How to Waterproof Painted Wood Furniture for Outdoors: 8 Easy Steps

You’ve just finished painting your outdoor wood furniture, and you want to make sure it stays looking good for years to come. 

How to Waterproof Painted Wood Furniture for Outdoors

The paint will start to chip or fade without proper waterproofing due to exposure to rain, snow, and other elements. And if left unprotected, the wood can become warped or cracked over time. 

This article provides a solution for how to waterproof painted wood furniture for outdoors. It covers all the steps necessary to ensure that your furniture will stay for years, even when exposed to rain, snow, and other weather elements. 

With the right materials and techniques, you can protect your wood furniture from moisture exposure. So let’s get started! 

Why Waterproof Painted Woods for Outdoor Use? 

Unpainted wood furniture can easily succumb to elements like rain and humidity. This can lead to permanent damage, including warping and cracking of your beautiful furniture. 

Painting wood for outdoor use can provide more protection from moisture and weathering, but it is not enough. To ensure that your painted wood furniture lasts longer and looks great outdoors, you must waterproof it. 

This helps your furniture to better withstand the elements, as well as extend its life. Waterproofing also helps keep your furniture looking new and vibrant, even after years of exposure to the outdoors. 

Choosing the Right Sealant for Wood Furniture:

1. Tung oil: Tung oil is an excellent choice for waterproofing wood furniture. It is a natural product derived from the tung tree and provides great protection against moisture. Additionally, it penetrates deep into wood pores to provide a natural finish that does not yellow or crack over time. 

2. Polycrylic: This synthetic sealant is ideal for painted wood furniture because you can apply it to a wet or dry surface. It provides superior water-resistant protection and enhances the color of your wood. You can use this sealant for both interior and exterior furniture.

Polycrylic Sealant

3. Polyurethane: Polyurethane is a popular choice for protecting outdoor furniture as it adheres well to painted wood. It forms a hard, durable layer resistant to mildew, abrasion, and chemicals. If you want a glossy finish, polyurethane is a great choice. It works better than other sealants in this regard, but it cannot be easy to apply and may require multiple coats.

4. Clear Acrylic Sealer: This sealant is ideal for painted wood furniture because it provides even and long-lasting protection against moisture and sun damage. It dries quickly and can be used to protect and enhance your furniture’s color. It can be used for indoor and outdoor furniture but is best suited for painted surfaces. 

5. Spar Varnish: This sealant is perfect for outdoor furniture, providing excellent protection from UV rays and moisture. It creates a glossy finish on wood furniture that will last for years and provides superior protection against water and weathering. This sealant can be useful for both interior and exterior furniture. 

8 Steps Guide for How to Waterproof Painted Wood Furniture for Outdoors

1. Prepare the Surface for Waterproofing

Before applying any sealant, you should clean and prepare your outdoor furniture.

Prepare the Surface for Waterproofing

Remove any dust or dirt from the surface of your furniture with a dry cloth, then use mild soap and warm water to scrub away any remaining grime.

Allow the wood to dry completely before proceeding with the waterproofing process. 

2. Fix Paint Problems

If your painted wood furniture shows signs of peeling, cracking, or fading, you should fix the paint problem before adding a sealant.

Use high-grit sandpaper to lightly sand down the affected areas and smooth out any irregularities. Then apply a primer to the area and let it dry before painting a new layer. 

3. Choose the Right Sealant

Now that your furniture is prepped and painted, you can choose the right sealant for your outdoor furniture. Depending on your needs and preferences, this could be tung oil, polyacrylic, polyurethane, clear acrylic sealer, or spar varnish.

Read the instructions on the product label to determine how much you need and how to apply it correctly. When choosing your preferred sealant, the important thing to consider is its protection against water and UV rays.

4. Apply the Sealant

Once you have chosen a sealant for your furniture, you can apply it to your outdoor furniture.

Start using a brush or roller to evenly spread the sealant onto the wood surface, then use a clean cloth to wipe away any excess. You can also use any sandpaper to give the surface a smooth finish after it has been sealed. 

5. Let the Sealant Dry

After applying the sealant to your furniture, it is important to let it dry completely before adding another coat or putting any items on top of your newly sealed wood.

Let the Sealant Dry

Depending on the sealant you used, this could take several hours or even up to a day. You need to read the instructions on the product label for specific drying times. 

6. Apply Multiple Coats

You can apply multiple coats of sealant to your outdoor furniture if necessary. This will help ensure the wood is adequately protected and lasts longer in harsh weather conditions. When applying multiple coats, ensure each coat is completely dry before adding the next one. 

7. Sand Lightly if Necessary

If you want a smooth finish on your outdoor furniture, use the sandpaper after the sealant is completely dry. This will help ensure that any lumps or bumps are evened out for a uniform look.

Use low-grit sandpaper and be careful not to overdo it. You should only sand lightly and ensure the sealant protects the wood.

8. Enjoy Your Outdoor Furniture

Once you have finished waterproofing your painted wood furniture, all that is left to do is enjoy it! You can now relax in the comfort of knowing that your outdoor furniture is well-protected and will last many years.

If you notice that the sealant is starting to wear off, you can fix it by sanding the wood lightly and then applying a fresh coat of sealant. 

Few Things to Consider When Waterproofing Painted Wood Furniture Outdoors

Avoid Heat: 

While waiting for your furniture to dry, try to avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or any other heat sources.

Avoid Heat

Direct sunlight and high temperatures can damage the sealant and cause it to discolor or crack over time. You can cover your furniture with a tarp or move it to a shaded area.

Maintain Your Furniture:

Regular maintenance is key when it comes to waterproofing painted wood furniture outdoors. This includes inspecting the furniture for any damage, such as cracks, chips, or breaks in the sealant.

If you do find any damages, you can fix them easily by sanding the affected area and then reapplying a new coat of sealant.

Use Cover: 

If you plan to leave your outdoor furniture out for extended periods, it is best to cover it when not used. This will help protect it from rain and other weather elements that could cause damage.

You can use a tarp, sheet, or even a specially-made outdoor furniture cover to keep your furniture dry and safe.

Move During Rains: 

If you know it will rain, moving your outdoor furniture inside or at least into a secure spot until the storm passes is best.

This will help protect it from water damage, as well as wind and debris that the storm may kick up. It can also help prevent the sealant from being worn away by rain and wind.

Clean Up: 

Regular cleaning is important to ensure that your outdoor furniture stays in good condition for years. Use a mild detergent or cleaner and warm water to wipe it down daily for painted wood furniture.

This will help prevent dirt and debris from building up, which can lead to damage over time. 

With these steps in mind, you should be able to waterproof your painted wood furniture outdoors quickly and easily.

By taking the necessary precautions and maintaining regularity, you can protect your furniture from harsh weather conditions. 

Oil-Based Vs. Water-Based Sealants: Which One is Best for Painted Wood Outdoors?

When it comes to protection for your painted wood outdoors, you have a lot of options when it comes to sealants. Two of the most popular choices are oil-based and water-based polyurethane sealants.

Oil-Based Vs. Water-Based Polyurethane Sealants

Let’s take a closer look into their features, strengths, and weaknesses and which one might be best for your particular situation.

Oil-Based Polyurethane Sealants

Oil-based polyurethanes are renowned for their protective properties and are usually the go-to choice for painted wood outdoors. They provide a protective layer that is resistant to mildew and other environmental elements and good UV protection from the sun’s rays. 

However, oil-based polyurethane is more difficult to apply than water-based and takes longer to dry. In addition, it can have a strong odor when drying, which may not be ideal for outdoor use.

Water-Based Polyurethane Sealants

Water-based polyurethanes are easier to apply than oil-based ones but do not provide quite as much protection from the elements. They are also easier to clean up after application and do not have a strong odor. 

However, water-based polyurethane does not provide good UV protection and is prone to mildew if not applied properly. This type of sealant also tends to discolor the wood over time, so it is not ideal for outdoor use.

So, which one to choose?

Ultimately, oil-based polyurethane sealants are the best choice when it comes to painted wood outdoors. Because they offer superior protection against the elements and provide good UV protection. 

However, water-based polyurethanes may be a better option if you want something easier to apply and clean up. Remember that they do not offer long-term protection and should not be used on wood outdoors unless properly treated. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

When to paint and seal bare wood surfaces?

It’s best to paint and seal bare wood surfaces after the wood has had time to fully dry. This can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the type of wood and climate. Once it is dry, use a paintbrush or roller to apply a primer before applying a sealant for maximum. 

If your wood is exposed to much moisture or sun, you may also want to consider using an oil-based sealant for extra protection. 

How to seal white-painted furniture?

If you have white-painted furniture, using a water-based sealant is best. This sealant will protect you while not discoloring or yellowing your paint over time. Before applying, clean the surface of any dirt or debris and let it dry completely. Once dry, apply an even layer of the sealant and let it dry for a few hours before using. 

Can painted wood furniture be left outside?

Yes, painted wood furniture can be left outside. However, it is important to make sure that you apply a sealant to protect the paint from harsh weather conditions. An oil-based sealant is usually recommended for outdoor use as it offers superior protection and UV protection against the sun’s rays. Make sure to reapply the sealant every few months to ensure the wood is adequately protected. 


In conclusion, waterproofing painted wood furniture outdoors can be simple if you know what steps to take. 

It’s important to properly waterproof your painted wood furniture before using it outdoors. Sealants like tung oil, polyacrylic, polyurethane, and clear acrylic sealer can all provide great protection against moisture and weathering.

You should always avoid exposing your furniture to direct heat, maintain it regularly, use a cover when not in use, move it during rainstorms, and clean it up daily. 

And last but not least, choose the type of sealant that fits your needs. Oil-based polyurethanes are usually the best choice for outdoor furniture as they provide superior protection.

We hope this article on how to waterproof painted wood furniture for outdoors was helpful. If you need any further information, please don’t hesitate to ask. 

All the best!

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