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Published Oct. 12, 2021

When you spend money on a nice set of outdoor furniture for the deck or patio, you want to make sure it lasts a long time. Being outside, no matter the climate, can take a toll on wood or metal furniture. Treating your furniture protects it from the elements and keeps it in tiptop shape for years to come. A number of different weatherproofing products are available and we’ve selected the best outdoor furniture treatments to keep your tables and chairs safe from the elements. 

How We Picked These Products

Methodology

We looked at a variety of furniture treatments for different kinds of materials and conditions. We kept some specific criteria in mind as we reviewed each product.

  • Ease of use: Putting any kind of finishing product on outdoor furniture requires some grit and elbow grease, so we looked for products that went on easily and required minimal coats. 
  • Finish: We only chose products that left a nice, even finish without any mottling, speckles, or residue. Color was important too—nothing is more satisfying than a warm glow in the before and after pics!
  • Performance: Of course we want to see that the product works. The best water repellents make water visibly bead off surfaces, and we consulted consumer feedback to see product performance over extended periods of time.
  • Odor: Smell is such a sensitive topic amongst users of nearly anything! With a product like this that can give off fumes, we liked variations that were gentler on the nose or completely odorless.

The Best Outdoor Furniture Treatments: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Star Brite Teak Care Kit

Bright Shiny Finish

A care kit to clean and polish teak and other fine woods. STAR BRITE

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Why It Made the Cut: This care kit from Star Brite for outdoor furniture is so effective in protecting wood from the sun, wind, and water that it’s even a favorite for boaters.

Specs:

  • Includes cleaner, brightener, and oil
  • Free of dangerous acids
  • Easy-to-follow three-step process

Pros:

  • Makes wood prep easier
  • Brightens wood back to its natural state so grain shines through
  • Finishes with a beautiful golden color

Cons:

  • Multiple coats of oil may be necessary

We chose the Teak Care Kit from Star Brite as the best overall outdoor furniture treatment because it includes everything you need to clean, restore, and protect furniture made from teak and other fine woods (fine woods include hardwoods like cherry, maple, oak, and walnut). 

This three-part process includes a cleaner, brightener, and finishing oil. The cleaner preps damaged wood so less elbow grease is required before you scrub, scrape, and sand. The brightener enhances the wood to its natural color and prepares it for a sealer or conditioning oil. The teak oil seals and protects from UV rays, with the added bonus of a warm golden hue.

Star Brite suggests one coat of the teak oil is enough, and for brand new teak it may be, but bear in mind that if you’re restoring older wood, it’s possibly already dried out quite a bit and will quickly drink up the oil. Be prepared for the first treatments to require a few coats. 

Best Value: Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane

Spray-on Barrier

An easy to apply spray on urethane that protects furniture from UV rays and moisture. Minwax

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Why It Made the Cut: Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane goes on smoothly and is perfect for small jobs when you don’t want to spend a lot.

Specs:

  • Contains UV blockers
  • Spar urethane creates barrier against rain and moisture
  • Satin finish has minimal gloss

Pros:

  • Simple application
  • Nice, even matte finish
  • Dries quickly into a hard finish

Cons:

  • Aerosol generates a lot of fumes

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is an excellent budget choice for outdoor furniture, especially for small projects and touch-ups. The easy-to-apply urethane comes as an aerosol that sprays on nicely and quickly dries to a hard finish.

The oils work to protect wood from UV rays and prevent graying or fading. It also forms a strong barrier against precipitation and moisture so that water will repel—the water visibly beads off after a couple of coats. 

Like most aerosols, this product does generate fumes when sprayed, so this is definitely a project to be completed outdoors or in another wide-open, ventilated space. If you prefer to brush on rather than use the aerosol, or for larger projects, this product is also available by the gallon

Best for Wood Furniture: Seal-Once Nano Guard

Deep-Penetrating Sealant

This sealant protects your wood furniture from water, mold, and decay. Seal-Once NANO

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Why It Made the Cut: We chose Seal-Once Nano Guard as the best sealant for wood furniture because the water-based sealant brushes on easily and leaves a nice tint.

Specs:

  • Water-based
  • Free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Available clear or in 9 different tints

Pros: 

  • Dries quickly
  • Odorless
  • Effectively repels water

Cons:

  • Expensive

We chose Seal-Once Nano Guard as the best sealant for wood furniture because of its unmatched ability to repel water. Once furniture is treated with the Nano Guard, you’ll see raindrops bead right off of the surface.

The water-based sealant is eco-friendly and free of potentially harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The gentle formula is odor free, which sets it apart from other stains and sealants that emit strong chemical smells that can be tough on people with sensitivities.

Nano Guard is available in nine different tints, each offering UV protection, as well as a clear finish that allows wood to fade and gray naturally. That said, this sealant is on the expensive side, but nothing will better protect and stabilize your wooden furniture to extend its life. 

Best for Metal Furniture: Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer

Simple Spray-on Protection

A spray-on rust reformer to restore and protect metal furniture. Rust-Oleum

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Why It Made the Cut: Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer is our top pick for best outdoor furniture treatment for metal furniture because it restores and protects in one easy spray-on application.

Specs:

  • Oil-based formula
  • Easy to spray can
  • Creates rust-free surface

Pros: 

  • Creates a rust-free surface 
  • Dries quickly
  • Prevents further spread of rust

Cons:

  • Requires some elbow grease

If you have a nice metal outdoor furniture set that has experienced some weathering, the Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer can treat the rust and prevent it from further spreading. You’ll need to put in some elbow grease first to remove excess rust, but once you spray with the Rust Reformer, anything that remains quickly transforms into a rust-free surface.

The oil-based formula creates a flat black surface that you can then paint over with any color you’d like. It’s easy to apply and dries quickly in 20-40 minutes (wait 24 hours before adding another coat, or priming and painting). 

Rust-Oleum is a trusted brand and this product is used on everything from fences to auto parts, so we trust it to protect your patio furniture from the rain and sunshine!

Best Sun Protection: Howard SunShield

Smooth Sun Protection

This furniture wax protects and enhances wood’s natural beauty. Howard Products

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Why It Made the Cut: We chose Howard Sun Shield as our pick for the best outdoor furniture treatment for sun protection because we love how it restores a healthy glow to hardwoods.

Specs:

  • Blends carnauba wax, beeswax, and orange oil
  • Satin wax finish
  • Works on all woods

Pros:

  • Leaves a polished finish
  • A little bit of the product goes a long way
  • Easy to apply

Cons:

  • Strong scent

UV rays can cause just as much damage to hardwood as it can to your skin, so remember that your wooden furniture needs sunscreen too! We love Howard SunShield, a wood conditioner, and protectant, to keep hardwoods moisturized and healthy under the beating sun. 

Howard SunShield is safe for use on any hardwood and leaves behind a polished finish that other outdoor furniture treatments don’t have. When applied to freshly sanded wood, it leaves the wood with a healthy glow to its natural color. 

This furniture wax has the consistency of lotion and is best applied by pouring onto a rag and massaging onto the wood surface. Some users cite the fresh orange scent as being strong so always apply it in an open, ventilated space.

Things to consider before buying outdoor furniture treatment

Climate

Outdoor furniture treatments usually protect against two things: UV rays and moisture. UV rays can cause drying out, flaking and fading, while precipitation and moisture causes rot in wood or rust on metal. Which of these things is your furniture most susceptible to? Many treatments offer protection against both, but furniture in damper climates needs a strong sealant to repel water, like the Seal-Once Nano Guard. If you’re in a hot, dry, and sunny climate, choose a product with strong UV protection.

Treatment

A brand new set of furniture can be treated right away with a stain or sealant to protect it. But if you’re treating an older set, it may need some restoration before you reach the finishing step. For hardwoods, our choice for best overall outdoor furniture treatment, the Star Brite Teak Care Kit, includes three different products for each step in that process. If you’re dealing with rusted metal, Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer helps restore.

Before and After

Before you choose a stain, check reviews for before and after pictures. This will give you a real world idea of how the stain looks when it dries (besides, there’s nothing more satisfying than a restoration before and after!).

FAQs

Q: What’s the best treatment for outdoor furniture?

We like the Star Brite Teak Care Kit to apply to furniture at every part of the treatment process, from cleaning to brightening to finishing. It makes removing old, flakey wood and debris easy, restores wood to its natural brightness, and leaves it with a nice golden hue. For a sealant, Seal-Once Nano Guard is our favorite because it repels water better than other sealants on the market.

Q: What do I put on outdoor furniture to protect it?

Generally you’re protecting your furniture from two things: moisture and UV rays. To protect your furniture from these elements, look for a sealant or stain with UV protection. Proper care and maintenance prevents wood from drying, rotting, and fading. In the off season, consider an outdoor furniture cover.

Q: Can patio furniture be left outside in the winter?

Sure! It’s meant to be outdoors, after all. As long as you’re putting in the proper care and maintenance and making sure the furniture is sealed before extreme weather hits, leaving patio furniture outside in the winter shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Final Thoughts

Outdoor furniture is usually a big purchase and you want to give it the proper care and maintenance to keep it looking brand new for as long as possible. Whatever material your furniture is made from, you can find a product to protect it from fading in the sun or succumbing to rust or rot.

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