How To Oil Outdoor Furniture [7 Easy Steps]

In addition to being stylish, wooden furniture is a popular choice for outdoors because it is durable and long-lasting if properly taken care of. Taking care of your wooden outdoor furniture means cleaning it, covering it when not in use, and conditioning it with oil so that the wood continues to look good. We've done the research, and in this article, we'll cover how to oil outdoor furniture the right way.

Follow these steps to oil your outdoor furniture properly:

  1. Sand the wood.
  2. Clean the furniture.
  3. Apply the oil.
  4. Rub the oil in.
  5. Wipe off the excess oil.
  6. Allow the oil to dry.
  7. Apply additional coats, if necessary.

Oiling your outdoor furniture is the key to making sure that the furniture looks it best. Furniture that isn't oiled will start to look dull over time. For more detailed steps and to learn what types of furniture should be oiled, please continue reading.

A man brushing the deck with oil to make it look brand new, How To Oil Outdoor Furniture [7 Easy Steps]

How To Oil Outdoor Furniture 

A man wiping the floor with decking oil

Before you can begin oiling your outdoor furniture, there are a few materials you'll need:

  • Sander/sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Cheesecloth 
  • Wood oil

The type of oil you need will depend on what kind of wood your furniture is made of. We will cover which type of oil to use for which wood later in the article.

1. Sand the Wood

If you built your outdoor furniture yourself, you will want to sand the wood before you can begin oiling it. Sanding the wood creates a smooth surface to ensure that a coat of oil is applied evenly to the wood. You can use a sander or sandpaper to do this. If you bought your furniture at a store, you can skip this step if you prefer because most of the time, the wood has already been finished and sanded.

2. Clean the Furniture 

After sanding, you will want to clean the furniture to remove anything that could keep the oil from sticking. You do not need to use soap and water; you can use a tack cloth instead. A tack cloth is a cloth that has a tacky material on it. The tacky material picks up dust, dirt, lint, and other particles that might be found on the wood's surface. 

Check out this tack cloth on Amazon.

3. Apply the Oil

Once you've cleaned the wood, you can apply the oil. Pour the oil onto a clean cheesecloth, then use the cheesecloth to apply the oil to the wood. The oil should be applied liberally in a circular motion to ensure that it is as even as possible. The wood will begin to absorb the oil immediately. Stop applying oil when the wood surface is no longer absorbing it.

Click here to see this pack of cheesecloths on Amazon.

4. Rub the Oil In

When the oil has been applied to the whole surface, use your hand's heel to rub the oil into the wood. This is necessary to make sure that oil thoroughly penetrates the wood's surface. The type of oil you use will come with instructions on how long you need to rub. But most of the time, 10 to 15 minutes is long enough.

5. Wipe Off the Excess Oil 

Once you have rubbed the oil in, you will need to use a clean cheesecloth to wipe off any excess oil. If there is excess oil left behind, the furniture will take longer to dry or may not dry at all because the oil can't penetrate the surface due to there already being a layer of oil underneath.

6. Allow the Oil To Dry

Before using the furniture, it's essential to allow the oil plenty of time to dry. The time it takes for wood oil to dry varies depending on the type of oil, but most oils will take between 2-5 days to dry thoroughly.

7. Apply Additional Coats

After the oil is dry, you may find it necessary to apply additional coats of oil, especially if the furniture has never been oiled before. The oil will penetrate further into the surface as it dries, so you may need to apply more to coat the upper surface adequately. Most oils will require at least three coats to be fully effective. Make sure to let the oil dry between coats.

What Types Of Outdoor Furniture Can Be Oiled?

Wooden outdoor dining furniture with wooden flooring

Any outdoor furniture that is made out of wood can be oiled. If you want to get the most use out of your outdoor furniture, you should oil it regularly, especially in harsher climates. In milder climates, you should oil wood furniture three to four times a year. In harsher climates, you may need to do so more often.

The reason for oiling outdoor wood furniture is because outdoor furniture gets exposed to all kinds of elements, including rain, snow, and hot sunshine. Prolonged exposure to any of these elements can damage the wood or start to make it look dull. Oiling the furniture keeps the wood from looking dull and helps to minimize damage from the elements.

Wood is divided into two categories: hardwood and softwood. Hardwoods are ideal for outdoor furniture because they are more resistant to water and rotting. Softwoods can be used outdoors, but these are the woods that typically need oiling. The woods listed below are commonly used for outdoor furniture and should be oiled to maintain their beauty.


Teak is the most popular wood that is used for outdoor furniture. This is because it is waterproof and doesn't fade easily in sunlight. It also doesn't attract insects and dirt. Because of these reasons, furniture made of teak is often priced higher, so people choose to oil it to keep it looking beautiful so that they get their money's worth.


Another type of wood that is resistant to insects and rotting due to water is cedar. Cedar produces a natural oil of its own to protect it from insects and moisture, but you can oil it to increase longevity and make the wood grain more noticeable but still natural-looking. 

Bamboo/Willow (Wicker)

Bamboo and willow are both woods that are used to make wicker furniture. Wicker furniture is most often used in warmer climates. Warmer climates mean more prolonged exposure to intense sunlight, which can cause the wood to fade. There is also higher humidity in warmer climates, so oiling wicker is important to maintain and protect the wood.

You May Also Like: How Long Does Outdoor Wicker Furniture Last?


Oak furniture is loved for its beauty and sturdiness, as well as its unique color. It is hardwood, but it does require oiling because while it is durable, it isn't as resistant to rotting as other types of wood. Since it is such a beautiful wood, oiling it also ensures that the wood keeps looking beautiful.

What Kind Of Oil Do You Use On Outdoor Furniture?

Wooden flooring with brush tin and decking oil

One of the most commonly used wood oils is linseed oil. However, linseed oil can take a long time to dry and is not recommended for use on outdoor furniture, especially since you have to apply multiple coats. You can still use linseed oil, but it's best to apply it in plenty of time before when you want to start using your furniture.

The best kinds of wood oil to use on outdoor wood furniture are danish oil, teak oil, and tung oil. Danish and teak oils dry fairly quickly and are very protective of outdoor wood. They make wood have a light sheen but do a great job of making the wood grain stand out. Tung oil is more expensive but gives outdoor wood furniture a waterproof and mold-resistant finish.

Here are the types of woods for which each oil works best with.

  • Danish or linseed oil- cedar, wicker, oak
  • Teak oil- cedar, teak
  • Tung oil- teak, cedar, wicker, oak

The drying times and number of coats you need to use for each type of oil varies. Generally, Danish and teak oil dries in a couple of days between coats and requires 3-4 coats. Tung oil dries in 2-3 days between coats and requires 3-5 coats. For comparison, linseed oil needs 3-4 days to dry between each coat and may need at least 5 coats.

Check out this teak oil on Amazon.

Click here to see this tung oil on Amazon.

See More: Teak Sealer Vs. Oil: Which Is Better For Your Furniture?

Is Danish Oil The Same As Linseed Oil?

Danish oil is not the same thing as linseed oil. Danish oil is usually made of a combination of linseed oil, tung oil, and other things. This combination is what makes Danish oil more durable and with a faster drying time than linseed oil.

This Danish oil comes in different colors depending on the type of wood you have. Click here to see it on Amazon.

Is Linseed Oil Better Than Tung Oil?

Neither one is necessarily better than the other one. Both oils are plant-based and non-toxic, so they are safe to use on your wood furniture. Tung oil is the better choice for outdoor use because it is more durable and water-resistant than linseed oil, but it is also more expensive. Linseed oil is better for indoor use, but you can use it outdoors if you are on a budget and are okay with a longer drying time.

How Do You Seal Oiled Wood?

Sealing oiled wood can further protect it from the elements and keep you from oiling your wood as often. You can seal oiled wood with lacquer, polyurethane, or varnish. But when using a sealer on oiled wood, it is important to make sure that whatever sealer you use is oil-based. Water-based sealers won't stick to oiled wood.

In Closing

We hope you found this article helpful for learning how to oil wood furniture and the best type of oil to use. Danish, teak, and tung oil are the best types of oil to use, but if you are willing to put forth the expense, tung oil is the most durable and can be used for all kinds of outdoor wood. Thanks for reading!

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