How to Finish Cedar Wood for Indoors: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Finish Cedar Wood for Indoors_ A Comprehensive Guide
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Finishing cedar wood for indoor applications requires careful consideration to ensure long-lasting protection and enhance its natural beauty. In this guide, we will explore various finishing techniques and products specifically tailored for indoor use. Whether you aim to provide protection against abrasions or alter the wood’s appearance, we’ve got you covered.

How to finish cedar wood for indoors?

For areas inside your home that have low moisture, make sure to use finishes specifically designed for interior applications. These finishes are ideal for providing some protection against minor abrasions to your cedar. However, if you’re looking to alter the wood’s appearance, you can opt for finishes such as bleach, oils, semi-transparent and solid body stains, as well as opaque finishes. These options will allow you to change the look of the wood according to your preferences.

Let’s dive in!

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Choosing the Right Finishing Type

Before delving into specific products and techniques, it’s crucial to understand the different finishing types available for cedar wood.

Recommended Finishing Products

When it comes to indoor cedar finishing, certain products are specially formulated to offer optimal results. Here are some highly recommended finishing products to consider:

  1. Bleach: If you desire a lighter tone or want to remove stains and discolorations, bleach can be an effective option. Ensure to follow the instructions carefully and conduct a patch test beforehand.
  2. Clear Wax: Clear wax provides a protective layer while maintaining the natural color and texture of cedar wood. It is easy to apply and adds a subtle sheen.
  3. Clear Plastics: Clear plastic finishes are ideal for preserving cedar’s natural beauty. They offer excellent protection against moisture, scratches, and minor abrasions.
  4. Danish Oil: Danish oil penetrates the wood, enhancing its natural beauty while providing a protective layer. It is available in various finishes, allowing you to choose the desired level of shine.
  5. Clear Lacquer: Clear lacquer forms a hard, durable coating that offers excellent protection against wear and tear. It enhances the wood’s appearance, providing a glossy finish.
  6. Clear Varnish: Clear varnish is another popular choice for cedar wood finishing. It provides a protective layer, highlighting the wood’s grain and natural colors.
  7. Varnish Stains: If you wish to alter the wood’s appearance while providing protection, varnish stains are an excellent option. They offer a wide range of colors and finishes to choose from.

Recommended Finishing Products

Finishing Techniques

Now that we have explored the recommended finishing products, let’s delve into various finishing techniques for cedar wood indoors.

1. Allowing Natural Weathering

Cedar wood can be left untreated to weather naturally. This option showcases the wood’s natural beauty while developing a distinct silver-gray patina over time. However, keep in mind that this method provides limited protection against scratches and abrasions.

2. Bleaching

To lighten the color or remove stains from cedar wood, consider using bleach. Dilute the bleach according to the instructions and apply it evenly. Remember to protect yourself with gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.

3. Clear Wax

Applying a thin coat of clear wax helps protect cedar wood while maintaining its natural appearance. Gently apply the wax using a soft cloth or brush, following the wood grain. Allow it to dry and buff for a smooth finish.

4. Clear Plastics

Clear plastic finishes offer excellent protection for cedar wood in low-moisture indoor areas. Apply the finish evenly using a brush or sprayer, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Multiple coats may be necessary for optimal results.

5. Danish Oil

Danish oil is an easy-to-use finish that enhances the wood’s natural beauty while providing protection. Apply the oil evenly using a brush or cloth, allowing it to penetrate the wood. Wipe off any excess oil after a few minutes and let it dry thoroughly.

6. Clear Lacquer and Clear Varnish

Both clear lacquer and clear varnish provide a durable protective layer while accentuating the wood’s natural colors and grain patterns. Apply thin coats, allowing sufficient drying time between each layer, and lightly sand in between for a smooth finish.

7. Varnish Stains

Varnish stains are an excellent choice if you want to alter the appearance of cedar wood while providing protection. These stains come in various colors and finishes, allowing you to achieve the desired look. Apply the stain evenly with a brush or cloth, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Wipe off any excess stain and let it dry completely.

Finishing Techniques

Applying Finishes to Cedar Indoors

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge of different finishing types, recommended products, techniques, and essential tips, it’s time to apply the finishes to your cedar wood indoors. Remember to work in a well-ventilated area, follow the instructions for each specific product, and take your time to ensure a professional-looking result.

With the right finishing, your cedar wood will not only be protected from minor abrasions but also showcase its natural beauty or transformed appearance according to your preference. Enjoy the process of finishing your cedar wood and admire the stunning results in your indoor spaces!

Applying Finishes to Cedar Indoors

To ensure a successful cedar wood finishing project, here are some essential do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Always prepare the wood surface by sanding it gently to achieve a smooth and even finish.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application techniques, drying times, and recommended number of coats.
  • Use appropriate safety measures, such as wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated area.
  • Test the finishing product on a small, inconspicuous area or a scrap piece of cedar wood before applying it to the entire surface.
  • Apply thin and even coats to prevent drips, runs, or uneven finishes.
  • Allow sufficient drying time between coats and before using or moving the finished piece.


  • Avoid using exterior-grade finishes or finishes intended for high-moisture areas on indoor cedar wood, as they may not provide adequate protection or may affect the appearance.
  • Do not rush the drying process. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one or using the finished piece.
  • Avoid over-applying the finishing product, as it may lead to a sticky or uneven finish.
  • Do not skip the surface preparation step, as it affects the adhesion and overall quality of the finish.
  • Refrain from using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that could damage the wood’s surface during the finishing process.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can achieve a beautiful and durable finish on your indoor cedar wood projects.

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