The best way to preserve and extend the life of your outdoor wood furniture is to keep the wood protected with products like wood stain or paint. We always recommend finishes that are outdoor rated and include active UV inhibitors to prevent premature fading. A typical finish will last 2-4 years before require refinishing. The less exposure your wood furniture has to sun, wind, rain, and snow, the longer it will last. Woods that are stained or painted should be sanded and re-stained or repainted as needed to protect the elements from penetrating the surface. Wood left in direct contact with wet surfaces will quickly become saturated and prematurely deteriorate the finish. When wood does get wet, dry it off as quickly as possible. Frequently exposed to harsh conditions or damp surfaces, wood furniture will begin to show signs of wear and deterioration. Signs of damage may include checking (cracking or splitting), swelling, rotting, and discoloration.
Care & Cleaning
Finally, dirt build-up leads to deterioration, so keeping your outdoor wood furniture clean will give it a longer life. Clean it well two or three times per year with water, mild soap, and a soft cloth. (This is also the perfect time for a periodic hardware check.) We recommend using a product specifically designed for cleaning wood furniture. Hose it down before you start to remove cobwebs and caked-on dirt. Do not use abrasive cleaners, bleach, or scouring products that will affect the finish. Dry the furniture thoroughly when done.
If you plan to use your furniture outdoors totally uncovered we recommend adding a polyurethane, varnish, or lacquer coating. It can easily be applied on top of our finishes. We have included a brief overview of each option below. We recommend contacting your local paint shop for their specific recommendation. Their recommendation will be best for your local climate and weather conditions.
Polyurethane sealants contain, in addition to acrylic and polyurethane resins, various other solvents, helping you choose your favorite finish effect—anywhere on the spectrum from a high-gloss shine to a gentle, soft sheen. Today’s polyurethane won’t yellow, so it’s a good choice for light-toned woods. Oil-based polyurethane offers the greatest durability, but brush cleanup requires mineral spirits or turpentine. With water-based polyurethane, cleanup is a snap with soap and water.
Varnish, a combination of resin, solvent, and drying oil, gives a hard-shell finish that resists scratches without yellowing. To waterproof wood that will be placed outdoors, choose marine varnish, which contains UV absorbers to resist sun damage. Clean brushes with turpentine or mineral spirits.
Lacquer, a mixture of dissolved tree resin or synthetic resin in alcohol, is the sealant of choice for wood furniture. While it can develop a yellowish tinge over time that’s considered unattractive on lighter woods, lacquer brings out a rich, warm, and uniquely scratch-resistant finish on deep-toned wood. It’s available in a variety of sheen choices, and can be thinned with lacquer thinner. For optimum results, apply lacquer in multiple light coats. Note: Lacquer emits off strong fumes, so ventilation is absolutely essential; work outdoors or open windows and use fans.