Wooden benches are often quite effective at withstanding the impact of the outside world. However, all garden furniture, from cast iron to wooden benches, will eventually show some wear. Constant exposure to all kinds of weather means that after a while, your old bench won’t look as great as it once did. The good news is that you don’t have to live with weathered-looking furniture.
If you have a little time and you’re willing to do the work, you can make your garden wood look as good as new. Today, we’re going to give you the ultimate guide on how to restore a wooden garden bench.
How Do You Make Weathered Wood Look New Again?
Restoring a garden bench or any wooden garden furniture requires a careful process of making repairs, applying cleaning materials, and potentially even sanding and sealing your wood. Your garden furniture can usually benefit from a quick restoration every year or so, though you might need to deal with some wooden garden furniture sooner than others.
— Shabby Chic (@shabbychic_uk) May 14, 2013
The first step in repairing your outdoor furniture is checking whether anything needs to be fixed. If the cast iron is warped or there’s a lot of rust to deal with, you may need to address this before you can begin fixing the wood. Take your time to determine what needs to be repaired and whether you have the DIY skills to handle the task yourself.
For instance, if your bench has missing slats, you might not be able to apply new ones yourself. If the iron is a little rusted, on the other hand, you may feel comfortable dealing with the metal and applying new nails and screws where necessary.
Steps on How to Restore a Wooden Garden Bench
Step 1: Cleaning the Garden Bench
After you’ve inspected your bench for signs of damage, it’s time to start cleaning. The chances are that the topcoat of the wood has been damaged by the weather. It can be difficult to tell whether you need to apply a new coat of varnish or paint until you’re done cleaning.
The best way to approach the cleaning project is to use a soft-bristled brush to sweep away some of the leftover dirt, bugs, and debris from the surface of the bench. Make sure you get into the crevices and joints too. With a hard bristled brush, you can scrub away damaged varnish with hot water and a gentle detergent to get to the grain of the wood underneath.
Remember to scrub around the metal parts of the bench if your furniture uses a combination of wood and iron. The best time to fully wash your bench is usually on a mild and breezy day. The breeze will help carry away excess moisture and allow your bench to dry out a little faster.
Step 2: Sanding the Bench
If the surface of the bench is damaged, then you’ll need to sand away the old paint and varnish to start fresh. Varnishing your bench can bring new life into an old piece of furniture, just like it does for your patio and other wooden items around the house.
Wait until the bench is completely dry before you begin sanding. Most hardwood and softwood benches are painted or varnished, which creates a protective layer against the weather. However, when the varnish or paint is damaged, you need to sand it smooth again before applying new stains and colours. Sandpaper comes in a range of different grades, from rough to very rough.
You should start with coarse sandpaper to remove the top layer and work down to the lighter grades. If you don’t have an electric sander, but you want to restore a few pieces of furniture, it might be worth investing in an electric version.
When sanding, be careful not to concentrate on one spot of wood for too long, or you could cause dents and damage. It also pays to spend some time getting into the crevices and joints of your bench, as old paint and varnish will often stick here. Wear a mask while you’re sanding to avoid breathing any of the dust or sand in.
Last couple of weekends I’ve been restoring a garden bench in my neighbour’s garden. pic.twitter.com/oZ7sFkc4Yj
— Michael Fordham (@mfordhamhistory) June 26, 2020
Step 3: Varnishing or Painting
There are a lot of ways to bring some new life into an old piece of outdoor furniture. After you’ve finished sanding your seat, you might want to think about applying wood protecting oil, varnish, or paint. Painting or varnishing an old garden bench doesn’t just make it look great. The right application of oil or paint during a garden bench restoration will also protect your investment from future damage.
Consider the kind of varnish, oil, or paint you want to use carefully. If your bench is exposed to the sun a lot, then varnish or oil may be more effective than paint. Sometimes paint can crack from exposure to a lot of sunlight. Use a cloth to apply oil or varnish to the surface of the bench before you begin painting and give it a couple of hours for the moisture to sink into the grain.
Next, use your brush to apply a little bit of paint at a time. Thin layers of paint or varnish will allow you to build colour with more control. Make sure you avoid getting any bit of dirt or sand into the paint. Coat the bench thoroughly, getting the spaces between the slats with your brush. You may need to use masking tape to protect any metal components.
Enjoy Your Bench
Apply the varnish to the worn wood carefully and use a wire brush to scrub any paint off the metal around your wood if you miss a spot. You should end up with a beautiful DIY design that you can restore as often as you like. Remember to protect the slats by applying a protective coating designed for wood.
You can also purchase covers that sit over the top of your bench during storms and periods of bad weather. These can make your newly finished bench last a lot longer.
I've started restoring the sad little bench in our garden 🛠☺ pic.twitter.com/7hIiAbl2IS
— 🌱🌍 Ulrike (@SeagullCountry) July 3, 2018
Start Fixing Your Garden Bench
So there’s how to restore a wooden garden bench so that it looks as good as new. It’s important to care for your garden furniture to improve its longevity and add to the overall aesthetic of your garden area. So why wait?
Have you restored a wooden garden bench? Do you have additional tips for fixing it? Please share with us in the comments below.