A Guide to Restoring Wooden Garden Furniture

Wooden furniture can become worn and weathered throughout winter, even when it has been covered. It is designed to be left outdoors, so this can be unavoidable.

Thankfully, an orbital sander and some soapy water can help it look good as new and give your outdoor seating and tables a new lease of life.

A sander can help with appearance and reduce roughness and splinters to increase safety. This should be the first step. It can also remove any traces of old paint if you are repainting or staining your furniture.

Then, the soapy water will remove any grime from wooden furniture without stripping the wood or causing damage. Chemicals such as bleach should be avoided.

Ensure you do this when the furniture is dry, so check the weather forecast. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any debris, loose dirt, and cobwebs from the furniture, and then begin to restore your outdoor furniture.


What Damages Outdoor Wooden Furniture?

Unfortunately, all weather conditions can cause damage to outdoor furniture, so it is really important to cover your garden furniture when it is not in use.

Sunlight and UV rays can break down wood lignin, which is what keeps the wood strong and bonded. This is why cracks and splits appear. The wood can also start turning grey or faded as lignin breaks down.

Wood can also rot. Warm temperatures and high moisture levels can increase the likelihood of rot. Wood which stays damp can start to grow mould, so it is vital to prevent your wooden garden furniture from getting saturated in the first place, especially in winter.

Damaged wood can become brittle and rough when dried, which not only doesn’t look nice but can also be rough to the touch which isn’t user-friendly.

So, you need to both prevent damage to your wooden garden furniture and restore it in time for spring/summer.


How to Restore Outdoor Garden Furniture

1.      Repairing Weathered Wood

If the wood of the furniture is rough or worn, sanding it back can help with the appearance. Use an orbital sander to sand back the wood which needs attention.

Low-grit sandpaper should be used first, working upwards if you need a bit more power. A sanding block can help if there are any small, fiddly sections which your sander can’t reach.

When using a sander, wear the correct PPE; you’ll need eye protection, gloves, and a dust mask to protect yourself from splinters and wood dust.

Do this until it is smooth, and any splits or splinters have been removed or reduced.

SPEEDY TOP TIP: Sanding can also help reduce the appearance of water stains, but if you need to fix white rings, a paste of plain white toothpaste, baking soda, and a few drops of water, can help. Just rub it in, while matching the grain of the wood.

After sanding, use a soft bristle brush to get rid of any dust and then move on to cleaning.


2.      Check for Repairs

Hopefully, your wooden garden furniture is still in great condition and feels strong and sturdy, being built to last. But check all screws to ensure they’re still tight and haven’t rusted first.

If they need tightening or replacing, use an impact driver to help safely secure the screws. If there are any splits in the wood which sanding didn’t reduce, use wood glue.

Wearing gloves, apply wood glue into the split and then clamp the wood together until dry, before sanding to finish.


3.      Cleaning Wood Furniture

Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and wear some gloves. Use a sponge or clean cloth to wipe the furniture. Don’t oversaturate it, as this can cause damage to the wood when it is drying.

There are also dedicated wood cleaners on the market, which can help if your furniture is particularly covered with dirt and grime.

These can also tackle any patches which are looking a bit grey – this is grey oxidisation, which is the result of exposure to the elements.

Try not to use too much water and avoid using a pressure washer. This can oversaturate your wood, and the pressure could cause damage to the wood.


4.      Treat & Protect the Wood

The final step should be to protect the wood from further damage by using a stain, preservative, or paint.

Always follow the instructions on whichever product you use. Wear gloves to protect hands and a face mask to protect from fumes.

Wood paint for outdoor furniture can help if you want to add some colour to the garden, or a clear wood preservative such as teak oil can help if you want to keep the furniture looking natural and make the wood grain stand out.

If painting, use a primer beforehand, which will ensure the paint has a base and also protects the furniture. Also, protect your flooring with sheeting to prevent paint splashes or damage to patio stones or grass.

A paintbrush will be easiest to use on wood furniture, but you may also want to hire a paint sprayer if you will also be painting fencing, sheds, or other areas.




Thank you for reading our Speedy Hire blog on how to restore wooden outdoor furniture. Hopefully, you will be able to use your revitalised furniture this summer.

If you need to clean your patio area, check out our How-To Clean a Patio with a Pressure Washer blog.

Our Skills and Projects page has all of the inspiration you need to get your home and garden refreshed and in great condition.

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