Finishing outdoor furniture

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Forum topic by woody57 posted 694 days ago 908 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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645 posts in 2029 days

694 days ago

I like to build rockers and swings out of oak. I used spar urethane on a swing about a yr ago. Now the finish is peeling off and parts of it is mildewing. What would be a good finished in this situation? Is there a sealer I should have used? Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

9 replies so far

View lumberjoe's profile


2829 posts in 850 days

#1 posted 694 days ago

I would think a wood with natural weather resistance like cedar would be better suited than oak with a finish. Especially something like a swing that gets a lot of wear. As far as finishes go, could you use something like a deck water sealer?


View Handtooler's profile


1055 posts in 734 days

#2 posted 694 days ago

Beside any answers you get here ask Bob Flexner, “Flexner on Finishing” of poplar Woodworking Magazine. Ref, or She’s the Managing Editor and will contact him for his answer should the direct address fail as he’s now a contributing editor and not on the regular staff.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2199 posts in 1760 days

#3 posted 694 days ago


How old was the can of spar?

-- jay,

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1648 posts in 1095 days

#4 posted 694 days ago

I’ve made this suggestion before, use paint....clear paint that is. The article I linked goes into a lot more detail, but using the high number oil paint base will look very much like varnish. So much so that I used it on oak window sills I made for our last house. It’s quite inexpensive compared to real outdoor finishes (marine spars, etc.) and will last a lot longer than most urethane based products. If you choose to try this, don’t be put off by the incorrect advice you may be given by those who sell it, and if you just want to try it, buy a quart at a paint store (Lowes only sells gallons of the Olympic product) and test it out. I’ve used it a great deal and it’s never disappointed.

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View Henry6's profile


36 posts in 629 days

#5 posted 593 days ago

It may be beneficial to use a deck stain or another finish that is weather resistance, because those finishes are ultimately going to give you the most protection for your wood surface in general. Secondly, clear paint is an option that would also most likely withstand your surface and save it from the wear and tear your are experiencing now.

View kizerpea's profile


746 posts in 969 days

#6 posted 593 days ago

Here in the south cypress is the best wood for outdoor projects…carolina that is …should be able to find in ga too..


View Earlextech's profile


906 posts in 1292 days

#7 posted 593 days ago

If your outdoor furniture is exposed to the elements it really doesn’t matter what finish you use, it will need recoating each year.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

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Clint Searl

1390 posts in 963 days

#8 posted 593 days ago

Raw tung oil.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View joseph000's profile


346 posts in 629 days

#9 posted 545 days ago

Avoid finishing outdoor furniture with polyure-thane. Most brands of poly-U dry too hard to expand and contract with the wood when it is placed out of doors. After year or so, the finish will peel off. Use spar varnish or a 1:1 mixture of spar varnish and tung oil instead.Thanks.

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