worn garden dining table

How to restore weathered wooden garden furniture – a simple guide

Weathered furniture can be unsightly, as its worn-out appearance can be quite deceiving. However, before you rush to spend your hard-earned money on a brand-new garden furniture set, take a moment to explore this guide on restoring your existing pieces. With just a few readily available products and a minimal time investment, you can transform your weathered garden furniture into a stunning, rejuvenated ensemble that rivals its original beauty. Say goodbye to the eyesore and say hello to a beautifully revitalised garden set.

Steps required to give your wooden garden furniture a new lease of life

Wooden garden furniture is a great choice as it can be left outdoors in all weather conditions, all year long.  However, this is also its downfall as the wood does eventually become ‘weathered’ whereby it turns to a duller grey colour which makes it look old and tired.

Luckily there are plenty of products on the market that can help to give your outdoor wooden furniture a new lease of life.  By maintaining your garden table, chairs and benches annually (or as often as needed depending on whether you cover when not in use), you will be able to prolong their life and make them look like new once again.

Here are the simple steps you should follow to restore your weathered wooden furniture:

Before you get started

Before you begin the process, make sure you check the weather forecast.  Not only does the furniture need to be dry to start restoring it, but you will also need to allow time for the primer and paint to dry.

good weather forecast

Step 1 – Cleaning your outdoor furniture

Before embarking on the restoration process, it’s essential to ensure that the area is clean and dry. Clear away any cobwebs, dust, and debris that may have accumulated on the furniture over time. Depending on the level of dirt and grime, a simple cloth may suffice, or you may need to employ a stiff bristle brush to tackle stubborn residues.

In cases where your wooden furniture is heavily coated with cobwebs, dirt, or even moss, it is highly recommended to consider jet washing as a preliminary step.

jet washing wooden furniture bench

Jet washing can effectively reach smaller gaps and crevices, providing a thorough cleaning foundation for the subsequent restoration work. By eliminating these surface impurities, you’ll be setting the stage for a successful rejuvenation of your garden furniture.

Step 2 – Sanding the wood

Once your furniture is dry and free from dirt the first job will be to remove any obstructions like lumps of wood stain or protective oils. It’s best to use a scraper for this first task.  Then use a piece of sandpaper to smooth the surface.  I tend to start with a coarse piece and then switch to a finer piece of sandpaper to get the smoothest finish. 

Dewalt cordless sander and sandpaper

I used a 125mm orbital sander to clean and prepare the surface.  Start with 80 grit, then 120 and finish with a 240.  Try buying a selection pack of sanding disks like these on eBay.

Step 3 – Prime the wood

Before painting you should always use a primer.  To protect against resinous knots and water vapour you should choose a primer that contains aluminium flake such as Sovereign Chemicals‘ aluminium primer.

restoring wooden garden furniture primer

Primer shouldn’t be skipped as not only does it provide a base for the paint to be applied to for a smoother finish, but it adds an extra layer of protection to the furniture.  The primer will fill in some of the grain and seal the surface of the wood so the paint or stain will look its best.

Here are a couple of other exterior wood primers I’d recommend: Sandtex wood primer, Dulux Weathershield

To use the primer, simply stir it and then paint it on with a paint brush ensuring your strokes are in the direction of the grain.

Leave the furniture until the primer is completely dry.  The drying time will depend on each primer brand so check the instructions on the tin.

Garden Buildings Direct promo

Step 4 – Paint or stain your outdoor furniture

Finally it’s time to paint or stain your wooden garden furniture!  Make sure you buy paint or stain that is suitable for outdoor wooden furniture.

Try one of these: Rust-oleum graphite chalky effect, Rust-oleum teal satin or Rust-oleum duck egg

staining wooden garden furniture

Stir the paint and apply one coat using a paint brush.  Leave this coat to fully dry before deciding whether you need to apply additional coats. Apply with a brush in the direction of the grain taking care to avoid drips and get into all the corners.

Step back and admire your handy work!

Protecting your wooden garden furniture

With the techniques mentioned in this post we’ve learnt how to restore our wooden furniture but what are the best methods of keeping the furniture looking great for years to come?

Protecting your wooden furniture is essential to ensure its longevity and maintain its aesthetic appeal for years to come. By implementing the following methods, you can effectively safeguard your wooden garden furniture:

  1. Regular Cleaning: One of the simplest and most important steps in protecting wooden furniture is regular cleaning. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the surface and cause damage over time. Use a soft brush or a damp cloth to gently remove any dirt or grime from the furniture. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can scratch or strip the wood’s natural finish.
  2. Applying Protective Finish: Applying a protective finish is crucial for preserving the beauty and durability of wooden furniture. There are various options available, such as varnishes, sealants, or oils. Choose a finish that suits the type of wood and the desired appearance. Before applying the finish, ensure the furniture is clean and dry. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and drying time.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Wooden furniture requires regular maintenance to keep it in optimal condition. Inspect the furniture periodically for any signs of wear, cracks, or damage. Address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration. If you notice any loose joints or screws, tighten them to maintain the structural integrity of the furniture.
  4. Avoiding Exposure to Elements: Excessive exposure to sunlight, rain, and extreme temperature changes can cause damage to wooden furniture. Whenever possible, place your furniture in a shaded area or use umbrellas or canopies to provide protection from direct sunlight. During rainy seasons or when not in use, consider covering the furniture with waterproof covers or storing it indoors to prevent water damage.
  5. Use Coasters and Mats: To prevent unsightly stains and marks, always use coasters, placemats, or trivets when placing items on wooden furniture. This helps protect the surface from heat, moisture, and spills that can penetrate the finish and cause damage.
  6. Avoid Sharp Objects and Heavy Impact: Be mindful of sharp objects or heavy items that can scratch or dent the wood. Avoid dragging or sliding heavy objects across the furniture, as this can leave permanent marks. Use furniture pads or felt protectors under the legs of chairs and tables to prevent scratching the floor or damaging the furniture.
  7. Seasonal Care: Different weather conditions can affect wooden furniture differently. During dry seasons, when the wood may shrink or become brittle, applying a moisturizing product or oil can help prevent cracking or splitting. In humid seasons, when the wood may expand or warp, ensuring proper ventilation and airflow around the furniture can help maintain its shape.

Finally, think about investing in suitable garden furniture covers.

garden furniture cover Etsy
Garden furniture cover Etsy

Furniture covers are designed to shield your outdoor pieces from the elements and offer several benefits:

  1. Weather Protection: Garden furniture covers are specifically designed to protect your wooden furniture from rain, snow, UV rays, and other weather elements that can cause damage over time. They act as a barrier, preventing water penetration, fading from the sun, and potential warping or cracking of the wood.
  2. Dust and Debris Prevention: Even when not in use, outdoor furniture can accumulate dust, pollen, leaves, and other debris. Furniture covers keep these unwanted particles from settling on the surface of your wooden furniture, minimizing the need for frequent cleaning and reducing the risk of scratches.
  3. Extended Lifespan: By providing a protective shield against various elements, furniture covers help extend the lifespan of your wooden garden furniture. The covers act as a barrier, shielding the wood from potential damage, thus reducing the need for repairs or replacements in the long run.
  4. Convenience: Garden furniture covers are designed to be easily fitted and removed, offering convenience when it comes to covering and uncovering your outdoor furniture. They often feature fastening mechanisms such as buckles, drawstrings, or zippers to secure the cover in place, even during windy conditions.
  5. Versatility: Furniture covers are available in different sizes and shapes to accommodate various types of outdoor furniture, including tables, chairs, benches, and loungers. Whether you have a compact patio set or a large dining ensemble, you can find covers that fit snugly and provide comprehensive protection.

When choosing garden furniture covers, consider the following factors:

  • Material: Opt for covers made from durable, weather-resistant materials such as polyester or vinyl. These materials are typically waterproof, UV-resistant, and capable of withstanding outdoor conditions.
  • Proper Fit: Ensure that the covers you choose are the appropriate size and shape for your furniture. A snug fit prevents wind from blowing the cover off and offers better protection overall.
  • Ventilation: Look for covers that feature ventilation panels or mesh inserts. These help promote airflow and prevent the buildup of moisture, which can lead to mold or mildew growth.
  • Storage: Some covers come with built-in storage bags or cases for easy storage when not in use. This feature helps keep the covers organized and protected from damage during the off-season.
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