how to protect outdoor wood furniture
Kristina Davis

Worried about how to protect outdoor wood furniture and maintain its shine? Then you have landed at the right place!

The exposure of your wood furniture to an uncontrolled environment can shorten its lifespan.

Outdoor wood furniture requires more care, as it is prone to attack from natural elements such as insects, water, water vapor, dust, fungus, bacteria, rodents, ants, and birds.

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These organic elements can cause defects such as fungal damage, dry rot, heart rot, wet rot, white rot, holes, etc.

Ways to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

There are two tested and trusted ways of extending the lifespan of your outdoor wood furniture.

Depending on your preference and resources, either of the two methods is enough to protect your furniture.


paint outdoor wood furniture

Covering your exposed wood layers with latex paint or oil-based paint would go a long way in protecting your wood furniture from water or water vapor.

Latex paint is more durable compared to oil-based paint and it does not require regular repainting.

Although paint protects wood from moisture and water, it might not be effective against sun rays. Don’t bother if you plan to keep the furniture under the shade (absent sunlight).

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If it will be constantly exposed to sunlight, you should add multiple coats of exterior finish to make the coat wall solid.

To do this, apply quality exterior primer paint before topping it with exterior latex paint.

When it comes to painting, every joint and hidden corner matters. Leave no stone unturned.

Why? Insects don’t need much space to damage your wood. A tiny uncoated surface is enough.

The issue with painting is that it deprives you of the natural feel of the wooden furniture.

If you cannot afford to paint your wooden furniture, check out other options.

How to Paint Wood Furniture

The tools required to paint a piece of furniture include a paintbrush, paint roller, sanding block, paint, primer, grit sandpaper, tack cloth.

There are three types of grit sandpapers, namely coarse sandpaper (40-60 grit), medium sandpaper (80-120 grit), and fine sandpaper (220-240 grit).

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The grit value determines the fineness and smoothness of the wood surface.

You can decide to use a paintbrush, spray paint, or paint sprayer.

Spray paint does not need to be emptied into a spray bottle, as it comes with a spray bottle.

Follow the steps below to paint:

  • Dust the wood surface and get rid of all dirt.
  • Sand the furniture with the grit sandpaper. You can with the medium sandpaper before proceeding to the fine sandpaper.
  • Prepare the wood surface for painting using a primer. The primer helps the paint stick better. An oil-based primer works perfectly with an oil-based paint.
  • Sand again with a fine-grit sandpaper. This time, gently, in order to avoid damaging the applied primer. There’s no one rule for the number of times the wood surface should be sanded. You can sand for about 2-3 times.
  • Paint the wood furniture with your desired paint. If you want to seal the furniture after painting for additional protection, wait for the painted surface to dry.
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For those searching for how to waterproof painted wood furniture for outdoors, paint is a great option.


seal outdoor wood furniture

For people who want to retain the natural look, water sealant is their best option. Water sealants keep the rain or moisture away while catalyzing the drying process of damp wood parts.

There are several types of sealants, namely lacquer, polyurethane, and varnish.

You are good to go if you have any of the three water sealants. You can either use a brush or spray the sealant on the sanded wood surface.

How to Seal Wood Furniture

Follow the steps below to seal your wooden furniture with water sealant.

Step 1. Sand with Medium-grit Sandpaper

Medium grit sandpaper is between 80 and 120. There are other grit types, but a medium grit is fine for home furniture.

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Ensure you break all edges, meaning every edge should be sanded until it has a curve shape. Edges easily open up when it is bruised by an object.

Step 2. Clean Dust

Remove every trace of dust from the wooden furniture surface with tack clothes after sanding.

Step 3. Begin Upside Down

A good rule of thumb is to start spraying the wood furniture upside down when spraying.

This ensures that the piece is standing when ramping up the sealant application, preventing the upper part from being accompanied by dust, soil, or unwanted elements.


Try to keep the temperature of your surroundings at room temperature when applying a sealant.

Do not shake the sealant prior to spraying. Also, if you intend to use a brush, do not stir.

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Stirring or shaking the water sealants allows air bubbles to be trapped on the surface during and after the sealant dries.

If you are opting for varnish, clean the brush with mineral spirits or turpentine after use.

When you want to use oil-based polyurethane sealants, it is advisable to clean the brush with mineral spirits or turpentine after usage.

On the other hand, after using water-based polyurethane, clean the brush with a mixture of soap and water.

Types of Sealants

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Also, the chemical components used in making the three sealants differ by a great margin.


Varnish sealants leave a tough finish that prevents scratching and does not turn yellowish. It is made of solvent, resin, and drying oil.

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The best type of varnish for outdoor wood furniture is marine varnish.

The marine varnish can protect your wood from water and retain its quality when exposed to sun rays.

Polyurethane Sealants

Polyurethane sealants are manufactured with solvents, acrylic, and polyurethane resins. It can leave a gloss shine finish, or soft sheen finish.

Modern polyurethane water sealants are great for preventing scratches and don’t turn yellow.


outdoor wood furniture lacquer

Lacquer leaves a warm finish on deep-toned wood furniture and it does not scratch. Unlike, varnish and polyurethane, lacquer can turn yellowish over time.

The yellowish feel does not look desirable on lighter woods.

It is necessary to apply lacquer in a ventilated garage, as it gives out unhealthy fumes during application.


If you are searching for how to protect outdoor wood furniture from sun damage, a combination of paint and seal is enough.

Other Ways to Protect

Protecting your outdoor wooden furniture does not end with sealing and painting.

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There are other rules that should be followed if you want your wood piece to last long.

Reduce Exposure

When you are not using wood furniture or during harsh weather, it is advisable to keep it in the garage or store.

Do not forget to cover the furniture, so as to prevent dust from settling on the surface layer.

Understand Your Environment

Your weather is a great factor to consider when painting or sealing your wood furniture.

Rainy weather requires water sealant while desert areas call for heavy coat layers that would prevent the wood furniture from harsh sunlight.

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