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Wood table and chairs decorated for a party with the wood being sealed and waterproofed.

How To Waterproof Wood

Learn how to waterproof wood for outdoor furniture to withstand what Mother Nature throws at it with this step-by-step tutorial on how to refinish and seal wood so it lasts.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 1 wood piece
Author Rachel
Cost $50-200



  • Sandpaper 220 and 100-120 grit
  • Painter's Tape To tape any areas you don't want covered
  • Paint trays or buckets


  • Do any repairs as necessary and then remove any previous finish. This can be a light sanding or a full strip depending on the condition of your surface. For best protection, new and wet wood should be at least as low as 15% when read with a moisture meter.
  • Staining is optional but may offer additional UV protection. Brush in one direction from end to end. Let it soak into the surface but wipe off excess with a cotton cloth after 5 minutes or per manufacturer's instructions. Reapply to any spots or a second coat until you have the desired color.
  • Apply sealer with a brush or sprayer. I like a synthetic brush for most sealers and a natural bristle brush for oils. Brush in one direction from end to end. Do Not back-brush if the product is drying.
  • Apply 2-3 coats for best coverage. Allow the piece to fully cure before setting items on it such as heavy lamps or other painted materials.


Tips for a Applying
  • Completely stir the poly before use and occasionally during application to keep the ingredients in suspension. Be careful not to incorporate bubbles while stirring.
  • Remember that most sealers will deepen (not necessarily darken) the color of any previous stain or paint.
  • It is generally not necessary to sand between coats, unless you have imperfections which can be sanded out.
  • As with any project, do not use in high (>80%) or very low humidity.
  • Avoid direct sunlight when applying.