Outdoor wood furniture can be a beautiful addition to your deck, porch, balcony, or backyard, but it also needs some care to withstand the elements. It can fade from the sun and be affected by rain and moisture. Luckily, you can take steps to protect your wooden furniture and extend its life. Here are some of the top tricks and tips from our Teak Master team to weatherproof your outdoor wooden furniture.
Prepping and Choosing Supplies Before You Start
Before you begin the waterproofing process, here are the items you’ll need to have on hand to weatherproof your wooden furniture properly:
- Sandpaper (fine grit).
- Penetrating or top coat sealant (polyurethane, varnish, or lacquer).
- Solid color stain.
- Semi-transparent stain and sealer.
- Rags (an old T-shirt also works well).
- Cleaning brush.
- Wood stain (optional).
- A respirator mask.
It’s essential to work on your furniture in a well-ventilated area. Sealants give off fumes that can cause health problems. Always wear a respirator mask to filter out particles and protect from fumes and gloves to protect your hands while working with different materials for maximum protection. Consider what result you want when choosing the type of sealant you’ll use. For example, some sealants provide a glossy finish, while others leave your wood with a matte finish.
Prepping the Wood
If your wooden furniture is already painted, it requires a thorough cleaning with water, wood-safe detergent, and a cleaning brush. After cleaning, you must allow at least three hours for the furniture to dry before applying any weatherproofing products. If it’s not fully dry after three hours, allow as much time as needed to completely dry. If your wood isn’t painted, it only requires cleaning with warm water and a cleaning brush. Give it a thorough scrubbing and allow it to dry overnight. Next, you’ll lightly sand your wood with a fine-grit sandpaper.
The next step is optional, depending on whether or not you’ll be staining your wood before sealing. If you’re using wood stain, it should only be applied after the cleaning and sanding step. Use a paintbrush to apply your stain. A synthetic bristle brush is a good choice. Allow it to fully dry for as long as needed before applying any sealants.
Why Should You Use a Wood Sealant?
The advantage of using a chemical water sealant is that it preserves the natural look of the wood grain instead of covering it as paint does. A sealant is a waterproofing method that seals the wood, protecting it from moisture and rain. Some sealants also provide a small degree of UV protection.
Types of Wood Sealants
Several sealants are available, depending on your desired results, the project, and the wood. These include:
- Polyurethane sealant. This type of sealant is usually reserved for use on painted surfaces.
- Urethane, oil or water-based, is used with stains. Read the label on the product to determine its base.
- Hardening oils, including teak or tung oil. Danish, linseed, and other oils aren’t recommended as they don’t provide longevity for your furniture.
Tips for Weatherproofing Wood
Before you apply a sealant, make sure the wood’s surface is clean and free of dust. Remove any loose paint or stain if the furniture has been treated before. It’s not always necessary to get the furniture’s surface down to bare wood, but that will depend on the condition of the wood’s surface. If the surface is uneven, it may require more sanding. If the wood has been painted and you want to start over on bare wood, you’ll need to strip the paint off. Here are tips for weatherproofing wood once your project is ready:
- If you plan to paint over a sealant, select a brand that states it can be painted in the product’s description. The paint won’t bond correctly to the wrong type of sealer.
- When choosing the best applicators for your sealer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- You won’t need a separate sealer coat if you use a solid stain. Semi-transparent stain provides some protection, but it’s not a sealant such as urethane.
- Some combination products contain both stain and sealant, but using two products is better. For instance, using a primer coat and then using paint is preferable, rather than a combo product.
Checking the Moisture Level of Wood
Before applying a sealant, check your wood with a moisture meter to read the moisture level, which should be below 15%. At higher moisture levels, stain and penetrating sealers won’t absorb properly. Higher moisture levels when applying sealant can also mean it will fail early. If you apply a sealant to wood with more than 15% moisture, as the wood dries, cracks can appear, or invisible gaps can form, changing the structure of the wood’s surface and leaving it unprotected.
You also shouldn’t apply sealers when the air humidity is over 80% or when the humidity is very low.
Choosing the Brushes and Preparing the Sealant
In most cases, you’ll be applying your sealer with a brush. Synthetic brushes are the best choice for applying most sealers and natural bristle brushes are best for using stains. Stir the sealant before you begin applying it, and stir it occasionally throughout the application so the ingredients will remain in suspension. Just be careful to stir gently so that you don’t cause bubbles to form in the sealant, as they can transfer to the wood and affect the finish.
Applying a Finish to the Wood
- You should brush or wipe quickly in the same direction. Move from one end to the other without back brushing as the product is drying.
- Sanding between applying coats is usually unnecessary, so only do so if you notice any imperfections that need to be sanded out.
- Don’t apply sealant in direct sunlight.
- Allow the wood to fully cure before placing heavy items or other painted materials on it.
- You can test that your seal has been successful and is dry by letting a few droplets of water drip on the surface of the wood. The water should bead if it’s properly sealed and dry. If the wood absorbs the water, it must be treated with a second coat of sealant.
Call the Experts at Teak Master
If you have questions or need help to weatherproof your outdoor wood furniture, contact our experts at Teak Master. We have the experience and knowledge to help you get the most out of your wood. Contact us today via our secure online form or at 888-477-1125.