Finishing aromatic cedar -- don't do it!

Is it possible to finish a cedar ceiling, yet preserve the color and aroma? March 20, 2001

What type of finish should be used on an aromatic cedar ceiling? I want it to keep a good smell and reddish color.

Forum Responses
If the cedar is sealed or finished, you will be "sealing in" the cedar aroma. You can try a dye stain. The dyes are sold as either water or alcohol dissolvable.

Cedar does not stain or dye well--the results are uneven at best.

You could oil it for a more natural look. A UV protecting water white lacquer would be best for the color, but would definitely seal in the smell.

Aromatic cedar should not be finished. Cedar will last 100 years outside in the elements. Your ceiling should be safe.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I have used clear semi-satin polymers on the outside of cedar chests. This gives me the sheen and protection that polymer gives. On the inside, apply nothing. My father-in-law used boiled linseed oil on the outside of my wife's cedar chest over 40 years ago. It is bare on the inside. It stills has the cedar smell. I have read that an occassional light sanding will strengthen the odor. I have never done it for fear of wearing the walls thin.