How To Protect Wood Outdoors

July 2, 2021

Weather-proofing and outdoor wood care.

If you put indoor furniture outside, you can expect weathering damage. You won’t get the same life from indoor furniture compared to its pressure-treated and rot-resistant counterparts! However, protection from the elements still matter. 

Are you planning to place your favorite wooden table set as a picnic place outdoors? Or maybe there’s a beautiful garden spot you can set down your rocking chair on, overlooking the houses nearby. Whatever the case is, you can get the most life out of wood furniture outdoors still! Just follow our steps in this article. Read on! 

Major Purposes of Outdoor Wood Treatments


When we think of weatherproofing, we think of intense UV rays and frequent storms. However, weatherproofing is more than that! You can protect the wood from humidity, frost, insects, and mildew. While it won’t grant your furniture absolute immunity, you can protect it enough to have a long lifespan.

Let’s compare it to human beings. Whenever we know the weather isn’t going to be agreeable, we wear sunscreen. We have umbrellas and raincoats out. We use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts. 

It’s the same case with weatherproofing furniture. It won’t wholly push weather issues out of the picture, but it helps! Apply multiple coats of wood finish, and you can make your wood last longer than usual. 

However, it isn’t that easy. You should prime the surface first, top it with latex or oil-based paint, and coat the layers with spar varnish. Make sure all the products you use are for exterior purposes and have UV blockers. They can add extra protection, too! 

If you’re dealing with untreated wood, it’s not the best idea to use penetrating finishes. They don’t offer enough protection! 


Waterproofing can protect your wood furniture from thunderstorms to accidental spills. Stains and paints usually have this feature as a standard safeguard against natural wear and tear. 

Waterproofed stains can match new wood and enhance old wood. Whatever your case is, you end up with a unique style to match the rest of your home or make your old wood new again. We recommend using an exterior stain and sealer to make your fresh paint or stain job stick around for longer! 

There’s no downside to waterproofing. It’ll have a longer shelf life, become more aesthetically pleasing, and strengthen itself! You can worry less about wood degrading into a moldy breeding ground. When you waterproof wood, you prevent moisture from coming in and ruining the furniture’s very structure. 

6 Best Methods to Protect Your Outdoor Wood Furniture

Wood furniture is visually striking outdoors, but you want to give it every sort of protection possible. Rotting wood leads to unsightly discoloration and mildew! 

You can explore more about different types of protection coatings for outdoor wood furniture.

For the best tips for your outdoor wood furniture, read the methods below: 

1) Paint

It’s easy to do! One coat of paint is enough to protect your wood against the elements. You’re sacrificing that natural look, but you have sturdier, longer-lasting wood as a pay-off. If possible, go for latex-based paint. It lasts longer, so you can save time on touching up the surface. 

Instead of leaving your wooden outdoor furniture to the elements, paint it over. Your chosen paint reflects UV radiation, protecting the wood underneath. Keep in mind that you can’t just paint your furniture and leave it be! Maintain the color and keep it from fading, chipping, or peeling. Reapply it now and then to make the most out of your furniture. 

Plus, you can quickly fix flaws with paint. Add the right color, and your furniture is going to stand out, looking good as new. You can even choose to turn a plain old piece of furniture into a work of art!

2) Sealers

Enhance and protect your wooden furniture with sealers. Most sealers penetrate wood deeply, going into the cellular structure, and don’t sit on the surface. Deep-penetrating sealers allow the most significant amount of protection for an extended period! 

You can add tints and glosses, too. Various hues are available to enhance the wood’s natural beauty or make old wooden furniture seem brand new. 

If you don’t want tinted or glossy versions to keep that natural wooden aesthetic, get a water sealant instead. Water sealants prevent moisture from getting into the furniture, but damp parts can dry faster. That way, you ensure there’s no rotting, splitting, or warping at all! 

3) Penetrating Oil

Just a couple of coats is enough for protective wood coats to take action. Your wood won’t absorb moisture or UV light! You can treat oils like wood stains. Natural hues can let wood age naturally while keeping it in a high-quality condition.

Plus, oils don’t leave a film. Even if your wood warps, contracts, or expands, the wood won’t crack, chip, or peel. You can refinish anytime you like. 

For a richer color, apply up to three coats of oil. You need to maintain and reapply the oils every two years, but wear and tear can whittle this number down to one year. 


4) Varnish

Exterior wood needs a specific type of varnish. While you may see an abundance of varnishes on the market, it doesn’t mean that you can use them! The majority of them aren’t good for outdoor wooden furniture. 

Remember: wood expands and contracts according to the temperature, though we may not see it. Dry weather can cause shrinkage, while humid weather may cause the wood to expand. 

Varnish sits on the wood’s surface so that it won’t adapt, absorb, or flex according to the structure. If you’re lost on what varnish to buy, we recommend spar varnish. 

Spar varnish is popular among boat owners. Wooden ships have these to mitigate harsh sea conditions! With that history, you know you can trust this polyurethane finish. When it dries, it forms a clear, hard film on the wood’s surface instead of getting absorbed. 

Can’t find spar varnish? The product may be hiding under a different name. Get marine varnish or spar urethane instead. Don’t worry – they’re the same thing!

5) Manage Weather Exposure

The best protection from exposure is no exposure at all. To keep your furniture safe from harsh weather conditions, move them under the shade. A shed or garage is enough. If you don’t have space, get fitted covers! Weather conditions may determine that you won’t be able to use the outdoor furniture anyways.

Luckily, there are a lot of patio furniture covers that can physically protect your furniture. You have to keep in mind that measurements matter. You want the cover to go over the pieces you want to protect and not be short on fabric. 

6) Think About Your Location

Location determines the weather conditions you’ll endure. It’s crucial to know what the typical weather is like around your area. It will dictate what product you eventually end up using. 

For example, a rainy town needs water sealants. Dry areas with a lot of sun need active UV protection. 

Beyond the general place, you should also get a feel of where you’re going to place your furniture. Even if the weather is hot, the shed you may be setting the wooden furniture in is dry and cool. Most protection only applies to furniture wholly exposed to the elements. Whatever the case is, you should act accordingly! 

Additional Tips and Tricks to Keep Outdoor Wood Protected

Practice Routine Maintenance

Maintenance doesn’t have to be every year. If you want to keep the premium quality of your wood, you can do lemon-oil treatments. Soak rags in lemon oil and wipe down your wood furniture with it once a month. That way, you prevent chips, splits, and cracks. 

If you’re going to apply more oil and waxes, don’t do it in the full sun. Move furniture to somewhere with shade, then apply it. When not in use, remove cushions. They can hide mold growth, dirt, and debris!

When harsh weather comes, have a dedicated space to protect your furniture. A garage is enough. Stormy weather or unusually severe sunny days are examples! 

Never Miss Annual Care

Remember that once-a-year maintenance? Add wood-sealing products for weathering damage every season. 

Wash furniture, let them dry, then use a pump sprayer to coat all your pieces. After the sealers dry, put the furniture in a cool, dry place. A couple of hours should be enough before you can use your pieces again!

Take Note of the Following Outdoor Wood Furniture Challenges

The very existence of wooden furniture is a challenge. Here are some survival obstacles they conquer: 

  • Biodegradable Material: We all know that most wood is biodegradable. If your furniture isn’t treated lumber or rot-resistant – and chances are, they aren’t – then they’re pretty vulnerable to rotting. It might take quicker than you think! This is why we carry as many protective measures as possible. After all, even rot-resistant furniture won’t be around forever. 
  • Construction: There is a world of difference between the construction of indoor and outdoor furniture. You’ll find that indoor furniture is made for delicate use – some are just for decoration! Fine joints, thin pieces, and veneers are mainstays of indoor furniture. Meanwhile, outdoor furniture is the exact opposite. Thick pieces and joints make up most of them. If you plan to move indoor furniture outside, remember that it isn’t made to withstand the elements. You’re inviting moisture, degradation, and decay if they are left outdoors!
  • Glue and Finish: If you want your furniture to have a fighting chance with the elements outdoors, use waterproof glue and exterior finishes. Both aren’t standard, so you have to seek them out! Interior adhesives and finishes are most common. Sadly, those degrade and loosen up easily. 

In Conclusion

There are multiple ways to protect your wood outdoors. One thing’s for sure: you should never underestimate the adverse effects of weather on wood! 

While we outlined several recommendations, you can use just one or everything at once. See what works for your location, schedule, and type of furniture. Don’t forget to factor in the budget as well! You want to get high-quality, cost-effective products. Read reviews in advance, and make sure you follow all directions. Don’t waste time – or your money! 

That’s a wrap for this article. We hope you enjoyed it! Do you have any questions or comments to share? Get in touch with us.

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