Help to turn an indoor table into an outdoor


Mark Turmell
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 I know that we are totally crazy but we just purchased this beautiful indoor Restoration Hardware table to use on our patio outside:wacko: It will be exposed to all the elements including humidity as we live in southern CA about 4 miles from the beach. RH website says that it’s an unsealed salvaged solid pine. Could you please help us understand how to seal the table to at least partially protect it from rain, sun and humidity. Thank you!

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It has beautiful character in it and a shame to put it outdoors. That said, I have found pine being a soft wood it is very susceptible to weather especially damp. The grains being porous it laps up moisture like a sponge. Sealing it will be hard at best. It seems to like indoors over outdoors. Over the years I have built several small items out of pine for out door use and tried to seal with many different products and found none work well for me. There may be others on here that have found the magic product  for pine outdoors. I live in Canada and we experience heat, damp, rain, snow and what ever else mother nature could throw at us. In my opinion a clear coat of water repellent product would likely do the best job. Good luck and a really nice looking table. John 

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Keeping it looking like that will be a monumental and ongoing chore. There are 2 paths to take. One is to refinish often, like every few months with a non-film forming oil finish. That's an easy job, just a quick clean up followed by application of the oil & then a wipe down. But like I said, it will need to be done every couple of months if the table is out in the sun & rain. The other is to use a film forming finish that will last longer, maybe a year or 2, but will require complete stripping before refinishing. 

The oil finish will gradually get dry & faded looking, but the film finish will crack, blister & peel, allowing moisture to get under it & into the wood. It will soon look catastrophically ugly so as soon as it starts looking bad you want to jump right on it.

Another issue you may face is whether or not the glue used in building it will stand up to moisture. And with the wide variations in environmental humidity that happen outdoors, wood movement may cause cracking & splitting.

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I would avoid placing it where water may stand, and shade it from the sun as much as possible. If it can't be elevated a little, at least coat the bottom of the feet, and up the sides for about an inch, with epoxy. That will slow the uptake of moisture through ground contact. As for protecting the remainder, I lean toward @drzaius suggestion of an oil finish, no hard film. IMO, most oil finishes designed for furniture aren't really good for outdoors. Given that it is pine, and currently un-sealed, I might suggest an oil-type clear deck sealer, like Thompson's. As mentioned, be prepared to re-apply often.

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