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Best Outdoor Finish For Wood (2023 Update)

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If you’re looking for the best outdoor finish for wood, there are several factors to consider. First, you’ll want to think about the type of wood you’re working with. Different finishes work better on certain types of wood. You’ll also want to consider how much exposure to sunlight and moisture your finished product will have. A good outdoor finish should be able to withstand tough weather conditions and UV rays without fading or cracking.

When purchasing a finish, consider whether you want to use an oil-based or water-based product. Oil-based finishes tend to be more durable and spread more easily than water-based finishes. However, water-based finishes are less likely to yellow over time and are more eco-friendly. You’ll also want to consider the finish’s sheen level. A matte finish may look more natural but won’t provide as much protection as a glossy finish.

Some questions to consider when choosing the best outdoor finish for wood include: What type of wood is the project made from? Is the project going to be exposed to direct sunlight or moisture? Do I want an oil-based or water-based finish? What level of sheen do I want? Answering these questions can help you make an informed decision and choose the best finish for your project.

10 Best Outdoor Finish For Wood

# Product Image Product Name Product Notes Check Price
1

It is ideal for providing a durable, water-resistant finish to wood surfaces in both indoor and outdoor settings.

2

Ideal for protecting and enhancing the appearance of exterior wood surfaces, providing a durable and water-resistant finish.

3

The product is ideal for sealing outdoor projects with a matte finish, providing protection against the elements.

4

Ideal for finishing and waterproofing wood-based products such as cutting boards, outdoor furniture, butcher blocks, and wood flooring.

5

It is ideal for outdoor teak and other fine woods, providing a sealer, preserver, and finish.

6

It is ideal for protecting outdoor wood furniture from moisture and stains.

7

It is ideal for providing a durable and glossy finish on indoor and outdoor wood surfaces.

8

Ideal for protecting and enhancing the appearance of wood surfaces that are exposed to outdoor elements such as boats and furniture.

9

It is ideal for protecting and enhancing the appearance of exterior wood surfaces.

10

Ideal for outdoor surfaces needing a high-gloss, long-lasting finish, with UV and weather resistance for protection against fading and damage.

It is ideal for providing a durable, water-resistant finish to wood surfaces in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Ideal for protecting and enhancing the appearance of exterior wood surfaces, providing a durable and water-resistant finish.

The product is ideal for sealing outdoor projects with a matte finish, providing protection against the elements.

Ideal for finishing and waterproofing wood-based products such as cutting boards, outdoor furniture, butcher blocks, and wood flooring.

It is ideal for outdoor teak and other fine woods, providing a sealer, preserver, and finish.

It is ideal for protecting outdoor wood furniture from moisture and stains.

It is ideal for providing a durable and glossy finish on indoor and outdoor wood surfaces.

Ideal for protecting and enhancing the appearance of wood surfaces that are exposed to outdoor elements such as boats and furniture.

It is ideal for protecting and enhancing the appearance of exterior wood surfaces.

Ideal for outdoor surfaces needing a high-gloss, long-lasting finish, with UV and weather resistance for protection against fading and damage.

1. Rust-Oleum 250241h Ultimate Spar Urethane Water Based, Quart, Satin Finish 32 Fl Oz (Pack Of 1)

The polyurethane formula in this product is specifically designed for use on outdoor wood surfaces, such as furniture, doors, windows, fences, and trim. Its water-based composition makes it easy to apply and clean up with soap and water.

After only 30 minutes, this product dries to the touch and can cover up to 87 square feet per quart. It is recommended to wait at least 2 hours before recoating. This top coat is particularly helpful in supporting the weather and UV resistance of wood surfaces, while also preventing yellowing.

This product boasts an excellent UV and weather resistance, ensuring that it will keep your wood surfaces looking great for longer periods of time. Additionally, it has a crystal clear, satin finish that provides a classic and natural appearance.

Thanks to its non-yellowing formula, your wood surfaces will maintain their original color and look great for longer. This product is low odor and leaves no brush strokes, making it an ideal choice for those who are sensitive to strong smells and want a smooth finish.

If you need to apply multiple coats in a short period of time, this product has an extra fast drying time, allowing you to apply up to three coats in just one day. With all of these features, this product is a reliable and efficient solution for protecting your outdoor wood surfaces.

2. General Finishes Exterior 450 Water Based Topcoat, 1 Quart, Satin

When it comes to painting, it's important to not only consider the color but also the topcoat that will be applied. The Exterior 450 Topcoat is an excellent option for those looking for a durable and protective finish. It's important to note that bright white paint should not have a clear topcoat applied over it as it may cause yellowing due to a reaction with the substrate. However, if a light color is used, the yellowing will be less noticeable.

This topcoat is fortified with UV absorbers which help to stabilize and protect the finish from the harmful effects of sunlight. However, it's important to understand that the wood may still change color with exposure to sunlight. Additionally, the Exterior 450 Topcoat contains built-in properties to protect against fungal growth which can be a major concern for exterior surfaces.

One of the benefits of this topcoat is that it's water-based, making it easy to apply with a brush, spray, or roller. Cleanup is also a breeze with just soap and water needed. Overall, the Exterior 450 Topcoat is a reliable and effective option for anyone looking to protect their exterior surfaces from damage and discoloration.

3. Folkart Acrylic Outdoor Sealer (8 Ounce), Matte Finish

Introducing the versatile FolkArt Finishes Matte Outdoor Sealer, an American-made product that is perfect for all your outdoor projects. This unique sealer comes in a convenient 8 oz size that will keep your outdoor projects looking fresh throughout every season. It is designed to provide a clear, matte finish that will enhance the beauty of your crafts without being too overwhelming.

Made with a water-based, non-toxic formula, this outdoor sealer is safe to use and dries clear for a soft, subtle matte finish. It is perfect for use on a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, terra cotta, and much more. This makes it a versatile product that can be used for a wide range of projects, from furniture refinishing to garden decor.

One of the best things about FolkArt Finishes Matte Outdoor Sealer is how easy it is to clean up. Simply clean up while wet with soap and water, and you’re done. This means that you won’t have to worry about any messy clean-up or lingering odors, making it a hassle-free product to work with.

FolkArt is a preferred brand among crafters, painters, and artists, and the Matte Outdoor Sealer is no exception. It is a staple in any collection of art supplies, and its quality and performance are unmatched. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this sealer will help you achieve professional-looking results every time.

4. Tung Oil: Pure Water Resistant Wood Finish.

Introducing the Pure Tung Oil for wood finishing from 100% PURE – a natural, waterproof, and protective finish for a wide range of wooden surfaces. This all-natural wood oil provides a matte finish, making it ideal for countertops, butcher blocks, cutting boards, and other unfinished wood furniture. It is also perfect for use on decks, wood siding, wood flooring, concrete, and brick surfaces.

One of the impressive features of this wood oil is that it is food-grade safe, making it a perfect choice for use on wooden kitchen items such as chopping boards. With its natural light "Honey" color, the Pure Tung Oil forms a flexible and waterproof finish suitable for use as a wood sealer. It has been ASTM Quality Tested to ensure its effectiveness in providing a waterproof finish.

As a planet-friendly product, this Pure Tung Oil wood finish contains zero VOC's, heavy metals, additives, or distillates, making it an eco-friendly option for all your wood finishing needs. It is an excellent penetrating oil that enters deep into the wood, providing a long-lasting protective finish that will withstand the test of time.

5. Golden Teak Sealant: Protect & Preserve Outdoors

This premium teak oil is formulated with an advanced blend of polymers and tung oil to provide ultimate protection for teak surfaces. It is an all-in-one solution that acts as a sealer, preserver, and finish for marine teak and fine wood furniture.

This versatile oil is suitable for use on a variety of teak surfaces, including teak furniture, marine teak, teak shower benches, teak mats, and other fine woods like acacia. It enhances the natural wood grain and color of teak for a stunning appearance.

The proprietary polymer blend in this teak oil offers superior UV protection that lasts up to 6 times longer than basic teak oils. It guards against damage and weather, delivering a warm golden hue that is both beautiful and long-lasting.

This teak oil is easy to apply using a cloth, sponge, or brush, making the application process hassle-free. For those who desire a higher gloss, additional coats can be applied to achieve the desired level of shine.

To achieve optimal results, it is recommended to pre-treat weathered or stained wood with STAR BRITE Teak Cleaner and Brightener before applying the teak oil.

6. Wood Guard – Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Protector

The Guardsman Outdoor Wood Protector is a reliable solution for protecting your outdoor furniture investment from the harsh effects of Mother Nature. This product is designed to repel moisture while enhancing the natural beauty of the wood. It provides an invisible barrier that shields your outdoor furniture from common outdoor stains, making cleanup easy and hassle-free. Whether you're hosting a backyard barbecue or enjoying a refreshing popsicle on a hot summer day, you don't have to worry about damaging your furniture with spills.

This outdoor wood protector is suitable for all types of wood, including cedar and teak. It forms a micro-thin film that prevents the attachment of mold, mildew, and fungi spores to the treated surfaces. This feature ensures that your outdoor furniture is always looking its best, providing you with an inviting outdoor living space.

The Guardsman Outdoor Wood Protector is easy to use. Simply spray it on and let it dry. The product works by penetrating the wood fibers, creating a barrier that protects the wood from moisture and stains. It does not alter the color of the wood, allowing you to preserve the natural beauty of your furniture.

7. Rust-Oleum 250041h Ultimate Spar Urethane Water Based, Quart, Gloss Finish

Looking for a product that can protect your outdoor wood surfaces from the elements? Look no further than this durable and protective poly. Perfect for use on furniture, doors, windows, fences, trim, and more, this formula is designed to keep your wood looking great for longer.

One of the standout features of this product is its low odor, water-based formula. Not only is it easy to apply, but it also cleans up easily with soap and water. Plus, it dries to the touch in just 30 minutes, making it a convenient choice for those who want to get the job done quickly.

With the ability to cover up to 87 sq. ft. per quart and recoat after just 2 hours, this product is both efficient and effective. It also boasts outstanding UV and weather resistance, meaning your wood will be protected from the sun, rain, and other elements. Additionally, the non-yellowing formula helps to keep your wood looking great for longer.

The crystal clear, gloss finish of this poly creates a polished and clean look that is sure to impress. Plus, with no brush strokes, you can be sure that your finished product will look smooth and professional. And if you're in a hurry, you'll appreciate the extra fast drying time: you can apply three coats in just one day.

8. Marine Varnish: High Gloss & Matte Finish.

Introducing the Marine Grade Varnish, a top-quality finish that boasts of a clear amber tone that enhances the grain of wood. This product is perfect for both interior and exterior use, including brightwork on boats and outdoor furniture. This varnish is designed to provide a waterproof, UV-resistant, and durable finish that won't fade.

Featuring a classic spar varnish with a modern twist, this product has a high-build, fast-drying formula that allows for rapid recoating, multiple coats per day, and no sanding between coats. By simply sanding lightly before the final coat, you can have your project done in a little over one day.

The Marine Grade Varnish has a flexible coating that won't crack or peel, making it an ideal choice for all types of wood. Its premium, oil-based marine polyurethane finish ensures that the varnish is not damaged when wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature.

This easy-to-apply varnish can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed. For a high gloss varnish finish, apply 6-8 coats of Lust Gloss. On the other hand, for a smooth satin finish, you can build with coats of Lust gloss varnish, and finish with Lust Matte.

This product is available in high gloss or matte finish in Pint, Quart, and Gallon sizes. You can thin the varnish with TotalBoat Special Brushing Thinner 100 (brushing/rolling) or TotalBoat Spray Thinner 101 (spraying). With a coverage of 360-400 sq. ft./gallon, the Marine Grade Varnish is an excellent choice for all your wood finishing needs.

9. Varathane Clear Outdoor Urethane, Gloss Finish

Looking for a reliable solution to protect your outdoor wood projects from the harsh weather conditions? Look no further than this high-quality wood protector! Designed to expand and contract with changing weather conditions, this protector offers long-lasting protection against the elements for your outdoor wood projects.

With its easy application, you can apply this protector in no time, ensuring that your projects are protected from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors that can cause damage over time. And thanks to its self-leveling and fast-drying formula, you can enjoy a smooth and even finish that looks great and lasts for years to come.

So why wait? Whether you're working on a deck, fence, or other outdoor wood project, this protector is the perfect choice to help you achieve the results you want. So why not give it a try today and see the difference for yourself? With its unbeatable combination of performance, reliability, and ease of use, it's sure to become a staple in your outdoor woodworking toolkit!

Best Outdoor Finish For Wood FAQs

Are there any eco-friendly outdoor wood finishes available?

Yes, there are eco-friendly outdoor wood finishes available in the market. Traditional wood finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that emit toxins into the environment, contributing to air pollution and harming human health. However, eco-friendly wood finishes are made from natural ingredients that are safe for the environment and human health.

One example of eco-friendly outdoor wood finishes is tung oil. It is made from the nut of the tung tree and is a natural drying oil that enhances the natural grain of the wood, providing a water-resistant finish. Another option is linseed oil, which is extracted from flax seeds and has similar properties to tung oil.

Other eco-friendly wood finishes include milk paint, which is made from milk protein, lime, and natural pigments, and is suitable for outdoor furniture, decks, and fences. Shellac, which is made from a resin secreted by the female lac bug, is another option that provides a durable and water-resistant finish.

In conclusion, there are several eco-friendly outdoor wood finishes available that are safe for the environment and human health. It is important to research and choose the best option for your specific project.

Can I reapply an outdoor wood finish over an existing finish?

Yes, it is possible to apply an outdoor wood finish over an existing finish. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before doing so.

Firstly, it is important to ensure that the existing finish is clean and free of any dirt, debris, or flaking. This can be done by sanding the surface lightly and wiping it down with a clean cloth.

Secondly, it is important to choose a finish that is compatible with the existing finish. This can be determined by checking the manufacturer's instructions or consulting with a professional.

Thirdly, it is important to apply the new finish in thin, even coats and to allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next. This will ensure a smooth and uniform finish.

It is also worth noting that if the existing finish is in poor condition or has been exposed to extreme weather conditions, it may be best to remove it completely before applying a new finish.

Can I use a varnish or polyurethane as an outdoor wood finish?

Yes, you can use varnish or polyurethane as an outdoor wood finish, but it is important to choose the right type and application method. Both varnish and polyurethane are durable and water-resistant, making them ideal for protecting wood surfaces from the elements.

However, it is essential to select a product specifically designed for outdoor use, as indoor varnishes and polyurethanes may not hold up to the harsh conditions of the outdoors. Look for products that contain UV inhibitors to prevent fading and discoloration caused by sunlight.

Additionally, it is crucial to apply the finish properly, following the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure the wood surface is clean, dry, and free of any dust or debris before applying the finish. Apply thin, even coats and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Overall, using varnish or polyurethane as an outdoor wood finish can provide long-lasting protection and enhance the natural beauty of the wood.

How do I apply an outdoor wood finish to my project?

Applying an outdoor wood finish to your project is important to protect it from the elements and ensure its longevity. The following steps will guide you through the process:

1. Prepare the surface: Ensure the wood is clean and dry. Sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots.

2. Choose your finish: Select an appropriate outdoor wood finish such as an oil-based or water-based varnish, polyurethane, or wood stain.

3. Apply the finish: Apply the finish with a brush, roller or sprayer, following the manufacturer's instructions. Apply in thin, even coats and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

4. Sand between coats: Lightly sand the surface between coats with a fine-grit sandpaper to remove any bumps or imperfections.

5. Apply multiple coats: Apply multiple coats until you achieve the desired finish and level of protection.

6. Allow to cure: Allow the finish to cure for at least 24 hours before using the project.

Remember to wear protective gloves, goggles and a mask when applying the finish and work in a well-ventilated area. With these steps, your outdoor wood project should be protected and ready to withstand the elements for years to come.

Is there a difference between indoor and outdoor wood finishes?

Yes, there is a significant difference between indoor and outdoor wood finishes. Indoor wood finishes are designed to enhance the natural beauty of wood and protect it from wear and tear caused by regular use. They are usually available in a wide range of options, from clear coats to pigmented stains, and they are applied to wood surfaces that are not exposed to the elements.

On the other hand, outdoor wood finishes are formulated to withstand the harsh environmental conditions that come with being exposed to the sun, rain, snow, and other weather elements. They are usually water-resistant and contain UV inhibitors that prevent the wood from fading, graying, or cracking due to sun exposure. Outdoor wood finishes may also contain additives that protect against mold, mildew, and insect infestation.

It is crucial to use the right type of finish for the specific application to ensure optimal protection and longevity of the wood surface. Using an indoor finish for outdoor use can lead to premature deterioration of the wood and compromise its structural integrity.

What is the best outdoor finish for wood?

When it comes to choosing the best outdoor finish for wood, there are several options available. However, the ideal outdoor finish for wood is the one that can withstand harsh weather conditions, resist moisture, and protect the wood from UV rays.

One of the most popular outdoor finishes for wood is polyurethane. It is a synthetic finish that provides excellent protection against water and UV rays. It is also easy to apply and dries quickly. However, it can crack and peel over time, and it requires a lot of maintenance.

Another great option for outdoor wood finish is marine varnish. It is specifically designed for use on boats and other watercraft, so it is highly resistant to water, moisture, and UV rays. It is also easy to apply and provides a durable finish, making it perfect for outdoor furniture and other wood items.

If you prefer a more natural look, you can also use oils, such as teak oil or tung oil. These oils penetrate the wood and provide excellent protection against water and UV rays. However, they require regular maintenance, such as reapplication every six months.

In conclusion, the best outdoor finish for wood depends on your preference and the specific needs of your project. Whether you choose polyurethane, marine varnish, or oil, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and apply the finish in a well-ventilated area.

What is the lifespan of different outdoor wood finishes?

The lifespan of outdoor wood finishes can vary depending on the type of finish used, the quality of the product, and the environmental conditions the wood is exposed to.

For instance, oil-based finishes like linseed oil or tung oil tend to last around 1-2 years before needing to be reapplied. Water-based finishes, such as acrylic or polyurethane, can last up to 3-4 years before needing to be reapplied.

However, if the wood is exposed to extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, or prolonged sunlight, the lifespan of the finish may be shortened. In such cases, it is recommended to use a high-quality, durable finish and to maintain the wood by regularly cleaning and sealing it.

Ultimately, the lifespan of outdoor wood finishes is dependent on various factors, and it is essential to choose the right product for your particular situation and to follow proper maintenance procedures to ensure the longevity of the finish.

What kind of finish should I use for my outdoor wooden furniture?

When it comes to outdoor wooden furniture, it's important to choose the right finish to protect it from the elements and extend its lifespan. The most popular finishes for outdoor wooden furniture are oil-based stains, varnishes, and paints.

Oil-based stains penetrate the wood and provide a natural look while protecting it from moisture and UV rays. They are easy to apply and allow the wood to breathe, but they may require more frequent reapplication than other finishes.

Varnishes are a more durable option and create a hard, waterproof surface that is resistant to scratches and fading. They come in different levels of glossiness, from matte to high gloss, and can be tinted to match the wood's natural color. However, varnishes can be more difficult to apply and may require sanding between coats.

Paints are the most protective but also the least natural-looking option. They create a hard, opaque finish that is completely waterproof and resistant to fading and scratches. However, they may crack or peel over time, especially if the wood is exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity.

Ultimately, the best finish for your outdoor wooden furniture will depend on your personal preferences, the type of wood, and the climate in your area. Be sure to choose a high-quality product and follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.

What maintenance is required for outdoor wood finishes?

Outdoor wood finishes require regular maintenance to ensure that they remain durable and beautiful. The frequency of maintenance depends on the type of finish, exposure to the elements, and the quality of the wood. The most common types of outdoor wood finishes are oil-based, water-based, and stains.

Oil-based finishes require reapplication every 1-2 years, depending on the climate and exposure to the sun. The surface should be cleaned and sanded before reapplication. Water-based finishes require less maintenance, but still need to be cleaned and sanded before reapplication every 2-3 years. Stains require reapplication every 2-3 years and should be cleaned and sanded before reapplication.

In addition to regular reapplication, outdoor wood finishes require cleaning to remove dirt, grime, and mildew. A mixture of water and mild soap is usually sufficient for cleaning. Avoid using harsh chemicals or high-pressure washers, as they can damage the wood and the finish.

Overall, proper maintenance of outdoor wood finishes is essential for preserving the beauty and longevity of outdoor wood structures and furniture.

Which outdoor wood finish provides the most protection against weather and UV damage?

When it comes to choosing an outdoor wood finish, it's important to consider the level of protection it provides against weather and UV damage. The most effective outdoor wood finish that provides maximum protection against weather and UV damage is spar urethane. Spar urethane is a clear, oil-based finish that contains additional UV absorbers and blockers, making it more resistant to sunlight and weather exposure. It's commonly used on wooden boats and outdoor furniture, as it can withstand harsh weather conditions, including rain, snow, and extreme heat.

Spar urethane is also resistant to water and mildew, making it a great choice for outdoor use. It provides a durable and long-lasting protective layer that helps prevent the wood from fading, cracking, or splitting due to exposure to the elements. When applying spar urethane, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and apply it in thin coats to ensure a smooth and even finish. Overall, if you're looking for the most effective outdoor wood finish that provides maximum protection against weather and UV damage, spar urethane is your best bet.

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