TP Home | About | Newsletter | Blogs |

Hardwood Garden Furniture - best finish for long term

I don’t know how many years of my life I’ve wasted sanding and coating hardwood furniture only to see it look a pile of poo a year or so later!

Got 4 pieces to do that I’ve stripped … two in Elm, the other two in some cheap inport hardwood.

But what to coat them in???

Ideally something nice and simple and low maintenance. Happy to do bi-annual maintenance coats but want to get out so stripping, sanding and loosing countless hours.

Input from the TP professionals gratefully received.


Hi owatrol is your friend for this, teak olge,premiem hardwood oil.Hope that helps goodluck.

1 Like

New one on me Jason but reads very well and owatol seems well regarded in the decorating world.

And this this stuff lasts well you think?

Have applied loads of oils as well as finishes before but with very short term success. Mind I don’t think the oils used were up to much. Looked good for a while but then …

Thanks very much for the suggestion

Any other suggestions for external hardwood furniture finishes from TP folks?

I have only every used oil on hardwood furniture.

Clean down with power washer, allow to dry, rub down with fine paper then 2-3 coats of your oil of choice, I like Danish oil, seems to hold up very well.

It doesn’t hurt to give it a wipe over with a thin coat of oil after a long hot dry spell, just to feed the wood.

1 Like

Thanks Neil. Have plenty of Danish Oil as it goes but never used it on outside furniture.

Yes was going to give the stuff a spray down with Jeyes fluid to kill the moss etc. Jet wash like you say but I think I need paint strip and wire brush off as well as Polyurethane varnishes and paint have been used … doesn’t look great.

And Danish is a waterproof and weatherproof finish?

I have used branded oils before for decks and hardwood furniture (Roseal and DIY Shed type stuff) and it has lasted only a very short time in reality.

I am using a Tung oil for some internal hardwood that needs be shower proof but that needs multiple coats and drying time to become waterproof if I understand correctly. Is probably a bridge too far for outside furniture.

Tung oil is fine for inside timber, if fact I have used it on many old worktops in the past, but as you say, it does need good drying times and can take 10-20 days to fully cure, I would recommend 3 coats to start, not to thick and apply with a rag not brush, then once every 6 months after that, its food safe once dry.

I have never used Tung oil outside but it can be used outside, I just prefer the look Danish oil on wood.

1 Like

For years I’ve used tung oil on my wooden landing net and wooden wading staff both of which are sandwiched American black walnut and ash. The finish is very durable and easy to overcoat every now and again. The wading staff trails in the water behind me so is wet through all of the time I am fishing whereas the landing net seldom gets used - make of that what you will!
There is an adage which goes something like apply a coat a day for a week, a coat a week for a month and a coat a month for a year.
I have used it for many years on outdoor teak furniture instead of teak oil in the belief that it is more durable and effective at protecting the timber from water. However… I’ve noticed that you do get some black mould forming so at the moment I am try a water based protector which doesn’t suffer from this if it does what it says on the plastic bottle.
One thing to note with garden furniture is to try to protect the bottom of the legs, which are usually the end grain, as water will soak up. I have put 5/6mm rubber pads on chair legs and on the table I put some levelling screw adjustable feet to stop it rocking. It may be as well to get plenty of oil into the bottom of the legs.

1 Like

Some great advice in there John. Yeah I’ve been drying out the elm pieces in the garage for a few months so the feet ends are good and dry. Will definitely address the end feet as you mention. Good call.

So how many coats do you target for outdoor stuff John? It concerned me a little the time it might take but that said as it’s all under cover, there is in reality no huge rush. And I’m determined this time get it really right and nailed … fed of getting it nearly right.

But it definitely sounds like oils are way beating sit of surface finishes. This is definitely were I have been going wrong.

In terms of longevity Neil, is there anything to separate Tung from Danish?

And is there anything from Osmo that would be worth considering? Have long used Polyx for internals but never used any Osmo products for external.

I would say Tung is harder wearing if used on floors or worktops but Danish seems to bring out the colour and grain of the wood better and is more flexible, so ideal for outdoor furniture.

And the Danish somewhat easier to apply I’d say as well

I have restored lots of wooden garden furniture; here is a recent post of mine. I swear by Osmo oil, it has never let me down.

One thing to keep in mind is the sanding process. On most wooden furniture I rarely use anything finer than a 120 grit. On some of the cheap imported hardwoods, the grain can be difficult and feels spiky at 120. I will use a finer grit until it feels correct.

When you have finished the sanding process, wipe off the surface with a multi-fibre or tack cloth. Do not wet the surface; try and keep moisture to the absolute minimum. I sometimes use my sprayer with no paint to blow the surface; especially slats or tight corners.

Use a quality brush, not a cheap throw away one. Apply the oil in thin, even coats, and you should achieve a smooth quality finish which will last for years.

I hope that helps; good luck!

1 Like

Oiling teak. From wooden boat days, regular dousings with salt water is the best way to keep teak in top condition. It is so oily 1mm below the surface, there is nothing humans can do to improve on the integrity of teak. But the teak furniture oil people have won the argument :money_mouth_face:


Nice one Dave. Looked at your post and yeah have to say that looks good.

I’m also an Osmo fan but never used it outside. Inside have done acres with Polyx.

I’m now stuck for choices :slight_smile: Thanks for sending that post, is a great reference to go to.

And thanks for the process advice.

Is this the one you used Dave?

Yes, that is the oil I use. The picture in my post was the Cedar (428) tint.

1 Like

Cheers Dave, yes I read your post a few times … looks great but think I will be trying the natural finish if I go for Osmo.

Have to confess Osmo is my go-to 90% of the time, 100% for internal work.

Got a few good options out of this thread now. Many thanks

1 Like

When you are finishing the preparation ensure the surface is dry before applying the oil. My comments are a bit ambiguous, sorry! Wiping the surface with a damp multi-fibre cloth is okay, but ensure it dries completely. Sometimes the damp cloth picks up small particles, which is conducive to a proper finish, but if moisture remains it will spoil it.

I hope that makes sense

1 Like