How To Waterproof Wood Furniture For Outdoors

How to Waterproof Wood Furniture for Outdoors

Ever wondered how to keep your beloved outdoor wood furniture safe from rain and sun damage? Surprisingly, 90% of wood furniture damage outdoors is due to improper protection from weather elements.

09/01/2024 – Update

In a Nutshell:

Waterproofing outdoor wood furniture is vital for its durability and aesthetic appeal. Key steps include selecting weather-resistant wood like teak or cedar, cleaning the surface, sanding if necessary, and applying a quality sealant. Popular sealants include polyurethane for water repellency, natural oils for eco-friendly protection, and stain-sealer combos for dual benefits. Regular maintenance, including reapplication of sealants, ensures long-lasting protection and beauty of your outdoor furniture.

How Do You Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture from Rain?

Effectively waterproofing outdoor wood furniture may seem challenging, but with the right approach, it’s a straightforward process.

To protect your outdoor wood furniture from rain and moisture, apply a high-quality sealant that creates a barrier to prevent water absorption and minimize warping caused by expansion and contraction.

Wood Selection for Outdoor Furniture

Selecting a wood species with natural resistance to moisture, decay, and insects is essential. As a professional carpenter, I recommend these top choices:

  • Teak: A tropical hardwood renowned for its durability and resistance to water and insects, thanks to its high oil content that prevents warping and cracking.
  • Cedar: Western red cedar is favored for its natural resistance to decay and moisture, along with a pleasant aroma that repels insects.
  • White oak: Dense and strong, it features a closed cellular structure that resists water penetration and decay.
How Do You Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture From Rain

Exact Steps to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

To achieve the best results, consider the following steps:

Step 1: Clean the surface

Thoroughly clean the wood surface with warm water and mild bleach to remove dirt and contaminants that may interfere with the sealant’s adhesion.

Step 2: Sand if necessary

Smooth any rough spots or uneven areas on the surface to ensure proper sealant adhesion and improve the furniture’s overall appearance.

Step 3: Apply the sealant

Use a sealant with strong durability, UV protection, and sufficient penetration to provide optimal protection for your outdoor furniture.

Step 4: Allow to dry

Let the sealant dry completely as per the manufacturer’s recommendations before using your outdoor furniture to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Note, following these steps will ensure long-lasting protection for your outdoor wood furniture.

3 Types of Outdoor Wood Sealers

Now that we have established that sealers are essential for waterproofing, it is time to move on to figuring out the exact types of sealers you should make use of for your wood.

Here are some options that you should consider.

1 | Polyurethane Sealant

As a professional carpenter with years of experience, I can attest to the importance of using the right sealant for outdoor wood furniture. One popular choice is polyurethane sealant, which offers several advantages for preserving and enhancing the appearance of wood furniture.

What is Polyurethane Sealant?

Polyurethane sealant is a liquid coating made from plastics, specifically polyurethane resins and acrylic. The composition often includes other materials, resulting in a smooth finish that protects the wood while enhancing its appearance.

Benefits of Polyurethane Sealant

Polyurethane sealant provides several benefits for outdoor wood furniture:

  • Water-repellent: The plastic layer effectively repels water, preventing damage from moisture.
  • Scratch and dent resistance: The sealant adds strength to the wood, minimizing damage from scratches and dents.
  • UV protection: It protects the wood from the sun’s harsh UV rays, preventing fading and discoloration.
Benefits Of Polyurethane Sealant

Shine and Gloss

Polyurethane sealants come in various levels of shine or gloss, from glossy to flatter finishes that provide a simple, polished appearance.

Oil-Based vs. Water-Based

Polyurethane sealants are available in oil-based and water-based formulas. Oil-based sealants offer better durability and a stronger protective layer for outdoor wood furniture. However, they are more challenging to clean, whereas water-based sealants only require soapy water for cleanup.

VOC Considerations

Polyurethane sealants contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can pose health risks with prolonged exposure. Look for products with lower VOC levels to minimize potential harm.


Polyurethane sealant is ideal for:

  • Light wood furniture (non-yellowing properties)
  • Gaps or joints
  • Wooden decks with heavy foot traffic
  • Yard or garden furniture
  • Wooden roofing

Application Tips

For optimal protection, apply at least two coats of polyurethane sealant and reapply every couple of years.

Polyurethane Sealant Facts

FeaturePolyurethane Sealant
Scratch resistanceYes
UV protectionYes
Shine optionsGlossy to flat
BasesOil-based and water-based
VOC considerationsChoose products with lower VOC levels
Ideal applicationsOutdoor wood furniture and structures
Number of coats neededAt least two
Reapplication frequencyEvery couple of years

With the right polyurethane sealant and proper application, you can ensure your outdoor wood furniture remains beautiful and functional for years to come.

2 | Natural Oils

After building my dream outdoor home kitchen, I can attest to the effectiveness of natural oils for preserving and enhancing the appearance of outdoor wood furniture. Natural oils have been used for centuries to protect wood, and they remain a popular choice today due to their eco-friendly properties and pleasing aesthetics.

What are Natural Oils?

Natural oils are organic compounds derived from plant sources. Common types of natural oils used for wood protection include linseed oil, tung oil, and teak oil. These oils penetrate the wood fibers, providing nourishment and protection from the elements.

Benefits of Natural Oils

Natural oils offer several advantages for outdoor wood furniture:

  • Eco-friendly: They are biodegradable and free of harmful chemicals, making them an environmentally friendly option.
  • Deep penetration: Natural oils penetrate deep into the wood fibers, nourishing and protecting from within.
  • Enhanced appearance: They bring out the natural beauty of the wood, highlighting the grain and texture.
Benefits Of Natural Oils

Choosing the Right Natural Oil

There are several types of natural oils to choose from, each with its unique properties:

  • Linseed oil: Derived from flaxseed, linseed oil provides a warm, golden finish and is water-repellent. It may require regular reapplication.
  • Tung oil: Extracted from the nuts of the tung tree, tung oil creates a durable, water-resistant finish that dries faster than linseed oil. It is often considered the best natural oil for outdoor furniture.
  • Teak oil: Despite its name, teak oil is not extracted from teak wood. It is a blend of linseed or tung oil with other additives, formulated to protect hardwoods like teak, mahogany, and rosewood.


Natural oils are ideal for:

  • Hardwood outdoor furniture
  • Wooden decks and patios
  • Garden benches and structures
  • Fence posts and railings

Application Tips

Apply natural oils with a clean cloth or brush, allowing the wood to absorb the oil thoroughly. Wipe off any excess oil and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Reapply as needed, typically every 1-2 years.


FeatureNatural Oils
Penetrates wood fibersYes
Enhances appearanceYes
Common typesLinseed oil, tung oil, teak oil
Ideal applicationsOutdoor wood furniture and structures
Number of coats neededOne, with reapplication as needed
Reapplication frequencyEvery 1-2 years

By choosing the right natural oil and applying it correctly, you can preserve the beauty and durability of your outdoor wood furniture, ensuring it remains functional and attractive for years to come.

3 | Stain-Sealer Combo

A stain-sealer combo is an excellent option for those who want to enhance the appearance of their furniture while providing reliable protection against the elements. Plus, there are a heap of off-the-shelf options that you can grab locally or online for exterior wood projects.

What is a Stain-Sealer Combo?

A stain-sealer combo is a two-in-one product that combines a stain’s color enhancement with a sealer’s protective properties. This allows you to both protect and beautify your outdoor wood furniture in a single step, saving time and effort.

Benefits of Stain-Sealer Combos

Stain-sealer combos offer several advantages for outdoor wood furniture:

  • Efficient application: A single product provides both color enhancement and protection, simplifying the process and reducing the number of coats required.
  • UV protection: Stain-sealer combos typically include UV inhibitors that protect the wood from the sun’s harmful rays, preventing fading and discoloration.
  • Water-repellent: They create a barrier that repels water, reducing the risk of rot, mildew, and warping.
  • Customizable appearance: Available in a wide range of colors and finishes, stain-sealer combos allow you to tailor the look of your outdoor furniture to your personal taste and style.
Benefits Of Stain-Sealer Combos

Types of Stain-Sealer Combos

There are several types of stain-sealer combos on the market, each with its unique properties and benefits:

  • Oil-based: Oil-based stain-sealer combos penetrate the wood fibers deeply, providing long-lasting protection and a rich, natural finish. However, they may take longer to dry and require mineral spirits for cleanup.
  • Water-based: Water-based stain-sealer combos dry faster than oil-based counterparts and are easier to clean up with water and soap. They typically offer a more uniform color but may not provide the same level of penetration and protection as oil-based options.


Stain-sealer combos are ideal for:

  • Wooden outdoor furniture, such as chairs, tables, and benches
  • Decks, patios, and wooden walkways
  • Fences, gates, and pergolas
  • Garden structures and trellises

Application Tips

For best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring the wood is clean and dry before application. Apply with a brush or roller, allowing the product to penetrate the wood thoroughly. If needed, apply an additional coat, according to the product’s directions.


FeatureStain-Sealer Combo
Efficient applicationYes
UV protectionYes
Customizable appearanceYes
TypesOil-based and water-based
Ideal applicationsOutdoor wood furniture and structures
Number of coats neededVaries by product
Reapplication frequencyFollow manufacturer’s recommendations

By using a stain-sealer combo, you can efficiently protect and enhance the appearance of your outdoor wood furniture, ensuring it remains attractive and functional for years to come.

3 Options for Sealing Outdoor Wood Furniture

It is easy to get exhausted and confused just by looking at the number of wood sealants available in the market. To make your decision easier, the following sections contain a few product options you can consider buying for your furniture.

Each of these also contains a list of pros and cons so that you can make a fair decision.

1 | Minwax Helmsman Outdoor Spar Urethane Sealer

Best Clear Gloss Sealer
Minwax Helmsman Water Based Spar Urethane Minwax Helmsman Water Based Spar Urethane
  • Durability: Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is a specialized clear sealer designed to shield wood from harsh elements like water, UV radiation, and temperature fluctuations. It's perfect for outdoor woodworking projects and high-wear wood surfaces.

  • Ease of application: This clear sealer applies effortlessly with a brush, roller, or spray gun, drying rapidly to a durable finish. Compatible with various wood types, including hardwood, softwood, and exotic woods, it works well on both raw wood and previously finished surfaces.

  • Longevity: Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane offers long-lasting protection, safeguarding wood from damage for years. Resistant to fading, yellowing, and cracking, it maintains its clear, transparent finish over time.

  • Environmentally friendly: With low VOC levels, Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is eco-friendly and safe for indoor use. Cleanup is a breeze with soap and water, making it convenient for DIY woodworking projects.
  • Exceptional protection against water
  • Suitable for various wood types & finishes
  • Low-VOC, environmentally friendly & safe
  • Multiple coats may be required
  • Not suitable for wood submerged

2 | Hopeโ€™s 100% Pure Tung Oil Wood Furniture Finish

Best Natural Oil Sealer
Hope'S Waterproof Pure Tung Oil Sealer HOPE'S Waterproof Pure Tung Oil Sealer
  • Durability: Hope's 100% Pure Tung Oil offers exceptional protection and durability for your wood projects. Derived from the seeds of the tung tree, this natural oil penetrates deeply into wood fibers, providing a water-resistant and flexible finish that enhances the wood's natural beauty.

  • Easy to Apply: This versatile tung oil is simple to apply with a cloth or brush, and it can be used on various wood types, both unfinished and previously finished surfaces. It dries to a beautiful matte finish that highlights the wood grain while offering excellent protection.

  • Long-lasting: With proper application, Hope's 100% Pure Tung Oil creates a long-lasting finish that resists moisture, scratches, and general wear and tear. Its natural properties make it an ideal choice for preserving the appearance and integrity of your wood projects.

  • Eco-friendly: As a natural, plant-based product, Hope's 100% Pure Tung Oil is a sustainable and environmentally friendly option for protecting your wood surfaces. It contains no VOCs, solvents, or additives, making it a safe choice for both indoor and outdoor applications.
  • Natural eco-friendly protection for wood
  • Enhances wood grain with matte finish
  • Versatile for various wood types
  • Longer drying time than synthetics
  • Requires multiple coats for protection

3 | Storm Stain & Sealer For Outdoor Wood Projects

Best Stain-Sealer Combo
Storm Stain Protector Outdoor Wood Sealer Storm Stain Protector Outdoor Wood Sealer
  • Advanced Protection: With its proprietary formulation, Storm System Protector Stain and Sealer provides effective resistance against water damage, UV radiation, and mildew growth, ensuring the longevity of your wood surfaces.

  • Superior Finish: This product offers a range of stunning semi-transparent and solid color options, accentuating the wood grain and adding visual appeal to your projects.

  • Easy Application: Storm System Protector Stain and Sealer can be easily applied with a brush, roller, or spray gun, ensuring a smooth and even finish. Its fast-drying formula allows for efficient project completion, while its low-VOC content makes it environmentally friendly and safe for indoor use.

  • Versatile Compatibility: Suitable for various wood types, including hardwood, softwood, and pressure-treated lumber, Storm System Protector Stain and Sealer is the perfect choice for your decking, fencing, siding, and furniture projects.
  • Dual-purpose stain & sealer combined
  • Excellent protection against water & UV
  • Wide range of beautiful color options
  • More expensive than other options
  • Not suitable for porous or oily woods

Why Waterproof Outdoor Wood Furniture?

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of waterproofing wood furniture intended for outdoor use. Numerous factors pose challenges to the durability and appearance of your outdoor furniture, making waterproofing a crucial step to prolong its lifespan.

According to the USDA Forest Service, exposure to moisture can lead to the growth of mold, fungi, and decay within the wood. Additionally, fluctuating temperatures, harsh UV light, and insect infestations can cause warping, rotting, and further damage to your furniture.

Drawing from my experience and expertise in the field of waterproofing wood furniture, I can assure you that taking appropriate measures to protect your outdoor wooden pieces is the key to preserving their functionality and aesthetic appeal for years to come.

Why Waterproof Outdoor Wood Furniture

What Types of Furniture Can Be Used Outdoors?

When selecting furniture for outdoor use, it’s essential to choose materials and designs that can withstand the elements while maintaining their appearance and functionality.

Here are some of the most popular types of outdoor furniture, specifically designed to endure various weather conditions and provide long-lasting comfort and style:

  • Teak Wood Furniture: Teak is a tropical hardwood prized for its durability, natural resistance to water, insects, and decay. Its high oil content helps prevent warping and cracking, making it an ideal choice for outdoor furniture.
  • Metal Furniture: Aluminum and wrought iron are popular choices for outdoor furniture due to their sturdiness and resistance to rust and corrosion. Aluminum is lightweight and low-maintenance, while wrought iron is heavier and offers a classic, ornate appearance.
  • All-Weather Wicker: Made from synthetic materials like polyethylene, all-weather wicker furniture is designed to withstand the elements while closely resembling the look and feel of natural wicker. It is UV-resistant, water-resistant, and easy to clean.
  • Plastic and Resin Furniture: Durable and low-maintenance, plastic and resin furniture offers an affordable option for outdoor use. High-quality resin furniture can be made to mimic the appearance of wood or wicker, providing a more budget-friendly alternative.
  • Composite Wood Furniture: Constructed from a combination of wood fibers and recycled plastic, composite wood furniture offers the appearance of natural wood with enhanced resistance to moisture, decay, and UV damage.
  • Textilene and Sling Furniture: Made from a durable, UV-resistant mesh fabric, Textilene and sling furniture provide excellent support and comfort without the need for cushions. This type of furniture is easy to maintain and dries quickly after exposure to moisture.
  • Concrete Furniture: Concrete furniture offers a contemporary, industrial aesthetic and exceptional durability. While heavier than other options, it can withstand extreme weather conditions and requires minimal maintenance.

When selecting outdoor furniture, consider factors such as climate, maintenance requirements, and personal style preferences. If you choose furniture made from appropriate materials and designed for outdoor use, you can create a comfortable and inviting outdoor living space that will last for years to come.

What Types Of Furniture Can Be Used Outdoors

How Long Does Wood Furniture Last Outside?

The longevity of wood furniture outdoors depends on various factors, including the type of wood used, protective treatments, and ongoing maintenance. With proper care and protection, wood furniture can last outside for at least 15-20 years.

However, without appropriate measures, the lifespan of your outdoor wooden furniture may be significantly reduced to just 3-5 years.

  • Wood Type: Choosing a durable, weather-resistant wood species such as teak, cedar, or white oak can greatly increase the longevity of your outdoor furniture. These woods have natural resistance to moisture, decay, and insects, providing a strong foundation for outdoor use.
  • Protective Treatments: Applying a high-quality sealant, varnish, or paint to your outdoor wood furniture is crucial for its longevity. These treatments help protect the wood from moisture, UV damage, and other environmental factors that can cause it to warp, crack, or decay.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: To maximize the lifespan of your outdoor wood furniture, it’s vital to perform routine maintenance. This includes cleaning the furniture regularly to remove dirt, debris, and mildew; inspecting for damage and making necessary repairs; and reapplying protective treatments as needed.

By selecting the right wood type, applying protective treatments, and diligently maintaining your outdoor wood furniture, you can extend its lifespan and keep it looking great for many years to come.

In Conclusion

Ensuring the longevity of your outdoor wood furniture requires careful consideration of wood type, protective treatments, and ongoing maintenance.

Following these guidelines allows you to enjoy beautiful and functional wooden furniture in your outdoor living space for many years.

Key Takeaways:

  • Opt for weather-resistant woods like teak, cedar, white oak
  • Use quality sealants, varnishes, paints for moisture, UV protection
  • Conduct routine maintenance by cleaning, inspecting, repairing
  • Reapply treatments periodically to ensure effectiveness
  • Store cushions indoors, use weather-resistant covers outdoors

Now that you know how to prolong the life of your outdoor wood furniture, why not explore another crucial aspect of your outdoor living space? Check out our post on the best wood for wooden fences to learn about the top choices for creating a durable, attractive, and long-lasting boundary for your property.