DIY Guide: How to Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture?

how to restore outside wood furniture

Your wood patio bench outside the house is a great place to relax, socialize, and watch your garden. But over time this wooden furniture will start to deteriorate due to exposure to rain and the sun. Prolonged exposure to these weather elements then damage the surface of the furniture, causing it to slowly but surely break.

Bringing wooden furniture back to life after it has been battered by the weather outside may seem as daunting, but the process is not that difficult if you know what is required.

In this guide, you will learn how to restore outdoor wood furniture. The DIY project can be oh-so-satisfying when it is completed.

Safety Note: You should follow the recommendations of the manufacturer when using any chemicals for restoring the furniture. Always wear protective goggles and rubber gloves when you are applying the chemicals.

Never apply chemicals near an open flame due to the risk of fire!

How to Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture

Step 1: Wash the Surface

You should use a wood-cleaning solution like Murphy’s oil soap to clean the furniture. You can find a wood cleaning soap in your local furniture store. Follow the proper directions for mixing oil with water. Using a wood-soap is important instead of a chemical solution to avoid damage to the surface.

If you cannot find a wood soap-solution, you can prepare a safe solution for the furniture at home by mixing about 1 tbsp of dish soap in a gallon of water. Wet a cloth in the solution and wipe the surface.

Step 2: Remove the Finishing

Old furniture placed outside loses its finishing over time. The finishing deteriorates due to exposure to direct sunlight. So, you need to remove the finishing before restoring the furniture.

Use a high pressure hose to remove the old wood paint or stain and clear the debris. Spraying the wood with a higher pressure washer will also do the trick. Another option is to use a chemical stripper that is marked safe for use on wood furniture.

Avoid using a chemical solution that is marked ‘no cleanup’. The solution will leave a residue that will take effort to remove. You can also use a heat gun to remove the finishing from flat surfaces. Heat a small area of the furniture with the gun until bubbles are visible. You should then wipe the residue into a container.

Step 3: Sand the Furniture

After the furniture has dried, you need to sand the furniture to give an even and smooth surface. You can use coarse sandpaper to sand the wood furniture. An electric or block sander with grit sandpaper such as 60- grit sandpaper is recommended.

Sand with the grain until the surface becomes smooth. You should sand until all the bare wood becomes exposed. Check the sanding paper and replace it with a new one if worn down. Also, it is important to wear safety goggles and mask when sanding the furniture to prevent dust from getting to the nose, mouse, and eyes.

After the sanding is complete, you need to wipe away the dust using a tack cloth. A tack cloth is a special cloth that you can find in a hardware store that is used for woodworking. You can also use a cleaning brush to clean the dust and debris created due to sanding.

Step 4: Repair Minor Scratches and Stains

Petroleum jelly is recommended to fix white rings and other stains left by spilled liquid. Rub the petroleum jelly on the spot and leave it overnight so that it soaks into the surface. Wipe it off the next day using a paper towel. This will get rid of unsightly spots from the surface.

You can also use specially formulated solutions available online to clean marks on the surface. Test the solution on the surface before applying the solution.

To remove scuffs on the surface, you should rub the surface using the walnut. You should repair scratches and nicks before applying a new finish. You can prepare a solution at home to repair minor scratches. Items you will need to prepare the solution include the following.

  • Walnut
  • Canola Oil
  • Vinegar (apple cider or white)
  • Container

To prepare the solution, you should mix about a quarter cup of vinegar with three-quarter cup of canola oil in a container. Apply the mixture on the scratches and crack.

Epoxy putty is also recommended for cleaning small cracks and chips. You should use the putty or wax if the home made solution is not effective in repairing the cracks. Epoxy putty and wax are available in furniture stores. Epoxy is recommended for bigger cracks while the wax is best for small scratches. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in mixing the putty.

Break a chunk of the putty and use your fingers to shape it so that it fits the cracks. You should make the putty flush with the furniture surface so that it doesn’t look unsightly.

All purpose filler can also be used for filling the cracks. Mix up the filler and apply it to the damaged section. You should then sand the area to give a smooth finish.

Step 5: Refinishing the Furniture

You can use different methods to apply a new finishing in order to restore outdoor wood furniture. You can apply wood color paint over the furniture. Foam brushes are an excellent choice when apply new paint over the furniture.

Foam brushes are available in different sizes that can be used to paint crannies and nooks. Using a foam brush is recommended as it will result in a soft and even texture. Moreover, it allows a mess-free use as they soak in excess paint.

Whitewashing is another method used for refinishing your old wood furniture. This method is best for pine woods. Applying white paint makes the natural grain pattern visible. In contrast, the paint will cover the natural grain pattern of the wood. There are different techniques for applying white stains to the wood.

You can buy commercial white stain products online. They are available in oil-based and water-based forms. Water-based stains are recommended since they are easy to clean. Water based stains also produce less odors and dry out quickly. Oil based stains will be difficult to clean up after application. Also, you can make your own white paint by thinning paint to create white stains for whitewashing the outdoor furniture.

Step 6: Dry the New Finishing

You should let the new finishing dry out thoroughly. Different products have different drying period. You should look at the product label to know how long to let the furniture dry before using it.

A common mistake is leaving the furniture outside to dry. This can result in debris and dirt to collect on the surface. Again you should wear gloves when moving the furniture indoors to avoid contact with debris.

After the paint or white water stain has dried, you can go back and apply patterns using a paint pen. Your mind is the limit when it comes to drawing patterns over the furniture. Using the paint pen will make it easy to add small details and patterns in the design.

Step 7: Seal the Surface

You should go over the chaise using a sealant that is suitable for outdoor furniture. Sealing the surface will protect the new finishing from weather elements. Two coats of the seal would be enough.

Make sure that you follow instructions for applying the sealant. You should also read the label to know the wait times between two coats.

Step 8: Repair Defective Parts

You should repair defective furniture hardware such as rubber feet, brackets, and plastic or metal parts. Repairing the defective parts will greatly improve the quality of the furniture restoration project. It will make the furniture as if you had brought it new from the store.

You can order new parts from the local home improvement and hardware store. Replace broken and rusty parts of the furniture. You should replace the new items last to avoid paint or sealant from ruining the new parts.

Step 9: Clean Up the Area

The last step is to clean up the area using paper towels or rag. You should wipe all excess stains from the floor. It is important that you clean the area right after refinishing the furniture.

The paint dries out slowly. But once it dries it will stick to the floor. Waiting days – or worse weeks – to clean up the stain can make it difficult to remove. Trying to remove the stain once it dries out may cause unsightly scratch marks.


You can follow the steps mentioned in this guide to easily restore outdoor wood furniture. The process can seem daunting at first. But you will get a hang of it with practice. The tips mentioned here will help you restore the wooden furniture so that it looks as good as new.

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