furniture can last up to 30 years.

I hope that you have fun restoring your cedar furniture and enjoy it for years to come!

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