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

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Owning and maintaining a home is a lot of work. Furnishing the outdoors is as important as furnishing the indoors. However, the outdoor elements can be harsh and can ruin these pieces easily. It is good to know your options for making your furniture last longer.

So, our woodworkers will detail the necessary information on how to protect outdoor wood furniture.

Method #1: Protect With Paint

Painting your outdoor wooden furniture is a good way to protect outdoor furniture from the elements. Painting a good layer of paint can help block sunlight from interacting with the wood’s exterior.



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

Applying marine varnish to the wood’s exterior is also sealing the surface. Applying spar varnish can effectively protect the wood from water and allows the natural wood look to shine through.



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

Applying penetrating oil to finish wood is another effective way of protecting wood. However, make sure to remove the old finish before applying this product. 



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

You can also seal the exterior of the wood. This is a very advantageous method if you live in an area that receives a lot of rain. A sealant can prevent water from penetrating into the wood. You can use either a lacquer or polyurethane sealants for this method.



Method #5: Move Your Outdoor Wood Furniture

moving furniture

It is also recommended to move your outdoor furniture away from areas that receive more extreme outdoor conditions. You can easily move these to a protected area. You do not need to purchase any product and all you need is some strength and elbow grease.



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. We 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. We suggest covering 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.


Protecting outdoor wood furniture from harsh elements will allow these exterior items to last longer. So knowing how to protect outdoor wood furniture properly is key to making the pieces serve their purpose for years to come.

By following this guide, you’re assured that your wood furniture will thrive outside without worrying about major damages.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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