Can You Leave Cedar Wood Untreated?

Can You Leave Cedar Wood Untreated
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When it comes to decking materials, cedar wood is a popular choice for its natural beauty and durability. However, one common question that arises is whether cedar wood needs to be treated. In this article, we will explore the topic and provide insights into whether or not you can leave cedar wood untreated.

Understanding Cedar Decking

Cedar decking refers to the use of cedar wood for constructing outdoor decks. Cedar is a type of softwood that is known for its natural resistance to rot, decay, and insect damage. It has a distinct aroma and a rich, warm color that adds an appealing aesthetic to any deck. Many homeowners appreciate the natural characteristics of cedar wood and prefer to leave it untreated to maintain its organic charm.

Understanding Cedar Decking

Is Treatment Required for Cedar Decking?

The short answer is no, treating cedar wood is not a requirement. Cedar contains natural oils and chemicals that act as a defense mechanism against rot and insects. These inherent properties make cedar highly resistant to decay, which means it can withstand exposure to the elements without immediate treatment.

However, while cedar wood can be left untreated, it is important to note that it will weather over time. Untreated cedar will gradually turn a silvery gray color due to the effects of sun exposure and natural aging. This transformation is purely aesthetic and does not compromise the wood’s structural integrity or durability.

Is Treatment Required for Cedar Decking?

Alternative Care Methods for Cedar Decks

Although untreated cedar decking is an option, there are several alternative care methods you can employ to maintain its appearance and extend its lifespan.

1. Regular Sweeping

To keep your cedar deck clean and free of debris, it is essential to sweep it regularly. Use a broom or a leaf blower to remove leaves, dirt, and other particles that can accumulate between the boards. Regular sweeping helps prevent moisture retention and minimizes the risk of mold or mildew growth.

2. Occasional Deck Washing

Periodically washing your cedar deck is another crucial step in its maintenance. Use a mild detergent mixed with water and a soft brush or mop to gently scrub the surface. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any residue. This process removes dirt, stains, and surface contaminants, keeping your deck looking fresh and vibrant.

Occasional Deck Washing

3. Promoting Faster Drying

Ensuring that your cedar deck dries quickly after rainfall or exposure to moisture is essential to prevent water damage. Trim nearby vegetation to increase airflow and reduce shade, allowing the wood to dry faster. Additionally, consider using strategically placed deck furniture or accessories to redirect water runoff and minimize pooling.

4. Sealing or Staining as Necessary

While cedar wood doesn’t require treatment, you may choose to apply a sealant or stain for added protection and aesthetic enhancement. These products can help to prolong the lifespan of your deck and slow down the natural graying process. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and maintenance.

Sealing or Staining as Necessary

5. Regular Visual Inspections

Performing regular visual inspections of your cedar deck allows you to identify any potential issues early on. Check for signs of damage, such as loose boards, cracks, or splintering. Address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration and ensure the long-term durability of your deck.

Can you leave cedar wood untreated?

Untreated cedar has a natural durability that allows it to withstand the elements for 25 to 30 years without the need for wood infusions or surface treatments, which sets it apart from other decking materials. Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply that a cedar deck is completely maintenance-free.


In conclusion, leaving cedar wood untreated is a viable option for decking. Cedar’s natural resistance to rot and insects makes it a durable choice even without treatment. However, it’s important to consider the weathering effects that untreated cedar will undergo. By implementing alternative care methods such as regular cleaning, promoting drying, and performing visual inspections, you can maintain the beauty and longevity of your cedar deck for years to come.

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