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how to protect outdoor wood furniture

Outdoor wood furniture can be ...

Outdoor wood furniture can be beautiful. Some of it, like the wooden Adirondack chair, is synonymous with summer. 

But wood furniture isn’t without its pitfalls. The biggest one is protecting it from inclement weather. 

Since replacing that furniture can be expensive, you must take the time to maintain it properly. 

Here’s how to protect wood outdoor furniture so that it lasts as long as possible. 

How To Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture 

There are several ways to protect wood outdoor furniture. While all are effective, each solution demands varying degrees of time and effort on your part. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture

Let’s look at some of the ways people protect their wood furniture. 

Moving Wood Furniture 

Moving your wood furniture is one of the easiest and most frustrating solutions to preserving it for future use. 

Wood swells during intense heat warps when wet, and fades in direct sunlight. 

So, if you want to protect wood furniture, the best thing you can do is move it into the shade on hotter-than-average days and somewhere dry on wet ones. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture

That protects it from UV and water damage. But go back to those Adirondack chairs for a minute. 

No one wants to heft one of them out of the way every time the sky clouds over, much less every time the weatherman reports a sunny summer afternoon. 

If nothing else, they’re extremely awkward to carry. 

And if you find the perfect spot for your wood furniture, moving it can be a hassle. So, what else can you do to protect wood furniture? 

Paint Your Furniture 

If you don’t want to spend all summer pulling cumbersome furniture out of direct sunlight, a fast and effective solution is to paint it. 


Paint makes an excellent barrier against water. It’s also possible to find UV-resistant paint. That limits how much sun damage your wood furniture experiences. 


Even better, you don’t need to worry about playing musical chairs with the furniture. 


You may need to spend a few afternoons agonizing over paint colors and painting the furniture in question. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture


But once that’s done, you can relax and enjoy your furniture. There are a few things worth considering when painting your outdoor wood furniture. 


Firstly, Latex-based paint is more effective than ordinary paint. It may cost more, but it's longer-lasting than non-latex paints and saves you time and money in the long run. 

However, you may still need to repaint your furniture periodically. So keep an eye peeled for chipped paint and scratches. 

They’re predominantly aesthetic but can lead to damaged wood if you don’t keep on top of them. 

Seal or Stain Your Wood Furniture 

That said, some people prefer the natural look of unpainted wood furniture. If that sounds like you, then you may be reluctant to apply paint to your outdoor furniture. 

But that doesn’t mean the damage is inevitable. If you don’t want to add a protective layer of paint, another solution is to seal or stain the furniture. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture

This preserves the natural look of the wood but keeps moisture out. 

What’s ideal about sealants is that in addition to their clear finish, they work well in damp and humid weather. 

There’s also variety. Sealants can be matte or glossed, and several cater specifically to the exposed wood grain of furniture edges. 

Cover Your Furniture 

Another effective way of protecting outdoor wood furniture is to cover it. 

You may have noticed that if you repeatedly drape a towel over the back of a wooden chair to dry, that chair experiences less sun damage than its more exposed companions. 

Covering furniture follows similar principles. Chair covers and cushions effectively block sun damage and stop any paint on your wood furniture from fading. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture

However, it’s an imperfect solution. For one thing, the chair also covers experience fading from sun exposure. 

For another, unless you opt for a waterproof cushion cover, you will still have to run outside and rescue the covers when it rains. They’re easier to move than furniture, it’s true. 

But since the point of investing in the covers was to protect outdoor wood furniture, having to rescue the coverings from the rain doesn’t do much good. 

That said, many people can and do choose to use waterproof covers. They may not keep them on their wood furniture all the time, instead throwing them over the furniture when the rain starts. 

That can be effective, but you need to be prepared to be caught out by the occasional torrential thunderstorm. 

Position Wood Furniture in the Shade 

Another simple but effective way to protect outdoor wood furniture is to avoid direct sunlight completely. 

Enjoyable as it is to lounge in the sun, it can be as hard on you as it is on the furniture. 

Setting it up under the shade of a tree or a covered porch allows you to enjoy the weather without worrying about sun damage to you or your furniture. 

Of course, depending on how well-protected your shady spot is, your furniture may still be exposed to rain. 

Store Wood Furniture During Winter   

The other way to preserve the lifespan of outdoor wood furniture is by storing it during the winter. 

The occasional thunderstorm won’t cause irreparable damage to outdoor wood furniture. It’s built to be sturdy, after all. 

But leaving your furniture out during the winter pushes the limits of its endurance. 

The constant moisture from snow combined with cold weather causes considerable warping and paint damage. 

Depending on the degree of moisture present, you may also find that your outdoor wood furniture swells from water absorption or, in extreme cases, start rotting. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture

To prevent all of that, we recommend taking a weekend to store your furniture for the winter.

 We usually bring our furniture in over the Labour Day Weekend, but schedules and leisure time play a significant part in this. 

When storing wood furniture, you must find the right place. Garages are convenient because they have ample space. 

But if they are too cold and damp, it won’t matter that your furniture isn’t outside. It may still become damaged. 

You want to store outdoor wood furniture somewhere at room temperature and without humidity over the winter. 

Is Plastic Wrap a Good Idea? 

Many people debate wrapping their outdoor wood furniture in plastic wrap before storage. But is it a good idea? 

The answer is no. Plastic wrap is notorious for retaining moisture, which is the opposite of what you want. 

How to Protect Wood Outdoor Furniture

And if you end up storing your wood furniture somewhere with a fluctuating temperature, the plastic may stick to the furniture and ruin the finish. 

If you are worried about dust accruing, it’s better to drape a heavy cloth or old sheet over the furniture instead. 

Final Thoughts 

Hopefully, that addresses how to protect outdoor wood furniture from the elements. 

You’ll notice there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Lots depend on how much time you want to spend caring for your furniture. 

Crucially, even well-protected furniture needs replacing eventually. With that in mind, find a space in the garden you like, arrange the furniture, and enjoy it. 

After all, that’s what it’s there for. And the memories you create using it outweigh the occasional damage to the varnish. 



Spring Nee

Spring Nee is an outdoor furniture expert with 18 years of experience.


She has extensive experience in outdoor design, including choosing furniture materials, following trends, and adding useful elements.


As a thought leader in the outdoor furniture industry, Spring has been a regular contributor to various blogs, magazines, and design forums

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