If you want to stain your deck to give it a new color and protect it, a tin of deck stain is the obvious choice. But what if you wanted to protect outdoor furniture? People are often unsure whether deck stain is the same as other types of wood stain and whether it can be used on their outdoor furniture or not. After all, why would it be a specific product of its own if it could be used interchangeably?
This article will explain exactly what deck stain is and whether you can use it on outdoor furniture or not.
How is Deck Stain Different from Regular Wood Stain?
Deck stain is made for use on your deck. What that really means is that it’s specifically formulated for use outside, and that means it has different ingredients to normal wood stain.
All stains consist of three main parts; pigment, solvent, and binder. The pigment is what gives the color and the binder helps it to bond to the wood. The solvent is usually used to thin the other ingredients and carry them into the wood, so it can soak in properly. This will then dry and evaporate, leaving behind the pigment and binder.
Deck stain still has these main ingredients but as it is designed for outdoor use, it contains extra substances that protect the wood against the elements. Most importantly, it contains ingredients that repel water and prevent moisture from soaking into the wood. Deck stain also has UV protection too.
Over time, sunlight can cause the color of the wood to fade into a dull grey, and it will also dry out the wood and split it. Deck stain usually has UV inhibitors in it to stop this from happening.
A standard, all-purpose wood stain that is designed for indoor use will not necessarily have these additions, so it does not effectively protect wood outdoors. However, you may find products that are labeled exterior wood stain rather than deck stain, and they will offer the same protection.
Yes, in fact, I would advise it. Outdoor furniture is exposed to the same weather conditions as your decking, so it makes sense that you should use the same stain on it. Normal wood stain will not give you the protection you need against moisture and UV, so you will face issues with splitting, discoloration, and rot.
You can get some guidance on which products to use in our excellent guide to stains for outdoor furniture. You will find a list of lots of different exterior stains, some of which are deck stains. Don’t be put off just because it doesn’t say furniture stain on the tin, these products are still excellent for protecting any wooden fixture outdoors, including garden furniture.
How to use Deck Stain on Outdoor Furniture (Step-by-step)
First, you need to clean and sand the furniture to prepare the wood for the new stain. If you have already stained the furniture before, the old stain needs to be removed. You can either do this by using a coarse sandpaper or applying a stripping solution. If using a stripping solution, you usually layer it on and leave it for around 20 minutes before cleaning it off with some warm soapy water.
However, always check the guidelines on the specific product you are using.
Once the old stain is removed, sand it with a finer sandpaper to remove any residual bits of stain or dirt and create a smooth surface on the wood. Sand in the direction of the grain and then wipe it with a dry cloth afterwards to get rid of any dust.
2. Apply deck stain
Now that the surface is prepared, it’s time to apply your deck stain. Use a good quality natural brush and start from the top of the furniture. Work your way down, trying to stain in the direction of the grain in long strokes so you can avoid brush marks. Remember, make sure that the stain is soaking right into the wood so you have a nice even finish. You may need to apply it more heavily than you think.
Again, products vary so check the guidelines before you start.
3. Let it dry
When you are happy with the color, you can leave the furniture to dry in a well-ventilated area. The drying time varies but it will usually be touch dry in 1 to 3 hours. However, it’s best to give it a full 24 hours before applying any additional finish over the top.
4. Apply further coats if needed
If you want a darker color, you can simply apply another coat following the same method as before. In most cases, it’s a good idea to do 2 because it doesn’t take long and it will give you a more uniform color. You also get more protection against moisture and UV damage too, meaning that you won’t need to reapply the stain as often.
This last step is optional but I would recommend it. You can add a clear coat over the top of the stain to give more protection against the weather. Instead of soaking into the wood, clear coats sit on the top and form a tough barrier. Many of them also have UV inhibitors in them too. Apply the clear coat using a brush or a sprayer (if possible), and follow the guidelines on the tin.
You should only need a few coats as you already have a stain underneath. By adding this extra clear coat on top, you can avoid having to stain the furniture again every year.
Can You Use Deck Oil on Outdoor Furniture?
Deck oil is an alternative to stain. It is made from natural oils and comes as a clear option or with pigment, so you can color the wood. It soaks into the wood and fills the pores, and as water and oil don’t mix, any moisture is forced out and the wood is protected.
Just like deck stain, oil can be used on any exterior wood, including your furniture. It’s a great choice if you want a more natural look and you don’t want to add a dark color. However, be aware that stain tends to last a bit longer than oil. You can still use a clear coat over the top of oil though, just make sure that you give it plenty of time to fully dry and cure.
Can You Use Interior/Regular Wood Stain on Outdoor Furniture?
The problem with using an interior or an all-purpose wood stain on outdoor furniture is that they are not designed to be used outside, so they are not weatherproof. That said, you can still use them if you put a sealer over the top. In this case, it is not optional as it is when using deck stain on your outdoor furniture.
Spar urethane is a popular choice for sealing exterior wood as it offers excellent UV and moisture protection, it’s affordable, and it’s easy to use. You can find more information in our guide on spar urethane for outdoor furniture here.
There are lots of other great clear coats out there too. If you are planning to use standard wood stain (perhaps if you want a specific color or you have some old stuff left over that you want to use), check out our guide to clear coats for outdoor wood for some help with sealers.
Can You Use Deck Paint on Outdoor Furniture?
Yes, deck paint is just as versatile as deck stain. In fact, it’s an excellent choice because it’s very durable and long-lasting, so you don’t need to recoat too often. It’s also ideal if you have some old furniture that has seen better days. A few coats of good quality exterior paint will hide all of the sins and make it look brand new.
You can even clear coat over the top of paint for added durability. A combination of the two could last decades if you don’t live in a particularly harsh climate.
Deck stain is only labeled that way because decking is one of the most common exterior wooden fixtures. If you’re buying a stain to use outside, 9 times out of 10 you’re staining a deck. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used on furniture and it’s actually one of the best choices because it’s designed to be hard wearing. So, don’t limit yourself when searching for products to use on your outdoor furniture.
Read Our Related Articles:
- 10 Best Exterior Wood Stains for Outdoor Use
- 10 Best Stains for Outdoor Furniture
- 10 Best Stains for Pressure Treated Wood
- Do I Need to Remove Old Stain Before Restaining a Wood Deck?
- How Long Should Deck Stain Dry Before Putting Furniture On It?
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.