How to Easily Refinish Outdoor Wood Furniture

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Hi friends! Today I am sharing how to refinish outdoor wood furniture, easily and in one afternoon. 

When preparing our outdoor space for the upcoming Spring, I realized pretty quickly that it was time to refinish our wooden outdoor furniture. After 3 summers of our patio furniture sitting in the blazing sun in our backyard, the stain had faded and the protective coat was peeling off. In short, it wasn’t looking so great. We purchased our patio set on sale 3 years ago from Joss & Main for a great price, and it’s really held up so well. But we did not do a great job of remembering to cover these when not in use, so naturally with UV rays and small children, they’ve taken a beating over time. The good news though is that there is a quick fix to bring the old finish of outdoor furniture back to life! 

Our exact set is no longer sold, but here’s a similar one from Amazon.

So let’s talk about how to easily refinish outdoor wood furniture and have it looking brand new again in no time!

refinish outdoor wood furniture


This is how our outdoor furniture was looking when I pulled it out. After 3 years of TONS of use, they’d seen better days! Some might have replaced them at this point, but their structure had held up so well that I had a hard time justifying the price of a new set. 

I thought about simply staining them as is, but I knew we would end up right back where we were very quickly.

I am glad I just went ahead and completed these few easy steps to restore the furniture. The process was honestly so easy and done in just one afternoon. Let’s get into it.

refinish outdoor wooden furniture

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Supplies Needed to Restore Outdoor Wood Furniture:

Step-by-Step Guide to Refinish Outdoor Wooden Furniture: 

1) Lay down a tarp/drop cloth/tack cloth to protect the area you will be working.

This first step is important because it will give you a flat, clean surface for your piece of furniture and allow you to freely work – without making a huge mess or possibly staining your concrete or floor below.

refinish patio furniture

2) Sand down furniture with handheld sander or sandpaper.

Our backyard gets so much sun, so the stain and sealant on our chairs had begun to peel and fade over time. Because of this, sanding these chairs was honestly very easy, as everything came off easily. I gave each chair a thorough sanding, focusing more attention on the arms and parts of the chair that would show most and receive the most wear. 

In the photo below, you can see the sanded arm vs. non sanded-arm. Already looking so much better! 

I’d recommend getting a low grit and high grit sandpaper for this project. You will use low grit (we used 80) to sand down the old finish, and a high grit (we used 200) to sand the wood and give it a smooth finish. When sanding, I recommend following the grain of the wood.

3) Clean furniture. 

You will want to give your furniture a good cleaning before moving on to the next step.

An easy way to remove excess sanding dust is to use a leaf blower to remove the remaining dust, and then wiped each chair down really well with a clean rag/ microfiber cloth

4) Apply wood conditioner. 

I do not usually use wood conditioner when staining. HOWEVER, for this project, I knew due to the outdoor use of these chairs and the amount of sun they receive, they were lacking moisture and dried out to the max. The conditioner helps to soften/condition the wood so that the outdoor stain soaks in evenly.  

For application of conditioner and stain, I love using these staining cloths. Alternatively, you can use a simple foam brush or t-shirt. I have just found the stain cloths to come in SUPER handy and give me the best finish.

In the photos below, the chair on the left has been sanded and wood conditioner has been applied. The right has been sanded, no wood conditioner. Look how much better already?! 

refinish outdoor wooden furniture
refinish outdoor wooden furniture

5) Wipe of excess wood conditioner and let dry for a bit. 

I gave this about 30 minutes. You just want to make sure the furniture is dry to the touch before moving on to stain. 

6) Apply stain color of choice. 

When choosing your new stain color, I highly suggest choosing something dark enough to withstand the sun. If your patio receives direct sunlight like ours, the sun will bleach the furniture over time.  

We chose to stain our chairs in Special Walnut. This is a classic color and a deep enough shade to not to be faded easily by the sun, and matched out previous stain. Again, I used these simple stain cloths to apply. Full disclosure though, I am not opposed to using a scrap cloth or paper towel though if I don’t have these on hand! 

​The wood soaked the stain in really well, so I only did one coat of stain. But you may find your furniture needs a second coat. 

7) Apply sealant. 

The final step after your stain has fully dried is to use an outdoor poly to protect your chairs from sun and moisture damage. This is what I like to use. For outdoor furniture, I like to get this in spray paint form for a quick, easy, even application.

refinish outdoor wooden furniture
refinish outdoor wooden furniture

Talk about a difference! They look brand new (maybe even better than when we first got them). This process gave our outdoor wood furniture new life and was truly so easy. 

I hope this helps you as you refinish outdoor wood furniture of your own! 

Until next time friends, 

refinish outdoor wooden furniture

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  1. Did you sand down all of the chair or just the parts that had more fading? Getting ready to try to fix mine up and it’s mostly the top surfaces.

    1. Hey Courtney! I sanded down the areas that see the highest traffic (arms and seat) really well. I just lightly sanded everything else! Hope this helps 🙂

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