9 Best Stain For Cedar of 2021 [Reviewed]

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Is it really that hard to maintain that natural color of your cedar wood deck? Well, not if you apply a top-quality stain on it.

However, choosing the best stain that is available in a lot of color options and is easy to apply is not as simple as it sounds. You see, there are several factors to consider, and since there are a ton of cheap variants, choosing the right one can often get a little complicated.

But don’t you worry! To help you buy the best stain for cedar, we have compiled this list of the top 9 options currently available on the market.

After rigorous testing, we have given detailed reviews for each of our recommendations. And to make things more interesting, we have included a buyer’s guide towards the end of this article.

So, without wasting another minute, let’s get right into it!

Top Stains For Cedar



Our Top PickOur Top PickArchilb-table__image Ready Seal 512
  • Reaches true color within 14 days
  • Quantity: 5 gallons
  • Oil-based stain
Archilb-table__image DEFY ‎300158
  • Features zinc nano-particle technology
  • 100% VOC compliant
  • Water-based stain
Archilb-table__image THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16
  • Weighs 5 pounds
  • Contains advanced polymers
  • Features woodland cedar color
Archilb-table__image Cabot 140.0019202.007
  • Contains low VOC content
  • Quantity: 1 gallon
  • Features flat finish
Archilb-table__image OLD MASTERS 11916
  • Weighs 3.17 ounces
  • Oil-based stain
  • Suitable for both interior and exterior use
Archilb-table__image SaverSystems #1 Deck
  • Works both as a sealer and a stain
  • Contains low VOC content
  • Water-based stain
Archilb-table__image SamaN SAM-303-1L
  • Weighs under 3 pounds
  • Quantity: 1 quart
  • Low VOC content
Archilb-table__image SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly
  • Non-toxic
  • Quantity: 1 gallon
  • Comes in cedar color

Outdoor patio deck and chair

  1. Ready Seal 512

Ready Seal, one of the leading American sealer and stain brands, has been committed to protecting our outdoor wood projects with its wide range of wood care products. And the 512 cedar stain from the brand is one such product that is designed to deliver professional results every time you use it.

Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer...
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when...
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto...

Why Did We Like It?

We were quite impressed with what the Ready Seal 512 had to bring to the table. What we loved the most is that it doesn’t require any primer and takes about 14 days to reach its true color.

Furthermore, it is very easy to apply; you can use a brush, a roller, or a sprayer as per your choice. And the best part about it is that you don’t even have to thin it before spraying. Also, it is super easy to maintain, which is a very big plus in our books.

From natural cedar to dark walnut to burnt hickory to mahogany, there are a wide array of color options for you to choose from. Apart from this, it elevates the natural look of your wood by making the texture visible. Lastly, since it is oil-based, it can be applied on various wooden surfaces.

411etkqs40s. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

Honestly, we did not come across any significant drawbacks of the Ready Seal 512. However, it is the most expensive product on this list, so it may not be the perfect choice for those on a modest budget. Apart from the expensive price tag, this cedar stain works perfectly.

  • Doesn’t require a primer
  • Can be used on various wooden surfaces
  • Very easy to apply
  • Enhances the natural look
  • Tad bit expensive
  1. DEFY ‎300158

Next up, we have another effective product from DEFY by SaverSystems, a brand that manufactures wood stains, wood brightener, stain stripper, wood cleaner, and a lot more. Having said that, the 300158 cedar wood stain from the brand provides a natural matte finish that will not disappoint you.

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain, Cedar Tone

Why Did We Like It?

For us, the main USP of this eco-friendly and water-based wood stain is that it lets the wood grain shine through with an eye-catching matte finish. For this reason, you can apply it for staining a broad spectrum of surfaces, including decks, patio furniture, fences, and more.

Furthermore, it protects the wood from the harmful UV rays of the Sun by dispersing little zinc particles throughout the stain. This ensures that your deck is not prone to color loss and premature graying. Also, you would be pleased to know that it is 100% VOC compliant. Impressive, isn’t it? Well, there’s more.

The DEFY ‎300158 is made with top-quality resins that offer enhanced resistance to darkening and fading. You can expect it to last a lot more than most options on the market. Plus, it is very easy to maintain; just apply a coat of this product without going through the hassle of stripping or sanding.

41jobwuue4l. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

There’s no denying that it is an exceptional choice, especially because of its versatility and UV-resistant feature. However, the 1-gallon quantity is not sufficient for staining decks. In our opinion, you will require a minimum of 4 gallons for successfully staining a deck. Other than this issue, we did not find any considerable drawbacks.

  • Can be applied on a wide range of wooden surfaces
  • Eco-friendly
  • Very easy to maintain
  • UV-resistant
  • Insufficient quantity

Founded in 1920 in the US, the THOMPSONS is one of the world’s leading suppliers of exterior stains, penetrating timber oil, and multi-surface waterproofers. On that note, allow us to introduce you to one of the best-selling products from the brand. Featuring advanced polymers, the THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 offers a top-notch fade-resistant finish.

Why Did We Like It?

As a piece of cedar stain from a brand with over 100 years of experience, the THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 truly exceeds our expectations in all aspects. With the promise of making innovative and customer-oriented products, this stain is the preferred choice for DIYers and professional woodworkers everywhere.

It provides a fade-resistant color that lasts for a very long time, and it is resistant to UV rays and mildew, which further enhance longevity. From woodland cedar to acorn brown to maple brown, you get a variety of stain colors to choose from for your deck.

For any wood stain, applying it correctly on the surface is quite challenging. However, you will not face any problem with this product as it doesn’t drip, hence making it super easy to apply. UV-resistant, affordable, and easy to apply, this is one of the products that you cannot afford to miss out on.

51epn0blael. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

Without a doubt, the THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 is the perfect choice for your cedar wood deck because of its UV-resistant feature and reasonable price tag. However, the only gripe we have against this product is that the woodland cedar color is not that great; the color is way more orangish than what we would like it to be.

  • Comes with a budget-friendly price tag
  • UV and water-resistant
  • Super easy to apply
  • Range of colors to choose from
  • The color is slightly orangish
  1. Cabot 140.0019202.007

Cobot is one of the most popular American woodcare brands that has been manufacturing top-quality and easy-to-use products since 1877. And the 140.0019202.007 exterior stain from the brand is certainly no different. Featuring a unique translucent oil finish, this stain takes the wood’s natural look to a whole different level.

Cabot 140.0019202.007 Wood Toned Deck & Siding Low VOC Exterior Stain,...
  • A translucent oil finish that protects and...
  • Water repellent; deep penetrating

Why Did We Like It?

There are quite a few things that we absolutely loved about this product but what caught our attention right from the beginning was its low VOC content. This makes the product very safe for the environment. Plus, not only does it protect your deck, but it also enhances its natural appearance.

Furthermore, it is highly versatile. Apart from decks, you can apply this on a range of other wooden surfaces such as trim, fences, and siding. Plus, we really liked that it is available in 5 different colors, including heartwood and cedar.

What’s more? Well, it is very easy to apply, and like most other Cabot products, it is long-lasting as well. Overall, the Cabot 140.0019202.007 is one of the most sought-after wood stains on the market mainly because of its effective results and versatile applications.

51kgnjcfzbl. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

We didn’t find this product to be much faulty. However, there are a couple of minor issues. Firstly, it is slightly more expensive than most other wood stains on this list. The other issue was its packaging, which was not great at all. Apart from these 2 minor issues, the Cabot 140.0019202.007 is an investment worth making.

  • Eco-friendly
  • Available in 5 different color options
  • Long-lasting
  • Very easy to apply
  • The packaging is not that great
  1. OLD MASTERS 11916

OLD MASTERS manufactures quality products that you can depend on for a very long time. For this reason, we thought of introducing you to the 11916 cedar wood stain from the brand. Designed with enduring craftsmanship and attention to detail, this product is best suited for woodworking professionals and enthusiasts.

OLD MASTERS 11916 WIP Stain, Cedar
  • This product adds a great value
  • Easy application and superior Color control

Why Did We Like It?

Affordable and suited for light-duty interior work, the OLD MASTERS 11916 wood stain provides superior color control that helps in delivering quality results. There used to be a time when stains would only be available in limited color options. But with this product, you get a ton of color options to choose from, such as crimson fire, dark walnut, maple, and golden oak, to name a few.

Apart from this, it is a multi-purpose wood stain which means you can apply it on both finished and bare wood. Covering about 500 square feet, this wood stain offers superior color control and is best suited for interior projects. Oh! And did we forget to mention, it is very easy to apply as well?

And lastly, this unit features a very modest price tag, which makes it one of the most affordable options that all DIYers and woodworking enthusiasts should consider.

41pgepoe+0l. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

One of the major complaints we have against the OLD MASTERS 11916 wood stain is that it comes in a very small quantity. Packed with just 3 ounces of wood stain, it may not be enough for most projects. This was quite disappointing considering all the other outstanding results from this product.

  • Comes at a very affordable price
  • A wide variety of colors to choose from
  • Provides exceptional color control
  • Works great on interior projects
  • Comes in insufficient quantity
  1. SaverSystems #1 Deck

For over 41 years, SaverSystem has dedicated itself to creating innovative solutions and quality wood care products to enrich the lives of homeowners. And the #1 Deck premium wood stain is a true testament to the brand’s quality. Of course, there is more to this product, so keep reading.

#1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks, Fences, &...

Why Did We Like It?

For starters, it is a dual-purpose product. It brings color to the wood and seals it, thereby ensuring it is safe from water damage. In other words, you can use it both as a stain and a sealer. Furthermore, it can be applied to a range of softwood such as fir, cedar, redwood, or pine.

We were floored by its range of color options, which help enhance your deck’s visual appeal by providing natural finishes. Plus, it was a relief to know that it contains less than 50 g/L VOC content, making it an eco-friendly option on our list.

Apart from this, the #1 Deck is super easy to clean up, all you need to do is apply water and soap, and you are good to go. It works on damp wood as well, which is definitely a bonus.

41wh20livdl. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

We liked the overall quality of this cedar wood stain and were quite impressed with the results it had to offer. However, it is a premium product from a well-renowned brand, which means it comes with an expensive price tag. Having said that, it is definitely worth every buck you invest.

  • Eco-friendly option
  • Saves wood from water damage
  • It can be applied on a range of surfaces
  • Very easy to clean up
  • Tad bit expensive
  1. SamaN SAM-303-1L

SamaN is a Canadian brand that specializes in the manufacture of maintenance and finishing products for a variety of woodwork. Having said that, the SAM-303-1L wood stain from the brand is an option that DIYers and homeowners cannot afford to ignore, mainly because of its high quality and low VOC.

SamaN SAM-303-1L Interior One Step Wood Seal, Stain and Varnish –Oil...
  • SAFE TO USE PRODUCT: Odorless & low VOC, risk free...

Why Did We Like It?

This product is everything that you would expect from a high-quality wood stain. As a DIYer, maintaining that natural cedar look on your furniture might seem like a dream, but with this product, you can get that look. On that note, it is odorless, and the low VOC content makes it very safe to use.

Apart from this, we were absolutely delighted to find out that it doesn’t require any stripping or sanding, just apply it smoothly with a good quality brush. From coffee to aged oak to dark chestnut, this product is available in 20 different color options, making this product all the more noteworthy.

The SamaN SAM-303-1L is specifically made for interior work. So, you can apply it to all types of woodwork, including cabinets, furniture, doors, and a lot more. And lastly, it comes at a very reasonable price, making it the ideal choice for homeowners and DIYers.

51v94zhnaus. Sl500

What Could’ve Been Better?

We were, for most parts, quite satisfied with what this product had to offer. However, while testing it, we found out that it is a lot thinner than we would like it to be. Nevertheless, the budget-friendly price and a variety of color options make the SamaN SAM-303-1L wood stain perfect for homeowners.

  • Available in 20 color options
  • Great value for money
  • Suitable with most interior woodwork
  • Eco-friendly
  • Slightly thinner than expected
  1. Olympic Stain ‎410017

Since we are towards the end of our list, let us introduce you to another high-quality product from a brand called Olympic Stain. It has been consistently delivering top-notch wood care products such as cleaners, resurfacers, and stains for homeowners since its inception. Made using water-proofing technology, the Olympic Stain ‎410017 protects your wood from water.

Olympic Stain 80110-1 Elite Woodland Oil Stain, 1 Gallon, Natural
  • One Coat Protection Wood Stain - Complete one coat...
  • Included components: Gallon, Stir Stick

Why Did We Like It?

This exclusive product from Olympic Stain features pigments made from transparent iron oxide, which helps in delivering super clear and color-rich results. You can use it on exterior wood surfaces, including railings, fences, and decks. Furthermore, it is quite durable and is resistant to peeling and scratching.

Besides, it just takes 24 hours to dry up, which is pretty commendable in our opinion. Plus, it is UV-resistant, and the innovative water-proofing technology keeps your wood safe from all the weather elements. And since it is oil-based, it penetrates deep within both hardwood and softwood for better results.

61g4q3z+iyl. Sl500

Apart from this, the Olympic Stain ‎410017 is very easy to apply; simply use a brush, roller, or sprayer as per your choice and get the job done in no time. Overall, it is a high-quality and durable cedar wood stain that you can rely on despite rough usage.

What Could’ve Been Better?

We do not have much to complain about this product. However, while testing it, we noticed a couple of drawbacks. You will need to spend a considerable amount of time preparing the surface. So, ensure that the wood is dry, clean, and, most importantly, free of oil. The other issue is that it is a lot shinier than we expected it to be.

  • UV-resistant stain
  • Provides intense colored results
  • Very easy to apply
  • Enhances the wood’s durability
  • A lot shinier than expected
  1. SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly

To be frank, there would be something lacking on this list if we didn’t include this outstanding product from SEAL-ONCE. On that note, the Nano+Poly stain from this brand is a completely eco-friendly and non-toxic product that is well capable of competing with most options mentioned on this list. So, let’s dig deeper!

Why Did We Like It?

The SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly is not just any conventional stain. The reason why we say so is because it offers top-notch protection against decay, mold, and water damage. Unlike most options on the market, this product is capable of penetrating deep within the wood’s surface to form a porous barrier, thereby coating the cells of the wood fibers.

Furthermore, the brand promises protection against water for 6 years on surfaces that are horizontal and for 10 years on surfaces that are vertical. Worried about durability? Well, this product has poly in it, which creates a robust surface coating that helps in protecting your wood against weather elements and general wear and tear.

It is very easy to apply, and the coating is UV-resistant which helps in preserving the wood’s natural appearance. And lastly, you get to choose from a wide array of colors such as cape cod gray, bronze cedar, battleship gray, to name a few.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly is undoubtedly a noteworthy mention on the list, especially because of its durability and color options. However, the cedar look is a bit on the orangish side. We had to recoat it with a layer of polyurethane to get the desired look.

  • Available in a variety of color options
  • Penetrates deep within wood fibers for added protection
  • UV-resistant
  • Easy to apply
  • Slightly orangish

Brown wooden floor close-up.

Cedar Wood Stain Buyer’s Guide

Now that you know the top 9 best stains for cedar, you are only halfway through to the goal. Let us face it, you are still confused and are not able to make a choice. Well, we would not blame you as knowing just the names and a few pros and cons is certainly not enough, especially when buying the best option.

That being said, there are certain important factors that you need to keep in mind in order to buy the right cedar stain. So, to make things easier for you, we have explained these important factors in detail in this section that will help you to make an informed purchase. We strongly recommend reading this part till the end.

Now, let’s cut to the chase!

  1. Stain Color

Color is one of the most important factors that you need to take into account while buying the right stain. Most stains are available in a wide variety of colors, so you need to choose wisely.

Having said that, if you want to retain the natural appearance of your deck, go with a semi-transparent option as it exposes the grains. However, if you want a total makeover, we suggest going with a darker tone.

  1. Interior/Exterior Application

Where you are going to apply the stain is also an important factor. If you will be using it on exterior surfaces such as decks and fences, it is best to go with a product that offers protection against environmental elements. In other words, it should be UV-resistant, water-resistant, and decay-proof.

However, if you want to use it on interior surfaces, then these features are not that useful. That being said, exterior stains can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces.

  1. Longevity

Your stain should be able to last long. A durable and long-lasting stain comes in handy as it saves you from the hassle of recoating and saves money. So, make sure that you always go with an option that promises to last long.

  1. Oil-Based/ Water-Based Stain

If you want to buy the stain specifically for cedar, then always go with oil-based stains. The biggest advantage that an oil-based stain offers is that it has the ability to penetrate deep within the wood fibers.

On the contrary, water-based stains do not penetrate within the wood fibers and may result in damage to the wood. So, it is always best to go with an oil-based option instead of a water-based one.

Outdoor patio deck and chair


Not only does staining enhance the visual appearance of the wooden surface, but also keeps it safe from water damage and general wear and tear. So, if you want to take optimal care of your cedar wood deck, a top-quality stain is a must-have!

On that note, we have come to the end of our review-based guide, and we hope that it helps you make the right choice. However, before concluding, we will let you in on our favorite choices from this list.

The Ready Seal 512 is the best overall, simply because it doesn’t require any primer and can be applied on a variety of wooden surfaces. The DEFY ‎300158 is very easy to maintain and is 100% VOC compliant, while the THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 features a budget-friendly price tag and is available in various colors.

With that, it is time to say goodbye. See you soon!

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