How To Finish Your Outdoor Furniture and Keep Them Looking Good

When the summer arrives, and it’s time to display those garden furniture, you would want them looking their best for when friends and family come over. To do so, you will have to give your outdoor furniture the protection they need as the sun can turn them grey, and rain can lead to wood rotting. Therefore it is essential to choose the right products when it comes to finishing your outdoor furniture.

The process of finishing interior wood might be similar to exterior wood finishing, but the products you choose will differ for various reasons. Any exterior wood surfaces will need extra protection against the harsh elements, whether it is the siding of your home, a deck surface, or outdoor furniture. Things to keep in mind when it comes to exterior finishing include wood, hardware, wood species, glue selections, and what you want the final project to look like as it weathers. Here are some things to keep in mind for your finishing project.

Make Sure You Have The Proper Furniture For Outside

Not all furniture made from wood is tough enough for the outdoors as moisture and insects can damage them rather quickly. Therefore, double-check whether your “outdoor furniture” is made from the right type of wood species before you expose them to the outside elements.

Wood species that can withstand harsh weather the best include white oak, cedar, Spanish cedar, cypress, redwood, longleaf pine, teak, and true mahoganies.

Choose Between Sanding or Finishing

Like mentioned before, some furniture made from wood can deteriorate when kept outdoors, which means that you will have to put a finish on them to protect them.

However, if your furniture is made of the wood species mentioned above, then you can even skip the finishing process altogether. However, if you choose this option, you can still decrease deterioration by sanding them smoothly, as this will lessen moisture penetration.

Refreshing Your Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture that is left bare might eventually stain or streak over time. So if you already have furniture with stains or streaks or you are thinking about leaving them bare, then do not worry.

When the time comes to refresh their look, you can give them a good clean and use a wood bleach to remove stains or streaks. This will give your outdoor furniture a brand new appearance.

Remove Mildew From Outdoor Furniture

Mildew can be a big problem in certain climates. Not only will mildew affect the look of your outdoor furniture, but it will make the wood weak. To get rid of this problem, you can mix a quarter of laundry bleach in a gallon of water and clean your furniture with the solution.

Use a scrub brush, and be sure to wear gloves, protective eye-wear and keep the solution away from plants.

Avoid Rust On Fasteners and Hardware

If your furniture contains screws, nails, nuts, bolts, hinges, etc., then you would want to make sure they don’t rust and ruin the look of your wooden piece.

Therefore if you are uncertain whether these parts of the furniture are rust-resistant, then you can always coat these areas with a rust protector or rust-tough enamel. If rust stains are already present, then bleach will help to remove the discoloration.

Applying Outdoor Furniture Oil

There are plenty of oil finishes on the market, but in this case, it is essential to choose an oil finish that is intended mainly for outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture oil can be used on softwood and hardwood and can even increase the quality of the wood furniture.

Oils dry very slowly, which allows the finish to penetrate deep within the wood. While an oil finish might be enough to protect your outdoor furniture, it might not be enough for specific woods, and it will take coats to build up a thick enough protection.

Make sure you choose an oil that is resistant to water and which offers some UV resistance as well. Outdoor oil finishes will give your wood some protection while enhancing the look of the furniture at the same time. Outdoor furniture oil needs to be reapplied each year, but luckily it is not very difficult to do.

Using Epoxy To Seal End Grain

Epoxy is a resin that can be used to seal the wood surface. A thin layer of resin can be applied and be left to cure, which will seal the end grain to prevent moisture from weakening the furniture.

If you choose to finish your outdoor furniture with a resin, then you can expect a hard, shell-like finish. Most resins do not have a high oil content which leaves little flexibility and penetration. Therefore it might be a good idea to apply an oil finish before applying the resin.  Epoxy can also be used to fix rotting areas.

Clear Wood Finish To Protect and Keep The Natural Look

If you want to keep the color, wood stains, or natural look of your furniture, then you would want to opt for a clear varnish.  A clear varnish will keep the original look visible, and at the same time, provide gloss protection.

Keep in mind that some varnishes will break down in direct sunlight, so you will have to recoat your outdoor furniture as soon as you recognize fading. The best varnish to choose for outdoor furniture is spar varnish, as it is designed to withstand the rigorous conditions. With spar varnish, you can sand and recoat the wood when you notice chalking from the top.

Painting Your Furniture

If you want to change the appearance of your outdoor furniture completely, then you can paint them. However, for furniture that is going to be exposed to the outside environment, you will need to choose an exterior-grade paint.

This kind of paint is the most robust exterior finish available. An excellent paint finish might be enough, but for the best effect, you can use epoxy on the appropriate end grain areas. First, you will need to apply a quality exterior primer before finishing it off with quality paint or enamel.

Final Thought

As you can see, there are various ways to make your outdoor pieces look good and protect them at the same time. Depending on the type of wood species they are made off, and what results you want to achieve, you can always combine finishes to get the most durable outcome. For example, you can apply an oil varnish followed by a resin coating or an exterior paint color followed by a clear varnish. Whatever you choose, make sure to clean and dry your furniture before applying any finish.

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