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Cedar Fence to treat or not to treat?

In 2016 we installed a cedar fence around our yard. We live in Columbus, Ohio. We love the look of the cedar fence but we noticed that our neighbors cedar fence is starting to dull and turning gray. We don't want this to happen to our fence so we thought about treating the wood with Thompsons clear water seal.

Should we not do this? I've never treated cedar before so I'm unsure how this could be a bad idea or good idea.
Is there another way to prevent the graying of the wood?
Any recommendations on how we should do this? I planned to buy a sealer sprayer and spray it on the boards. The crossbeams are pressure treated boards.
Do I need to sand the boards first?
Is one coat enough or should I do more than one?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Re: Cedar Fence to treat or not to treat?

You never want to use Clear Water Sealer or anything clear on Cedar. You want to use a high quality Teak oil. If you were going to oil the wood you should have planed the wood before installing the pickets. It is not a good idea to mix the woods as you have done. You should have used Cedar for everything. Cedar is much better outdoors that pressure treated. I would never use pressure treated wood for anything. It is treated with poisons that you do not want washing into the ground, or a person touching it.

The only way is Teak Oil or Stain. The number of coats, all depends on how well you prep the wood surface to begin and the quality of Teak oil you use.

This is from a wonderful site that cuts Cedar wood where I purchase my wood.

Transparent, non-flexible, film-forming finishes such as lacquer, shellac, urethane, and varnish are not recommended for exterior use on cedar. Ultraviolet radiation will penetrate the transparent film (even with UV inhibitors) and degrade the wood surface.No matter how many coats you apply, the finish will eventually become brittle, then crack and blister - and will ultimately fail. If you do decide to apply a polyurethane, or similar, transparent finish - don't say we didn't warn you

Did you use stainless steal fasteners? If not, remove the what you installed and use Stainless steal nails or screws.

I use cedar as well as many other hard woods for manufacturing garden beds and patio furniture. I sell them with and without teak oil. The best is to allow the wood to turn naturally.


Handy Andy in Mt. Airy

Julie Weller
Re: Cedar Fence to treat or not to treat?

Weird question: when I worked in a marina many, many years ago, they used transmission oil to oil teak swim platforms and trim. The red color seemed to make the teak prettier faster and the cost was probably much cheaper. However, I'm guessing that was not the best practice. Am I guessing correctly?

Re: Cedar Fence to treat or not to treat?

I have no idea on the transmission oil for treating wood, but I personally wouldn't do it. My personal preference is 50/50 turpentine and boiled linseed oil. The turpentine acts as a carrier for the boiled linseed oil, drawing the boiled linseed oil deeper into the wood, then evaporates leaving the boiled linseed oil behind.

This also rejuvenates damaged weathered wood. And yes, I use this on cedar wood as well. Teak oil is stupid expensive.

Also the previous poster is dead wrong about pressure treated wood. Decades long tests have repeatedly proved that there is little to no leaching from PT wood both buried and at ground level (anything above ground obviously CANNOT leach and there is no "washing away" of anything in the rain).

The only danger from PT wood is breathing in fine sawdust. Well, there are undoubtedly dangers during production which hopefully are properly addressed by manufacturer compliance with OSHA regulations - but there is no danger to the end user as long as you wear a mask when using a power saw with PT wood and properly dispose of the sawdust (eg DO NOT bury it, sweep it up with a broom and dustpan and dispose of it properly). The stuff is even safe for raised beds for garden veggies.

Julie Weller
Re: Cedar Fence to treat or not to treat?

Thanks again pyewacket! I really appreciate the turpentine + linseed oil trick.

Re: Cedar Fence to treat or not to treat?
Julie Weller wrote:

Thanks again pyewacket! I really appreciate the turpentine + linseed oil trick.

A few more details about this - Boiled Linseed Oil provides no UV protection. I typically have used it where I am either going to prime and paint over it (for exterior house trim) or for an already-weathered fence. If painting over, use an oil-based primer such as Kilz Original. You can paint over that with latex paint.

To get UV protection you should stain first, then apply the BLO/Turpentine. The stain will give you UV protection and the BLO/turpentine will condition the wood.

Turpentine is quite odiferous - I mix it outside. Any rags or similar with BLO on them need to be spread out and let to dry on a non-flammable surface - say your driveway. BLO soaked rags may spontaneously combust. Even if I am sure they are dry, I still put them in a galvanized metal trash can with a lid and set it in the middle of my concrete patio until I can dispose of them. You can get a little 5 or 10 gal galvanized can reasonably cheaply from a Home Despot or similar.

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