Best Outdoor Wood Finishes

Choosing the best outdoor wood finish depends on what characterisitcs you are looking for.

Durability is important for most people but exposed woodgrain is something else a lot of people want, especially if their outdoor furniture has an attractive, natural grain.

Unlike indoor wood, exterior wood requires a different type of finishing due to its exposure to the elements. Gloss finishes such as polyurethane, lacquer, and epoxy provide a high gloss and durable coating for outdoor wood surfaces.

These finishes are ideal for woods that need maximum protection from the sun and moisture. For decks, marine varnish and deck stain are also great options for finishing.

Oil finishes and mineral spirits are also popular for outdoor finishing use as they penetrate the wood fibers and provide a natural look while protecting against moisture. Finishing with marine varnish or spar varnish is essential for a durable exterior finish that can withstand rain, snow, heat, and cold temperatures.

Turpentine can be used to thin oil-based finishes for easier application.

Best Outdoor Wood Finish

Here's an example of unprotected wood. 

Protective coatings don't stick well after the wood is this badly weathered.

Hardwood Versus Softwood Finishes

When choosing a wood finish for outdoor furniture, it is crucial to consider the type of wood used in making the furniture. Softwoods like pine may require sanding before applying an exterior deck stain.

Hardwoods like teak or mahogany can benefit from a lacquer finish. A gloss finish may not be suitable for softwoods as they tend to absorb more moisture than hardwoods and absorbing moisture can affect the finish over time.

Factors to Consider When Choosing
The Best Outdoor Wood Finish

Moisture and UV protection are two crucial factors to consider when evaluating outdoor finishes for wood furniture. Without these protections, wood can easily rot, warp, fade, and discolor due to prolonged exposure to moisture and sunlight.

It's important to choose a finish that provides adequate moisture resistance to prevent damage from rain, high humidity, or snow on your wood furniture. A quality outdoor finish will also include UV protection to prevent fading and discoloration over time.

The type of wood being used should also be considered when selecting an outdoor finish. Different woods may require specific types of finishes to ensure they are properly protected from the elements. For example, cedar is naturally resistant to decay more than most woods, but requires a protective finish to maintain its color or the beauty of the woodgrain colors will disappear.

A table of climate and weather conditions in the area should also be taken into account when selecting a finish for outdoor wood. Areas with high levels of rainfall or humidity may require more frequent reapplication of the finish than areas with drier climates.

Durability and longevity of the finish should be evaluated as well. A quality outdoor furniture finish should be able to withstand harsh weather conditions for an extended period of time without needing frequent maintenance or replacement.

Finally, when choosing an outdoor wood finish, ease of maintenance and reapplication should be considered. Some finishes may require more upkeep than others, so it's important to choose one that fits your table's lifestyle and maintenance preferences.

Also, chemical vapors from certain types of finishes may be an issue for you. Some wood finishes can give off strong chemical vapors.

Best Outdoor Wood Finish-2

Here's an example of a beautiful woodgrain that has been finished with a clear coating to show its beauty.

It's more expensive to do a nice finish but much more attractive than paint. In addition, paint is not the most durable finish.

Treating Wood for Durability

Using pressure-treated wood is a popular method for outdoor use. This technique involves injecting chemicals into the wood using spray and epoxy to make it more resistant to decay and insects, making it a great option for decks, fences, and other outdoor structures that are exposed to the elements. However, some people may be concerned about the potential health risks associated with these chemicals, including turpentine.

Another method of treating exterior wood for outdoor use is using natural oils and sealers. This helps to create a durable finish that can withstand harsh weather conditions. This is great to enhance the beauty of the woodgrain. 

To enhance the durability of the finish, epoxy can also be added to the sealer. Before applying the sealer, it is recommended to sand the wood surface with sandpaper to ensure proper adhesion. This will penetrate the wood to protect it from moisture and UV rays without introducing any potentially harmful chemicals. Linseed oil, tung oil, and teak oil are all examples of natural oils that can be used to treat outdoor wood.

Paints and stains are commonly used to treat wood for exterior use, providing a protective layer on the surface. However, they may require more maintenance than other methods to maintain a weatherproof finish. An oil finish or lacquer can could be added on top for protection against weather conditions and sunlight exposure. Stains are usually not long lasting when applied alone.

Wood can also be coated with epoxy or varnish for a durable finish. Additionally, a spray application can be used to evenly distribute the coating. 

Ultimately, when choosing a method for treating your outdoor wood project, consider factors such as climate, intended use, and desired aesthetic. Each treatment method has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific needs. Epoxy, varnish, lacquer, and sealant are some options to consider.

Best Outdoor Wood Finish-5

Not many tools required for applying wood finishes to outdoor furniture. 

Just sandpaper, brush and your choice of coating in most cases.

Wood Finish Comparison

Outdoor wood finishes are essential to protect your wooden furniture, decks, and other outdoor structures from harsh weather conditions. Choosing the right finish can be a daunting task as there are many options available in the market. In this section, we will compare various outdoor finishes for wood, including lacquer and sealant. Whether you're looking to protect a table or any other outdoor wood furniture, these finishes can help keep your wood looking great for years to come.

Grade spar varnish is a popular choice for outdoor wood finishing and sealing due to its durability and resistance to water and UV rays. It provides excellent protection against moisture and prevents the wood from cracking or splitting, making it ideal for outdoor furniture, doors, and tables.

Polyurethane is another popular option that provides a clear finish and is easy to apply for outdoor wood furniture and outdoor projects. It dries quickly and provides good protection against water damage, making it a great sealant for outdoor use. However, it may not be as durable as grade spar varnish.

Epoxy is a two-part sealant and finish that provides excellent protection against moisture and UV rays, making it ideal for outdoor use on wood furniture. It forms a hard surface that resists scratches, abrasions, and chemicals while penetrating deep into the wood fibers. However, it can be challenging to apply and requires proper ventilation during application.

Oil-based finishes penetrate the wood's surface and provide a natural look while protecting it from moisture damage. These types of finishes require more frequent reapplication compared to other outdoor finishes but are easy to apply. If you want to protect your outdoor table, consider using an oil-based sealant.

Best Outdoor Wood Finish-3

Peeling paint. Common to see wherever you go because it's not usually maintained as well as it needs to be.

Also, there are more durable, more attractive ways to finish outdoor furniture.

Pros and Cons of Each Type of Finish for Outdoor Wooden Furniture 

There are a variety of options available for outdoor wood furniture. Each type of finish has its own unique advantages and disadvantages for outdoor use, so it's important to consider your specific needs before making a decision on your outdoor items.

Varnish is a popular choice for those looking to protect their outdoor wood tables from harsh weather conditions. However, this type of finish can be prone to cracking and peeling over time, which can detract from the appearance of your table, especially with frequent outdoor use.

Oil-based clear finishes are another option that is easy to apply and maintain for outdoor use. They provide a natural look that many people prefer for outdoor furniture, but they may not offer as much protection against the elements as other types of finishes.

Polyurethane is an excellent choice for those who want a strong and long-lasting finish that can stand up to even the harshest weather conditions, making it perfect for outdoor use. However, applying polyurethane to an outdoor table requires multiple coats and careful application to avoid drips and bubbles.

For those who want a customized option for outdoor use, paint is an excellent choice. It allows you to choose any color you like, but it does require frequent touch-ups and can be prone to chipping and fading over time.

Finally, epoxy is an extremely durable finish that offers excellent protection against moisture and UV damage, making it ideal for outdoor use. However, it can be difficult to apply without professional assistance and you should protect against chemical vapors.

Summary of Important Points in Choosing 
The Best Outdoor Wood Finish

1. Consider water resistance when selecting a finish. Water can cause wood to warp or rot over time, so choosing a water-resistant finish is essential. Finishes that contain oils or waxes can help repel water and protect against rain.

2. Ease of application and maintenance should also be a factor when choosing a finish for outdoor use. Some products require multiple coats or extensive prep work before application, while others can be applied quickly and easily with minimal effort. Look for low-maintenance finishes that don't require frequent reapplication for outdoor use.

3. It's important to avoid using finishes that contain harmful chemicals or toxins for outdoor use as they may pose health risks or damage the environment. Always read product labels carefully before purchasing.

4. Before applying any finish on an entire surface, test it on an inconspicuous, small area first to ensure compatibility with the wood type and your desired outcome.

In conclusion: There is no best outdoor wood finish for everyone. You have to choose the best outdoor wood finish for your own situation and preferences.


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