The Complete Guide to Protecting Outdoor Wood Furniture

Spending time outdoors is one of life’s great joys. Lounging on the patio or deck with family and friends makes for lasting memories. To fully enjoy your outdoor living space, invest in high-quality, long-lasting outdoor furniture. Wood is a classic choice, elegant and durable when properly maintained. However, without the right care, outdoor wood furniture can quickly deteriorate. Follow this complete guide to learn the secrets of preserving your beautiful wood furnishings.

Outdoor wood furniture faces endless assaults from the elements. Rain, humidity, harsh UV rays, and wide temperature swings can wreak havoc on finish and structure. Don’t let Mother Nature destroy your valuable furniture investment. A little TLC along with some preventative measures will keep your outdoor wood pieces looking pristine for years of enjoyment.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Furniture Wood

Not all wood is created equal when it comes to outdoor performance. Opt for a dense hardwood with natural weather and insect resistance. Teak, cedar, redwood, and cypress have high oil content to repel water. The oil also contains compounds to deter pests. Here are characteristics of top wood choices:

  • Teak – Extremely dense grain, naturally rich in oil. Withstands sun, rain, and seaside environments.
  • Cedar – Lovely reddish hue. Resists rot, warping, and insects. Offers a clean aroma.
  • Redwood – Impervious to moisture and insects. Stays cooler under direct sun than other woods.
  • Cypress – Pretty grain pattern. Durable against decay and pests. Handles moisture well.

While beautiful, some wood types are too porous for outdoor furniture. Pine and fir absorb water readily, expand and contract in changing humidity, and require constant sealing. Save these softer woods for protected interior spaces.

Prepping and Sealing the Wood

Proper prep lays the foundation for maximum surface protection. Once assembled, thoroughly clean your outdoor furniture with a wood cleaner or mild detergent. For tables, address the undersides and ends of legs as well. Allow surfaces to fully dry.

best protection for outdoor wood furniture

Next, apply a wood conditioner to fill any cracks or crevices with a sealing agent. This keeps water from penetrating into the grain. Follow with a preservative to guard against rot, decay, and boring insects.

Now you’re ready to apply the optimal outdoor finish . Consider location and personal aesthetics when selecting your sealer:

  • Oil-based varnishes and paints create the most durable protective film.
  • Spar varnish resists UV damage, ideal for direct sun.
  • Look for Urethane fortified paints and varnishes.
  • Stains allow the wood’s grain to show through.
  • Polyurethane adds extra waterproofing in humid climates.
  • Tung oil deeply penetrates to protect from inside out.

For extremely wet areas, apply a marine grade wood stabilizer . This seals porous woods to prevent swelling, shrinking, and cracking.

Proper Maintenance and Care

Don’t assume your initial sealing job will suffice forever. Outdoor wood furniture requires routine maintenance to look its best. Follow these tips for keeping your treasured furniture well-protected:

  • Wash regularly with mild detergent and rinse well with clean water.
  • Inspect for any cracks in the finish; repair immediately to prevent water damage.
  • Check for mold or mildew, especially in hidden crevices, and treat any you find.
  • Look for signs of aging: dullness, flaking, or peeling. Refinish as needed.
  • Reseal any unfinished edges or ends of legs where moisture can enter.
  • Reapply protective sealant or finish every 1-3 years depending on product.

A little periodic elbow grease keeps your outdoor wood furniture looking like new. Spot clean spills before they can stain. Address any issues promptly to avoid costly repairs down the road.

Using Furniture Covers

When not in use, protect your outdoor furniture further with weather resistant covers. Choose fabric designed to be breathable yet waterproof. Look for features like:

  • Sturdy padded handles to prevent ripping
  • Fabric flaps to securely anchor covers
  • Vents to allow airflow and prevent moisture buildup
  • UV resistance to prevent sun damage

Tailored, fitted covers provide the best shield from rain, snow, wind, falling leaves, and debris. Make sure to securely fasten covers so they don’t blow loose in gusts of wind. Remove covers periodically to check for any moisture accumulation.

Additional Shelter and Storage

Permanent structures in your outdoor living space help protect wood furnishings when not in use. Consider installing:

  • A pergola or trellis with dense vegetation for dappled shade
  • Patio umbrellas to block direct overhead sunlight
  • An awning or roof overhang above seating areas
  • Gazebos with full roof and side coverage

During cold or wet seasons, store furniture in a shed, garage, or covered basement where it’s shielded from the elements. For pieces remaining outdoors year-round, elevate off the ground and allow for airflow all around.

Placement and Other Care Tips

Proper placement plays a role in keeping outdoor wood furniture looking its best. Remember these tips:

  • Avoid direct sun when possible to limit UV damage
  • Allow good airflow around furniture to prevent moisture buildup
  • Quickly wipe spills and standing water; don’t let moisture soak in
  • Use washable, weatherproof seat cushions and pillows
  • Move pieces into a garage or shed during extreme weather

Little things make a difference over time. Periodically check for splinters, loose joinery, or hardware. Address any issues promptly to avoid further deterioration.

When to Call a Professional

Some circumstances call for an expert’s skill and know-how. Seek professional help:

  • For repairing significant damage like deep cracks, peeling, mold, or infestations
  • If you lack the time for proper cleaning and refinishing
  • To service intricate, high-end outdoor furniture sets
  • For advice choosing optimal products and application techniques

Don’t let years of weathering ruin your investment. At the first sign of trouble, contact a reputable outdoor furniture pro. Look for specialists certified in maintenance and repair.

Follow this outdoor wood furniture care guide and enjoy your beautiful pieces for seasons to come. A little time invested on the front end will pay off for years down the road. With proper prep, sealing, maintenance, and storage, your outdoor wood furniture will provide lasting quality and enjoyment. Here’s to relaxing times ahead on your patio, porch, or deck alongside family, friends, and beautiful furnishings.

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