From the Forest, For the Forest since 1995

Redwood Furniture - Care and Finish

Your Forever Redwood Furniture will last for decades in year-round weather with minimal maintenance.
You can expect your furniture to last from ten to thirty years outdoors under harsh year-round conditions. The longevity of your Forever Redwood structure depends on the wood grade you select. 

Being outside year round is rough on any finished wood. The surface absorbs UV rays, pollution, undergoes constant variations in moisture and temperature, and oxidizes. This is why most wood just can't hold up: the surface color slowly changes towards a silver patina as the finish fades. Lucky for you, with Forever Redwood you don’t have to worry about needing to replace your furniture after a few years. Redwood is the most decay resistant wood that grows in North America, and we use the best sealant on the market to keep the gorgeous natural wood tones from fading quickly.

Recommendations to keep your furniture looking great and lasting longer: Although Forever Redwood products can be left out in year round weather, we recommend that you follow a few, simple steps to keep your set looking its best for decades. Occasional cleaning is always a good way to spruce things up. Hose and wipe down with a rag and a bucket of water. If you are cleaning a large pergola, use a soft brush followed by a wipe down with a rag for a deeper clean.

Note: Do not power wash your furniture or shade structure and do not use soap or chemicals. A rag and a bucket of water is all you need. You will be surprised at how much grime accumulates on your furniture and shade structure outdoors. Once you have wiped it as clean as you can, let it air out and then take a good look at the finish. We recommend you reseal your exposed surfaces after the first winter. This gives your furniture time to acclimate to your specific climate. Done right, the reseal will hold well for years.

If the finish and wood are not as supple and consistent as they once were, add another coat of sealant by hand by rubbing it in with a rag (see below detailed instructions). The secret to outdoor longevity for wood is to keep the wood supple: not letting it get too dry and brittle, or too wet if in contact with the ground.

Best practice to keep your Forever Redwood stuff looking fabulous: Regardless of where you live, if you want to keep her looking her Sunday best, front load the re-sealing of your piece. Best practice is to add another coat of sealant within a year. In dry climates, do so after roughly half a year. For covered pavilions and gazebos, reseal only the exterior or the posts that are near the roof’s edge. The rest of the structure is more protected, and needs little resealing. For tables and benches just seal the exposed surfaces. No power washing, no sanding - just take a glance at your wood’s finish: If it shows signs of drying out, add a coat of sealant. If you follow this best practice, you will add 2 coats in the first 2 years and your piece will look new with a supple surface. After the first 2 years, the wood will be sealed up tight and will require much less resealing in future years. Be kind to your pieces – hose down and wipe clean occasionally remove grime and show off the wood’s natural beauty.

Your order comes with a 4 oz bottle of sealant as part of your touch up kit. If you still have it, this should be enough for most furniture items. If you wish to buy more sealant, scroll down to Finish Options and learn where to buy more online. 

A few more pointers to consider:

We recommend re-sealing your furniture or structure rather than painting it. Painting outdoor wood actually lowers its longevity. Eventually, the paint seal breaks and the wood gets overly moist from rain. It stays moist because of the paint, multiplying microbial action. Outdoor wood is best sealed and not painted when considering longevity as the most important factor. 

If after many years you want to refresh the finish completely, you can start over. If you've let your furniture or structure fade, you can refinish it back to brand new again at anytime. To keep the work simple, we recommend you wash it per the instructions above and reseal it. If it is still looking dull, give it a day and then add a second coat of sealant. This should result in a darker finish with a lovely, deep satin look.

If you prefer to make the finish look like it did when first purchased, you can sand down the item and start afresh. All Forever Redwood furniture is substantially over-sized. You can sand it without losing hardly any of the timbers' massive girth.

A typical bench takes 30 minutes to sand the most visible areas by hand. If you are a perfectionist and want to do every area thoroughly, figure 90 minutes. Sanding removes the accumulated pollution, UV surface burning, and old sealant. You don't have to sand every nook and cranny to get great results, just do the most visible surfaces. Use a 100 grit paper to go over the areas quickly, and then follow up a second time with 220 grit paper to remove the sanding lines and leave the surface finely sanded. You can sand by hand or with an orbital or vibrating sander. Redwood sands easily. Once finished, dust off and add sealant. 2 coats is what we apply. We do it on warm dry days only and allow 6 hours minimum between coats. Sealing adds oils back into the wood and leaves your set looking spectacular. If you don't have time to do 2 coats, one coat followed by some touch ups a few hours later will yield a good result. We prefer to add the sealant with a rag for best results. A 2 coat finish should keep the surface color looking great for 2 years (depending on local conditions). When finished, burn the rag carefully (you do not want to store it because it will be at risk of self-combustion).

For best results, we use only the Sikkens brand of sealants. For the exact sealants we use for each wood grade, please see Finish Options below.

If you do allow your set's finish to eventually fade, the silver patina is only surface deep (less than 1/64") and your wood will not decay. Your set is not compromised by surface color changes. We are often asked how the surface color will change if the wood is not refinished and allowed to gray, so we prepped this 4 minute video to show how a couple hours of your time can turn any piece of Forever Redwood furniture left outside for years back into a brand new piece:

How to get rid of Carpenter Bees:

FINISH CHANGES OVER TIME - PHOTO GALLERY:

Below are a couple photos sent by customers of their items after being out years without maintenance:

FINISH AND WHERE TO GET SEALANT ONLINE:

Unfinished:

Order your furniture unfinished if you prefer the surface color to change to a silvered finish in a few months or if you need an exact stain match. We will ship it with the natural wood polished to a "fine to the touch" 220 grit finish. If you need an exact stain match, it is best done on your end to avoid mistakes. Most hardware stores can create custom stains. Just take a sample of what you’d like and they can mix a custom stain for you quickly. When you order, just ask us to send a couple samples and we'll get them right out to you. 

Transparent Premium Sealant - Our recommended finish for most outdoor applications.

For all our wood grades, we use what we believe to be the best wood outdoor sealant on the market. After years of experimentation, we found it to give all of our wood grades the best finish available on the market. It is a penetrating oil finish that applied correctly should give you a 2 to 3 year finish in most year round weather. After thorough fine sanding, we apply a total of 2 coats of the Sikkens Proluxe Cetol Log and Siding Stain. We use the 072 Butternut semi-transparent finish for all wood grades. For optimal results, we hand-rub the 2 coats, allowing at least 6 hours to dry and cure between coats. The rag used to apply the finish is an extreme fire hazard and should always be burned and never stored. You can purchase the finish online at:

Click here to for visual examples and descriptions for each of our 6 wood grade options finished and sealed.

We also offer the Transparent Premium Sealant with the following stains. There is a small charge for adding these stains because it increases the total amount of coats to 4 with the sealant as the final coats:

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Transparent Cherry Stain Coffee Stain Black Premium Stain White Wash

COLOR STAIN

Coffee Stain
Cherry Stain

Here is how the Coffee Stain looks like on Redwood:
Here is how the Cherry Stain looks like on Redwood:

TIGER STRIPE EFFECT:

Douglas-Fir when stained dark creates a "tiger stripe" effect as shown in this photo. It is beautiful and most customers love it. If you are looking for a dark consistent stain and do not want to see a “tiger stripe effect”, please go with any of the Redwood grades for a more consistent stain finish.

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PRIMERS AND PAINTS:

Off-White Oil-Based Primer: for if you are painting a light color. We apply two coats so that it is ready for one final coat.

Gray Oil-Based Primer: use if you are painting a darker color. We apply two coats so that it is ready for the final coat.

STAIN ISSUES:

Sometimes customers mention that the sealant seems to be staining their hardscape or dripping on the furniture or shade structure a little. This can be caused by the tannins in the wood. The tannins can push out some of the sealant and create staining issues. If this is happening for you, it has a simple and low cost solution.

Stains can be cleaned off the hardscape with a diluted bleach solution. To make sure it never happens again, it is best to also buy a 4 oz packet of Oxalic Acid and mix it in a gallon of water. You can pick it up online for under $20. Wear protective gear: you don't want to get this on your skin or face.

Spray it over all the surfaces with a handheld pump sprayer and leave it on for 20 minutes. Then hose it off completely. Do not leave it on or it will bleach the finish.

This is a one time treatment for the occasional instance that stains happen. The tannins are the same chemical that makes the wood decay and bug resistant. Rarely, it also creates stains. We are so glad to provide you with the simple solution outlined above. 


MOLD ISSUES:

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If you are in a very moist area or near water, you may have some molding issues come up every once in a while. It has a simple solution: a spot of bleach heavily diluted with water will kill it. Just spray on and wipe off. You can also use lime juice.

DOES YOUR FURNITURE OR SHADE STRUCTURE HAVE MOISTURE CHECKS?:

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Because of their girth, big 8x8 and 10x10 timbers are hard to fully dry to 12%. They can be dry on the surface while the inside takes years. Sometimes as they fully dry, checking occurs like in the photo above. Checking occurs as the moisture leaves and is nothing to worry about. It is not a structural issue. It normally takes up to a year after installation for the larger timbers to dry fully. If your structure develops a couple of checks like this just, please send us a couple of photos so that we can see what's going on and offer some solutions. For structures that have been out a long time and have never been resealed, a good washing and resealing goes a long way.

In the section below, you can find easy to follow instructions to make the surface checks disappear. In most cases, they disappear completely. If you don't want to tackle it yourself,  we can give you a quote for our team to come and refinish your order.

SMALL CHECKS AND CRACKS:

Ignore, fix, or replace?

Redwood is ideal for outdoor furniture and structures. It will sit out in the year round weather for decades and remain structurally sound. But, like the old picnic tables in parks, wood furniture in year-round unprotected weather may eventually develop a surface and/or end check from the expansion and contraction caused by constant changes in temperature and moisture. You can minimize this from happening by resealing and refinishing your furniture every few years to keep the surface of the wood looking beautiful and oiled, keeping it from getting dried out and get brittle.

If your redwood furniture develops a check or crack, it does not compromise the integrity or longevity of the furniture.

In the instance that minor checks (light cracks that do not go through the entire width of the board) do develop, there is an old carpenter's trick to hide most or all of it:

  1. Sand the rough edges of the checks so that the surface is smooth and flat again. Use 80 or 100 grit paper to sand down quickly and then go over it with finer 150 to 220 grit paper to get rid of the sanding line. Do not dust off. Instead, collect the sawdust into a small container (paper cup will do).
  2. Once you have sanded so that each check edge is smooth, mix a couple tablespoons of a good quality wood glue with the sawdust (we like TiteBond3 - less than $5 for the smallest containers). Saturate the paste with as much sawdust as it will hold. Your fingers will get a bit sticky.
  3. With the edge of a putty knife or any hard edge, push the paste into the checks as deeply as you can. Do it a few times to make sure that each one is filled. Wipe away the excess and push the paste back into the checks until you have filled all the checks as completely as possible. Again, wipe off the excess. Leave to dry for a couple of hours.
  4. Return to sand the area with the 220 grit paper. Dust off.
  5. If any of the checks did not fill in completely, repeat step 3 and 4 for those areas.
  6. Once the checks are filled and sanded, rub some sealant into the sanded areas. Over the course of few minutes, go over the area a few times to allow as much to absorb as possible. Let the furniture or structure rest for a couple hours before adding another coat. This area will be lighter in color than the rest of the piece, but the checks will mostly dissapear and the surface will be smooth and level again. In a few months, the color difference will fade. Sealant left on a rag is a huge fire hazard. It is best to carefully burn the used rag (you only need a tiny piece of an old t-shirt do this work - 6" x 6" is more than enough).
  7. If you want your entire piece to immediately match in color, then please revisit the section above titled "Finish and Where to get Sealent Online".

If your old set has developed a significant check (wood has split thru completely), you can do one of 4 things:

  1. This is a rare occurrence, and in most cases requires no attention at all for longevity’s sake. Generally, we recommend doing nothing and choosing to consider it a sign of "character."
  2. If your crack has a rough edge, follow the protocol laid out above by taking a few minutes to sand it smooth. If you want the sanded area to match the rest of the furniture, see the section above titled "Finish and Where to get Sealant Online".
  3. If the crack is significant or unattractive, you can send us a photo so we can make a replacement piece for you at minimal cost.
  4. If you’re a handy person and want to dabble in making the crack "disappear", you can either talk with your local hardware person for a product recommendation specific to your climate, or you can use a two-part epoxy (or five minute or high strength epoxy) available at most hardware stores. You’ll need some masking tape and acetone (or nail polish remover that contains acetone). Clean around the crack and mask off the wood out two inches around the crack. Make sure the masking tape is right up on the edges of the crack. Place masking tape underneath the crack to keep the epoxy from falling out the bottom or back side. Mix the epoxy and fill the crack, rubbing it in with your fingers diagonally. BEFORE it has completely cured, remove the masking tape. Remove excess with acetone before it cures. Clean the epoxy off of your fingers before it cures. Epoxy dries transparent and will last for many years.

TOUCH UP KIT INCLUDED WITH EACH ORDER:

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In the unlikely event your set arrives with a scratch or if at some point you add a scratch or two, we include a touch up kit in each shipment. This included kit allows you to eliminate most marks in less than 5 minutes. Lightly sanding by hand 10 to 15 strokes over the affected area will usually take care of most minor scratches or finish issues in a couple of minutes. Sanding smooths out scratches or removes any stain or mark. Use the rougher 100 grit paper first, then dust off and go over the area a second time with finer 220 grit paper to remove the sanding lines and leave the surface fine to the touch. Then dust off again and add a coat of the sealant with a rag over the sanded areas. Rub in for a few seconds and make sure to not let any streaks or drops form. Wait a couple hours and go over it again with a second coat of sealant. The newly sanded area may be lighter in tone. Once out in the weather for a few weeks, the color will even out.