6 Steps to Revive Wooden Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor Lawn Furniture with a pot of flowers

A combination of sunlight, dirt, and moisture can take a toll on all types of wooden outdoor furniture. The good news is that most pieces can be restored. Cracks and discoloration of hardwoods like teak, pine, cherry and maple can be restored in a few simple steps as described below.

Step 1: Cleaning

Begin by spraying off the piece with a garden hose. Using a power washer is not advised, as the high speed stream can easily cut into the wood. Make sure to get underneath the piece to remove any accumulated dirt and cobwebs. The water also helps to dilute any runoff brightener solution which will be applied in the next step.

Step 2: Apply Brightener for Deep Cleaning

Deep-down cleaning is done through the application of “brightener” such as the ones from Thompson or Valspar. Also known as a deck cleaner, this solution helps remove dirt and return the wood to its original color. Pour the brightener into a spray pump and apply it to the wood furniture, starting at the bottom and making your way up to the top. Let the chemical sit on the piece for several minutes, and follow up with thorough hand cleaning using a nylon brush. Use different brush sizes to get into all the crevices and between slats.

Step 3: Rinse Off

Rinse off the brightener to reveal a clean and smooth wood surface. The chemical will wash off all the damaged wood cells as well as dirt particles. Let the piece dry outside.

Step 4: Sanding

The surface of the outdoor furniture will be rough and grainy. A light sanding with 100 grit sand paper will remove these imperfections. A power sander works great for the large faces, while a folded piece of sandpaper can get into the small areas. Remember to sand lightly, as over sanding can prevent the wood from absorbing the finish which will be applied next. Sand in the direction of the grain for best results.

Step 5: Add Stain

Gel stains are perfect for outdoor wooden furniture because they do not drip during application. However, any type of hardwood stain will work just fine. Stain is applied to add vivid color to the wood as well as protect it. Begin by staining the ends, edges and corners of the piece using a small detail brush. Work the stain into the wood with the included applicator using straight and circular strokes. The stain should be applied evenly.

Step 6: Apply Sealer

If you did not use a stain/sealer combo, you may want to apply a layer of sealer on top of the stain. Sealer serves to waterproof and protect the wood, and comes in various finishes ranging from dull matte to high gloss. It is applied in the same way that Step 5 describes. Applying sealer to outdoor wood furniture increases the time between refinishing projects and seals in the color.

Learn about different kinds of outdoor wood furniture.
Learn about wood folding chairs.

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