wooden outdoor furniture

The air is warmer, you haven’t put on your winter coat in weeks and the birds are chirping up a storm — spring must be just around the corner. The shifting weather means it’s time to get excited about patio season, but is your outdoor wooden furniture ready to face the elements when those spring showers inevitably arrive?

Proper spring maintenance plays an essential role in protecting your wood furniture and making the most out of your outdoor living space. If you’re wondering how to protect outdoor wood furniture in a simple, convenient way, here’s what you can do to take great care of your favorite pieces and maximize your daily dose of al fresco relaxation.

Set Up Your Spring Cleaning Plans

Protecting outdoor wood furniture isn’t difficult when you have a game plan, so start your prep by making a list of all the surfaces you’d like to shield from the elements. Once you know which outdoor furniture and wood surfaces you’d like to protect, gather key materials to enhance your project.

While you can get mediums like marine varnish, linseed oil, oil-based paint and polyurethane sealants at the local hardware store, we urge you to use all-natural color and finishes like products from the Real Milk Paint Co. to ensure eco-friendly projects that last. We suggest the following supplies to get you started when you want to protect outdoor wood furniture:

  • Outdoor Additive
  • Outdoor Defense Oil
  • Pure Tung Oil
  • A clean, lint-free rag
  • Real Milk Paint
  • A mixing container
  • Stir stick(s)
  • Paint brushes and/or rollers
  • A clean, debris-free surface and well-ventilated space
  • Cleaning tools such as a pressure washer or soap and water

Start With Clean Wood Furniture and Surfaces

Even the best paint looks sketchy applied over dingy, dirt-riddled surfaces, which is why it’s so important to clean up your outdoor wood furniture project space before you start rubbing on any oil. For decks and porches, consider using a deck cleaner first, then use an air compressor to get rid of leaves and other loose materials before breaking out a pressure washer. If your outdoor wood furniture requires pressure washing, however, stick to a low setting to preserve the quality and natural texture.

For smaller areas and outdoor wood furniture in need of a quick cleanup, you can usually meet your goals just by dusting the surfaces with a damp cloth. Keep in mind, though, that you may need to do a deeper clean with a simple combination of soap and water on wood furniture or surfaces with more dirt and debris. After cleaning, be sure to let damp wood dry before you start your project to protect outdoor wood furniture.

Protect Outside Wood Furniture With Outdoor Additive

A solid paint job is the foundation of any kind of outdoor furniture protection. We recommend cleaning and prepping your patio furniture before mixing up a combination of your chosen shade of Real Milk Paint® and a bit of our Outdoor Additive. This all-natural, nontoxic borate compound helps protect outdoor wood furniture by inhibiting mold, blocking stains and restricting bacteria growth.

Rely on wooden furniture painted with Real Milk Paint® and Outdoor Additive to last the long haul. Formulated for enduring color, this outdoor furniture protection helps keep your natural wood furnishings like outdoor chaise lounges and Adirondack chairs vibrant for the long term, ensuring cozy picnics in your backyard or on your deck or patio for years to come.

Use Outdoor Defense Oil to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

For an extra layer of protection, top off your wooden furniture paint job with a layer of Outdoor Defense Oil. We’ve harnessed the combined power of pure tung oil, pine oil and zinc to create an environmentally friendly all-weather product known for keeping the sun’s rays and pesky rain showers at bay.

This all-natural formulation helps you waterproof wood while providing a natural look when used alone on raw wood and a matte finish when used on wooden furniture coated with Real Milk Paint. In addition to water resistance, our oil offers better protection than most standard water sealers by shielding furniture used outdoors from UV radiation.

Outdoor Defense Oil is easy to apply for fuss-free wooden furniture projects that hold up well against harsh elements and sun damage. Complete your outdoor furniture protection project with the following instructions:

NOTE: It’s important to apply any of our oil products when the project is in the shade or cool of the day. If the oil is on the surface and the hot sun is beaming on it, then there’s a possibility for the oil to flash cure on the surface.

  1. Apply a good layer of Outdoor Defense Oil as your first coat over natural wood or Real Milk Paint-covered wood surfaces with a natural bristle brush, sponge or roller.
  2. Let that first coat sit for up to 40 minutes or until it soaks completely into the wood underneath, then apply as many coats as the surface can absorb, waiting roughly 40 minutes between coats.
  3. Repeat step two until the outdoor furniture is completely saturated and unable to absorb any more Outdoor Defense Oil. This is typically between 3-5 coats.
  4. Wipe off the excess oil that did not absorb and keep your project from getting wet or dirty.
  5. After 24 hours, you can add another multi-coat application — up to 2-3 additional coats. It’s best to fully saturate the wood like this if you deal with lots of specific weather conditions that leave your outdoor furniture easily damaged.
  6. Because this is a natural finish, it needs time to completely cure. Keep your project as clean and dry as possible for the next 7-10 days. It should be dry to the touch within that time. For a complete cure, 30 days is required.
  7. Wrap up your project for outdoor use and enjoy the desired finish on your deck, garden bench or porch swing.

Regular Maintenance to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

Maintaining a waterproof wood surface is just as important as adding one to wooden furniture projects for the great outdoors. A good water sealant to add to already-finished wood is our Pure Tung Oil thinned with our Orange Oil Natural Citrus Solvent or Odorless Mineral Spirits at a 50/50 ratio or 25/75 ratio, leaning heavier on the solvent to aid absorption. To maintain moisture and sun protection, follow these steps:

  1. Wipe down fairly clear surfaces with a clean rag, or use soap and water to remove caked-on dirt and debris from the old finish. Let the damp wood dry completely before continuing.
  2. Repair any surface damage if needed by hitting the wood surface with fine grit sandpaper, then wiping away the sanding dust with a damp rag.
  3. Wipe on one or two thin coats of your tung oil and mineral spirits or citrus solvent mixture. Let the oil absorb up to 40 minutes. Reapply if needed.
  4. Once the wood surface won’t absorb any more of the tung oil mixture, wipe away the excess oil and let the outdoor furniture cure for at least 24 hours.

Don’t Forget About Water Sealant on Non-Wood Surfaces

Both our Outdoor Additive and Outdoor Defense Oil work wonders on outdoor wood furniture, but that’s just the beginning. You can use this powerful combo on wooden decks and siding, as well as other materials such as concrete, stucco, stone and brick. More eco-friendly than local hardware store products like spar varnish, latex paint and lacquer, our products protect outdoor wood furniture without the potential environmental impact.

Both products are food-contact safe, too, so feel free to detail the butcher block you just installed in your outdoor kitchen or safeguard your built-in prep surfaces so you can chop vegetables or carve up BBQ without worry. From stepping stones to garden boxes, wood pergolas to concrete water features, almost everything can benefit from a little TLC and our Outdoor Defense Oil.

Complete Outdoor Wood Furniture Projects Before Temps Soar

There’s a reason spring cleaning happens before the hot summer sun starts scorching the earth, and your patio prep should take place in cooler temps, too. Applying Outdoor Defense Oil or Pure Tung Oil in a high-heat environment or direct sunlight speeds up polymerization and results in a frosty, rubbery and otherwise unsightly finish. With that in mind, you may even want to move your spring cleaning to fall so you can complete all your projects before the deep freeze of winter. That way, once spring rolls around, you’ll be raring to go!

Extra Tips for Protecting Outdoor Wood Furniture

To help make your paint project go as smoothly as possible, here are a few more expert tips and tricks:

  • You’re looking to fully saturate your wood project with the oil, but you don’t want to have the oil sitting on the surface. It’s key to give your project a thorough wipe-down after your last coat to remove the excess oil rather than letting it sit on your outdoor wood furniture.
  • Use solvents like mineral spirits in a well-ventilated area. If you’re using Outdoor Defense Oil indoors, make sure to open some windows and turn on a fan or two during your work and for a few hours afterward.
  • Shake your oil before using it as the contents could separate. Ensuring the oil is blended helps ensure a fully integrated project and aids you in achieving the best results on everything from outdoor coffee tables and Adirondack chairs to decks, patios and porch rails.
  • Touch-ups are to be expected. Depending on how much wind and rain your furniture gets exposed to over the years and whether you’re working on a high-traffic area like a deck or wooden walkway, you may need to apply a touch-up coat from time to time to protect wood furniture and surfaces.
  • While every wood is different, fully saturating a wood surface by applying multiple coats typically gives you the best finish. Don’t rush the process — good things take time! Don’t stop with a second coat — add that third coat of Pure Tung Oil or Outdoor Defense Oil if you think your outdoor wooden furniture requires an extra protective mantle.
  • Be sure to sand down projects that have damage before you protect outdoor wooden furniture. Likewise, put down tack cloth before starting your project and remove any items that might be damaged during the protection process, such as patio furniture covers.
  • Don’t forget indoor furniture! Wooden furniture like chairs and sofas exposed to UV rays needs some extra protection, whether used indoors or outdoors.

Now that you know how to protect outdoor wood furniture, future projects should go much easier. Keep this primer on hand when spring rolls around next year so you’re ready to tackle outdoor wood furniture projects with ease, and put products from the Real Milk Paint Co. to work on year-round tasks requiring high-quality mediums that endure time and use with aplomb.