Finishing outdoor furniture

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Jimi_C posted 09-18-2010 09:42 AM 11925 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3499 days

09-18-2010 09:42 AM

I’m looking to start a project that will be an outdoor piece, and was wondering what suggestions people have for finishing it. I’ve been looking at General Finishes Outdoor Oil, or their 450 product. The project will be red cedar, so these products seem to be exactly what I’d want, unless someone knows some horror stories about them.

Primarily, what I want is ease of application (don’t we all?). Probably going to be doing this in my garage or basement, and I don’t want to have to take up tons of space or use something that creates horrible fumes. I do have a cheapo HVLP, but I’m not sure if it will spray these oils too well (assuming the 450 is oil-based). Speaking of oils, I’m not looking forward to having to deal with oily rags/brushes again, and clean up and disposal is always such a pain in the ass.

Thanks in advance.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

10 replies so far

View Philinjersey's profile


8 posts in 3063 days

#1 posted 09-27-2010 10:59 PM

my suggested finish is MotherNature. She wants your wood to turn grey, stain, host lichen growth, and every other imaginable (and UNimaginable) thing in the world. The best you can hope for, with a clear or semi-transparent finish, is to delay the inevitable or to spend the balance of your life cleaning and refinishing the wood. Assuming that you’d like to get on to building new stuff instead of constantly refinishing the old, select a suitable wood such as mahogany, white oak, cypress, etc., exercise care in selection and execution of joinery, and let nature take its course. I have an english garden bench that’s been in front of my house for 12 years now, and it’s in fine condition albeit a silvery-grey that one would never guess was mahogany. BUT, the carpenter ants, carpenter bees and termites that are regular guests at my wood buffet haven’t touched it, the joinery of mortises and tenons has held up well and is showing no signs of letting go, and I expect at least another 12 or more good years out of this thing. There were 5 or 6 coats of oil that contained uv protectors, all lovingly sanded in and then rubbed in on later coats, but after 2 months of exposure to the elements, the beautiful mahogany was giving way to silver/grey. It took almost as long to apply the finish, with drying time between coats, as the coating lasted. As for dealing with the oily rags, I was still applying the oil and so still in the shop when they began to smolder. No damage done, other than the trauma of realizing that I almost burned down my own house. The other [reasonable] alternative that has any durability would be to use paint.

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3499 days

#2 posted 09-28-2010 12:35 AM

I’m planning on using cedar, though I was surprised that for outdoor durability black walnut and black cherry are considered nearly as durable when it comes to resistance to rot and insects. I’d like this glider to last 20 years or so, so I’m hoping that using some external finishes on it will help it reach that goal. The plan I bought calls pretty much for all stainless screws and half laps – not may other joints or glue.

I’m very paranoid about oily rags – I soak them in water and put them in a disposable roasting pan that I keep on my BBQ pit with a cover over it until they’re dry. I really don’t want to take any chances with them.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11233 posts in 3693 days

#3 posted 09-28-2010 01:55 AM

Take a look here

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View 489tad's profile


3514 posts in 3276 days

#4 posted 09-28-2010 03:00 PM

Jimi, I used Cabots Timber Oil when I refinished our garage doors. The doors are cedar and had to use the clear/natural first then apply the color finish to control the blotchyness. At the time Cabot did not offer the timber oils in sample size containers. They did in thier other stain. I had good luck with white oak, titebond III and timber oill for outdoors. I hope this helps.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4150 days

#5 posted 11-07-2010 08:29 PM

I took a seminar at a wood turning event by General Finishes and asked your question to the representative Sheryl Monahan.
She said you should use General Water Base Wood Stains & Dyes followed by Exterior 450 Water-Base Wood Clear.
I have used their stains and they are all I will use from now on they’ve solved problems for me when other brand stains would not do the job. Posting links below about the products.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3499 days

#6 posted 11-07-2010 09:33 PM

I’m a big General Finishes fan. I’ve used their gel stain and wipe on poly with great results, which is why I was primarily looking at their outdoor finishes. In my research, I have not heard any real complaints about the performance of their products. I wasn’t planning on staining this project, just want to protect it from the elements as best I can.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4026 days

#7 posted 11-07-2010 09:54 PM

The trouble with leaving the wood “natural”, even tho it might be rot resistant, is that it takes the furniture so long to dry after a rain. I have used extreior latex based paint with good results, and after the rain stops, I can dry off the furniture with a towel and it can be used in minutes.

If you like clear wood finishes try some of the newer water based exterior varnishes. They might not hold up well in South Florida, but would be satisfactory in your mid-America location.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View shipwright's profile


8215 posts in 3062 days

#8 posted 11-08-2010 01:47 AM

I’m with Gene above – “CETOL”. I’ve used it on a lot of boats in a harsh marine environment and it simply out performs everything else. If you want to know what it looks like check out my sailboat, “Friendship” in my projects. The decks,spars, caps, guards and toe rails are in Cetol. It still looks like it did when launched. Never had more than a cleaning, scratch sanding and touch-up coat. It’s six years old but I built a small fleet of boats in Victoria some of which are 20 years old and the same goes.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3095 days

#9 posted 11-08-2010 01:57 AM

I’ve also had great results with the Sikkens Cetol line. But I don’t believe they have a clear available. But I’ve use it several times on log siding jobs. Both front, back and ends were covered to reduce moisture infiltration. Moisture getting behind the finish is when a finish will fail the fastest. UV issues are also a concern. Some of the log jobs are now over 10 yrs old now and still look great with no recoats. I will admit this is a vertical sitiation so does have to stand up to standing water such as a bench/chair would encounter with horizontal surfaces.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics