Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor Furniture
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Caring for and Maintaining Your Furniture

Can the wood be sealed with a polyurethane coat?

Can the wood be sealed with a polyurethane coat? Not anything too shiny so the furniture does not lose its natural beauty, but rather protect it from wet glasses, towels, etc.?
Yes. The way to do it is to use a marine spar varnish. Use three coats and leave a little bit of the wood unsealed (at the bottom) so that it can breathe. You’ll have to sand the table and then apply the varnish at the rate of one coat per day. After it sits for 24 hours, you lightly scratch the previously applied surface and clean the dust off. Then apply the second coat. The next day you do it again and you’re done. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to apply the varnish. Don’t put it on thick—thin is best. When you buy the varnish you can ask the hardware/paint store person for last-minute instructions. Then once every 2 years, you’ll have to scratch the surface a bit and add one more coat. It will stay perfect forever if you do that.

Can you make furniture covers?

I would love a nice fitted cover with my outdoor table and chairs, can you do this?
Yes we can. Please go to Sunbrella Central and look over the outdoor fabric section. Let me know which fabric you’d like to use for the covers. Usually the outdoor furniture fabrics are best for chairs; the awning fabrics are too coarse to sit on. I’ll then ask our in-house seamstress to calculate time and materials and get back to you via email with an estimate. Alex, our seamstress, has made some beautiful covers with elastic so they fit snugly over the furniture.

Can your furniture be left outside year round?

Typical patio furniture that you find in “big box” stores is usually made of pine, fir or other wood species that do not hold up well unprotected in outdoor weather. By contrast, our redwood tables can sit in the weather year round and last for decades without maintenance. Our “Forever Redwood” furniture is guaranteed for eight to thirty years (depending on the grade of wood used) against wood decay from weather exposure. Read more about the grades of wood that we offer.

Does the furniture have or develop splinters?

Every board in every item we build is thoroughly planed, routered, sanded, and sealed. The furniture is smooth to the touch and splinter-free. It is rare that a splinter will develop, but if one ever does, it is easily remedied by breaking it off and taking a few seconds to lightly sand any rough edge by hand (use 80 or 100 grit paper—redwood sands easily).

How do I keep my furniture looking new?

I have a question about finishing. I have a client that used redwood for his decking. It looked beautiful. He had put some kind of sealer on it. It didn’t take long before it turned a gray color. When it rains it looks beautiful again. Also where the sun does not hit, it stays the natural color. He wants to purchase redwood furniture but is afraid that it will turn gray. What can he put on the deck so it does not turn gray? Also does your furniture turn the gray look after awhile?

All wood left outdoors will eventually gray. It’s a factor of UV exposure, pollution and oxidation. Being outside year round is rough on the wood’s finish. The wood’s surface slowly oxidizes and absorbs UV rays, pollution and moisture resulting in the surface color changing towards a silver patina over time. The silver patina is surface deep only (less than 1/100″) and is not indicative of decay. Your furniture will last for decades and is not compromised in any way by the natural surface color change. We keep some of our display items year after year without refinishing them to show off the finish’s natural aging. (We like the silvering effect!)

To help keep your furniture looking new, after the winter season’s snow or wet season, take a few minutes to spruce up your set. We clean our display items in spring by hosing them down and taking a minute to brush them off (no soap or chemicals are needed).

Depending on the sealant chosen, you can slow the process of the surface color fading. The premium sealant we use will last four years. Once it has faded, you can refinish it without much effort by power washing carefully and then resealing. This will remove all the built-up oxidation, pollution and UV burning on the surface. It will also strip away the old sealant layers on the set and allow you to start fresh. Stripping the sealant lets the wood absorb the new coat deeper into the wood. Otherwise, the old sealant “seals” the surface making new coats superficial.

Power washing will take 15-20 minutes for a set of table and chairs. It is a surface-only job. You’ll be amazed at the results. A power washer at the tool rental shop is inexpensive. Rent it for the minimum time. While taking it back to the store, the furniture will air dry.

After the power washing, take one sheet of 100 or 120 grit sandpaper and lightly sand any areas the power washer may have roughed up a bit or lifted the grain. The sanding will take 5 minutes by hand. Then add a new coat of sealant. Do it on a dry sunny day and your set will look like new again. You can repeat this process every few years until you’re too old to bother…

You can choose from just about any stain or sealant you like because redwood takes well to most. The ol’ linseed oil and turpentine mix is never a bad way to go—the wood loves it; the weakness is the finish fades in months. There are many products on the market to choose from. It is best to use stain colors that are as dark or darker than the color of your wood. For further information about the sealants and specific colors we use, please read our Finish Options & Furniture Care page.

My new Redwood furniture has stained the concrete patio. Help!

Every once in a while—it doesn’t happen often, maybe once or twice a year—we have a customer report that their planter box, shower bench, or other redwood furniture has stained their concrete or tile. The reason this happens has to do with the natural tannins in the redwood, via a process called “extractive bleeding.” It can happen with just about any wood, but is especially noticeable with cedar and redwood.

Redwood derives its durability and weather-resisting qualities from these naturally occurring chemicals, so in a sense, it’s a good sign! But unfortunately, the tannins can easily dissolve in water and cause the staining issue—and we have no way of predicting when it will happen.
The good news is, there is a solution (actually, a few):

  • You can remove the staining with fresh lime juice,
  • or with a diluted bleach solution,
  • or with a mild solution of trisodium phosphate or other detergent and water.

If the stains are not removed and are permitted to oxidize, they can become darker in color. If that happens, you might need to remove them by scrubbing them with a soft (non-wire) brush in a 50% solution of alcohol and water. (If you are dealing with staining on grout, a slightly stronger bleach solution may be required.) It will take a few applications to fully take care of the problem. A couple weeks after the first application, the staining will likely return. You’ll have to remove it again and it will return a second time, but less so. Remove again and it may return a third time, but much less so… then it will be over, as the extractive bleeding has run its course.
If this happens to you, there is an easy solution!
If this happens to you, there is an easy solution!

What do I do about cracking?

There are several options in how to handle this rare occurrence. Please see the bottom of our Finish Options & Furniture Care page for more information.

Sap is oozing from my newly made Redwood furniture. Help!

Sap oozing is how air dried wood adjusts to its new home's humidity levels. It would take someone with a blade less than 5 minutes to go over the areas with sap and cut them away. Then go over it with turpentine to remove the gumminess. It may return in some or most spots since you have only had your furniture out for a few weeks. May continue but in lesser and lesser amounts until it is actually gone away and it will never return again. The only way we can be certain it will not happen is to kiln dry the wood at 160 degrees. We don't like to do this because it actually slightly damages the integrity and overall quality of the wood. So we air dry instead and use our kiln only at lower temperatures. It has to dry at 160 degrees to set the sap so it will not move and we just think the long term decay resistance of the wood and its structural strength are more important. This is the honest tradeoff for the occasional sap issue you are facing.