How to
Paint & Stain Outdoor Wood Furniture

Wood Adirondack chairs painted in a white paint colour.

With smart planning, painting and staining your outdoor furniture can take place in less than a weekend.

There are many different types of outdoor furniture types—wicker, wrought iron, aluminum and plastic—but wood is by far the most popular. Whether you go with an opacity that allows your wood furniture’s natural grain to show through or opt for an opaque solid in your choice of 3,500+ colours, a fresh stain on outdoor furniture will yield a great new look.

Staining and painting outdoor furniture is a lot easier with expert advice to guide you. Follow these steps to achieve the best results. Follow these steps to achieve the best results, and explore our guide to choosing a wood stain colour and opacity.

Step #1: Prepare the Surface

The first step in staining or painting outdoor furniture is to make certain that the wood is absolutely dry and free of mould and mildew. Be sure to check the undersides, too.

If the old surface has stains from mould or mildew, you can properly prepare it by using a premium cleaner like Benjamin Moore® Clean (318). For mild cases, you can mix up your own solution using one part of household bleach to three parts water (it's best to do this outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.) Be sure to rinse the furniture and allow it to completely dry before applying the stain.

If the weather is cold, move the furniture indoors to dry; in milder weather, it's enough to place the furniture in a garage, carport, or other shelter from the rain. Don't cover the furniture with plastic or a tarp, as that will not allow enough air circulation for thorough drying.

Step #2: Sand

The next step is to sand the surfaces to be stained. If the old finish is in fairly good condition, it's enough to just roughen the surface. Start with coarse-grade sandpaper, working with the grain, then move to a finer grade sandpaper until you obtain a smooth finish. An orbital hand sander is the perfect tool for this job, if you have one. If the old finish is in bad condition, you may choose to remove all the old finish down to the bare wood. This can be accomplished with a quality wood stain remover such as Benjamin Moore® REMOVE (315).

Step #3: Assess Whether to Prime-or Not to Prime

You can skip priming altogether if the old painted or stained surface is still intact after sanding; the first coat of stain will act as your primer.

In fact, if you are staining with any opacity other than a solid colour, do not use a primer at all, since primers are white in colour and will show through translucent and transparent stains.

If you are painting or staining over wood with a solid colour—we recommend either ARBORCOAT® Solid (K640) or a high-gloss paint like Impervex® Latex High Gloss—use Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start® High-Hiding All Purpose Primer (K046) or ARBORCOAT® Oil Primer (K366). Brush on the primer working with the grain using a high-quality Benjamin Moore Nylon/Polyester brush.

Step #4: Stain or Paint

If you are staining outdoor wood furniture, why not go for a product that’s strong enough to protect decks? ARBORCOAT® Exterior Stain is formulated to protect against the harshest weather conditions as well as UV rays. ARBORCOAT® offers a range of colours and opacities, including:

See ARBORCOAT® colours here
Also available in any Benjamin Moore colour, Impervex® Latex High Gloss paint provides full colour and a glossy sheen with a sleek finished look.

A Note on Grain: If you use ARBORCOAT® Solid (K640) or Impervex®, the wood grain will be completely covered, however you will still be able to enjoy some of your outdoor wood furniture’s natural texture.

Step #5: Dry & Maintain

Let the furniture dry in a clean, dust-free, well-ventilated area. Don't leave it outside to dry, as wind and air may deposit dust and particles onto the wet surface.

Once the furniture is dry, you're good to go. Place your furniture where it won't be under a drip line from a roof or tree limb. An occasional light wash with dish detergent and warm water will help you enjoy your freshly stained or painted outdoor wood furniture for years to come.

Get Inspired: See colour and design inspiration for outdoor furniture on our decks page, and explore ARBORCOAT®’s timeless palette of driftwood grays, warm russets and woodland greens.

Explore Stains & Colours

Beyond Wood

If you have wicker furniture, wrought iron patio furniture, plastic outdoor furniture, or questions on painting or staining any other type of outdoor furniture, visit your local, independently owned Benjamin More retailer to get expert prep instructions and product recommendations.

Now that you’ve got your outdoor wood furniture looking its best, try painting an outdoor fence for your next project.

Have More Questions? Visit your local Benjamin Moore store or contact Customer Support.

Step-by-Step Guides.

Step-by-Step Guides

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ARBORCOAT® Premium Exterior Stain

ARBORCOAT® Exterior Stain

If you are staining outdoor wood furniture, consider a product that’s strong enough to protect decks: ARBORCOAT® Exterior Stain.