There are several options depending on what you want to do and what you
want the benches to look like.
1. If the benches are made with pressure treated wood, you could apply a
sealer like the kind people use on their wooden decks every year. That
will protect the wood from both absorbing rain water at it's end grain
and greying from exposure to UV light. I know very little about deck
sealers but I understand you have to apply them every year. Also, from
my time on these DIY Q&A forums, I've heard a lot of good things about
Cabot deck sealers.
2. If you just want to protect the wood, then you can paint the benches
with an exterior paint, ideally an exterior alkyd if you can still buy
alkyd paint in your area. If alkyd isn't available, then instead of a
exterior latex, I would use a latex "Porch & Floor" paint. The seats of
a bench or the top of the picnic table are working surfaces that need a
harder and more durable paint to provide good service. Latex floor
paints get their additional hardness from the fact that they crosslink
very densely in the month or two after the paint dries. However, since
porches and floors are often made of wood, latex floor paints still cure
soft enough to expand and contract with wood outdoors as it's moisture
content changes from season to season.
3. If these benches have been stained with a wood stain, and you want to
keep that woodgrain look, you can top coat with a "Spar" varnish, also
called "Marine Varnish". Spar varnishes were originally used on the
masts of ships which were exposed to the Sun and weather continuously
and needed a protective coating to prevent the wood from weathering.
You can buy Spar varnish anywhere, but you should be able to get a good
recommendation on which ones work best from your local marina since
people still use this stuff on wooden boats. If you can still buy "oil
based" Spar varnish in your area, it will use a phenolic resin instead
of the alkyd and urethane modified alkyds used by interior oil based
clear coats, and phenolic resins are inherently much more resistant to
UV light from the Sun. If you can only get water based Spar varnish,
then the stuff you buy will use transparent pigments to protect the
underlying wood from the Sun. These are tiny particles of metal oxide
that are transparent to visible light but opaque to UV light, and it's
that opacity that protects the underlying wood from deterioration due to
exposure to the Sun. So, in both the case of "oil based" or water based
Spar varnish, you get more protection from the Sun by putting on more
On Wed, 11 Sep 2013 08:51:25 -0700 (PDT), herb white
Basically 3 choices.
1. Leave it bare and let it weather.
2. Film covers (varnish, paint, etc.)
3. Oils (tung, linseed, etc.0
There's a lot of stuff on the web, and no need to repeat it all.
Google "finishing outdoor benches"
I've got a couple of the benches I think you're talking about.
One was about 50 bucks, the other bigger one about 100 bucks.
Both have painted cast iron sides and stained wood slats, lightly
varnished. The cheap one has a slatted back, the more expensive one
has a curved wood back with a cast iron insert.
Chinese of course.
Don't know what wood it is.
They are both in the weather, full sun, in northern Illinois.
I didn't add any finish.
The cheap one lasted about 10 years before becoming unusable due to
The wood weathered nicely after the finish basically disappeared.
Cast iron is in excellent shape, so I can easily cut some slats if I
ever get around to it.
The more expensive one is about 6 years old and still usable, but the
seat sags. That wood just turned dark, and it's pretty ugly.
Again the cast iron is in excellent shape.
Bottom line with these is can keep them "pretty" if you want, or just
replace the wood when it's too weathered if you want.
Haven't looked close lately, but as I recall from putting them
together they're basically tied together with rods and common stove
The rods can be cheaply replaced with allthread if they're rusted.
So it's up to you. If I ever rebuild either one of mine I'll probably
stain and spar varnish them if I want to maintain them with recoats.
Easy enough to do every few years.
Or I'll use cedar or cypress and forget about maintenance and just let
There are typically three levels of "knowing" related to just about
everything we deal with.
1 - There are the things that we know that we know. That's all good.
2 - There are the things that we know that we don't know. That's not bad.
As long as we know that we don't know them, we can probably come to know
them with a bit of research.
3 - There are the things that we don't know that we don't know. Those are
the things that usually get us in trouble.
So, when the President of a country that has the spying ability to
monitor every telephone call and e-mail sent or received by everyone in
the USA and spy satellites in space that can tell what the number is on
a golf ball on the ground says "We KNOW he has weapons of mass
destruction", what catagory of "knowing" would that fall into?
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