How To Restore Wooden Outdoor Furniture

27 July, 2016

Real wood has a warmth and appeal that makes it ideal for all types of outdoor furniture. With regular maintenance such as cleaning, painting or varnishing, wooden furniture ages gracefully and provides decades of use. However, few people understand the importance of looking after wood and most furniture becomes cracked, rotten or warp through neglect after a few years. Here are five tips for restoring wooden outdoor furniture.

Tip #1. Strip The Wood To Determine The Condition

Outdoor Furniture

Whether you are restoring a wooden chair in your garden or a table that you found at your local skip, the first step in the restoration process is to strip the wood. Stripping entails removing dirt, grime and any surface coating such as paint or varnish. The most common approach is to sand down the wood using 120- or 150-grit sandpaper. However, painted furniture may need a paint stripper or even a heat gun to loosen the paint. Once stripped, you can determine the condition of the wood more easily and identify cracks, scratches or dents.

Tip #2. Use Wood Filler On Dents And Cracks

Wooden furniture commonly dries out in the hot sun leading to cracks and warping. Even badly cracked wooden furniture can be restored with wood filler. All DIY stores sell wood filler, sometimes referred to as ‘plastic wood’. Use a small spatula to apply filler to the cracks, dents and scratches in the wood. Once dry, you can sand the filler down to create a level surface. For best results, repeat this process several times on badly cracked furniture. Any work you do in this stage will affect the finished look of the furniture.

Tip #3. Assess The Wood To Determine The Finish

Whether you want to stain, varnish or paint your wooden furniture will depend on the type of wood, the style of the piece and also its condition. Where possible, you want to preserve the original look of the piece so varnishing is the most common way to finish a sanded-down item of furniture. However, older pieces of wood will visibly show the damage if you simply use a clear varnish. You may want to stain the wood a darker colour to improve its appeal or even consider painting it. Both dark stain and paint will hide surface blemishes and help make your restoration project a success.

Step #4. Choose The Best Way To Protect Your Furniture

You can use an oil, water or acrylic based varnish to protect your wooden furniture. This simplest way to protect the wood from the elements is to apply a wood polish and sealant. This polishes and seals the wood at the same time leaving a lasting finish that will not weather or deteriorate too quickly.

Tip #5. Replace Hardware Where Possible

Hardware includes brackets, screws, metal parts and even rubber feet. Hardware will greatly impact upon the quality of your restoration project. Try to order new parts from a hardware store if your item of furniture has rusty or broken parts. New hardware will make your furniture look like a million dollars. Apply new hardware last, after you have stained or painted the wood to avoid any paint or varnish splashes from ruining the look.


These five tips should help you transform any old wooden furniture into an attractive, valuable piece of furniture. Whether you have an old table or custom-made Jarrah outdoor furniture, following these five steps will help you breathe life into your piece.

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