Western Red Cedar is the most desirable wood of all the woods used in outdoor furniture. It is a lightweight stable wood which lays flat and remains straight. It will not sag or bow over time and resists the natural tendency to crack. This wood remains cool to sit on even on the hottest summer days. Its fibers include oil which serves as a natural protector and helps to prevent and control. Pedicure is also bacterial and fungal.
Cedar does not require a finish to keep its structure over the years. Many people prefer to allow their cedar furniture to “age naturally” outdoors without stain or finish. Over time the color of the wood will slowly weather to a silver-grey and the grain will become slightly raised. Left this way, the wood will eventually be highlighted by dark streaks formed from the reaction between the Cedar Resin and the Zinc hardware.
Using a little dish soap with warm water and a light scrubbing and rinsing with the garden hose is all that is needed. However, a good sealer purchased from your local hardware store will add a layer of protection without adding a finish. It will spread wooden water against water access, and prevents the grain from elevating. It will still allow natural aging or seasonal process. A sealer should be applied once a year. Be sure that the wood is completely day before applying the sealer.
Cedar furniture will become discolored when left outside especially in damp areas. Fortunately, this discoloration can be removed. A household bleach solution of 20% and one ounce of detergent for every gallon of water can be used. Leave this solution on for a short time then rinse with a garden hose. This process will return the Cedar to its original appearance. Once again, let the wood dry completely before applying a sealer or stain.
Staining can preserve the colorful tones of freshly sanded Cedar. There are a wide variety of colors to choose from. A single coat of a semitransparent stain with a UV inhibitor is recommended to preserve the handsome look of your outdoor furniture. It is best that you do not allow your cedar to weather too much before applying stain. Every third year you should reapply a coat of stain. This will refresh the finish.
The paint cannot really be recommended, since the paint will start spreading and ultimately scraping and refining will be needed. This will require much more maintenance.
Stain is really your best option.
Cedar furniture that is left outdoors will last a minimum of 8 to 10 years. The same furniture covered in the winter or taken indoors to a garage or shed will last twice as long.