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I am sure this has been asked a million times, and I have done searching on here and google and I am getting very confused because I have seen so many different answers.

Tonight I should be laying the last few boards of my decking down for my deck. Sadly it looks like rain for the rest of the week starting late tonight. I put down cedar 5/4x4 on top of a PT frame, it came out great. I already put my end cut solution on all the cut PT, so now I will just have to address the cedar. Because its going to start raining and my deck is still raw wood do I need to put a tarp over it until I can get it sealed?

I still dont even understand the difference between a stain and a sealer and what exactly I need to do to help make my deck last. We got cedar because we love the color so we really do not want to change the color.

Can someone point me in the right direction on what I need to do and when I should do it? I have a few small lumber yards close by plus the two big box stores then I can purchase whatever product from.

Thanks for your help :thumbsup:
 

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Too Short? Cut it Again!
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A sealer is usually as close to clear as you are going to get and made up of petroleum based or vegetable oils. Some like Thompson's water seal have wax in them. Not necessarily bad but using them definitely require annual (at least) attention and because of the wax you may never get a stain to look nice.

Stains range from transparent for use in evening out the color of wood to solid which lets the grain show through solid pigments but hides the natural wood color completely. Solid stains are not a good choice for horizontal deck surfaces.

What you do want is a product with as much UV protection to it as you can find. And buy good quality sealer or stain from a reputable paint store. You do not want box store high margin crap at this point.

You do not need to cover your cedar deck to protect it from rain immediately but do plan finishing it soon. You will not be able to stain or seal PT wood for 6-12 months.
 

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Too Short? Cut it Again!
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If the color is even or you are content with it you can start with a clear sealer. The UV protection will discolor it a bit. You can always switch to a transparent or thicker stain as your deck ages. If you stay on top of it with quality products you will be able to keep it looking natural for some time to come. Just budget time and money for re-sealing annually. If it doesn't end up needing it fine. But best to have the mindset.
 
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