How to Seal a Wooden Patio Table

A patio table tends to spend its life in all sorts of weather. To prevent damage by the ingress of water and the consequent mold and mildew, it is always a good idea to seal any outdoor table. The seal can take the style of a wood stain or paint, or can be transparent to maintain the natural wood appearance.

Step 1 – Check the Table

If this is a new wooden table, you should seal it before fully assembling the parts. If the table is already put together, dismantle it as much as you can. The most vulnerable parts of any piece of wood are the ends, where water can be drawn into the capillaries.

Step 2 – Prepare the Table

For a good sealed finish, use medium sandpaper to smooth any rough areas on the table. Prepare all surfaces using a fine glass paper, as this will remove and reduce stray fibers on the surface of the wood and produce a silky smooth finish.

Step 3 – Apply the Sealant

Apply the sealant with a soft brush. Do not load the brush, but instead apply a thin coat. You will notice that the sealant will be rapidly absorbed by the ends of the timber pieces so apply a little extra.

Step 4 – Allow the First Coat to Dry

Let the first coat of sealant dry. You will notice that the surfaces will probably no longer be smooth. This is because the sealant has soaked into the wood and the surface imperfections have swollen. Smooth all the surfaces with fine glass paper again. You will feel the silky smoothness return.

Step 5 – Apply a Second Coat

Lightly apply a second coat of sealant. If the ends of the timber are still absorbing the sealant rapidly, apply a little extra.

The second coat might take a little longer to dry. If the sealant has caused roughness to reappear, you must once again go over the surface with fine glass paper till you have a smooth finish. This might seem a bit excessive, but the rough surface indicates that wood fibers have swollen. These swollen fibers could break the seal and allow water to penetrate.

Step 6 – Apply a Third Coat

The third coat of sealant should be the final coat but if it does not dry to a smooth finish, be prepared to apply one more coat. Ensure that the ends of the timber are no longer absorbing the sealant so readily. To properly protect the timber you must seal all of the capillaries that are opened when a piece of wood is cut laterally. Water can be drawn into these capillaries along the whole length of the timber.

When you re-assemble the outdoor patio table after sealing it, put some form of padding on each foot to prevent the seal being worn away.