What Is the Best Sealer for Outdoor Wood Furniture? 

 November 29, 2021

By  Dale Keese

Outdoor wood furniture is a great way to beautify the exterior of your home. However, sealing is important to ensure they are protected from the element, moisture, waterlogging, UV radiation, mold and mildew, and insects. But most people are still unsure of the right type of sealer to use for outdoor wood furniture.

You can choose from epoxy or polyurethane sealers, traditional wood oils, as well as next-generation wood oils for sealing outdoor wood furniture. These are the best types of sealers that protect wood from UV rays, moisture, mold, and the effects of weather.

Each of these sealer types have various benefits for different types of exterior wood furniture. Read on below to learn more.

Which Sealant is Best for Outdoor Wood Furniture

Sealing your outdoor wood furniture is a proven effective way of increasing its lifespan and functionality, while preserving its natural beauty.

However, it’s important to use the right type of sealer. Here’s what you need to know about the various sealers that are best for protecting outdoor wood furniture.

Wood Sealers

Sealers are a finishing product that is applied to surfaces including wood to keep it protected. They come in many different kinds, including stains, paints, oils, and shellac. There are numerous varieties out there with its own advantages and benefits, but for the purpose of outdoor wood furniture, epoxies and oil-based polyurethane are best suited for the job.

Keep in mind that when shopping around for outdoor wood furniture sealers, only buy those that are made for sealing wood and not other surfaces such as concrete.

Epoxy Wood Sealer

Epoxy or epoxy resins are used for coating wood surfaces. It’s known for leaving a durable coat while making it waterproof, ideal qualities to look out for because outdoor wood furniture is especially vulnerable to moisture.

Epoxy is affordable and durable, and is effective in resisting moisture and humidity.

Polyurethane Sealers

Polyurethane sealers are renowned for being the most durable of all the clear exterior wood finishes available. These can only be used on outdoor wood furniture if it’s made with additives designed for protection against ultraviolet rays; look out for labels indicating it’s made for exterior use too.

Polyurethane sealers work best on light-colored woods because they don’t turn yellow over time.

Traditional Wood Oils

Wood oils are mostly made up of natural ingredients. They are easy to apply and its results can last a long time. It leaves a dry finish that is non-toxic and safe for humans, plants, and animals.

Wood oils work by penetrating deep into the wood to replenish its natural oils that tend to decrease through time, weather exposure, and of course, wear and tear. In addition, wood oils are beneficial in reviving the natural color of wood to restore its beauty. These can be applied either directly on bare wood, or on top of stained or sealed wood.

Traditional wood oils have been used for centuries to preserve outdoor wood. However, they do take a lot of effort and preparation to ensure a proper finish.

Drying vs. Non-Drying Oils

Wood oils can be categorized into either drying or non-drying oils. However, drying oils are preferred for sealing and finishing wood because they are liquids that actually cure into a solid film that is extremely protective for outdoor wood furniture.

Nut oils are usually drying oils, and the most popular of these are tung and linseed oil, as well as walnut. On the other hand, non-drying oils are made from vegetables such as corn, peanut, rapeseed, coconut, or olive. Mineral oils are also non-drying, and are made from petroleum.

Drying oils such as these, and other examples such as lemon or orange oil, are not recommended for wood because they are wet indefinitely after application. Soap and water application will easily wash it off, and that’s why non-drying oils are not suitable for use on exterior wood furniture. They are primarily used as temporary wood treatments.

Teak Oil

Teak oil is one of the more popular oils used for sealing outdoor teak wood furniture. It’s water and weather resistant, and ensures that the teak maintains its warm amber and honey colors. Additionally, teak oil does a fantastic job in beautifying wood grain.

When applying teak oil to teak wood furniture, be sure to remove any excess oil before it dries up. Any additional coats should be reapplied within 24 hours. It’s generally low-maintenance, as a fresh layer should be applied once or twice a year only.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is obtained from the Tung tree nuts. It’s non-toxic, dries as soon as it’s exposed to air, and penetrates deeply into wood to protect from moisture while leaving a clear shine. Another benefit to using tung oil is that it’s flexible, which means that it contracts and expands with the wood.

To use tung oil, one must burnish the wood by sanding it down in order to achieve a level of 600 to 800 grit for smoothness. Sanding shouldn’t stop until the wood has a clear luster. It will require several phases of applying oil then sanding again to get a satin finish for the wood.

Tung oil is recommended for maple outdoor wood furniture and looks great on light colored woods, though the disadvantage to using it is that it doesn’t last a long time and it takes a lot of effort to apply.

Danish Oil

Danish oils are a polymerized version of linseed or tung oil, and it’s one of the best sealers for outdoor wood furniture. It’s made by combining either one of those oils with solvents. The benefits of using Danish oil are many: it’s superior in protecting wood from chemical damage and heat, while improving resistance against stains and scratches.

It works by leaving a hard coat on wood surfaces after it has been exposed to air. Danish oil takes just around 15 minutes to completely absorb into the wood though only one layer should be applied each day. You’ll need several layers to create a thick coating that’s more durable.

Danish oils are recommended on new wood surfaces that have been untreated. Many homeowners love the lustrous finish it leaves.

Next-Generation Wood Oils

Next-generation wood oils are newer types of wood oils that have been developed in the last few years. They have all the benefits of wood oils but are much easier and simpler to use, last longer, and are easy to maintain. They also require significantly less preparation to use.

Examples of next-generation wood oils include:

  • Lacq
  • Osmo
  • Rubio Monocoat

Last but not least, you can also use sealers made exclusively for sealing certain types of wood.

Best Wood Sealer for Outdoor Furniture

There are many choices when it comes to sealers for outdoor wood furniture. Here are some terrific products that you can find on Amazon: 

-   Ready Seal Natural Cedar Exterior Stain and Sealer
-   Hope’s Pure Tung Oil
-   Thompson’s Water Seal VOC Wood Protector

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I waterproof wood furniture for outdoors?

There are three tools you can use to waterproof outdoor wood furniture. These are natural oils, clear coats such as varnish, lacquer, or polyurethane, or an all-in-one product that stains and seals.

Natural oils are an easy and non-toxic way to waterproof wood furniture, and they don’t have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which synthetic sealers do. The disadvantage to using natural oils is that they only provide average protection from water, so this option is best used for outdoor furniture that is placed underneath a shelter.

Clear coats leave a hard and glossy surface on top of the wood, providing much better protection from water, scratches, and moisture. However, they will eventually peel off and require sanding so that wood can be refinished. In addition, oil-based coats tend to darken the appearance of wood.

All-in-one products are a great choice to enhance the color and grain of outdoor wood furniture, while also protecting wood from the elements. Aside from that, all-in-one products don’t darken or yellow wood over time though they also contain VOCs.  

About the author

Hey, I'm Dale Keese.. thanks for reading.. hopefully this article can save you some time and trouble with your sealing job. I'm also in the process of making some video walk-throughs for youtube so check back soon! thanks

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