Restore a Wood Patio Bench
Scott Gutierrez - Penn Valley, CA

Hardwarian Scott Gutierrez

Penn Valley True Value Hardware

Penn Valley, CA

Restore a Wood Patio Bench

Level: Experienced

Your wood patio bench was once the best seat outside the house — a great place to socialize, relax or just sit back and watch your garden grow. But age, wear, sun and rain can take a big toll on outdoor wood furniture, marring its surface and stealing its luster. You can strip away the years and restore its beauty and health by restoring your patio furniture this weekend.

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Project Steps
Project Shopping List
    • Step 1: Strip Off Old Finish

      Old, weathered stain or paint can wear unevenly or become dull and lifeless, so it's tempting to just cover them with more. But the new coat won't adhere or wear well if it's not applied to a clean, smooth surface. Instead of covering the old finish, remove it with a chemical stripper or heat gun.

      Work in a well-ventilated area such as the patio itself or your open garage. Make sure your work area is dry and dust-free. Use masking tape to secure a large drop cloth or tarp to the ground or floor to prevent potential stains from spill and splatter.

      You can remove any flaking, loose paint or varnish by first scraping it off with a paint scraper. Using a medium-sized paintbrush, apply Woodsman® Premium Wood Stripper evenly over the surface in a thick coating, with a single pass of the brush. You don't have to brush it out the same way you would a coat of paint. Let it soak 20 to 30 minutes then remove the old finish using a plastic scraper or a smooth, round-edged putty knife. Wait until the finish has bubbled up before trying to remove it. The surface may be soft so be careful not to damage it with the scraper. Allow the bench wood to dry completely.

      Safety Alerts!

      Always follow manufacturer's instructions and wear rubber gloves and protective goggles when using strong chemicals.

      Never strip furniture near an open flame as stripping chemicals can ignite.

      Helpful Tip

      Use chemical strippers clearly marked "no cleanup" or "will wash away with water." However, the "no cleanup" type stripper may leave a residue, which must be sanded away. Residue from the "wash away" type can be removed by rinsing with water. Be aware that water may raise the grain of the wood. Lightly sand to reduce this effect.

      Using a heat gun is a quick and effective method for removing the finish from flat surfaces. Heat a small area of the bench with the heat gun until the finish bubbles up. Then scrape off the residue into a plastic bag or another container to discard later.

      Helpful Tip

      The heat technique can leave residue in the pores of the wood or in detailed areas and crevices that can't be scraped away. If that starts to happen, stop using heat and apply a chemical stripper to finish the job.

      Safety Alert!

      Always wear a heavy glove on the hand you'll be using to hold the heat gun and scraper because they can get very hot.

    • Step 2: Sand It

      The more thorough you are during the stripping process, the less you'll need to sand. Start sanding with medium/low-grit sandpaper to clean off any finish that remains and smooth out any imperfections in the wood. Then smooth the whole bench down with medium-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand along the grain of the wood. Do this carefully as any swirl marks caused by sanding will stand out when you stain.

    • Step 3: Stain It

      The stain you use will determine the color of the wood once it's finished. If you want to enhance the color of the wood use Woodsman 100% Acrylic Water-Repellant which will seal the surface and enhance the color. For a richer look use a product such as Woodsman 100% Acrylic Wood-Toned UV Wood sealer & Protector.

      Oil-based stains penetrate into the wood without raising the grain but carry a strong odor. Water-based stains are more environmentally friendly and offer easy cleanup using soap and water. Never use deck stain on furniture.

      Apply one even coat of stain with a cloth or medium-sized paintbrush and allow it to penetrate into the wood. Wipe off excess stain with a clean cloth and allow the piece to dry completely.

      Safety Alert!

      Never refinish near an open flame as stains can ignite.

      Helpful Tips

      If you are using water-based stains, you can minimize raising the grain by moistening the wood with a damp cloth and sanding. Allow the wood to dry completely and sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. Repeat as necessary.

      When buying brushes, choose natural bristles for oil-based stains and latex bristles for water-based stains.

    • Step 4: Apply Sealant

      Apply Woodsman® 100% Acrylic Wood-Toned UV Wood Sealer & Protector to seal the new stain finish, if the stain you used did not do so. Apply it using a cloth or with a small- to medium-sized paintbrush in smooth, even strokes along the direction of the grain. Hold the brush vertically while applying. Overlap brushstrokes when moving on to the next area. Let it dry completely (this usually takes a couple of hours). You may want to add a couple of coats. In between coats (once the last has dried), lightly sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. Use a cloth to wipe the piece down or use a brush to remove any residue and debris from sanding. Apply the next coat and let it dry overnight before using

      Congrats! You're done with your patio restoration! Now your wood patio bench has been restored and has a new lease on life.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

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