When it comes to outdoor furniture, whether it is being made for the first time or re-purposed after being outside for some time in different conditions, a lot of people wonder can you use wax on outdoor furniture? The idea is to make the outdoor furniture more durable, weather-resistant, and look really nice.
After testing and researching I found that:
Applying wax to wooden furniture for outdoor use is only effective when applied over bare wood surfaces. Exterior waxes are not designed to work over painted furniture, the wax needs to be able to penetrate inside the wood to protect it.
Table of Contents
- What’s the Best Wax for Outdoor Wood Furniture?
- The Cons of Outdoor Furniture Wax?
- Can you Apply Wax Over Varnish, Paint, or Other Finishes?
- Alternative Finishes for Outdoor Furniture (That Aren’t Wax)
- Final Thoughts
What’s the Best Wax for Outdoor Wood Furniture?
The best wax for outdoor wood furniture is Howards SunShield Outdoor Furniture Wax. It is a beeswax and orange oil mix which is designed to keep your wood from drying out or fading after being outside in the sun, enduring temperature changes, and rain or snowfall.
How to use Howards SunShield Outdoor Furniture Wax
The first thing that you need to do is clean your furniture off. Clean it with a rag and water, but if it’s old and in need of help you should sand it. Either way make sure to remove every speck of dust, dirt, pollen, etc from the furniture. Sanding is only required on older weathered pieces that need reviving.
Next, it is recommended that you use a rag to massage the wax into the cracks and gaps on the furniture. Wipe along with the grain and in a circular motion putting pressure on the surface so the wood absorbs in the wax.
Once you apply the wax, let it sit to penetrate for some time and then wipe any excess wax off with a soft cloth. Apply multiple coats if your wooded surface still needs some more love. Once that process is done, buffing is optional to the surface when the wax is dry and no longer sticky. Buffing will make the finish go from hazy to shiny and ready for your next outdoor party!
What else does Howards SunSheild Wax do?
Another great feature about Howard’s SunShield wax is that it conditions old wood too. If you have an old wooden table or chair set that has weathered grey from the sun and oxygen over the years, applying Howard’s outdoor wax can bring it back to life.
Using the same process, you might need to sand things down a little bit more. Follow these steps for weathered wood projects.
Lightly sand when dealing with wood that needs reviving, use an orbital sander or belt sander moving with the grain of the wood. This helps remove some grey that has occurred and takes us down to the natural beauty the wood used to look like. If you don’t apply a protective coat with UV protection it will grey and splinter quickly.
Now apply Howards SunSheild to make the table last many more years. Rub it on with a dry clean rag in a circular wiping motion. It is a similar application to interior wax, but you can see where the wax is on the wood surface much easier, the wood is popping in a fresh look.
The Cons of Outdoor Furniture Wax?
One thing that can be a major con with exterior furniture wax is the need for re-application. It is similar to exterior wood oils. It penetrates the wood and protects it from weather and rot, but it needs multiple applications a year. Of course, depending on location and if the furniture is attacked by the weather this varies.
Another thing is durability, wax doesn’t protect well from scratches like other alternatives. If you are looking for a tough piece that can handle four seasons of tough weather and use I recommend a product n the list of alternatives below.
Can you Apply Wax Over Varnish, Paint, or Other Finishes?
While you can try to put wax on top of other finishes that are already on the piece of furniture in question, that just does not work well to your advantage. Wax needs to put on bare wood. They are simply not designed to stay on your furniture if you put it over paint or anything else. Wax penetrates into the wood, if there is a barrier between them it will not work effectively outside.
Alternative Finishes for Outdoor Furniture (That Aren’t Wax)
In case wax doesn’t seem to suit your needs or it’s a little bit too difficult/intimidating to take on, there are several other options out there that you can look into that will give your outdoor furniture a great finished look and will be sturdy as well. If interested in learning about various finishes for untreated wood read here.
Anyway, below are a few alternative options that you can use instead of wax:
Spar Varnish like Helmsman Spar urethane by Minwax is made specifically to make wood that is going to be outdoors last for a very long time. It is designed to help your wood withstand even the harshest of elements whether it be extreme heat or snow. Once your surface is clean and free of dirt and dust, you will then get a paintbrush and your spar and paint on a thin layer of varnish. Once applied get ready to wait for a while, as it will need to dry for 8-12 hours.
Another option that is very durable for the outdoors is Rust-oleums Spar Varnish, designed for marine resistance. This stuff is heavy duty and will weatherproof your furniture without a doubt.
Gator Hide by Dixie Belle Paint Company is another great option to put o your outdoor furniture. This is a clear coat finisher and is as tough as you would think with the name. It is designed for furniture that takes on a lot of weather ware as well as a lot of traffic such as picnic tables, outdoor counters, outside chairs, etc. It is a ply-acrylic formula.
After cleaning off the furniture, allow it to completely dry then paint on a very thin layer of the gator hide. Apply another layer 2 hours later. Repeat this process 3-4 times in total to get a finished product that is completely water and weather repellent.
General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Topcoat
This General Finishes Exterior 450 Topcoat is a great option for a finisher as it is created to absorb UV lights so the sun does not fade the furniture and also keeps the wood from getting damaged from rain or other water and does not allow mold or mildew to grow. You can choose to apply this water-based topcoat with a brush, in a spray canister, with a roller, or even with a clean rag.
If you spill it or get it on your hands, you can easily get it off with soap and water. Make sure not to use this finisher on furniture that is painted white or any other very light color as it can cause the color to turn yellow as it dries.
No matter what your outdoor project may be, any of the options above can be used to create a finished product that is as durable as it is beautiful. Wax is one of the easiest and most natural finishes to pick from and will certainly keep your outdoor furniture beautiful and strong for many years to come.
However, if the wax seems a little too intimidating to take on, you can opt for any other option on the list and get a result that works just as well. Whether you are painting and need a strong finish o the paint lasts for years or you want a natural finish that enhances the look of the wood, you can’t go wrong with any option here!
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.