At Nature Sign Design all our garden benches are designed to be weatherproof. Resistant to damage from the elements, and are suitable to be left outside all year round. However, over an extended period of time (or if you buy a bench from somewhere else which hasn’t been manufactured to the same standards), wooden benches will begin to become weathered. There are many people who enjoy this weathered look as they believe it adds character to the furniture. However, there are also those who would like their benches to look as good as they did on the day they were delivered. If you fall into that camp, then our basic guide on how to varnish a garden bench has been written for you.
Prepare the Surface
How much preparation work you need to do is determined by how you feel about the current state of the wood. If you are happy with the surface and just want to add another layer of protection on there, then a scrub with worm soapy water to remove any surface dirt and grime will be enough. Just ensure after you’re done, you rinse to remove the soap, and then allow ample time for it to dry before applying products to the surface.
If you are removing a layer of varnish, paint, or lacquer. This is where your job becomes a bit more difficult. You do have two options. You can either sand the bench, or use an appropriate chemical agent to remove the finish. Remember to test the product on part of the bench you cannot easily see. This ensures it does not cause damage to the wood itself.
Using a removal agent is obviously a less time consuming process. But sanding from start to finish gives a better prepared surface to apply your varnish to. Applying a removing agent first then sanding to remove and flakes left behind, is probably the best of both worlds. Giving you a well prepared surface much quicker than only sanding.
Once the sanding process is complete. Give it a wipe down with a damp cloth to remove any dust which has settled. This ensures dust isn’t trapped under your new layer of varnish or lacquer.
Choosing Your Finish
When deciding on which finish to place on your benches, there are two options to choose from, oil or stain. Generally speaking you should pick the one which gives the style of finish you prefer.
Oils leave the wood with a natural finish. And as the name suggests, stains will cover up some of the natural features contained in the wood, such as the grain pattern. The only downside to this is that oils require more maintenance.
Depending on the individual product you choose, a bench left in the outdoors may require repeated treatments as often as every 6 months. This is the advantage of using stains. The finish may not be exactly as you desire, but usually stains will only need to be reapplied every few years.
If you would like more detailed information on wooden furniture, get in contact with us. We can provide the hand carved wooden benches bespoke to your specifications.