Painting Outdoor Wood Furniture Like a Pro!

Your step-by-step guide to painting outdoor wood furniture like a pro and make it last a long time in the rain and shine! Just follow these simple tips and tricks!

COllage of before and after of painting outdoor wood furniture with text overlay

If you have old beaten-up wooden patio furniture, it is super easy to turn them around into gorgeous outdoor furniture that lasts for lots more years! 

All you need is a little bit of paint...

And primer and a few other things…

I’ve got you covered with all the details you need to totally take outdoor furniture and turn it into the perfect pieces for your patio!


Painting Outdoor Furniture – The Before 

One VERY lucky Saturday morning (which was Valentine’s Day), I found a bench and 2 chairs on the curb at the end of our block! 

Old beaten up wooden patio bench in garage

They had excellent bones!

Close up of old beaten up patio chair

The bench and chairs were very sturdy and strong but looked very beaten up!

There was no way, I wasn’t going to pick them up! 

Especially because we had been shopping for patio furniture 🙂

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What kind of paint to use on outdoor furniture?

  • I highly recommend starting with a stain-blocking primer to paint outdoor wood furniture, followed by 3 coats of latex outdoor primer and multiple coats of exterior latex paint.
    Outdoor latex paint usually has ultraviolet protection that protects the color and finish of the paint in the bright outdoor sun during the summer months.
  • This technique will work for outdoor metal furniture as well. But in that case, your first coat of primer needs to be rust-inhibiting.  Spray paints are a great option for painting outdoor metal furniture.
  • However, for plastic furniture, you will need paint specifically designed to stick to plastic. 

Supplies needed to paint outdoor furniture

Be sure to download the printable instructions below – 


How do you paint outdoor wood furniture

Step 1 – Clean the furniture

Give it a good cleaning to get all the dirt and grime out.

  • Start by vacuuming off any old spiderwebs and their inhabitants and any loose dust.
  • Use dish soap and a scrub brush to scrub down the entire piece of furniture.
  • Finish by washing off the soap with a high-pressure attachment on a hose or a power washer. This is the power washer I have.
Wet Upside down patio furniture after being washed and cleaned

At the end of this step, I could already see that the furniture looked so much better! 

It’s amazing what a good clean can do 🙂

But of course, it was pretty worn out to be used. 

STEP 2 – Fix and make basic repairs

  • Tighten any exposed screws 
  • If you have dents or holes, you could fill them with wood putty at this time too! 

The chairs I had were a little wobbly and were very easily able to locate a couple of screws that needed to be tightened. That made it absolutely solid! 

STEP 3 – Sand 

  • Using a sanding sponge, go over the entire furniture to give it a light sand and remove any old finish. 

Depending on the original finish, you might need heavier sanding. 

Mine was pretty worn out and a light sanding worked perfectly. 

Be sure to remove all the sanding dust using a tack cloth.

Step 4 – Pick the paint color

This might as well be the hardest decision I made! 

I got about a dozen paint chips and taped them to the bench and try them in the setting.

Old outdoor bench with paint chips taped in backyard

I was leaning more to the red but I was not sure.

While I deferred the decision on the color, I got to work on getting everything ready to be painted.

RELATED: See how I created a cozy and colorful corner in my new patio

Step 5 – Prime outdoor wood furniture

Primer needs to be applied in 2 steps on this old wood furniture –

For the 2 additional coats, you could use the oil-based primer with a brush, but I like to use my paint sprayer to make it faster. Washing out the water-based primer from the paint sprayer is a lot easier.

Applying primer to outdoor wood furniture using a paint sprayer

It only took me about 1 hour for one coat of primer using the paint sprayer on all the 3 pieces instead of a whole day to paint the oil-based primer with a brush! 

Here is the bench after the first coat of oil-based primer.

Outdoor bench with one coat of primer in backyard

When I saw the white primed bench and chairs in the backyard, I knew I had to go with white paint!

I just loved the freshness of it!

Step 6 – Paint

  • Apply 3 coats of paint to the furniture using the paint sprayer.  The three coats are essential to achieve a durable finish. 

I used Glidden’s “whisper white” color-matched to Behr Marquis Exterior semigloss paint.

Step 7 – Final Finish

  • Finish with 2 coats of exterior polyurethane in semi-gloss sanding lightly with a fine sanding sponge between coats.

I like using my paint sprayer for this as well but you can use a good quality brush.

That is it! 

Don’t forget! You can download the printable step by step instructions to save and take with you below –


After Painting – The Reveal! 

Here is the final patio set.

white painted wood furniture in patio

Love the fresh look and having a spot to hang out and enjoy summer evenings!

RELATED: How to build a $15 outdoor coffee table 

We all love a good before and after so here it is – 

before and after comparison of painted outdoor wood chair

How Durable is outdoor painted wood furniture?

In one word – VERY!

We used this patio furniture for almost 4 years before changing it out. 

Here is what it looked like the day we replaced it –

Painted outdoor patio furniture 4 years later.

This painted patio furniture stood out in the Southern California sun and rain in an uncovered patio for 2.5 years, followed by a covered patio for about 18 months. 

Over time, it got washed down many times! 

At the end of the 4 years, the back of one of the chairs had a crack, but the paint looked as good as the day it was painted. 


Obviously, I had to build a matching outdoor coffee table to go with my patio set. It only cost $15 and I have the plans available for you! 

DIY coffee table in patio

More outdoor projects you will love – 

How to paint outdoor wood - Patio set makeover - Little Free Monkeys

Painting Outdoor Wood Furniture Like a Pro!

Yield: 1 set of furniture
Prep Time: 3 hours
Active Time: 6 hours
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 9 hours
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $30

Step by step instructions to paint outdoor wood furniture. Learn how to revive beaten up old wood patio set and give it new color and life!



  1. Start by vacuuming off any old spiderwebs and its inhabitants and any loose dust followed by a good scrub using soap and water with a pressure washer.
  2. Fix and make basic repairs like any loose screws and hardware.
  3. Using a sanding sponge, go over the entire furniture to give it a light sand and remove any old finish.
  4. Start with applying one coat of Zinsser oil based primer using a disposable chip brush. This is needed to block any old stains seeping through.
  5. Next, apply 2 coats of White Water-Based Primer.
  6. Apply 3 coats of paint to the furniture using the paint sprayer
  7.  Finish with 2 coats of exterior polyurethane in semi-gloss sanding lightly with a fine sanding sponge between coats.


Always sand with a fine sanding block between coats.

Be sure to remove all the sanding dust using a tack cloth!

Anika's goal is to inspire and empower beginners with woodworking, DIY, home improvement, and home decor ideas.
She wants everyone to unlock their creative potential and experience the feeling that comes with making something. Nothing feels better better than seeing something and saying "I can make that!"

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  1. Seriously, WHAT A TRANSFORMATION!!! Just WOW! I’m glad you went with white, it’s such a lovely cheerful hue & you can switch up the mood or season with different colored throws and pillows. I’ll be featuring your patio set makeover this week at Friday Favorites, thanks for sharing your latest DIY!

    1. Thank you Dawn! Honored to be picked for the feature!! Have a great weekend!

  2. came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!|

  3. As a woodworker, I really appreciate your work. I never make painting wood before but now I’m very interested to paint my outdoor wood, Thanks

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