How to Waterproof Wood Furniture for the Outdoors

by balconyboss
Published: Updated:
an outdoor brown table getting soaked with water
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If you have wooden furniture that is kept outdoors on your patio, deck, balcony or any other outdoor space, then you need to waterproof it in order to keep it in top shape. Waterproofing wood furniture will help protect it from the elements, reduce the chances of serious water damage, and ensure that your furniture has a longer lifespan. The following guide will help you understand how to waterproof wood furniture for the outdoors.

What to Know Before You Start

There are a few things you should keep in mind before you begin the process.

  • Not all wooden furniture needs to be waterproofed, so it’s best to research your particular wood before you begin. Certain outdoor furniture, like teak, for example, don’t require any maintenance.
  • Keep in mind that painted wooden furniture needs an additional step before you begin: it must be thoroughly cleaned with wood-safe detergent, water and cleaning brush. Allow the furniture to dry for at least 3 hours before you begin the rest of the process.
  • Consider the type of sealant you’re using before you begin; for instance, some types of sealants have a glossy finish while others are matte. This will affect the look of your furniture.
  • Always work in a ventilated area when using sealants, as the fumes can cause health problems; wear a respirator mask and gloves for maximum protection.

What You’ll Need

The following are the basic items that you will need if you want to waterproof your wooden furniture for the outdoors.

  • Sealant (Polyurethane, varnish or lacquer)
  • Sandpaper (fine grit)
  • Rags
  • Paintbrush
  • Cleaning brush
  • Wood stain (optional)

Steps to Waterproof Wood Furniture

Remember to follow these steps in order to get the best results for waterproofed wood furniture that can be set outdoors.

Note: If your wooden furniture is painted, as noted above, make sure that you wash it with wood-safe detergent and scrub it with a cleaning brush. Allow the furniture to dry for at least 3 hours or until it is completely dry before you continue to the following steps.

1. Clean your wood with water

If your wood is not painted, you only need to clean it with warm water and a cleaning brush. Scrub thoroughly and allow to dry for several hours or overnight.

2. Sand your wood

Next, sand your wooden furniture lightly with a fine grit sandpaper.

3. (Optional Step): Apply your wood stain

If you are going to apply wood stain to your furniture, you should do it after you clean and sand your wood but before you apply sealant. Use a paintbrush to apply the stain.

4. Apply your sealant

Finally, you should apply your chosen sealant carefully and efficiently using a clean brush. Remember to note the safety warnings regarding the sealant you choose, as some (such as lacquer) absolutely must be done with maximum ventilation.

You may also want to consider sealants which have built-in stains; this will save you time and energy, as you won’t need to complete the previous optional step.

Your wooden furniture is now ready to dry. Allow it to dry for at least 24 hours before exposing it to any rainy or wet conditions; if rain is in the forecast, cover the furniture with a tarp to protect it from the rain.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide has given you the necessary information you need to waterproof your wood furniture. Remember, though, to always research the wood you’re working with before you start. You might even get lucky and not need to do anything!