Quick Refinishing Tips for Wooden Outdoor Furniture

My husband has a 15-year-old oak and wrought iron bench from a place that had long since gone out of business.  Although it was stored on our covered patio for the winter, the wood clearly needed some work. Protecting wooden outdoor furniture is fairly easy.  To start this project, Mister Jack got out the sander and prepared the wood.  So the rest was up to me.

In less than half an hour, the finished project will last into the fall.  The finish will last even longer if the piece is stored properly during the winter.  Either place tarp over the wooden outdoor furniture or store it in a dry place like a covered patio, garage or storage unit.

Leave wooden outdoor furniture to the elements, and you will probably be repeating these refinishing tips next spring.  Protect the wood, and you’ll have attractive outdoor furniture that will last for years. 

Refinishing Wooden Outdoor Furniture


Wooden outdoor furniture, stripped of varnish or paint.  You may also use this technique on bare (unfinished) wood.

Thompson’s WaterSeal, Waterproofer Plus Tinted Wood Protector (Natural Cedar is shown here)

Small glass or plastic container

1-2 sponge brushes

1)  Stir or shake the Thompson’s WaterSeal.  

2)  Fill the jar with WaterSeal.

3)  Paint all exposed wood with a sponge brush.

4)  Let dry.  

5)  Repeat with more coats, if desired.



  1. marlenebertrand · April 18, 2013

    One of the reasons I opted against wooden furniture is because of the maintenance. But, reading your instructions makes me feel I have nothing to fear about maintaining the finish on wood furniture.

    • Arlene Poma · April 19, 2013

      Marlene, we first started with Adirondack chairs. They were clumsy to move, but so comfortable! As for the upkeep? To keep that stark white color, the chairs had to be painted each year because most of the time, we were too lazy to bring them in or cover them during the winter months. Last year, we bought you-put-it-together wooden outdoor chairs that were on sale (before and after the summer season). As long as you protect and store the furniture during the winter so that they are kept out of the weather, you probably won’t need to get out the Thompson’s WaterSeal by spring. This is the same stuff used for fences, decks and picnic tables. I painted a couple of chairs last fall, then left them under a covered patio during the winter. The color is still attractive and looks like I had just painted the wood, so I won’t need to treat the chairs to another coat right now. They are ready for summer entertaining. Don’t get me wrong! I absolutely love the heavy, wrought iron dining sets from the past. But it seems like they’ve already found forever homes.

      • marlenebertrand · April 19, 2013

        Ah, so I see now that the “secret” is the Thompson’s Waterseal. It’s good to know it works as well as they say it does. I have a wooden deck leading to the back yard. I think I’ll try the Thompson’s. Until now, I wasn’t convinced it would work so well. Thanks for the recommendation.

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