What Is The Best Way to Finish My Outdoor Wood Furniture?

Have you found yourself asking, what is the best way to finish my outdoor wood furniture? We get that question a lot, which is why we thought it would be a good idea to cover the basics that you’ll need to know in order to tackle the project.

What Is The Best Way to Finish My Outdoor Wood Furniture?

Wood furniture finishing is the process of applying a protective coating that helps refine the wood and shield it from the elements. Most outdoor wood furniture that you’ll buy is pre-finished, meaning the manufacturer already applied some variety of protective coating. However, unfinished wood furniture should be finished before being used outdoors, and older wood furniture may need to be re-finished.

So what is the best finish for outdoor wood furniture? It depends. Below, we’ll cover some of the more popular finishing options to help you narrow down your options.

Types of Wood Finish

There are a wide variety of finishes available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are the major things to know.


Stains are one of the most popular wood finishes, since in addition to serving as a protectant they also immediately enhance the color and richness of your furniture.

Pros: Stains provide a protective barrier against moisture that can help prevent rotting and help shield wood from the sun—both important considerations when dealing with outdoor furniture.

Cons: You have to have a very steady hand when applying a stain, since uneven brush strokes will result in bubbling. Stains also require a long time to dry and furniture needs to be carefully protected during the drying process.


A sealer will help increase the longevity of the use you get out of your outdoor wood furniture, which is great news for restaurants and other commercial businesses.

Pros: Sealer seeps into the grain of the wood, not only providing great depth of protection but also keeping the appearance of your wood’s natural grain intact. It’s also one of the most affordable finishing options.

Cons: Sealer is messy to apply. It also fades over time, which means you’ll need to refinish your furniture again.

LEED-Certified Oil Finishes

LEED-certified oils are one of the most eco-friendly options for finishing your furniture and can greatly improve the look and feel of any wood surface.

Pros: Aside from being an environmentally conscious option, LEED-certified oils help enhance the natural coloring of wood while providing protection, and still allow you to see the grain as well.

Cons: Oils are messy to apply (be sure to wear gloves), and can also take a long time to spread and set.

Other finishing options include lacquers, shellac, polyurethane, and wood varnish.

Help Your Outdoor Wood Furniture Go the Distance

At Bistro Tables and Bases, in addition to serving as your restaurant furniture superstore we also offer plenty of advice on keeping your wood furniture looking its best. From what is the best paint for outdoor wood furniture to what is the best type of wood for outdoor furniture, you’ll find everything you need to know to shop for and maintain wood tables and chairs.

Need some more specific help? We’re here for you! Contact us today with questions on choosing and care for your restaurant’s wood furniture.