Best wood protector for outdoor furniture

Best Wood Protector for Outdoor Furniture and Deck

Updated on

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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Once the wood is chopped down, it must be protected. After all, rot, water, sunlight, temperatures, pests, etc., affect wood. To prevent these elements from ravaging it, we use wood protectors. Here are our options for the best wood protector for outdoor patio furniture.

What Is Wood Protector?

Wood sealers or protectors are substances applied to the surface of the wood to protect it from elements. Wood sealant penetrates the pores on the wood surface to prevent water molecules from seeping inside and causing rot. After all, wooden surfaces are ridden with pores which are useful to the tree when it is still alive.

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There are two major types of wood sealers:

1) Water-Based Wood Sealer

A water-based wood sealer penetrates the wood pores to seal it and prevent moisture from accessing the inner parts of the wood. Additionally, they are a fast-drying alternative. These outdoor wood furniture sealers are great for wooden materials with low absorption rates and are more environmentally friendly.

2) Oil-Based Wood Sealer

Oiled-based sealers work the same way water-based sealers do, with the difference being the oil base found in oil sealers. If your furniture sits outdoors, it might be better to use an oil-based wood sealer because it has better UV resistance than water-based sealers.

Best Outdoor Wood Sealers

1. Minwax Polycrylic Protective Wood Finish

Minwax 233334444 Polycrylic Protective Wood Finish,...
  • PROTECT WOOD SURFACES – Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish...
  • CRYSTAL CLEAR FINISH THAT LASTS – The crystal clear finished...
  • SATIN SHEEN – Give your wood projects a sleek finish with this...
  • ULTRA FAST DRYING – Get more done with this protective poly...
  • EASY CLEAN UP – This water-based wood finish allows for easy...

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This is the finish I used outdoors on my furniture because of its beautiful results, and it repeatedly proves itself. In addition, I noticed the finish does not yellow over time, ensuring cleaning the surfaces afterward is easy.

Minwax sealant has no pungent fumes, and I was safe when applying it. The low odor sealant gives a clear finish, ensuring the results did not conflict with my decor. This is the best wood sealer to use as it is fast drying and durable.


  • Fast drying
  • Clear finish
  • No odor
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Easy clean-up


  • Fast-drying nature can lead to an uneven appearance.

2. Shabby Chic Sealant

Shabby Chic Multi Surface Sealant Clear for Chalk...
  • Shabby Chic Multi Surface Sealant is a water-based low sheen...
  • Protect interior and exterior painted surfaces. Protects against...
  • Uses including wooden furniture, window frames, doors,...
  • The multi surface sealant has the ability to expand and contract...
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: Non-toxic, Water-Based, Low Odor, ultra low...

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Shabby Chic is a multi-surface sealant that works well for different materials, including wood. For example, with stunning results, we used the sealant on a chalk paint surface and as an exterior penetrating wood stain.

The multi-varied feature on the paint makes it a great buy. More often than not, we have leftover sealants that we cannot use on other surfaces. However, when it comes to Shabby Chic, we could use the leftover sealant on other surfaces.


  • Non-toxic
  • Use on interior and exterior surfaces
  • Use on a wood deck, metal, tiles, decking, bricks, plastic, and more
  • Low odor
  • No harsh chemicals


  • The finish might not be glossy.

3. Rust-Oleum Water-Based Sealant

Rust-Oleum 200061H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane, 8...
  • Protects indoor wood surfaces such as furniture, windows,...
  • Water based formula dries fast and cleans up with soap and water
  • Dries to the touch in 30 minutes with coverage up to 31.25 sq....
  • Durable formula provides outstanding stain and scratch resistance...
  • Gloss finish creates a polished and clean look

We used the Rust-Oleum waterproofing wood sealer when we wanted to seal wood fast, and amazingly, we gained a glossy surface in return. Rust-Oleum will seal exterior wood and interior furniture, maintaining the wood's natural color for long periods.

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Whenever I work on a rushed project, I use Rust-Oleum because it becomes dry to the touch in about 30 minutes. Additionally, I can use the sealant indoors with the windows open because it does not have a bad odor.


  • Glossy finish
  • Dries to the touch in 30 minutes
  • Clear formula
  • Odor-free
  • Scratch-resistant


  • You have to apply multiple layers.

4. Ready Seal Wood Sealer

Ready Seal 512 5-Gallon Pail Natural Cedar Exterior...
  • Requires no primer. Ready Seal is darkest when first applied. It...
  • May be applied using sprayer, roller or brush onto the woods...
  • Requires no back brushing and will nerver leave runs, laps, or...
  • Requires no wet-line application, the product will blend itself...
  • Requires no diluting or thinning prior to spray applications.

While most sealers need a primer when sealing, Ready Seal is impressively ready to go. It became dark after we applied it, but the original color returned after we let it set into the grain properly for two weeks. Thus, we recommend it as the best exterior wood sealant for long-term use.

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With Ready Seal, we got a neat surface without streaks or runs on the wood because it forms a consistent surface after application. When applying the sealant, I do not need to strip, sand, or prepare the surface. This makes it a suitable sealant if I have no sanding paper.


  • Easy maintenance
  • No thinning needed
  • Requires no primer
  • Use a sprayer or roller to apply


  • It takes longer to dry.

5. Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealant

Seal-Once Marine Premium Wood Sealer - Waterproof...
  • MARINE SEALANT: Our liquid formula creates a UV-stable coating...
  • DECK STAIN: It's water-based, ultra-low VOC, great for enhancing...
  • WATERPROOF WOOD SEALER: The wood used on boat docks, decks, and...
  • WOOD SEALANT: Our fast-drying protector penetrates wood below the...
  • SEAL-ONCE: Our user-friendly wood sealers and stains are an...

As the name suggests, this sealant caters to the needs other sealants do not address because you only need to seal once. The name may be on the nose, but it delivers on the extended life, and it has been great for our wooden floors and front deck.

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The Seal-Once sealer penetrates the cellular wood level, creating a breathable barrier. This feature allowed it to guarantee the seal's durability, which seems to extend the lifespan of our wooden floors. Additionally, it is easy to clean, and we could use soapy water once it has dried.


  • Best deck stain and sealer for bare wood
  • UV protection
  • Premium grade water sealer
  • Great for hardwood decking
  • Keeps pests away
  • Great for outdoor wood furniture and thermally modified wood
  • Newly stained surfaces can be cleaned using soap


  • The sealant cannot work on other surfaces like plastic.

How to Apply Sealant on Wood Surfaces

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Here is how to correctly apply outdoor wood furniture sealer.

Things you will need.

  • Sander or sandpaper
  • Synthetic nylon or bristle brush
  • Sealant
  • Tack cloth
  • A rag
  • Bucket

Important Disclaimer: ensure you are doing these activities outdoors to protect yourself from inhaling fumes you are not supposed to inhale.

Step 1

Sand the surface of the wood to expose the grain of the wood. The wood surface smoothens over time, and the protective coating might not stick on the smooth wood surface. For this reason, you need to sand the surface.

Step 2

If the surface you are sealing is not clean, the wood sealer will not seep in properly. Wood stains and sealers work by penetrating the pores on wood, and dirt or dust prevents them from seeping in properly. Consequently, always clean the surface before working. So, use a wet rug to clean the surface and let it dry.

Step 3

Follow the instructions on the sealer and mix appropriate parts in the bucket.

Step 4

Be generous with the wood sealers ensuring the brush is soaked in it and no surface is left properly unattended once you are done.

Step 5

Pay attention to the end grain because this is where water seeps in and cracks the whole wood. The parts at the corners of the wood are where you need to focus as they go unattended most of the time, compromising the wood in the long run.

Step 6

Allow the sealant to set in properly by letting it dry for 24 hours before taking it outdoors. Wood sealants do not take very long. However, do not keep the sealed wood inside the space you will stay in because turpentine or mineral spirits may cause inflammation when inhaled.

Step 7

Once the sealant is dry, you are good to take the wooden furniture outside to face whatever the outdoors has in store.

Tips to Follow When Using a Wood Sealant

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  • Sand, repair, or wash the wood surface before sealing
  • Use the correct tools when sealing
  • Do not seal outdoors when the weather is too hot
  • Do not seal a damp surface
  • Give the deck time to dry
  • Seal all sides of the wood
  • Seal annually
  • Stir the sealer properly when using it

Other Ways of Protecting Wood Outdoors

Apart from applying wood stains, there are other ways in which you can protect your outdoor furniture from damage. Some of these methods may come in handy even after applying the sealant.

1) Painting Wood

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Paint-sealed wood tends to last longer outdoors than wood that is left bare. The advantages of painting wood include UV protection, which is one of the features most wood sealers do not have. In addition, painting makes the wood look nice and presentable. This is especially the case for different fence types.

Other advantages of painting wood with oil paint include protection from moisture. This is because oil repels water to keep the wood dry. When moisture is kept at bay, a painted piece of wood does not lose its natural color once the paint is stripped off. Additionally, the paint will not require much maintenance once it is done.

The downside with painting is the formation of pockets beneath the paint when exposed prematurely to direct sunlight. In addition, scratches on the painted surface expose the wood to other elements that might lead to damage.

There are many painting ideas to help you achieve the best results.

2) Varnishing

Varnishing is one of the most popular ways of protecting wood outdoors and indoors. In addition, there are a lot of advantages of varnish, including protecting the wood from direct UV rays by absorbing the sunlight.

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Varnishing allows the wood to keep its natural wood grain color, which most sealers do not achieve. The best part is that the brush strokes will not be visible on the surface of the wood.

The downside with varnish is how slowly it dries up after application. Also, when applying, bubbles can form on the wood surface. This makes painting the surface a bit more tedious. Once varnished, the wood will need to be redone sooner than if you used a sealer.

3) Keeping Furniture Indoors

It is wise to keep the furniture indoors when not in use to avoid damage from environmental elements prevailing outdoors.

4) Cover the Furniture Outdoors

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If you have furniture outdoors, get a covering like a gazebo to keep the sun and the rain away. The covering might only protect the wood from direct sunlight but not moisture which tends to seep in.

5) Cleanliness

Cleaning the wood frequently will prevent the build-up of any form of dirt that may lead to the deterioration of the wood. In addition, cleaning the surface helps reveal the parts that require attention.

Things That Damage Wood Outdoors

There are a lot of elements that you need to protect the wood from. While there are buildings that have lasted close to a thousand years that were made of wood, your furniture may not last long if not well taken care of. For example, I had to get a screened porch because, after a while, I noticed that the following elements were affecting my wooden furniture.

a) UV Rays

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UV rays can cause discoloration of the wood surface, which is not a good look, especially if you have invested in landscaping your backyard.

b) Heat

With time, I realized that small chips were forming on the surface of my furniture after a while. This was because the heat from the sun was causing the wood to crack due to the constant contraction and expansion. This can lead to eventual damage.

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Covering the surface and applying bright paint is the best way to protect outdoor wood furniture from heat.

c) Moisture and Rain

Moisture does not only come from rain. When dew forms on the wood, the effects are similar to those from the wood getting rained on. Luckily, a rain guard will protect the wood from water damage.

The situation worsens when the rain is preceded by heat from the sun, which causes a lot of strain on the wood.

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Waterproofing wood is one way you can go about the situation. For example, you can use advanced tung oil polymers if your furniture is made of untreated wood.

e) Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew can form on the wood if it sits on a damp surface. When wood fibers soak in water, you get damp wood which is a breeding environment for mold.

Even the best outdoor wood sealers will not protect your wood from mildew if exposed carelessly. Luckily, there are ways of removing mold from the wood once it forms.

f) Beetles

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Are you familiar with wood beetles? These can be a nightmare.

Final Take

Wood is a great material for floors, patios, verandahs, and indoor and outdoor furniture, and getting the right sealer gives the furniture a lifeline to hold on to for years to come.

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About the author

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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