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I want to apply a clear sealer to a bench I built using spanish cedar. This bench will be outside, undercover in the northeast. Will a product like thompson's water seal work ok?
Sounds like it will. It should protect the wood from water, sun and mildew.
AFAIK, there is no long-term clear finish for full exposure.
These gates I built are spanish cedar, finished with exterior waterlox, still require yearly re-coating.
Another finish to consider is Australian Timber Oil.
Thompson's nowadays is water-based and not worth considering.