Wood furniture is stunning, so it is no wonder that many want to use it outdoors. However, without the right preparation, your furniture will only last you a season or two. Read below to learn how you can treat wood furniture for outdoor use so you can enjoy it for years to come.

The Sealant

When it comes to maintaining the look and quality of your wood furniture when used outdoors, the sealant is key. There are a few different options, but spar varnish should work no matter how your furniture is finished: stained, painted, or all-natural.

Spar varnish is designed to help wood furniture withstand the elements. In fact, it got its name due to its use on boats. While it is very strong, you should still recoat every two years or so to ensure that it maintains its strength and continues protecting the wood.

Spar varnish should be applied in two coats. Ensure that with both coats, you get the varnish into every nook and cranny, otherwise these unsealed areas will deteriorate as they are exposed to the elements. The first coat should be 25 percent varnish, 75 percent mineral spirits. Once it dries, you use 150 grit sandpaper to sand it very lightly, then use a cloth with mineral spirits to wipe it clean. Once the surface is free of debris, you apply a coat with equal parts varnish and mineral spirits. Once it dries, you are good to go.

Unfinished Furniture

If you are making your own furniture or you are working with an unfinished piece, follow the steps below.

  1. Start out by sanding the wood smooth. If you are making the piece, do this before it is assembled. You want to ensure that you have a nice, even surface so you can get the best result.
  2. If you want to stain or paint the wood, this is when you will do it. Steps for staining or painting the wood are found below in the finished pieces section. Keep in mind that this is not necessary; just using a clear varnish will bring out the natural beauty of the wood.
  3. Seal the furniture, using the method above.
  4. Once dried, assemble and place the furniture.

Finished Pieces

If you are looking to take finished indoor furniture and make it work outdoors, your steps will be a little more complicated, but should not be too difficult. Whether you are painting or staining, the start of your process will be the same.

  1. Change the glue used in the joints to hold the piece together. Indoor pieces are held together with glue that is meant to hold up in a climate-controlled environment. Once you decide to move the piece outdoors, you will need to change it to weather-proof glue. To accomplish this, you may need to disassemble the piece, sand down the current glue, and replace it with weather-proof wood glue.
  2. Remove the current finish so you can replace it with weather-proof options. If you must disassemble the piece to change the glue, you can do this before applying the glue and reassembling the piece. If you did not need to disassemble, then this will be your second step. Most finishes can be sanded off, but you might want to invest in or rent a power sander if your piece is large, or if you desire to weather-proof multiple pieces.
  3. Clean away any debris left over from the sanding.
  4. Decide if you want to paint the piece or if you want to stain the piece. Painted furniture tens to hold up better against the rays of the sun, but you should opt for the look you want.

For Painted Furniture

  1. Apply exterior primer to form your base coat. Allow this to dry completely.
  2. Apply exterior latex or oil-based paint, using as many coats as you need to get the look you want.
  3. Apply the sealant following the directions above.

For Stained Furniture

  1. Apply wood filler for an even surface. Think of this as the primer step when staining furniture.
  2. Apply the stain to the wood until you get the depth you desire. It is a good idea to start light and then go back over a few times to ensure you do not go too dark.
  3. Apply the sealant following the directions above.

General Tips

  • Do not leave the furniture to dry outdoors; dirt and debris will lock into the finish.
  • Elevate future to prevent the base of the piece from being submerged in water during the rainy season.
  • During the colder months, store or cover the furniture to protect it.

And just like that, you will have lovely, outdoor, wooden furniture that you can enjoy. If you feel as though the job is too much to take on, professionals such as those at Rahn’s Furniture Restoration can take care of the work for you.

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