How To Outdoor-Proof Indoor Furniture

Use designer Kenneth Wingard’s instructions to bring wooden furniture safely outside.

Pop quiz:

What should you do with that neglected dining room table you never use and those cute wooden chairs you found at a garage sale?


Give them a new purpose and a new spot in your home – in the great outdoors! Learn to repurpose old indoor furniture into beautiful pieces that can stand up against the elements – and serve as a conversation starter for your next backyard barbecue. Protect your new furniture with these expert tips from Home Made Simple.

Before you begin, gather your supplies:

  • Soft bristled brush
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • A bowl of warm water with a squirt of Dawn Ultra Dish Soap
  • Damp cloth
  • Cotton Rag
  • Outdoor furniture oil
  • 80-Grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Exterior primer
  • Ventilation masks
  • Outdoor enamel paint
  • Polyurethane sealant

How to repurpose a wooden table

  1. Gently clean the table using the soft bristled brush to remove any dust or loose dirt. If the grime is extra stubborn, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove it
  2. Clean the table with the Dawn Ultra Dish Soap solution and a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Once cleaned, allow the wood to dry completely
  3. Use a cotton rag to apply furniture oil, wiping along the grain of the wood. Follow the directions listed on the furniture oil packaging. The oil will protect the wood from fungi and mildew

Tip: Use a cotton swab to apply the furniture oil to any small nooks and crannies of the table.

How to repurpose wooden chairs

  1. Sand down the chairs with 80-grit sandpaper to remove the existing finish and any imperfections that may exist. Make sure to sand along the grain of the wood to avoid scratching the wood’s surface in multiple directions
  2. Wipe the chairs with a damp cloth to remove the sawdust created by the sanding process
  3. In a well-ventilated area, coat the entire chair with exterior primer and allow time to dry. Be sure to wear a ventilation mask as well
  4. Once the primer has dried completely, paint the chairs with outdoor enamel paint, following the grain of the wood. Allow time for the paint to completely dry. Repeat with a second coat
  5. Once the chairs have completely dried, apply a sealant to each using the polyurethane. Cover the entire chair, applying one to two applications

Remember these four simple steps for preparing indoor furniture for outdoor life: Sand it, seal it, paint it and protect it!

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