Do You Need to Seal Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

Outdoor wooden furniture is an excellent addition to any environment. These furniture sets provide us with places to relax and catch up with our loved ones. However, nature can take its toll on outdoor furniture. So, do you need to seal your outdoor wooden furniture sets?

Sealing outdoor wooden furniture is an incredibly efficient way to protect your valuable pieces. Sealants act as a layer of defense from moisture, debris, UV rays, and other wear and tear. On top of that, sealants can transform furniture sets, sparking life into dull pieces.

As expected, sealing outdoor wooden furniture is a smart idea. The process is typically straightforward and easy to follow. However, there are some nuances you should be aware of. Here’s everything you need to know about sealing outdoor wooden furniture sets!

Should I Seal My Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

Gloved Hands Applying Varnish to Bench

Sealing outdoor wooden furniture is an excellent option to protect your valuable pieces. Sealants act as the first layer of defense from natural elements, protecting your furniture from moisture and debris.

On top of that, sealing your outdoor furniture can give it a different look, bringing life back into old furniture.

Do You Need to Seal Painted Outdoor Wood Furniture?

Painted outdoor wooden furniture sets typically come with a sealant of their own. These pieces are commonly water- and weather-resistant and don’t directly require a sealant. However, adding an extra clear coat can aid in your furniture’s protection.

Applying a top clear coat to painted outdoor furniture can add an extra layer of defense. For example, you can apply a clear polyurethane finish to painted projects. This layer will lock out moisture, dirt, debris, and other damages.

Will Sealed Outdoor Furniture Last Longer?

Sealed outdoor furniture will definitely last longer than their counterparts. Sealants protect your furniture from moisture damage and are especially effective in wet climates.

Moisture can cause the wooden furniture to rot, build up mildew, warp, and crack. Sealants act as the first layer of protection against moisture, reducing these risks.

What Damages Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

Outdoor wooden furniture accrues damages over time. The natural elements affect the wood, resulting in UV damage, mildew, and cracks. To protect our beautiful patio sets properly, we first need to know what’s damaging them.

Sun (UV Rays): Harsh UV rays from the sun can damage wooden furniture. UV rays break down lignin in wood, which bonds wood together and strengthens it. Without any added protection, the sun will damage wood every time.

UV damage results in the surface of the wood turning to a light gray color. The UV rays can also cause cracks within the wood.

Hardwood furniture may not be as susceptible to UV rays. On the other hand, softwood furniture sets are particularly at risk, as they’re more susceptible to cracking and warping.

Wood Rot: Wood rot can destroy outdoor furniture sets. Wood rot is caused by the growth of fungus within the wood. This fungus is typically caused by wet conditions, such as rain and snow. However, wood rot can be prevented by avoiding certain conditions.

Mold and Mildew: Mold and mildew also damage outdoor wooden furniture sets. Mold and mildew are caused by wet conditions and moisture. Avoiding temperatures between 40° – 90°F can help prevent fungus growth. On top of that, avoiding moisture content greater than 25-30% will also prevent wood rot, mold, and mildew.

These are just a few of the ways wood can be damaged. Natural elements such as sunlight, rain, snow, and more can damage your outdoor furniture. It’s best to keep wood dry and out of wet climates to prevent rotting, mold, and mildew. One of the simplest ways to do so is by applying a wooden furniture sealer.

What Are the Different Types of Outdoor Wooden Furniture Sealers?

There are numerous varieties of outdoor wooden furniture sealers. You can select from oils, varnishes, lacquers, and more. Each option serves a different purpose and has its own set of pros and cons.

Wood Oils

Wood oils act as a layer of defense from moisture, debris, and other damages. There are multiple varieties of oils, each with a different set of pros and cons. These oils don’t only protect your furniture pieces, but they can spark life into them as well.

The best oils for outdoor wooden furniture are going to be Danish oil, teak oil, or tung oil. These oils are the most durable, providing the best protection. Be sure to read all instructions and guidelines before applying any oil.

Danish Oil

Danish oil is considered a favorite, as it is more water-resistant and protective than tung oil and linseed varieties. Danish oil provides a hard protective coating after drying, making it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture sets. This oil has a drying time of 4-6 hours, making it incredibly convenient to use.

Teak Oil

Teak oil was originally made from teak wood. Nowadays, you can find teak oils made from just about any wood variety. This oil is perfect for close grain woods, as it can penetrate deeper than other oils.

Teak oil gives the wood a warm finish and can be applied to indoor and outdoor furniture sets. Teak oil is notably easy to use and only takes 4-6 hours to completely dry. This oil also has a matte finish, similar to tung oil.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is nontoxic and has been used for hundreds of years. This oil derives from the seed of tung trees. Tung oil is more water-resistant and dries faster than linseed oil.

However, tung oil requires more coats than other options. With this oil, you’ll have to apply up to five coats for the best results. This oil also takes longer to dry at around a total of 24 hours and has a matte finish.

Polyurethane Sealants

Polyurethane sealants allow for a wide variety of customization. With these sealants, you can choose high-gloss finishes or a more subtle finish.

Polyurethane sealants won’t yellow, so they’re also a good choice for lighter-toned woods. Oil-based polyurethane provides the most durability, while water-based polyurethane has the easiest cleanup process.

Wood Varnishes

Exterior varnishes can offer more protection than oil finishes. Varnishes create a hard layer around the wood, protecting it from the natural elements. However, the varnish is notoriously difficult to apply.

With varnishes, you have to apply upwards of eight coats with a bristle brush. You may even have to sand between coats, adding work to a simple project. Although you get a few extra years of protection, this added work may not be worth it to some.

Be sure to reapply a new coat of varnish once you start seeing a chalky film. To do so, sand down your topcoat and simply reapply a new layer of varnish. If you put this step off for too long, your furniture can develop cracks and other damages! These damages may result in the furniture needing a complete stripping and refinishing, adding unnecessary work.


Lacquer is essentially a mixture of dissolved resin in alcohol. This sealant is one of the first choices for wooden furniture. Lacquer can develop yellowish hue overtime on lighter woods. However, lacquer can provide an incredibly rich and warm finish to deeper toned woods.

Lacquer comes in a variety of gloss finishes and can be thinned for better results. Note that you must read all of the instructions and guidelines before applying lacquer. Ventilation is crucial when applying lacquer as it emits strong fumes.

What Tools Will I Need to Seal Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

Workman varnishing antique armchair

To seal your outdoor wooden furniture sets, you’ll need a variety of tools. Each project will require a different selection of tools, but here’s a general list you can follow:

  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • Drop cloth
  • Sealant
  • Wash cloth
  • Brush
  • Pump sprayer
  • Fine-grit sandpaper

Each one of these tools will come in handy during different situations. However, it’s crucial to practice proper safety protocols. Gloves, masks, and goggles are a must as some of these sealants can be toxic. For the best results, follow all instructions and guidelines set by the manufacturer.

What Are the Best Seals for Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

As mentioned earlier, each type of sealant will have its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Different materials will have different best use cases and will depend largely on the project. However, there are some sealants we can recommend to get you started!

Star brite Premium Golden Teak Oil

Star brite Premium Golden Teak Oil (on Amazon) is one of our highest recommendations for wooden furniture sealants. This product is versatile and excellent for fine wooden furniture sets. The sealant is made with natural, ultra-refined oils that can withstand damage from the toughest elements.

Not to mention, this teak oil can revitalize any old piece of furniture. This oil provides a beautiful shine, enhancing the natural tones within any wood. This oil spreads easily, dries fast, and provides a long-lasting finish. However, you will need to clean and prepare your furniture piece before application.

Rain Guard Water Sealers SP-8002 Wood Sealer Concentrate

Rain Guard Water Sealers (on Amazon) is an excellent choice to turn any wooden furniture waterproof. This sealer will rejuvenate old wooden furniture sets, protecting them from UV rays, mildew, moisture damage, and more!

Rain Guard is nontoxic and safe, making it a no-brainer for pet owners and families. This product dries incredibly fast, leaving a natural, transparent, and durable finish. Although this product’s application process is straightforward, you will need to prepare your furniture before beginning.

Thompson’s WaterSeal TH.041851

Thompson’s WaterSeal (on Amazon) is another product that’s high on our recommendation list. This sealant will ensure your outdoor furniture is reaching its maximum lifespan. Thompson’s WaterSeal won’t affect the natural beauty of your piece, as it dries transparently.

This sealant is also incredibly easy to apply and can even be applied to damp wood! Additionally, you only need to apply one coat of Thompson’s WaterSeal. However, Thompson’s WaterSeal doesn’t do well against UV rays.

Are There Sealers That Are Also Stains for Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

Applying multiple coats, layers, and finishes can be time-consuming. With some projects, you may even have to sand between applications! Luckily, there are products that act as both a stain and sealer for outdoor wooden furniture.

These products are great for those with limited time or budget. Each product will have its own set of pros and cons. For that reason, be sure to read all instructions and guidelines before using them.

Ready Seal 512

Ready Seal (on Amazon) is a wooden furniture sealant and stain all-in-one combo. This product is incredibly versatile and can work well for many projects. Ready Seal can penetrate woods, changing and staining the color. It also acts as a sealant, providing a layer of defense from natural elements.

Storm System Protector Penetrating Sealer & Stain

Storm System Protector Penetrating Sealer & Stain (on Amazon) is another excellent all-in-one product. Storm Protector uses natural oils, providing a semi-transparent finish. This sealant will help fight off moisture, bugs, debris, and other wear and tear.

Application is incredibly straightforward and can be done with a roller, brush, or spray application. One of the many benefits of Storm Protector is that it’s compatible with nearly every wood species, making it a versatile solution.

How to Choose the Best Sealant for Outdoor Wooden Furniture

As you can see, each sealant serves a different purpose. Different sealants have various pros and cons, making it difficult to choose the perfect product. So, how can you choose the best sealant for your outdoor wooden furniture?

Oils, Varnishes, or Lacquers?

Before you can begin sealing your beautiful wooden furniture, you’ll need to choose a product type. You can select from various wood oils, varnishes, lacquers, and polyurethane sealants.

Wood oils provide organic protection to wooden furniture and enhance natural beauty. Varnishes will take more work, requiring multiple coats. Lacquers and polyurethane sealants will vary in labor but have the most diversity of finish.

How Much Time Can You Commit?

Although we may want the very best all-natural finish, the process might take too long to make sense. Choosing the best sealant will partially come down to how much effort you’re willing to exert.

Different sealants and finishes require more time. If you don’t have a full weekend to dedicate to one project, you might be better off going with a less intensive sealant.

What’s Your Climate Like?

Some finishes do better in different climates. If you live in a naturally sunny environment, you’ll want to look for sealants suited for UV rays. Alternatively, if you live in wet and rainy conditions, you’ll want a moisture-resistant sealant.

When choosing the best product, consider your environment and needs. Maybe you want something nontoxic to protect your backyard, pets, and family. Regardless of your needs, there is sure to be a product best suited for you.

Are You Staining or Sealing?

As mentioned earlier, there are staining products, sealing products, and all-in-one combo solutions. Using an all-in-one product can save time and be an efficient way to protect your furniture. However, either option can benefit your outdoor wooden pieces, so the choice will come down to preference.

The Final Verdict

As you can see, there are many questions to ask yourself when choosing the best sealant. The best sealant will come down to your needs, preferences, and budget. Sealing your outdoor wooden furniture can prolong its lifespan and drastically transform the exterior.

Products like Star brite Premium Teak Oil can be incredibly versatile, working with nearly any project. All-in-one stain and sealant products like Ready Seal can save time down the line.

Each sealant variety will be different. Some of these varieties will do better than others, so it’s best to research and shop around. As always, read any and all manufacture guidelines before using!

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