How to Finish Pine Outdoor Furniture


Pine is one of the most popular materials for building furniture, both for indoor and outdoor use. The grain of the wood holds stains and paints well, and it is soft enough to be worked and contoured by the home craftsman. Pine furniture for a patio or deck is often painted, but the most common finish is stain and varnish, which seal it better against the elements and prevent pests and decay.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-ounce hammer
  • Wood glue (optional)
  • Finishing sander
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Sponge
  • 280-grit sandpaper
  • Wood stain
  • Latex gloves
  • Soft-bristle paint brush
  • Shop rags
  • Finish coating

Finishing Outdoor Furniture

  • Inspect the surface of the furniture carefully. Tap in or otherwise tighten any loose tacks or fasteners. Make sure that all joints fit snugly together. If the furniture seems to have too much wobble, apply a small amount of wood glue to the loose joints and allow four hours drying time.

  • Sand the entire surface using a 150-grit sandpaper. Always sand wood along the grain of the wood or it will scratch and gouge. Use the 150-grit as a medium-coarse paper to remove large blemishes and smooth the general surface of the wood. When done, wipe the entire surface with a slightly damp sponge and allow it to set for 10 minutes.

  • Switch sandpaper to the 280-grit paper, and go over the entire furniture surface again. This is a fine-grit paper and is meant to provide a smooth, silky finish to the untreated wood. As before, always sand with the grain of the wood. When finished, wipe the surface with the sponge and allow it to set for 10 minutes.

  • Put on the latex gloves to protect your hands from the stain. Apply the stain of your choice with a fine-bristle brush. Use full, slow strokes, applying only enough stain to coat the wood, but not enough to cause excessive running. When droplets form in cracks and curves, use a rag to wipe away the stain. A brush is always the preferred method of application, but many home woodworkers simply use a clean rag and wipe on the stain by hand. Use the method that is most comfortable for your own purposes.

  • Add a top coat of clear finish over the stain. This seals in the color and protects the wood from pests and moisture. Use an aerosol finish, and apply in long, slow strokes with the can held six to eight inches from the surface. Allow at least four hours drying time.

  • Using the 280-grit sandpaper, sand the entire surface lightly by hand. This will remove small air bubbles from the finish. Apply a final coat of sealant. With most hard finishes, you can apply additional coats to give the finish a deeper, warmer appearance. Allow at least four hours between coats, or until the surface is no longer tacky to the touch. Sand with fine-grit paper between each coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Test your stain and selected finish on a similar surface before applying it to your project. Become comfortable with the process before tackling the real task.
  • Never use paints of stains without proper ventilation. If nothing else is available, set up an ordinary box fan to circulate fresh air through the area.
  • Always wear safety glasses when working with wood. Eye injuries are one of the most common shop injuries and can be easily avoided in most cases.

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