how to seal wood furniture for outdoors

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When it comes to outdoor furniture, wood is a popular choice due to its aesthetic appeal and durability. However, exposure to the elements can take a toll on wood furniture, causing it to warp, crack, rot or fade over time. To preserve its beauty and extend its lifespan, it's essential to apply a protective sealant that can shield the wood from moisture, UV radiation, and other environmental factors. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to seal wood furniture for outdoors.

Step 1: Choose the Right Sealant

Before you start sealing your wood furniture, it's important to choose the right sealant for your specific needs. There are various types of sealants available on the market, including oil-based, water-based, and shellac-based sealants. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it's crucial to read the labels carefully and consider the type of wood you have, the climate you live in, and the amount of exposure to sunlight and water the furniture will receive. Some sealants are better suited for hardwoods like teak and mahogany, while others work well on softwoods like cedar and pine. Oil-based sealants tend to last longer and penetrate deeper into the wood, but they can take longer to dry and may emit harmful fumes. Water-based sealants are eco-friendly and dry quicker, but they may not be as durable or moisture-resistant as oil-based sealants. Shellac-based sealants offer a glossy finish and are easy to apply, but they are not recommended for use in humid or wet conditions.

Step 2: Preparing the Wood Surface

The next step is to properly prepare the wood surface before applying the sealant. This involves cleaning off any dirt, debris, or old finishes that may be present on the surface. Use a stiff-bristled brush or a power washer to scrub the surface thoroughly, or sand it lightly to remove any rough spots or splinters. After cleaning, allow the wood to dry completely for at least 24 hours before applying the sealant.

Step 3: Applying the Sealant

Once the wood surface is clean and dry, it's time to apply the sealant. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and apply a thin, even layer of sealant using a brush, roller, or spray gun. Pay extra attention to the end grain, as it tends to absorb more moisture than the rest of the wood. Make sure the sealant penetrates deeply into the wood and covers all areas, including the underside and the joints. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying a second coat, if necessary.

Step 4: Caring for the Sealed Furniture

After sealing your wood furniture for outdoors, it's important to maintain it properly to ensure it lasts for a long time. Regular cleaning and inspections will help prevent dirt buildup, mold growth, and water damage. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down the furniture periodically, and avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that can damage the sealant. If you notice any cracks or chips in the sealant, apply a new coat to those areas immediately to prevent moisture from penetrating the wood.


Sealing wood furniture for outdoors is an essential step in protecting your investment and making it last for years to come. By selecting the right sealant, preparing the wood surface, and applying the sealant carefully, you can ensure your outdoor furniture remains beautiful and functional for seasons to come. Remember to maintain your sealed furniture properly and inspect it regularly to catch any issues early on. With the right care, your wood furniture can withstand the elements and continue to grace your outdoor space with natural beauty.


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