Outdoor Storage Bench Maintenance Outdoor Storage Bench Maintenance

Upkeep is a part of home ownership, and that includes outdoor storage bench maintenance. Whether your bench is stained, sealed or painted, maintenance is easy if you plan for it from the beginning.

Whether you bring your wooden bench home from the store, or build it yourself, there are steps you can take to lengthen the time between having to reseal or repaint it.

If you’ve built or bought a raw wood bench, seal it and let it dry properly before you set it outside for the first time. There are a variety of sealers for do-it-yourselfers. Check with your local hardware or home supply store for a color, stain or process that suits you. Water based applications are easier to work with, but oil based processes protect longer.

Picking your wood

Few consumers consider what kind of wood their furniture is made of, but it makes a difference. Cedar remains the most popular wood and the lowest maintenance for most wood furniture. From northern white cedar common to New England and the west coast, to western red cedar, common throughout the country, cedar is naturally weather, insect and decay resistant and almost as strong and durable as oak.

Brazilian pine is another popular choice for low maintenance wood. It’s not as weather or decay resistant, but it’s a strong wood and popular because of its honey yellow color.


Most of us simply set out our new bench once we unload it. But take a few minutes to go over it first. Tighten any screws or bolts and look for areas that may be cracked, chipped or where factory sealing wasn’t applied. If your bench is raw wood, seal it with a good grade of Tung oil and a rag before setting it outside.


All wood needs to be cleaned. Wood benches with a polyurethane or shellac finish can be cleaned and maintained with a mild soap bath and a good rinse. Once you’ve washed the bench dry it well with soft cloths, like old terry cloth towels. Keep it out of the sun until it dries in order to avoid cracks. To avoid water spotting, don’t let it air dry until after you’ve wiped it down with cloths. If water spotting or spots from improper drying or rain is stubborn, you may need to try a special water spot cleaner to remove the spots. Even with the best cleaning and care, wooden benches will eventually need more than a good wash and rinse. Expect to repaint or reseal your wooden benches every couple of years to keep them looking new or nearly new. If you like the weathered look however, you can simply keep enjoying watching the patina of age and weather-worn wood develop over the years.

Resealing and repainting

When the time comes to reseal or repaint, don’t get lazy. Be prepared to wash, clean, sand and wipe down your bench to bare wood before resealing or repainting. Simply painting over the original finish may be easy, but it’s guaranteed to result in blistering, peeling and rotting wood.

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