How To Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture In 4 Easy Steps

Is your outdoor wood furniture looking gray and weathered or beginning to show signs of rot? Wood furniture takes a beating from the elements when it sits outdoors, so it requires regular maintenance. If you've fallen behind on protecting your outdoor wood furniture, don't despair! You can restore it to its original beauty and strength. We've done the research, and we can show you how! 

To restore outdoor wood furniture, follow this sequence of steps:

  1. Sand away the weathered or rotted wood.
  2. Clean the furniture thoroughly.
  3. Stain or paint the wood.
  4. Apply finish/sealer.

Of course, each of these steps requires some additional explanation. In the remainder of this article, we'll describe each step in detail. We will also delve into the methods for restoring teak furniture, which differ somewhat from the steps you'd take with other types of wood. We'll identify the best clear coat sealer for exterior wood and describe how best to protect your outdoor wood furniture from being damaged by the elements. Keep reading to learn more!

A patio garden with wooden table and chairs, How To Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture In 4 Easy Steps

4 Steps To Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture

The two major causes of outdoor wood furniture damage are excessive moisture and the sun's UV rays. While it is no problem for wood furniture to get wet, it will begin to rot if it stays wet. So, make sure not to leave your wood furniture in the path of sprinklers, in a shady place where it cannot get dry, or on soil or grass where it will constantly absorb water from the ground. In addition to the danger of rotting due to moisture, wood furniture that sits in the sun will weather to a silver-gray hue as the sun's UV rays break down the lignin in the wood. This process not only changes the color of the wood but also softens and weakens it. 

Patio garden furniture

If your outdoor wood furniture suffers damage from excess moisture or UV rays, follow these four steps to restore it to its original beauty: 

1. Sand Away Weathered Or Rotted Wood

Your first step is to remove any rot or weathering on the surface of the wood. Paint, stain, and varnish will not adhere to weathered or rotted wood, so you must perform this step thoroughly and carefully. To get the best results, use a random orbit sander and, where necessary, sand by hand. Go over the entire surface with 80-grit sandpaper, then repeat with 120-grit paper to get a smooth surface. Pay special attention to inside corners, between slats, and other hard-to-reach areas.

When the damaged surface is sanded away, you'll have like-new wood ready for staining, clear-coating, or painting. 

Click here for a random orbit sander on Amazon.

2. Clean The Furniture Thoroughly

Once you've sanded your wood furniture, clean all the sanding dust off. First, blow it off using your own breath or, preferably, a hairdryer set on low heat. Vacuum up all the dust on the dropcloth and in the surrounding area so that it will not rise and adhere to the furniture after you've applied stain or clear finish. Next, dip a tack cloth in mineral spirits and wipe the furniture entirely clean. Allow it to dry until it returns to its original color.

Click here for tack cloth on Amazon.

3. Stain Or Paint The Wood

If you choose to stain your furniture, use a high-quality brush made specifically for applying stain to the wood. You can select a stain with sealing agents included in its chemical formula or one that requires a separate sealer to be applied after staining. Stir the stain thoroughly until all the pigments in the can are fully mixed. Apply stain thickly to the wood, but not so thickly that it pools. After 10-15 minutes, wipe away the excess with a clean rag. 

If you decide to paint rather than stain, select an exterior-grade paint and primer, which will protect the furniture from moisture. Using a high-quality brush, apply a coat of primer to the furniture.

Follow this by two or three thin layers of paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before you apply the next. Make sure to cover all of the wood, including the bottom surfaces and between slats. Wipe away drips with a clean cloth. 

Click here for stain brush on Amazon.

4. Apply Finish/Sealer 

If you've applied a stain that does not include a sealer, your final step will be to make the furniture impervious to moisture by applying a clear coat of sealer. You may use polyurethane or varnish: each has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. 


Polyurethane is like liquid plastic, forming a hard protective coat as it dries. It is waterproof and protects the wood from scratching, cracking, and chipping. Although polyurethane comes in water-based and oil-based varieties, only the oil-based type is suitable for exterior wood. The major disadvantage of oil-based polyurethane is that it dries with an amber tint, altering the color of lighter woods. Its main advantage is convenience: it requires only one or two coats to fully protect your furniture. 


Most types of varnish also cure a light amber tint. Varnish is stronger and more durable than polyurethane; however, it requires at least six thin coats to reach maximum effectiveness with substantial drying time. It provides both waterproofing and protection from UV rays. In addition, it is more flexible than polyurethane, so it adapts better to shrinkage and expansion of the wood.

Click here for sealer on Amazon.

Can Weathered Teak Be Restored?

It is not difficult to restore weathered teak furniture. You will follow a three-step process similar to restoring other outdoor wood furniture types: 1) sanding, 2) cleaning, and 3) protecting. 

1. Sand Your Teak Furniture

Using 80-grit sandpaper with an orbit sander and hand-sanding where necessary, remove the silvery-gray surface wood until you reach the underlying layer of healthy teak. Then go over the entire surface with 150-grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth finish, ready to accept stain. Make sure to thoroughly sand all surfaces, including hard-to-reach areas such as inside corners and between slats. After you've sanded, spray the furniture clean with a low-pressure setting on your garden hose sprayer. 

Click here for 150-grit sandpaper on Amazon.

2. Clean Your Teak Furniture

Before your furniture is fully dry, apply teak cleaner to it, using a scrubbing pad or a soft-bristled scrub brush. Work the cleaner into the wood and let it sit for 5-10 minutes for a deep clean. Then respray the furniture with your garden hose sprayer on a low-pressure setting. Set your furniture in a sunny spot to allow it to dry completely.  

Click here for teak cleaner on Amazon.

3. Protect Your Teak Furniture

Finally, protect your teak furniture from drying out again by applying a finishing product to it. You may choose either a teak protector -- which shields the wood from UV rays -- or a teak sealer, which protects from both UV rays and moisture. In either case, use a sponge to apply an even coat of the product to all wood surfaces. Make sure to coat hard-to-reach surfaces such as those between slats. Allow your furniture to dry for at least 24 hours after sealing it before replacing cushions or using it.

Click here for clear teak sealer on Amazon.

What Is The Best Finish For Teak Wood?

The three types of finishes used on teak wood are: 1) teak oil, 2) teak protector, and 3) teak sealer. We'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each below.

Teak Oil

Teak oil is actually derived from other plants, usually linseed or tung. Its purpose is to restore the shiny luster of teak wood after the natural oils have dried up. It is formulated to be thinner than pure linseed or tung oils so that the wood's dense grain absorbs it deeply. Rubbing teak oil on your furniture gives the wood a warm, homey glow. Teak oil is best used on indoor furniture because it restores the oiled look of teak wood; it does not protect against moisture or UV rays.   

Click here for teak oil on Amazon.

Teak Protector

Like teak oil, a teak protector restores the shine to your wood; it also protects from UV rays. Because its effects last up to four times as long as those of teak oil, teak protector is a highly popular choice for application to indoor furniture, especially pieces that sit in sunny areas.

Some homeowners choose to apply teak protector to their outdoor furniture; however, it is not the ideal choice for teak furniture exposed to the elements because it does not provide a waterproof finish.

Click here for teak protector on Amazon.

Teak Sealer

The best finish for outdoor teak furniture is, unquestionably, teak sealer. This product provides both a waterproofing finish and protection from UV rays. It is available in a clear-coat formula that highlights the natural luster and grain of the teak wood or in various brown shades that serve as both stain and sealer.  

Click here for a classic brown teak sealer on Amazon.

What Is The Best Exterior Clear Coat For Wood?

Although numerous types of exterior clear coats for wood all fall into two basic categories: those that penetrate deep into the wood's pores and those that form a filmy shell on top of the wood. Penetrating clear coats include oils such as teak, tung, and linseed oil, which provide a natural luster and add strength and moisture resistance to the wood. Clear coating products that form a protective shell include polyurethanes and varnishes. Both of these products provide waterproofing and protection from UV rays.

The best clear coat for exterior wood is marine spar varnish, made from linseed oil and alkyd resin. Spar varnish is flexible enough to move with the wood's expansions and contractions as the outside temperature and humidity fluctuate. It waterproofs the wood and protects it from UV rays.

The spar varnish's initial application is time-consuming, as it should be applied in six to ten thin coats, with plenty of drying time between coats. However, after the first application, it requires only a light sanding and one fresh thin coat annually.

Click here for marine spar varnish on Amazon.

Should I Cover My Patio Furniture Every Night?

As long as you have protected your wood patio furniture from moisture by oiling or sealing it, there is no need to cover it at night. Any dampness that might collect on the furniture overnight will evaporate during the following day. However, you should cover your furniture if you plan to leave it unused for a substantial period of time: several weeks or longer.  

In Closing

Restoring your weathered outdoor wood furniture adds to its attractiveness and lengthens its lifespan. Whether you use oil, a product that provides UV protection without waterproofing, or a sealer that both waterproofs and protects your furniture from UV rays, you will have a variety of options to choose from. By following the steps outlined above, you can return your furniture to looking like new and keep it attractive and functional for years to come!   

You may also enjoy:

What Are The Best Types Of Wood For Outdoor Furniture?

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