Any time you are using cedar deck boards to build a deck or raised walk way, you have to decide whether you want to treat, seal, and stain the boards. Each of these processes requires the appropriate types of products. You also have to take the time to complete each one into your project schedule, as the boards have to be fully dried before applying the next product. Some products may incorporate each of these items into an all-in-one product only requiring a few applications. Remember to check with your lumber supplier to verify the most appropriate products for your kind of wood.
Certain cuts of cedar deck boards may not require pre-treating. For instance, if you are using the heartwood, it already contains natural extractives that are toxic to decay-causing fungi, so no preservative treatments are required. In this case, you are free to move along to sealing and staining the boards.
The primary reason for treating, sealing, and staining the boards is to increase their durability over a longer period of time. If you intend to keep the deck for 25 years or more, and not want to worry about replacing it, then you need to complete these processes. You also have to remember to perform regular annual inspections and maintenance to your cedar deck boards and reapply products, from time to time. An alternative, if you do not want to have to worry about completing these processes, is to look at one of the Brazilian hardwoods, instead, as these types of wood require no treating, sealing, or staining.