Best Finish For Outdoor Furniture


From original questioner:

What would be the best finish to put on a patio furniture that will be exposed to sunlight & rain?

I got a really good deal on some kind of mahogany-esque 2X4s so want to stay with that material. It was sold as philippine mahogany but looks like luan.

The planks will have approximately 1/8 inch gaps between them. I expect the wood to turn silver over time. I want to finish all surfaces before assembly and would like some kind of finish that would be resilient in the sunlight. I don't want it to get brittle and peal off as wood expands & contracts.

Any suggestions about good chemicals to use for this?

From contributor Da

Basically you have two choices:

A barrier coat like varnish, poly, Sikkens, epoxy, et al. The barrier coat will eventually fail and need to be recoated at a minimum, and may need removal to properly refinish.

An oil coating like Penofin, tung oil, Watco exterior oil, etc. This will require periodic recoating (weekly, monthly, annual). This is not a barrier coat, and will disappear as the sun burns it off.

If you want the silver coloration, then I ask why you would apply any finish? The oil can give you that look after if fades.

From contributor Ca

I am not particularly looking for the silver color, I just expected that as a natural outcome of being in the sun. If I could actually preserve the color and characteristic of the wood that would be my first choice.

I think it would be okay to do periodic recoating but would be a real drag to also have to remove old finish.

Thanks for the insight!

From contributor Mi

We don't do a lot of exposed wood that is not painted, but we have just recently chose to go with penetrating oil finishes. David is right about the two choices of categories, and my thinking is both require recoating, maybe the oil sooner than a barrier coat? However the idea of sanding and removing a barrier coat from shutters does not appeal to me. The one we started using is rated for 10 years, so if we can get 2 maybe 3 years that would be good. The order we just did is all under roof and overhang, but that sun is pretty harsh.

From contributor ca


That is a beautiful building. I think I am going to follow David's recommendation and go with oil. Like you I would not relish having to strip the old finish to apply new finish.

What kind of oil did you use on these shutters? Did you do more than one coat and if so, how long between coats?

From contributor Mi

Thanks for the compliment, we were pleased with the way this one came out. I don't remember the brand, will look when I go in tomorrow. I was actually looking for one of the Cabot series, but needed a good stain match that we were able to get with another brand. My local paint store owner highly recommended the one we used, and I trust his experience completely, as he runs the store his father started.
One coat only, which surprised me. Apparently the first coat begins to seal the wood, a second coat just sits on top and the stain residue gets gummy and makes a huge mess. I wanted a second coat, but undoable with this product. Not sure if that applies to all oil stain coatings.
We stain the entire shutter panels by spraying, these are operable louvers so we had to work fast. We really did saturate these things, a messy job but we expected that.
I am friends and neighbors with the home owners, so if early recoats are needed, I figure this was a good order to find out about this product.