How to Refinish Outdoor Wood Furniture: Expert Tips & Guide

how to refinish outdoor wood furniture

Table of Contents

If you’re looking to spruce up your outdoor space, refinishing your old and weathered wood furniture could be the key. Not only will it give your furniture a fresh new look, but it will also protect it from the elements and extend its lifespan. But where do you start? Follow this guide to learn how to refinish outdoor wood furniture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Refinishing outdoor wood furniture can restore its natural beauty and protect it from the elements.
  • Following a step-by-step guide can help ensure a successful project.
  • Choosing the right finish and properly maintaining your furniture can help it last for years to come.

Why Refinish Your Outdoor Wood Furniture?

Outdoor wood furniture can take a beating from the elements. Sunlight, rain, and humidity can cause wood to fade, crack, warp, and rot over time. Refinishing your outdoor wood furniture can help restore its natural beauty and extend its lifespan.

Not only does refinishing your outdoor wood furniture improve its appearance, but it also protects it from weather damage. Applying a new finish can help repel water, prevent UV damage, and prevent insects from burrowing into the wood.

Refinishing your outdoor wood furniture is also a cost-effective solution. Rather than buying new furniture, which can be expensive, refinishing allows you to give your existing furniture a fresh look at a fraction of the cost.

Overall, refinishing your outdoor wood furniture is a worthwhile investment that can save you money and provide you with beautiful, long-lasting furniture for years to come.

Steps to Refinish Wood Furniture Outdoors

If you’re looking to refinish your outdoor wood furniture, follow these simple DIY steps:

  1. Prepare the furniture: Remove all cushions, hardware, and metal parts. Cover any areas that shouldn’t be painted or stained.
  2. Remove old finish: Use a paint stripper or sandpaper to remove the old finish. Wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself.
  3. Sand: Use coarse sandpaper first and then switch to fine sandpaper for a smooth finish. Sand with the grain of the wood.
  4. Clean the furniture: Use a damp cloth to wipe the furniture clean and remove any dust or debris.
  5. Apply new finish: Use a paintbrush or spray gun to apply the new finish. Let it dry completely before applying a second coat.

By following these simple steps, you can easily give your outdoor wood furniture a new life and protect it from the elements.

Choosing the Right Finish for Outdoor Furniture

When it comes to refinishing your outdoor wood furniture, choosing the right finish is crucial for achieving the look and protection you desire. Here are some tips on selecting the best product for your project:

Finish Type Benefits Considerations
Oil-based finishes Penetrates the wood for deep protection, enhances natural grain, easy application May require more frequent reapplication, longer drying time, strong odor
Varnishes Durable, long-lasting protection, high-gloss or satin finish options May require sanding between coats, longer drying time, may yellow or crack over time
Sealants Non-yellowing, water-resistant finish, UV protection, low maintenance May not penetrate deeply into the wood, limited color options, may require multiple coats

Consider the location of your furniture and the look you want to achieve before making a decision. If your furniture will be exposed to direct sunlight and harsh weather conditions, a sealant with UV protection may be the best choice. If you want a natural look with deep protection, an oil-based finish may be the way to go. Also, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times to ensure the best results.

Preparing Outdoor Wood Furniture for Refinishing

Before you can refinish your outdoor wood furniture, you need to take the necessary preparatory steps. This will ensure that the final result looks great and lasts as long as possible.

Clean the Furniture

The first step is to clean the furniture thoroughly. Use a soft-bristled brush and a gentle cleaner to remove any dirt, grime, or dust that may have accumulated on the surface. Rinse the furniture with a hose and let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Assess the Condition

After cleaning, assess the condition of the furniture. Look for any damage, such as cracks, splitting, or rot. If you find any damage, repair it before moving on to the next step. This will ensure that the furniture is stable and secure before you begin refinishing.

Remove Old Paint or Stain

If your outdoor wood furniture has an old coat of paint or stain, you may need to remove it before refinishing. You can use a paint stripper or sandpaper to remove the old paint or stain. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and wear protective gear to prevent any exposure to harmful chemicals.

By following these preparatory steps, you’ll be able to create a smooth, even surface that’s ready for refinishing. Take your time and be thorough to ensure that your outdoor wood furniture gets the makeover it deserves.

Sanding Techniques for Outdoor Wood Furniture

Sanding is an essential step in refinishing outdoor wood furniture, as it prepares the surface for a new finish and removes any old paint or stain. Follow these tips for effective sanding:

  1. Start with coarse sandpaper: Use a low grit sandpaper, such as 60 or 80 grit, to remove any old finish or rough patches on the wood.
  2. Sand in the direction of the grain: Sanding against the grain can leave scratches and rough patches. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain for a smoother finish.
  3. Progressively use finer grit sandpaper: Gradually switch to finer grit sandpaper, such as 120 or 220 grit, to achieve a smoother surface.
  4. Use a sanding block: A sanding block or pad can help ensure even sanding and prevent over-sanding in certain spots.
  5. Check for smoothness: Run your hand over the surface of the wood to check for any remaining rough patches or unevenness.
  6. Remove dust: Use a cloth or vacuum to remove all traces of sanding dust before applying the new finish.

Tips for Smoothing Out Curved Areas

Sanding curved areas, such as legs or armrests, can be challenging. Here are some tips to help:

  • Use sandpaper wrapped around a dowel: This can help you sand curved areas smoothly and evenly.
  • Sand by hand: In some cases, using your hands to sand curved areas can give you more control and precision.
  • Take your time: Curved areas may require more patience and care to ensure an even finish.

Applying Finish to Refinished Outdoor Wood Furniture

After sanding your outdoor wood furniture, you’re ready to apply the finish. Here are some tips to help you achieve a smooth and even finish:

  • Clean the surface: Before applying any finish, make sure the furniture is clean and free of dust.
  • Choose the right application method: Depending on the type of finish you’ve chosen, you can use either a brush or spray bottle.
  • Apply evenly: Whether using a brush or spray bottle, apply the finish evenly and smoothly to avoid drips or uneven areas.
  • Coat thoroughly: Make sure to coat every part of the furniture thoroughly, including hard-to-reach areas.
  • Allow proper drying time: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time before lightly sanding and applying a second coat if necessary.

Remember to choose a finish that is suitable for outdoor use and able to withstand harsh weather conditions. You can refer to Section 4 for guidance on the best products for outdoor furniture refinishing.

Pro Tip: If you’re using a brush, use long, even strokes in the direction of the wood grain for a smooth and professional finish.

Maintaining Refinished Outdoor Wood Furniture

Congratulations on successfully refinishing your outdoor wood furniture! To ensure its longevity and continued beauty, proper maintenance is key. Here are some tips to keep your refinished furniture looking great for years to come:

Regular Cleaning

Clean your furniture regularly using a mild soap and water solution, and a soft-bristled brush or cloth. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before adding a new layer of finish.

Reapply Finish When Needed

Over time, your refinished furniture may start to show wear and tear. When this happens, it’s time to reapply the finish. You can tell it’s time to do so when water no longer beads up on the surface of the wood. Follow the same steps you used during the initial refinishing process, and your furniture will look brand new again.

Protect from the Elements

Protect your furniture from harsh weather conditions by covering it when not in use, or storing it indoors during the off-season. This will help to prevent cracking, warping, or fading.

Inspect your Furniture Regularly

Take a close look at your furniture from time to time to check for any signs of damage or wear. Repair loose joints or cracks immediately to prevent further damage.

By following these simple steps, you can keep your outdoor wood furniture looking beautiful for years to come!

Restoring Old Outdoor Wood Furniture

If you have some old outdoor wood furniture that has seen better days, don’t despair! With some effort and the right techniques, you can restore it to its former glory and prolong its life for many more years to come.

The first step is to assess the condition of the furniture. Look for rot, cracks, splits, or termite damage. If there are any loose joints, tighten them or add screws for extra stability. You may need to replace some parts completely or use wood filler to patch up any holes or gaps.

Once all the necessary repairs have been made, it’s time to sand the furniture. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually work your way up to a finer grit. This will help to remove any old paint or stain, smooth out rough patches, and prepare the surface for a new finish.

When it comes to refinishing old outdoor wood furniture, it’s important to choose a finish that will offer maximum protection from the elements. Look for products that are specifically designed for outdoor use and offer UV protection and water resistance.

Once you’ve applied the finish, be sure to maintain the furniture regularly to prevent future damage. Regular cleaning and upkeep will ensure that your restored outdoor wood furniture remains beautiful and functional for years to come.

Enhancing the Look of Outdoor Wood Furniture

Refinishing your outdoor wood furniture isn’t just about protecting it from the elements—it’s also a chance to enhance its look and make it a standout feature in your outdoor space. Here are some tips for taking your newly refinished furniture to the next level:

1. Add a Pop of Color

Staining your furniture is great for bringing out the natural beauty of the wood, but if you’re looking for a bolder statement, consider adding a pop of color. Choose a bright hue that complements the rest of your outdoor decor, or go for a playful pattern for a funky, eclectic vibe.

2. Experiment with Different Finishes

Depending on the look you’re going for, different finishes can give your furniture a unique texture or shine. Consider a high-gloss finish for a modern, sleek look, or a distressed finish for a rustic, aged feel. You can even try layering different finishes for a one-of-a-kind effect.

3. Upgrade Your Hardware

Small details can make a big impact when it comes to furniture. Swapping out old, worn hardware for something new and shiny can instantly elevate the look of your outdoor pieces. Choose knobs and handles that complement the overall style of the furniture to tie the look together.

4. Add Some Cushions

To make your outdoor furniture even more comfortable and inviting, consider adding some cushions or pillows. Choose fabrics that can withstand the elements, and mix and match patterns and colors for a cozy, eclectic look.

5. Personalize with Decorative Accents

Finally, add some personality to your finished furniture with decorative accents like lanterns, vases, and outdoor rugs. These small touches can make your outdoor space feel like an extension of your home, and create a welcoming atmosphere for all your guests to enjoy.

Environmental Considerations for Outdoor Wood Furniture Refinishing

Refinishing your outdoor wood furniture not only enhances its appearance and lifespan but also has an impact on the environment. When choosing products to refinish your furniture, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of your choices.

You can start by selecting eco-friendly products that are low in VOC (volatile organic compounds) and biodegradable. These products have less of an impact on the environment and are safer for you to use. Check the labels when buying products and look for the “green” seal, which indicates that the product is eco-friendly.

When disposing of old finishes and solvents, proper disposal is necessary to avoid harming the environment. Some finishes may contain hazardous chemicals that can harm plants and water sources. Before disposing of old finishes, check with your local waste disposal facility for proper disposal methods and guidelines.

Sustainable wood sourcing is also a crucial consideration when refinishing outdoor furniture. Choose wood that comes from sustainable sources, such as forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Sustainable wood sourcing ensures that the wood is harvested responsibly and that the forests are protected.

By making eco-friendly choices when refinishing your outdoor wood furniture, you not only give new life to your furniture but also help to protect the environment.


Congratulations! You have successfully learned how to refinish your outdoor wood furniture and give it a new lease on life. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can strip away old finishes, sand away unsightly scratches, and apply a fresh new coat of finish that will make your furniture look and feel as good as new.

Remember to take your time and handle the furniture with care. It can be a time-consuming process, but the effort is well worth it in the end. You’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor space even more with refinished furniture that looks and feels great.

Keep Your Furniture Looking Great

After refinishing your outdoor wood furniture, it’s important to maintain it properly so it stays looking great. Regular cleaning and applying new finish when needed will help extend the life of your furniture, while protecting it from the elements.

Try Something New

If you’re feeling creative, why not try painting your furniture a new color or adding some decorative touches to make it stand out? With a little imagination, you can turn your old outdoor wood furniture into a work of art that complements your outdoor space perfectly.

Be Mindful of the Environment

When refinishing your outdoor wood furniture, it’s important to be mindful of the environment. Choose eco-friendly products and dispose of old finishes properly to minimize your impact on the planet. And consider sourcing sustainable wood for any repairs or replacements you may need.

With a little effort and attention to detail, you can transform your outdoor space with beautifully refinished wood furniture that will last for years to come. So go ahead and get started today! Your outdoor oasis awaits.


Q: Why should I refinish my outdoor wood furniture?

A: Refinishing your outdoor wood furniture is important because it restores its natural beauty and protects it from the elements, prolonging its lifespan.

Q: What are the steps to refinish wood furniture outdoors?

A: The steps to refinish outdoor wood furniture include preparing the furniture, removing the old finish, sanding, and applying a new finish.

Q: How do I choose the right finish for outdoor furniture?

A: When choosing a finish for outdoor wood furniture, consider factors such as the furniture’s location and desired appearance. Oil-based finishes, varnishes, and sealants are common options.

Q: How do I prepare outdoor wood furniture for refinishing?

A: Preparing outdoor wood furniture for refinishing involves cleaning it, assessing its condition, making necessary repairs, and removing any old paint or stain.

Q: What are the best sanding techniques for outdoor wood furniture?

A: To sand outdoor wood furniture, choose the right sandpaper grit, use proper sanding techniques, and aim for a smooth finish.

Q: How do I apply finish to refinished outdoor wood furniture?

A: Applying finish to refinished outdoor wood furniture requires even application, brushing or spraying techniques, and consideration of the specific type of finish being used.

Q: How do I maintain refinished outdoor wood furniture?

A: Proper maintenance of refinished outdoor wood furniture includes regular cleaning, reapplying finish when needed, and protecting it from harsh weather conditions.

Q: How can I restore old outdoor wood furniture?

A: Restoring old outdoor wood furniture involves addressing rot or termite damage, repairing loose joints, and bringing back its original beauty.

Q: How can I enhance the look of outdoor wood furniture?

A: You can enhance the look of outdoor wood furniture through different finishes, colors, and decorative techniques. Consider coordinating the furniture with your overall outdoor design.

Q: What are the environmental considerations for outdoor wood furniture refinishing?

A: When refinishing outdoor wood furniture, consider using eco-friendly products, proper disposal of old finishes, and sourcing sustainable wood.

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