Using Indoor Furniture Outside: A Good Idea?

If you loathe tacky plastic outdoor patio sets without any soul – you’re in good company! It is advisable to use your indoor furniture outdoors if they are sheltered, adequately treated, and taken care of to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Using indoor furniture outside is a good idea if you treat them correctly. For wooden furniture, apply several layers of clear sealant, and for metal furniture, remove old paint and rust, apply a primer, followed by metal paint. Protect upholstered items from rain and snow by bringing them indoors.

Moving your Granma’s indoor rocking chair or a comfy sofa outdoors is a budget-friendly way to create a porch with a ton of character. Although, you would be wise to read my tried and tested outdoor furniture treatment hacks to safeguard your treasured family heirlooms.

What Is Your Indoor Furniture Made Of?

Before you tackle a potentially costly DIY project that could ruin your indoor furniture try to find out what material your piece of furniture is made of if it’s not abundantly clear.

Using Indoor Furniture Outside: A Good Idea?

Some furniture materials will fare better outside than others, as they will be able to withstand torrential rain pores or windy conditions.

Many leading custom outdoor furniture suppliers manufacture their furniture with Aluminum bases as it’s far more durable than other materials. So, if your indoor furniture “fits the bill,” then it should fare better outdoors.

If natural materials like wood are more to your taste, and you’ve spotted a beautiful chair or bench at a yard sale, ideally choose one that has been made from durable redwood or cedarwood.

If you have an existing indoor piece of furniture crafted from another type of wood, ensure that it is properly sealed and coated. 

The Best Outdoor Furniture Sealants

Furniture made from wood or softer materials can simply be coated with protective outdoor oil, polyurethane, or wax-based sealants.

Polyurethane sealants are a great choice if your furniture is crafted from light-colored wood and you are looking for a finish that won’t yellow with age. It is also suited to metal, aluminum, or masonry so that nothing will waste.

Using Indoor Furniture Outside: A Good Idea?

While oil polyurethane sealants are the most durable, cleaning your paintbrushes afterward takes a little more effort. Unlike water-based sealants, you need turpentine or mineral spirits to remove the oily residue.

Marine sealants are perfect for exposed outdoor furniture as they are UV resistant and withstand hot climates. 

It is advisable not to apply any sealant in a hot environment. Instead, start your DIY project in the morning when it’s generally cooler. 

To create a smooth, even surface, avoid shaking or stirring it excessively before an application as it will make permanent air bubbles resulting in an uneven surface. 

Prepping Your Indoor Wood Furniture For The Great Outdoors

You have two options to prepare your furniture for the outdoors. While the first option is probably less time-intensive, the second might be more durable.

Wood Furniture Protection Materials 

If you are ready to prep your wooden furniture for the outdoors, assemble the following materials: 

  • Sturdy gloves 
  • Dust-proof mask
  • Palm/hand sander 
  • Fine and hard 400-1000 grit sanding paper
  • Tack and drop cloths
  • Paintbrushes
  • A wood stain and a sponge
  • Outdoor sealant
  • Turpentine/mineral spirits (for oil-based sealants),

Option 1: The Quick Fix

Apply two thin layers of polyurethane sealant on your piece of furniture, making sure that you cover all the nooks and crannies, allowing for some drying time in-between. 

If your surface is still not smooth enough, use your 400-1000 grit sandpaper to create a smooth finish.

Once it’s dry, tip it over and seal the bottom of your piece with two thin layers.

While your outdoor sealant will protect your furniture from rotting or mildew, it will not change its color, so if you want a darker piece of furniture rather, consider using option 2.

Option 2: More Durable

For indoor pieces of furniture that are made from wood, grab your dusk mask and high-grit sandpaper to remove the old finish with your trusty palm sander. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain.

Then it’s time to use your fine-grit sanding paper to create a smooth flat or curved service. 

However, ensure that you have cleaned all the remaining dust particles with your tacky cloth; otherwise, the sealant or paint will not properly adhere to the surface and protect it.

Then it’s time to place your furniture on a drop cloth or an old piece of cardboard to protect your floor from paint splats.

Now add a thin, even layer of wood stain with your sponge and allow it to dry overnight, followed by another thin coat if you want a darker, more intense color. 

Once the stain has cured, apply two clear layers of your chosen sealant, and cover every component of your piece of furniture to protect it from moisture, including the bottom side. 

Metal Furniture Outdoor Prep

To prepare metal furniture, gather the following items:

  • A wire brush/ hard 400-1000 grit sanding paper
  • Mineral spirits
  • Tack and drop cloth
  • Metal outdoor furniture primer
  • Outdoor metal paint

Prep the refurbishment area by placing your metal furniture on a drop cloth (no mess, no fuss), then wipe the surface down with some mineral spirits to remove any grease.

Grab a metal brush or some hard sanding paper to remove old paint, dirt, and most importantly, rust, then use your tack cloth to ensure that the surface is spotlessly clean.

It’s essential to apply a primer shortly after the cleaning process to prevent dust or fast-acting rust from setting in. 

For furniture items prone to rust, select a rust-proof primer or use a galvanized primer for aluminum to help the paint adhere to its surface. 

Alternatively, look for a multipurpose primer that contains zinc chromate and iron oxide as it is also suited to indoor furniture.

Once the primer has dried, apply a suitable metal paint and remember to cover the entire piece.

Outdoor Weatherproof Fabrics

While prepping your beloved indoor chair or sofa for the outdoors is relatively simple, that is not always the case with your favorite indoor cushion fabrics. 

Using Indoor Furniture Outside: A Good Idea?

Although all hope is not lost, especially if your cushions are made from durable fabric as you could protect them outdoors by applying two layers of waterproofing spray and letting them dry in between.

A more durable option is to recover your cushions with outdoor fabrics that can withstand harsh environments like Sunbrella material that is fade and moisture resistant. 

While Sunbrella is the most expensive, it is the hardiest outdoor fabric and will last a lot longer compared to other materials.

For budget-friendly options, consider vinyl; while it can withstand outdoor elements, it tends to get a bit hot in the sun. 

Alternatively, invest in canvas material. Even though it is not water-resistant and prone to mildew, it’s far tougher than your untreated indoor cushion fabrics when taken care of.

How To Care For & Maintain Your New Outdoor Furniture

After all that hard work, it would be wise to care for and maintain your beautiful handy work and ensure their longevity.

Use a suitable cleaning material to remove any build-up dust or grime and safeguard your cushions by bringing them indoors during inclement weather.


While using your indoor furniture outdoors is a good idea – they were not built to withstand outdoor weather conditions. 

So, it’s essential to treat them with a protective water and UV-resistant sealants and place them in a sheltered area where they can be fully enjoyed during sizzling hot summers.


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