10 Tips for Cleaning and Refreshing Outdoor Wood Furniture

10 Tips for Cleaning and Refreshing Outdoor Wood Furniture

You’ll get the most enjoyment and use out of your outdoor wood patio furniture when it’s maintained and refreshed. Below, we’re sharing our top 10 tips for cleaning and refreshing outdoor wood furniture so you can keep soaking up some rays. 

Spray Paint Your Wood Furniture

Yes, you can spray paint your wood garden furniture. Not only is this an easy way to refresh the look of your outdoor space by adding a pop of color or depth, but it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. Metal outdoor furniture can also be spray painted to create a new look.

Purchase aerosol spray paint in your desired shade. Then, prepare an area to lay your furniture on. Spray the wood with a bonding primer first. We recommend starting by flipping the furniture on its top so that you can spray the bottom first. Make long, consistent passes while pressing down on the nozzle. Do not start or stop in the middle of the furniture because this can lead to drips or uneven marks. Apply at least two coats for an even, rich finish. 

We recommend spray painting your furniture outside on a day with minimal wind for the best results. Take proper safety precautions, like wearing a mask and goggles while using spray paint or other chemicals on your furniture. 

Scrub and Wash Your Wood Furniture

A good cleaning can improve the appearance of just about every piece of furniture, especially if you have a lot of buildup or bird droppings currently marring the look of your furniture. 

Clean outdoor wood furniture lightly with a damp cloth and mild soapy solution or warm water. If the piece requires deeper cleaning, scrub with a soft scrub brush or toothbrush and mix of water and dishwasher detergent. Always scrub in the same direction as the wood grain. If you have any challenging stains, you can lightly sand and rinse the surface until they disappear. Wipe away all excess water.  

Exterior wood cleaners are also available for cleaning wood and may help with stubborn stains. These spray bottle cleaners open the pores of the wood so that the wood can accept stains better and will help remove gray weathering. 

Never use a power washer on your wood furniture. Power and pressure washers can remove the soft wood between your furniture’s grain lines, forcing water into pores. Only use the power washer to strip the wood, never to clean it. 

Consider the Type of Wood

When cleaning your outdoor furniture, consider the type of wood. Hardwoods, like oak or teak, are scratch-resistant, so you can clean these more aggressively. However, softer wood, like pine or cedar, should be cleaned cautiously. 

Never scrub perpendicular across the wood, only along the grain lines. Clean each part of the legs, arms, or furniture parts individually so you don’t cross-grain scratch. 

Use Oxygen Bleach for Deep Cleans

If your wood is stained too deeply to scrub off, use an oxygen bleach mixture on the wood. Mix powdered oxygen bleach and water, then use this mixture on your wood furniture with a soft bristle brush. While on the furniture, it should have some foaming action — think of foaming shampoos or hydrogen peroxide facial cleansers on your skin. The foaming action is caused by the bleach reacting to mold, mildew, dirt, and grime. Let this mixture sit on the wood for about 15 minutes or as long as the package says, then rinse your furniture off using a garden hose. 

Clean Iron or Tannin Stains

If the powdered oxygen bleach mixture doesn’t work, you may be dealing with iron, oxidation, or tannin stains which are much harder to get out. However, oxalic acid can work against these stains. 

Exercise extreme caution when using oxalic acid because it’s toxic to humans and animals. Do not improvise when using this or mix it with other products. Follow the instructions strictly. 

If your furniture is made from redwood, you may need to use oxalic acid solely because oxygen bleach can ruin the color by lightening the wood. 

Refresh Your Wood Furniture with a Sealant

Not only do sealants protect wood furniture from water, but they can help your furniture keep its original color. Some sealers also stain your furniture to even out any discoloration or fading. 

Go to your local home improvement store and match the color of your furniture to a sealant. Then, use this sealant on individual pieces of furniture. Always apply in the direction of the grain to keep yourself from overlapping. 

Pick a clear sealant if you prefer a rustic look. Clear sealers protect the wood but allow it to change to silver-gray as it ages in the sunlight. 

Sealants will need to be reapplied every couple of years depending on the weather in your area, wear and tear, and the sealant’s specifications. Always wash and sand the furniture before applying the sealant again. 

We also recommend checking with your outdoor furniture manufacturer before applying oil-based products. Some manufacturers recommend oil-based products and sealants, but others say these products can trap moisture, creating mold. So, always check with your furniture manufacturer first before treating your wood. 

Use Painter’s Tape for Unique Designs

Wood furniture can look plain against your colorful garden. If you want your furniture to stand out, consider painting or staining it with a unique color or a specific design to give your furniture some style. 

Use painter’s tape, or masking tape, to cover areas you aren’t painting to keep your design even and fresh. 

Here are some fun ideas for refreshing the look of your wood with paint: 

  • Use masking tape to cover a wooden chair, except for the arms. Then stain or paint the arms a deeper color. This will instantly create a stylish, exciting effect. 
  • Apply masking tape in various widths across your chair or table. Spray paint the chair. Remove the painter’s tape once the paint has dried, and enjoy your unique, striped chairs. 
  • Embellish your wooden furniture with a fun design. For example, take a wooden pool chair and paint palm trees, leaves, or flowers on it to instantly elevate the chair and add style to your outdoor space. Always outline your embellishments first and follow the paint job with an outdoor sealant to protect your work from the elements. 

Add Colorful Accessories or Pillows

If you have wooden chairs or other outdoor furniture that is looking tired, consider adding new outdoor cushions, throws, or pillows. 

Combine fun and exciting colors to create a beautiful effect. This is an easy way to keep up with trends without needing to replace or swap out your furniture. 

If you have old seat cushions, consider removing them and simply reupholstering the cushion. All you need is some new fabric and a staple gun. Then, remove the current material or keep it on if it’s thin. Next, fix the new fabric around the cushion and secure it with the staple gun. You’ll be left with a brand new look that barely costs anything. 

Apply Stain to Reinvigorate Your Wood Furniture

Applying stain can cause a dramatic change in the look of your wood furniture, but it takes a few steps to achieve. 

  • Place drop cloths under the furniture and move away from other furniture before starting work. Then, apply a wood stain and finish stripper with a paint roller in thin, even coats. 
  • Scrub the wood, then rinse. After letting the stripper rest for 15 to 45 minutes, scrub the surface with a stiff bristle brush to remove the old stain off the wood. Rinse your wood furniture with a high-pressure nozzle on a water hose. Double-check with the stripper you used to confirm how long you should keep the stripper on your wood.
  • Clean the wood thoroughly. After the wood has dried, dampen the entire surface and use a wood cleaner. Pour the wood cleaner into a pump sprayer, referring to any instructions on the packaging, then spray an even coat on your furniture. 
  • Scrub and rinse again. Allow the cleaner to sit for around 15 minutes before scrubbing the surface again with a stiff bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose once more. This step is crucial because it removes any lingering debris and buildup and makes the surface even for your stain. Skipping can result in a lumpy, uneven stain. 
  • Sand the wood surface smooth and remove any loose splinters. Pay extra attention to any rough areas or spots with raised grain. Wipe clean any sanding dust from the furniture. 
  • Apply your chosen stain and brush on in the wood grain direction. Look at your furniture from all angles to ensure you don’t miss any spots. Apply at least two coats for an even, rich finish. 
  • Allow to dry thoroughly and enjoy your newly upgraded furniture. 

Apply Teak Oil  

Teak oil can give your wood furniture a lovely golden finish. Teak oil is typically made from mineral oil, linseed oil, and tung oil. When applied to outdoor wood surfaces, teak oil can protect your furniture from the weather and give it a new golden glow. 

To begin, you’ll need a bristle brush, grit sandpaper, a clean microfiber cloth, and the teak oil solution. Start by sanding your wood surface thoroughly, then clean the surface, and apply a coat of teak oil to your furniture. Use another clean, soft cloth to apply teak oil in hard-to-reach areas, like corners and crevices. Wipe away excess teak oil after application with a clean cloth, then allow it to air dry for at least two hours. 

Repeat this process three to four times in total for the best results. Teak oil doesn’t last as long as a sealant, so it will likely need to be reapplied every two to three months or when you notice discoloration. However, many love teak oil for the glowy look it gives their furniture. 

An alternative option is to find a teak sealant, which may last longer on the wood while providing you with many of the same benefits as teak oil. 

Final Thoughts

Outdoor furniture can easily make your outdoor space look tired and outdated. Avoid this fate by regularly showing your outdoor wood furniture and the outside of your home some tender loving care. 

Regularly apply sealants to protect your furniture from the elements and give it new life. A fresh coat of paint or new, colorful throw pillows can instantly transform your outdoor space to breathe new life into the area.

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