September 29, 2015

How to Revive Outdoor Wooden Furniture Using Spar Urethane

This Tough Clear Finish Provides a Flexible, Protective Barrier for Outdoor Furniture

I have a wonderful Adirondack chair in my backyard that was made especially for me by an enterprising group of high school students in South Florida. Over the years, though, the finish has become dull, faded and chalky. I wanted to bring back the color, give it a bit of sheen and protect it from sunlight and rain.  

This post is in partnership with Minwax. The opinions and recommendations are my own.

For more information on the Helmsman Spar Urethane featured in this video click here.

The Right Finish for the Job  For this project I chose Helmsman spar urethane from Minwax. Spar finishes or varnishes had their origins in the boating world where they were used to coat and protect the spars or long poles that supported the sails. These finishes needed to stand up to sea water and blistering sun. They also had to be flexible since the spars were constantly flexing and expanding and contracting. Modern spar urethanes contain special oils to keep them both flexible and durable.

Do the Prep  Surface preparation in this case was fairly simple, but, as always, very important. The previous finish had broken down over time leaving a powdery residue on the wood. The easiest and fastest way to get things ready for a new finish was by sanding. An orbital sander fitted with 80-grit paper did the job quickly and easily.


Restoring the Color  After removing the sanding dust with a clean, soft cloth, it was time to add back the color that sunlight, weather and time had taken out of the wood. I chose a penetrating, oil-based, pigmented stain, again, from Minwax, which I applied with a brush. As soon as the stain fully penetrated the wood, but before it has had a chance to dry, I began wiping off the excess with a clean, dry cotton cloth.

Applying the Topcoat  I allowed the stain to dry overnight then began applying the spar urethane. When applying a topcoat on a chair like this, it’s best to begin at the top and work downward in order catch possible drips. Brush in the direction of the grain using long, smooth straight strokes until the coating is uniformly distributed. As always, a good quality brush will pay dividends and result in an even finish that’s free of marks and loose bristles.




Better than Ever  The pleasing sheen from the spar urethane combined and the rich color from the penetrating oil stain left this old favorite looking even better than it did when it was new.

Posted in: News Outdoor Projects Outdoor Furniture Furniture Furniture Refinishing Woodworking & Workshop Finishing & Refinishing
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