Cedar wood is less likely to warp, splinter, or shrink, making it an excellent choice for outdoor fences. But although they have a natural advantage against the elements, decay, and rot, sealing cedar fences is still a good idea. This adds an extra layer of protection to make your fence even more durable.
The best cedar fence for most people is the Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer. It’s easy to apply, blends easily, doesn’t leave blotches or streaks, and protects from UV rays and moisture.
Ready Seal is the best cedar fence sealer overall on our list. However, you may want to try other products if…
- Ease of application is your top priority. Go with Eco Advance Exterior Wood Siloxane Waterproofer (available on Amazon).
- You’re on a tight budget but still want a 2-in-1 product. Go with the Thompsons WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain (available on Amazon).
- You want a high-quality one-coat product. Go with Cabot Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stain (available on Amazon).
- You have a fence that’s more regularly exposed to water. Go with Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer (available on Amazon).
In this article, I’ll list some things you need to consider when buying a wood sealer for your cedar fence. You’ll see how each product rates in each category and why other products might be better suited for your needs than the Ready Seal.
Best Overall: Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer
When sealing your cedar fence, most people apply at least two products: wood stain and sealer. Ready Seal Sealer combines both into one product. This way, you get both waterproofing and UV protection.
Aside from providing all-around weather protection, Ready Seal is easy to apply. Often, wood stain requires some experience or even a professional to apply it properly in order to avoid streaks and blotches, but Ready Seal blends on its own. It settles without streaks, blotches, or laps and doesn’t require back brushing like most wood stain products.
You can use any tool or application method- brush, roller, or sprayer. However, clean-up of this oil-based product does require the use of mineral spirits.
This stain and sealer is perfect for any cedar fence. Its stain pigment is colored a natural cedar, so it will enhance the natural beauty of your fence while protecting it from the elements and preventing the wood from graying.
- 2-in-1 product
- Doesn’t require back brushing and doesn’t leave streaks, blotches, or laps
- Reapplication doesn’t need stripping or sanding
- Mineral spirits required for clean-up
Best for Easy Application: Eco Advance Exterior Wood Siloxane Waterproofer
The Eco Advance is a water repellent that protects against water damage, stains, pool chemicals, mold, and mildew.
An airless sprayer or pump sprayer is recommended to apply this product, but you can also use a brush or roller. While other products need around an hour or so between coats, you just need to wait 30 minutes before applying the second coat of this product.
Wood stains and sealers are known to have a strong odor. However, the Eco Advance has a low to zero VOC formula, which is almost odorless. Burning eyes due to product fumes won’t be a problem.
Since Eco Advance is water-based, it offers effortless clean-up. There’s no need for mineral spirits. You only need soap and water to remove any extra product.
- Low to no odor
- Non-toxic and safe for pets, plants, and people
- Dries clear
- No UV protection
- Doesn’t give much scratch protection
Best Budget Option: Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain
Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain protects from moisture, water damage, mildew, and UV damage. This semi-transparent product has a warm, woodland cedar color that enhances your cedar fence’s natural beauty and color.
Thompsons is a one-coat formula, and it’s recommended that the product is applied lightly on your fence to avoid oversaturation and possibly cause blotches. You can also use multiple methods to apply it: brush, roller, or sprayer.
Before applying Thompson’s WaterSeal, your fence’s air and surface temperature should be 50-95°F (10-35°C).
Though one coat already offers a good level of protection and a beautiful finish, other DIYers and those that have used the product also recommend applying two coats. Just make sure it dries before applying the next coat.
Because it is a 2-in-1 product that recommends only one coat, this is the cheapest option that still offers a beautiful finish and the protection provided by both wood seal and wood stain. Thompson’s company states that the product can last up to 6 years on vertical surfaces.
- Quick and easy to apply one-coat formula
- A budget option that offers 2-in-1 protection
- Some users have said it lasts several months to a year
Best High-Quality One-Coat Product: Cabot Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stain
Cabot Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stain uses a blend of resin and oil that penetrates deep into the wood. It protects against moisture, mildew, UV rays, and other damaging weather elements. A perfect choice for protecting your fences, siding, decks, and trim.
Cabot’s finish dries a bit dark, enhancing the natural grain of a wood fence. Over time, it weathers to a more natural wood-toned color. This product has five colors and a cedar option that’s suited just for your cedar fence.
The company recommends only a one-coat product application to avoid oversaturation, streaks, and blotchiness. However, it is recommended to reapply this wood sealer and stain yearly, depending on the wear and tear your cedar fence goes through.
Note that this wood stain is not suitable for indoor application.
- Cedar-toned pigment
- One coat application
- 400-600 sq ft/gal coverage (on smooth surfaces)
- Needs yearly reapplication
Best for Wet Environments: Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer
Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer is ideal for environments that are more regularly exposed to water. That means homes and settings close to the sea, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water or rainy weather. This sealer bonds to the fibers of your wood fence to create a water-resistant shield.
Seal-Once is water-based and has an ultra-low VOC formula that makes it extra safe for pets, plants, and people. This product is also UV stable, so it will not yellow when exposed to long hours of sunlight.
This wood sealer is also very easy to apply. You have the choice of using a synthetic brush, pump sprayer, air-assisted sprayer, or airless sprayer. Make sure that the second coat is applied within one hour of the first while it’s still damp.
Pick a clody day for applying this product or do it in a shaded location that’s out of direct sunlight. Otherwise, it might dry too quickly.
- Suitable for wet or high-moisture environments
- Available in clear and tinted formulas
- Easy to clean with soap and water
- Low VOC formula
- 2-3 hours surface dry time
- Cannot be applied under direct sunlight
Factors To Consider
There are three main factors to keep in mind when choosing the right wood sealer for your cedar fence:
- Ease of Application
I’ll discuss each of these below:
Ease of Application
When it comes to application, you want to know if you’ll be able to DIY it, if you’ll need some experience, and if the tools you’ll need to do the job are available at home. You wouldn’t want to run back and forth from the hardware store to get what you need.
Other factors that affect ease of application are:
- Tools: Some sealers need specific application tools like brushes, rollers, or sprays, though many products can be applied with any tool.
- Number of coats: More coats mean more time and effort to seal your fence.
- Drying time between coats: When multiple coats are needed, you must wait a recommended time before applying the next coat.
- Other factors: Temperature, wood moisture, and other requirements before or during application.
Let’s see how each of the listed sealers compare when it comes too ease of application:
|Wood Sealer||Tools||Coats||Drying time||Notes|
|Ready Seal||Brush, Roller, Sprayer||2||1 hour||Requires no back-brushing, blends on its own|
Wood moisture should be below 15%
|Eco Advance||Brush, Roller, Sprayer||2||30 minutes||Odorless|
|Thompsons||Brush, Roller, Sprayer||1||n/a||Surface and air temperature 50-95°F (10-35°C) during application|
|Cabot||Paint Pad, Stain Brush||1||n/a||Wood moisture should be below 15%|
|Seal-Once||Synthetic Brush, Sprayer||2||> 1 hour (while still damp)||Low odor|
Apply out of direct sunlight
Winners: Eco Advance Exterior Wood Siloxane Waterproofer, Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer
No matter the rating, it is recommended that all wood fences are repaired, washed, and left to dry for at least 24 hours before applying sealer. Sanding is recommended to let the wood better absorb the sealer. Check your product’s instructions.
Remember to sweep off or vacuum up any dust that may be left behind before sealing your fence.
If you have a newly installed fence, it is also recommended that you wait at least 30 days of “dwell time” before applying any sealer or other product to the wood.
When searching for a wood sealer for your cedar fence, you’ll come across three main types of products that offer different kinds of protection:
- Wood Sealer
- Wood Stain
- 2-in-1 wood sealer and stain
A wood sealer’s main job is to protect wood against water and moisture. They can be water or oil-based. Water-based sealers create a barrier against moisture when it dries. Oil-based wood sealer also protects against moisture and helps prevent mildew and rot.
Sealers dry clear, don’t change the wood’s color, and leave the fence’s natural beauty to show.
Wood stain dries transparent or semi-transparent. This product contains some pigment that changes the color of the wood and aims to enhance its natural grain. The pigment in wood stain offers natural UV protection.
2-in-1 Wood Sealer and Stain
Unless stated in the product description, a wood sealer and a wood stain will mainly protect against either moisture and rot or UV protection. A 2-in-1 product will offer protection against both of these and will almost always contain some pigment. The pigment will change or affect the color of the wood.
|Wood Sealer/ Stain||Type||Moisture Protection||UV Protection|
|Ready Seal||Stain and Sealer||Yes||Yes|
|Thompsons||Stain and Sealer||Yes||Yes|
|Cabot||Stain and Sealer||Yes||Yes|
Winner: Ready Seal Exterior Wood Stain and Sealer, Cabot Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stain
Of course, the price tag is the first things you’ll look at when choosing a sealer for your cedar fence.
However, that’s not all you should consider if you’re worried about cost:
- Number of Coats: Applying more coats of sealer means you will have to purchase more of it.
- Coverage: Most companies and products usually state this as square foot per gallon (sq ft/gal) (sq cm/liter)
- Lifespan: After applying the sealer, how long will it last before you have to reapply?
|Ready Seal||2||125 SqFt/ Gal||3-5 years|
|Eco Advance||2||100-300 SqFt/ Gal||5 years|
|Thompsons||1||150-400 SqFt/ Gal||6 years|
|Cabot||1||400-600 SqFt/ Gal||1-2 years|
|Seal-Once||2||150-300 SqFt/Gal||2-4 years (up to 10 years)|
Winners: Eco Advance Exterior Wood Siloxane Waterproofer, Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer
Each product’s lifespan is stated on the product can itself and on their company’s website. However, most customers and professionals say that, depending on the weather conditions of each location and the wear and tear of your fence, stain and sealer should be reapplied every 1-2 years.
When choosing the best cedar fence sealer for you, check what type of protection you get (moisture, mildew, and/or UV protection). Also consider the ease of application and the cost of the product.
Always read and follow the instructions for each product to avoid any unexpected issues and get the best results. Don’t forget that you should at least wash and dry your fence before applying any sealer or stain.
If the product you want has pigment, make sure it will suit your cedar wood fence.