How do you clean cedar before sealing?

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How do you clean cedar before sealing?

To ensure proper adhesion of the stain to the wood, it is important to remove dirt, pollen, and organic matter from the surface. A simple and effective method is to use an all-purpose deck cleaner with a mild detergent to scrub the cedar. It is not recommended to use pressure washing on soft cedar as the high pressure can cause damage to the wood and create significant gouges.

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When it comes to maintaining the natural beauty and longevity of your cedar deck, proper cleaning before sealing is crucial. In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps on how to clean cedar before sealing, ensuring a flawless finish and optimal protection for your deck.

Understanding the Importance of Cleaning Cedar

Cleaning your cedar deck is not only about aesthetics but also about its overall health and durability. By removing dirt, grime, and other contaminants, you create a clean surface for the sealant to adhere to effectively. Let’s dive into the necessary steps to clean cedar before sealing.

Maintaining cedar decks is vital to their longevity. Preparing cedar for sealing is the key to achieving a beautiful and long-lasting finish.

Understanding the Importance of Cleaning Cedar

 2. Assessing the Condition of the Deck

Before starting the cleaning process, thoroughly inspect your cedar deck for any damages or issues that need to be addressed. Additionally, identify areas that require cleaning, such as high-traffic zones or spots with mold and mildew growth.

3. Cleaning Methods for Cedar Decks

To clean cedar effectively, opt for gentle techniques that won’t damage the wood fibers. Use a mild detergent or cleaner specifically formulated for wood surfaces. Scrub away dirt and grime using a soft-bristle brush, and for stubborn stains, consider using a wood cleaner with oxalic acid. Don’t forget to remove any mold or mildew using a solution of water and bleach.

Cleaning Methods for Cedar Decks

4. Power Washing Cedar Decks

Power washing can be a useful method for cleaning cedar decks, but it should be done with caution. Understand the appropriate pressure and techniques to avoid damaging the wood. Take necessary precautions and maintain a safe distance between the power washer and the cedar surface.

5. Sanding Cedar Surfaces

Sanding is an essential step to achieve a smooth and even surface for sealing. Select the right sandpaper grit for your cedar deck, and sand in the direction of the wood grain. This will help remove any roughness or imperfections, providing a clean canvas for the sealant.

6. Drying the Cedar Deck

After cleaning and sanding, allow sufficient drying time for the cedar deck. Ensure the deck is completely moisture-free before proceeding to the sealing process. This will prevent any trapped moisture from causing issues later on.

Preparing Cedar for Sealing

7. Choosing the Right Sealer

Selecting the appropriate sealer is crucial for protecting your cedar deck. There are various types of sealers available, including clear sealers, semi-transparent stains, and solid stains. Understand the benefits of each type and choose the one that suits your preferences and requirements.

8. Applying the Sealer

Prepare the deck for sealing by removing any debris or dust. Apply the sealer evenly using a brush, roller, or sprayer, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure complete coverage, paying extra attention to areas prone to wear and tear. Take your time to achieve a professional-looking finish.

9. Maintaining and Re-Sealing Cedar Decks

Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential for preserving the beauty and integrity of your cedar deck. Keep an eye out for signs that indicate it’s time to re-seal, such as fading color or water not beading up on the surface. Follow the necessary steps for re-sealing to protect and prolong the life of your cedar deck.

Expert Tips and Common

Mistakes to Avoid

Properly caring for your cedar deck goes beyond just cleaning and sealing. Here are some expert tips to help you maintain its stunning appearance and avoid common mistakes:

  1. Regularly sweep your cedar deck to remove debris and prevent dirt buildup.
  2. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the wood.
  3. Do not oversaturate the wood with water during the cleaning process, as excessive moisture can lead to warping or rotting.
  4. Take precautions to protect nearby plants and vegetation when using cleaning products or sealers.
  5. Apply sealant in moderate temperatures and avoid direct sunlight, as extreme heat can affect the drying and bonding process.
  6. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended number of coats and drying times between applications.
  7. Use protective coverings or furniture pads to prevent scratches or damage from furniture and heavy objects.
  8. Regularly inspect your cedar deck for any signs of wear, damage, or loose boards, and address them promptly to prevent further issues.


Cleaning cedar before sealing is a vital step in maintaining the beauty and durability of your deck. By following the proper cleaning techniques and preparing the wood adequately, you can achieve a flawless and long-lasting finish. Remember to choose the right sealer, apply it evenly, and stay consistent with regular maintenance and re-sealing when necessary. By taking care of your cedar deck, you can enjoy its stunning appearance for years to come.

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