A finish for outdoor furniture

      A brief look at finish options for outdoor furniture. March 22, 2000

I have just completed a set of outdoor furniture that will have no finish (I know the owner won't maintain a finish).

But, for the first season I thought I'd put a coat of oil or oil/varnish so it looks good for delivery. Are there any consequences of applying either of these and then not "updating" them periodically?

I am not an expert on outdoor furniture finishing, but if you are using treated lumber, I believe there is a time for wood to dry before any finish is applied. Check with your supplier.

Also, applying an inadequate type of finish will result in quick failure that will make the product look worse, and require a lot of extra work to revive it.
John Buries, forum moderator

The best finish I know is Cetol 1 from Sikkens (Akzo Nobel).

After a few years, the furniture will still look good and not be scratched. For outdoor furniture it's more durable than varnish and oil (at least for the harsh winter here in the Quebec region).

The only disadvantage is the price, about $50 per gallon (Canadian).

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

I make Adirondack chairs from western red cedar and have used spar varnish with a high UV rating - the same kind used by boat builders. I figured if it was good enough on the high seas it was good enough in someone's backyard.

I spray a minumum of 3 coats with 24 hours dry time between coats. I began using spar varnish 3 years ago and the finish on those first chairs is still bright and fresh. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so they are in wet weather about 60% of the time.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Furniture: Outdoor Furniture

  • KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Woodworking

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article