Finishing outdoor furniture

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Forum topic by woody57 posted 09-03-2012 02:11 AM 1455 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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650 posts in 3450 days

09-03-2012 02:11 AM

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


2899 posts in 2271 days

#1 posted 09-03-2012 02:16 AM

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


1575 posts in 2155 days

#2 posted 09-03-2012 02:24 AM

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


2202 posts in 3181 days

#3 posted 09-03-2012 03:55 AM


How old was the can of spar?

-- jay,

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4998 posts in 2516 days

#4 posted 09-03-2012 11:18 AM

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.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Henry6's profile


36 posts in 2049 days

#5 posted 12-13-2012 06:58 AM

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


774 posts in 2390 days

#6 posted 12-13-2012 12:55 PM

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


1162 posts in 2713 days

#7 posted 12-13-2012 02:03 PM

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"!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2384 days

#8 posted 12-13-2012 02:18 PM

Raw tung oil.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View joseph000's profile


346 posts in 2049 days

#9 posted 01-30-2013 09:34 AM

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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