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Varnishing Wooden Patio Furniture

Easy step by step instructions showing how to varnish your own wooden patio furniture, presented by Crafty Corner

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I had this wooden patio set that I paid a fortune for and after standing for a year in the sun; it really was not looking too good. With all the elements of nature, the wood was well on its way to being destroyed. I decided to varnish the chairs and table. This was not just a one day job; it took me about 3 or 4 days to complete this project.

What you need:

  • 10L turpentine
  • 1 x medium sized paint brush
  • 1 x small sized paint brush
  • 5L woodoc 30 Ė exterior polywax sealer Ė low gloss finish - clear
  • Sponge

Step 1

Before doing anything else, move the patio furniture to an area that is open and well ventilated and where you donít mind messing. Pour 5 litres of turpentine into a bucket, and using your sponge, dip it into the turpentine, squeeze out the excess so it doesn't drip, and start by cleaning the table and chairs using the sponge and turpentine.

Ensure you do this thoroughly to clean off all excess dirt and build up of grime. After cleaning the furniture, leave it for 4 hours to dry off properly.

Step 2

After the furniture has dried properly you can now get to work with the varnishing.
Mix the varnish in the tin very well using a dowel rod. Start by applying the first layer of varnish to each piece of furniture. When you apply this first layer, you will find it to be quite sticky and the varnish will draw into the wood quickly but donít be fooled by that, the varnish needs to draw deeply into the wood in order to protect it properly, so donít stress when you see that on the first coat there is no shine to the wood.

After applying the first coat of varnish to the furniture, you need to leave it for at least 12 hours to soak in to the wood and dry properly. The directions on the varnish tin might tell you that you donít need to leave it for so long but I prefer doing it that way as I then know that the wood becomes well protected and that after a couple of years standing in the sun that the varnish will not start peeling off.

Step 3

After leaving the first coat to dry properly for 12 hours, you can do one of two things;
Some people would prefer to take sand paper and sand the surfaces lightly before applying the next coat. You will need to do this if you want the furniture to have a very smooth feel to it. I decided not to follow this route as I wanted the furniture to still have that rough outdoor look.

Apply the second coat of varnish and leave it to dry for 12 hours again.

Step 4

Now, if the wood is new and not yet sun damaged, there is no need for you to add a third coat of varnish, however, my set was quite sun damaged so I needed to add a third coat of varnish which I did. After putting on the third coat, the furniture now had a nice shine to it but still had that rough wooden look to it. Leave it to dry again for 12 hours and then you are done. You now have a beautifully varnished wooden patio set that will last you a long time.


If you are wondering what the rest of the turpentine is for, it is so that after each coat of varnish, you can put your paint brushes into it so that they donít get hard and dried out with the varnish that is on them.

wooden patio table wooden patio chair wooden table and chairs