Different oils, varnishes, and finishes can drastically change outdoor furniture. If you use the correct oils, they can transform and protect patio sets for years. But what’s the best oil for outdoor furniture?
Danish oil and teak oil are the best options for coating outdoor furniture. Danish oil forms a hard protective coating and costs around $20 for 34 ounces. Teak oil is better for close-grained wood, as it soaks deep into the surface of wooden furniture. You can buy it at around $25 for 36 ounces.
Although Danish Oil is our best recommendation, it may not serve every purpose. Oils and finishes have different pros, cons, and uses. For that reason, it’s best to do your research and lead manufacturer’s guidelines before using. Here’s everything you need to know about the best oils for outdoor furniture!
The Best Oil to Use on Outdoor Furniture
Using oil on wood is an excellent way to maintain and improve any wooden surface. This technique has been used effectively for generations. Many individuals use different forms of wood oil, such as Tung Oil, Danish Oil, or even Olive Oil. But which oil is best used on outdoor furniture?
Before you begin, you need to determine what you’re using the oil for. Different oils have different consistencies, finishes, and purposes.
For example, Tung Oil and Danish Oil are both food-safe, but Danish oil forms a harder protective coating than the former. Another question you’ll have to ask yourself is the amount of work you’re willing to put into your project.
Some oils and finishes will take longer to dry, even reaching weeks and months. Other finishes and varnishes need multiple coats. Regardless of the amount of work you’re willing to put in, we’ll help you find the right oil and finish for you.
As mentioned earlier, each oil serves a different purpose. Each oil will have a unique set of advantages, drying time, finishes, and more. The perfect oil for your project will come down to your needs, preferences, and budget.
Linseed Oil is also known as Flaxseed Oil since it’s derived from the flaxseed plant. This oil soaks deeply into wooden surfaces, providing a protective sheen and satin finish. It’s important to note, this oil is resistant to weather conditions but can turn yellow with age.
Raw Linseed Oil is the unprocessed version of Linseed Oil. This oil offers little to no benefits to wooden furniture. Raw Linseed Oil can take upwards of two months to dry and is not recommended for outdoor furniture use.
Boiled Linseed Oil is a mixture of Raw Linseed Oil and other agents. This oil is not safe and releases volatile organic compounds when drying. It’s recommended to avoid using this oil on outdoor furniture.
Always use caution when considering this oil, and be sure to read all guidelines before use. This oil also takes a total of 24 hours to dry, making it a bit less convenient.
Polymerized Oil, or “Stand Oil,” is made by heating Raw Linseed Oil to extreme temperatures. This oil is usually non-toxic and has fast drying times, but always be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before using it.
Mineral Oil is not a long-term solution for oiling outdoor furniture. Mineral Oil is often used to return life into kitchen chopping boards and tools. This oil can be non-toxic and food-safe, but always be sure to read any guidelines before using it.
Tung oil is non-toxic 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 24 hours and has a Matte finish.
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 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.
As stated earlier, the best oil is going to come down to your needs, location, and preferences. Different oils are better suited for harsher conditions, while others are excellent for indoor use. So, what are the best oils for outdoor wood furniture?
Danish oil is one of the best options for outdoor wooden furniture. This oil forms a hard protective coating, adding water resistance and protection from wear and tear. One of our recommendations is FurnitureClinic Danish Oil, at around $20 for 34 oz!
As mentioned earlier, Teak Oil is one of the best oils for outdoor wood furniture. Teak oil is excellent for close grain woods, as it penetrates far deeper than other oils. Teak oil may contain some polymers, aiding in the drying process and providing a harder finish. We recommend brands like Star Brite Premium Golden Teak Oil (on Amazon) for outdoor projects!
So now that you know the differences between various wood oils, there comes an obvious question; How do you use and apply them? Don’t worry! Applying oils and finishes can be an incredibly simple process.
The first step before you can begin applying oil is to clean your outdoor furniture. To do so, wipe off any debris or dirt with a washcloth soaked in warm water. Clean the furniture in the same direction as the wood, applying force as needed.
You can also wash your outdoor wooden furniture with a degreaser before our next step. Degreaser can help you remove hard spots and stains that might have built up over the year. You can find excellent products like DeckMAX Wood Cleaner (on Amazon) or even Multipurpose Degreaser (also on Amazon) for affordable prices!
This step may be optional in some cases. However, If your outdoor furniture is highly damaged or needs some extra love, consider sanding it down. Go over your piece of furniture with 80-grit sandpaper to start. Afterward, you can use 120-grit sandpaper to get out any harsh stains or rough spots. Using anything above 120-grit sandpaper could prevent some finishes from fully penetrating, so sand with caution.
Now that your furniture is clean and sanded, you can begin applying oil. First and foremost, read all instructions and guidelines before applying. All oils and manufacturers are different, so following directions closely will lead to the best results.
The application can be fairly straightforward. You can use a hand pump garden sprayer (on Amazon) to soak your piece of furniture. After you leave the oil to soak, following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can wipe off the residual oil with a rag.
These are the basic instructions for applying oil finishes to outdoor furniture. Some brands and manufacturers will recommend different protocols. With oil finishes, you may have to reapply the finish once a year for the best protection.
When sorting out the logistics of your project, you may have run into various oils and varnishes. Choosing the correct finish is important and will change the look of your furniture. Each option has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. So, should you use oil or varnish on your outdoor furniture?
Exterior oil finishes are incredibly simple and easy to apply. All you have to do is let the oil soak in and wipe off any excess according to the manufacturer’s instructions. On top of that, exterior wood oils have added pigments, protecting them from UV rays, mold, and mildew. However, oil finishes don’t offer as much protection as varnishes and will only last about a year.
As long as you keep up with applications, oil should protect your furniture from sunlight and damages for many years to come. Exterior Oils need to be applied yearly and can vary in color from dark brown to light amber.
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 re-apply 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.
As you can see, each option has a different set of benefits. Oil is more natural, providing interesting finishes. Varnishes, on the other hand, can last longer but can be harder to apply. For some, long-term protection from varnishes might be a better option. Other individuals may prefer the natural look of oil.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying! Some finishes can be toxic or require certain protocols. Other finishes may have longer drying times or need to be sanded down between coats. For that reason, it’s best to do your due diligence and research before purchasing.