How to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture From the Sun, Rain, & Other Elements

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Owning and taking care of a home can be quite a task. Just like you make your indoor spaces comfy and stylish, your outdoor areas deserve the same attention. But the great outdoors can be a tough place for your furniture. 

The weather and other elements can wear them down faster than you’d like. If this is your dilemma, I’m here to share valuable insights on how to safeguard your outdoor wooden furniture so it can withstand the test of time.

Method #1: Protect With Paint

Coating your outdoor wooden furniture serves as a smart strategy for shielding it against nature’s elements. By applying a solid layer of paint, you create a barrier that keeps the sun’s rays from affecting the wood’s surface. 

This preservation method can significantly extend the life of your cherished outdoor pieces.



How to Apply Paint

Before applying the paint, make sure to apply a primer and lightly sand the surface. Once you are ready to apply the paint, use a paintbrush and apply along the grain of the wood. 

cedar wood turning into gray

Method #2: Finishing With Spar Varnish

When you apply marine varnish to the outside of wood, you’re essentially sealing it up. This sealing action, especially when using spar varnish, does a remarkable job of safeguarding the wood against water damage. 

What’s even better is that it lets the wood’s natural beauty come to the forefront, making it gleam with its original charm.



How to Apply Spar Varnish

  1. Apply the varnish using a paintbrush with natural bristles or a foam brush
  2. Do not over-brush the exterior with the product to prevent air bubbles from forming
  3. Let the coat dry for approximately 8 hours and apply another coat

Method #3: Finishing Wood With Penetrating Oil

penetraiting oil

Utilizing penetrating oil as a wood finish is an effective method for safeguarding wood surfaces. However, it is essential to ensure the removal of the existing finish before applying this product.

By following this important step, you can ensure that the penetrating oil creates a durable and protective layer that enhances the appearance and resilience of the wood.



How to Apply Penetrating Oils

  1. Stir the product well.
  2. Clean the exterior
  3. Apply a coat of the oil all over the surface using a brush
  4. Allow for the oil soak up to the exterior
  5. Reapply the product to areas you may have missed
  6. Allow the  oil to dry

Method #4: Use Sealants

When it comes to safeguarding your wooden surfaces, sealing the exterior is a smart move, especially in rainy regions. Think of it as a protective shield for your wood. It’s like putting up an umbrella to keep the rain away. 

To do this, you have a choice between two types of sealants: lacquer and polyurethane. These sealants work like magic, keeping water at bay and your wood looking its best.



Method #5: Move Your Outdoor Wood Furniture

moving furniture

To keep your outdoor furniture in top shape, it’s a smart move to relocate it away from spots where it gets hit by harsh weather. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a dime on fancy products; all it takes is a little muscle and some effort. 

Just find a sheltered spot and use your own power to shift the furniture there. Your outdoor pieces will thank you for it!



Method #6: Use Furniture Covers

Another method is by using furniture covers to protect your pieces. These covers can easily block UV light [1] as well as moisture. Make sure you get the proper and correct size of the cover for your furniture.



More Tips to Protect Exterior Furniture

Here are some more tips on what to do to protect your outdoor wood furniture pieces. Follow these tips to help your wood furniture last a long time even in the face of the most unforgiving of weather.

Keep Your Outdoor Furniture Clean

Keeping the area and your furniture clean is also a good method to keep your pieces protected from outside elements and maintain their natural color. Removing dirt, mold, and mud can help your outdoor wood furniture last a long time.

Anchor Your Outdoor Furniture

In an area with strong winds, it is best to anchor your furniture. I suggest to secure your outdoor furniture pieces by stacking the chairs when not in use or tying down the cushions to the furniture. 

stacking chairs

Make sure that all pieces are secured. Cover these pieces with a tarpaulin or any cover if you do not plan to use them for a period of time. 

Use Appropriate Storage (Off-Season Outdoor Furniture Storage)

If you live in areas where winter occurs make sure you have the necessary storage for your furniture. It is best to store these pieces during the off-season since exposing them to varying water conditions is not a great idea. This can lead to mold.

Protect Their Cushion Fabric With Spray-On Sun & Water Shields

It is also wise to protect the cushion fabric with spray on the sun and water shields. If your fabrics are not yet protected it is best to apply some products like Scotchguard Sun and Water Shield to protect them from sun damage. 

This product has a spray-on application. It dries down without emitting any odor and can effectively repel water and does now lead to yellowing or color fading. 

Use Paste Wax on Metal & Aluminum Wood Furniture

If you have metal and aluminum furniture you can protect it by applying paste wax. Metals are highly prone to rust and corrosion. Make sure to apply a layer of primer prior to applying the paste.

applying wax

Applying a Plastic Furniture Protectant

Continuous exposure to the sun can result in color fading of your furniture. It is a good decision to apply a plastic furniture protectant which can prevent this from happening. The protectant acts similarly to sunscreen.

How to Protect Exterior Wood Furniture From the Rain

Rain can easily destroy your pieces and it is best to protect outdoor wood furniture from it. You can easily achieve this by following these ways which include: applying paint, sealing the pieces, varnishing the pieces, covering the items, and changing the location.

How Can You Waterproof Wood Furniture for Outdoor Use?

You can waterproof wood furniture for the outdoors which will protect wood from the elements. Here are two of the most popular and main methods to do so.

More waterproofing tips for you:

Using Tung Oil or Linseed Oil

Like how you treat pallet wood for exterior use, waterproofing your furniture using oil is the most accessible and easiest way. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Stir the product well
  2. Clean the exterior and sand 
  3. Apply a coat of the oil all over the exterior using a brush
  4. Allow the wood surface to soak up the product
  5. Reapply the product to areas you may have missed
  6. Allow the  oil to dry completely
  7. You can apply a third coat if necessary
tung oil waterproofing

Using Sealant

Sealing is another way to waterproof a surface. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Clean the exterior and sand it. 
  2. Apply the sealant all over the exterior using a paintbrush
  3. Allow the product to penetrate the exterior
  4. Let the product dry out completely
  5. Sand the entire exterior
  6. Reapply the sealant and let it dry completely.


Ensuring the longevity of your outdoor wood furniture in the face of nature’s challenges is crucial. To achieve this, it’s vital to understand the proper methods of safeguarding these pieces.

Hopefully, this guide imparts valuable knowledge on how to protect your outdoor wood furniture effectively. With these insights, you can rest assured that your cherished pieces will endure the outdoor elements without suffering significant harm.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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