Furniture

The UK’s Best Oils For Outdoor Garden Furniture Protection

brush in hand painting garden furniture with varnish

Have any garden furniture that is greyed, ‘dead,’ and set for the tip?

Wait— use quality wood oil to restore it and bring it back to life. Better yet, protect your investment in garden furniture by nourishing it with good wood oil once a year.

What do Furniture Oils and Treatments do?

Exposed to the sun, rain, and snow, outdoor furniture gets some very harsh treatment from the elements. As a result, garden furniture can crack, peel, warp, deform, discolour, split, dry out, get soaked, succumb to wood rot . . . . These very undesirable outcomes can be protected against and even averted by regular applications of specialised wood oils and treatments.

High-quality wood oil or wood treatment emulsions do a dual job. First, they penetrate into the wood, and nourish and strengthen dried-out wood.  Second, these fluids deposit a thin water-resistant layer, UV-protectant layer, or both on the surface of the wood. In order to get the fullest benefit from your wood oil, you do need to apply it three times. Bear in mind that there is no point applying any oil or treatment to varnished or painted furniture; the wood must be stripped bare of any coatings before oil is applied to it.

Types and Kinds of Oils and Treatments

Wood oils and treatments can broadly be divided by their content and by their finish. Some wood oils are exactly that – oils. These products are thick, viscous, ‘gooey.’ Other wood ‘oils’ are more accurately called wood treatments. These are emulsions comprised of oils plus water, solvent, pigment, UV protectant, or other ingredients and additives.

As for the finish, wood oils and wood treatments are almost always labelled with the name of a wood, or labelled ‘Natural’ or ‘Clear.’ When an oil or treatment carries the name of a wood, that is a guide to two characteristics: the kind of pigmentation it has and the hue it will ‘raise,’ and the family or class of woods it can be used on. So, for example, ’Teak Oil’ can be applied to Rosewood and Cherry wood, besides Teak, but not to Fir or Pine. This fact also suggests another distinction: some oils and treatments are meant for hardwoods while others are more suitable for softwoods.

Oils and treatments with the word ‘Natural’ have some pigmentation that raise something like a caramel hue; these are best suited to oak and similar mid-toned woods. ‘Clear’ is just that – these oils will add no (or next to no) colour of their own but will bring up whatever colour (and grain) the furniture has.

Garden furniture oils and treatments can also be used for indoor furniture but be mindful of the smell. A few of these products have a pungent or astringent odour which can make the room in question uncomfortable to be in. Using this type of oil or treatment in a small room without adequate ventilation may also be a health hazard. 

These products can – or should – also be applied to outdoor wooden structures such as gates, fences, sheds, and chicken coops. This might seem a chore and a slog, and perhaps it is but the hard work will repay you in the long term by keeping the wood shipshape and extending the structure’s life.

Our #1 Top Pick
Furniture Clinic Teak Oil (500 ml)- Wood Oil Protects Outdoor Furniture - Restores Wood and Prevents...
Value Pick
Bartoline Teak Oil 2 Litre
Also Consider...
Roxil Wood Protection Cream - Instant Waterproofing Clear Treatment, Weatherproofs: Fences, Decking,...
Suitable Surfaces
Exotic / Hard Woods
Teak / Oak
Timber Softwood
Size
0.5L
2L
1L
Waterproofing
UV Protection
Price
£12.95
£10.50
£24.99
Our #1 Top Pick
Furniture Clinic Teak Oil (500 ml)- Wood Oil Protects Outdoor Furniture - Restores Wood and Prevents...
Suitable Surfaces
Exotic / Hard Woods
Size
0.5L
Waterproofing
UV Protection
Price
£12.95
Value Pick
Bartoline Teak Oil 2 Litre
Suitable Surfaces
Teak / Oak
Size
2L
Waterproofing
UV Protection
Price
£10.50
Also Consider...
Roxil Wood Protection Cream - Instant Waterproofing Clear Treatment, Weatherproofs: Fences, Decking,...
Suitable Surfaces
Timber Softwood
Size
1L
Waterproofing
UV Protection
Price
£24.99

Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API

Well, then, what about those dull, grey, weathered and worn-out benches in your garden? Allow us to help you choose the right wood oil for them . . .

Best Pick: Furniture Clinic 500ml Teak Oil

So good you won’t know how good until you actually use it, Furniture Clinic Teak Oil is a ‘proper’ oil that resurrects dead furniture – Hallelujah!

Furniture Clinic’s Teak Oil is sold in a 500-millilitre bottle. It is also available in a jumbo 2.5 litre canister.

This product is a proper oil, thick and viscous. Its primary components are tung oil and linseed oil, and it is meant for teak and other hardwoods. As a near-pure oil, this product will definitely take longer to dry than composite products and emulsions.

This quality product does a superlative job in both restoring and protecting furniture. If you have an eyesore that’s marked for the scrap yard but would like to make a last-ditch rescue effort, it is Furniture Clinic’s Teak Oil that we recommend. No matter the condition of the furniture, it will restore the furniture to life. It brings out the grain in lovely detail and leaves a deep rich finish that is a satiny-matte. It also imparts water-resistance to wood.

The downside to this product is that it is clearly more expensive than other wood oils; however, it should be borne in mind that this is a premium product that produces ‘premium results.’ 

One 500-millilitre bottle will be good for three coats on an unfinished or weathered table of approximately 5 feet. One treatment (of three coats) will last for a few years but the manufacturer’s recommendation of applying this Teak Oil once a year is a good one in bad weather locations if you want to keep garden furniture in tip-top condition.

We feel that Furniture Clinic’s Teak Oil is a runaway Best Pick.

The company offers a money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Top choice for restoring worn-out and weathered furniture to past glories.
  • The warm rich hue it imparts, the grain it reveals, the finish it leaves . . . wow!
  • For those who demand old-line ‘proper’ wood oils, this product is the one.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive products in this class.
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Value Pick: Bartoline 2L Teak Oil

Though of thinnish consistency, Bartoline’s wood treatment produces quite impressive results so at its throwaway price it is a clear-cut value buy.

Bartoline Teak Oil is a mix of oil and solvent and it is certainly thinner than the vast majority of wood oils. Notwithstanding its thin consistency, it brings out the natural colours and grain of the wood so very well. It soaks quite quickly into the wood, which ‘drinks’ in this fluid, and this can make the application a little perplexing. At the same time, it also dries very quickly. 

The jar-like bottle contains two litres.

This composite product can be applied to all hardwoods. The type of colour and finish it produces depend on the wood. For example, on oak it raises a warm burnt sienna tone and after three applications it leaves a pleasant sheen.

To some extent, it guards against the wood drying out and it certainly achieves a water-resistant surface on which water beads up.

Bartoline Teak Oil has a strong astringent sort of odour, and will smell twice as bad and strong if used indoors.

There is considerable variation in the overall product from batch to batch and it is a toss-up as to exactly what you may get. However, a large bottle at a throwaway price is a smart buy for cost-conscious persons or if you have to oil several pieces of garden furniture. The 2-litre jar is an inarguable value for money and is a nailed-on Value Pick.

Pros

  • Although nominally ‘Teak Oil,’ this composite product is equally suitable for all hardwoods. 
  • Does not do anything particularly or especially well but is a fine ‘Jack of All.’
  • An undeniable bargain seven days of the week.

Cons

  • As it is of thin consistency, wood ‘drinks’ it very quickly, making application a little bemusing.
  • Has an unpleasant, astringent odour.
  • The quality of the product varies from batch to batch, so hope you don’t get a bad tin.
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Roxil 1L Wood Protection Cream 

Very easy to apply and odourless, Roxil’s cream also ticks other boxes as it imparts water-resistance, weatherproofs wood, and leaves a fine sheen.

Roxil’s wood-protectant product is a water-based silicone emulsion in cream form. It is sold in a one-litre can. It is definitely more expensive than the competition.

Perhaps unexpectedly, this cream is very easy to apply. The manufacturer recommends that it be applied by brush or roller; however, it lends itself to being applied any which way you like. It is best applied on bare wood but also can be applied on stained, but not painted, wood.

This cream guards against mould and algae growth and also makes wood resistant to water. Indeed, its water-resistant properties are truly impressive. After two or three coats of this cream, water will literally pool on top of the furniture or run off it. However, eco-warriors may not take to this product because of its silicone content.

The manufacturer claims that this cream weatherproofs wood for ten years but we feel this claim is wildly optimistic, especially for outdoor furniture. Two years is a more realistic time period.

Roxil cream has a clear finish; it does not impart any tint to the wood nor does it change the character of the wood. It produces a very pleasant sheen, though. It is odourless which is a big plus point when using this cream indoors or when persons sensitive to odours want to oil furniture.

Pros

  • Surprisingly easy and convenient to apply, it can be painted on.
  • Excellent water-resistant qualities; water simply beads up and runs off treated wood.
  • No odour at all means it can be used indoors and applied by persons who are smell-sensitive.

Cons

  • Contains silicone which may be off-putting to the ecologically conscious.
  • More expensive than most other wood treatments.
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Ronseal 1L Hardwood ’Natural’ Furniture Oil

You like or you don’t; Ronseal’s fairly-priced ‘Natural’ treatment is very easy to apply, nourishes wood, and raises a lovely rich caramel shade.

Ronseal’s ’Natural’ Furniture Oil is available in a one-litre bottle. You can get Ronseal’s furniture oil in other finishes including Teak, Oak, and ‘Natural Clear.’ All of these are sold at an attractive price.

This product’s viscosity is not that of a wood oil and it is not exactly an ‘oil’ but, rather, a combination oil cum varnish as a water-based emulsion. Somehow it feels easier to apply than most other wood treatments, possibly because it is neither an oil as such nor is it exactly watery. One might call it ‘just right’ to apply.

Ronseal states that this treatment ‘nourishes the wood from the inside out.’ Be that as it may, it certainly makes wood water-resistant as water visibly beads up and falls off wood that has been coated with this product.

This ‘Natural’ finish oil is a versatile wood treatment that is excellent for mid-toned woods; it dries to a rich caramel shade with a lovely mild sheen. Although it supposedly dries in 2 hours, this is true only for the first coat on bare or weathered furniture, if even that. Subsequent coats will take much longer to dry. Be watchful on this point. 

Ronseal recommends that this product be used once a year, and it really will protect for a year – maybe even two.

This is one of those products that you either like or just take a dislike to. And if you start off by liking it, it grows on you.

Pros

  • Produces a lovely warm caramel hue with an equally lovely and not-overdone sheen.
  • Provides obvious water-resistance as water beads up and runs off oiled wood.
  • If Ronseal’s ‘Natural’ finish does not suit your needs, you can choose from three or four other variants.

Cons

  • Those who don’t care for water-based wood emulsions will dislike this product.
  • Drying times are more inconsistent and unpredictable than those of other wood treatments.
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Cuprinol Ultimate 1L Furniture Oil

Providing superb protection from the sun’s harsh ill effects, Cuprinol Ultimate is a new ‘version’ that is versatile, and is suitable for all woods.

Cuprinol’s furniture oil is a water-based treatment. This ‘Clear’ formulation is eminently suitable for just about any type of wood. As such, if you are in doubt as to the type of wood your outdoor furniture is made of you can’t go wrong with Cuprinol Ultimate. Furniture restored with it will revert to its original or natural colour in a very satisfying way, time and time again.

Besides the one-litre bottle recommended here, this product is also available in a 500-millilitre spray bottle for easy and convenient application.

‘Cuprinol Ultimate’ is a new formulation of an old trusted product, and the two are not to be confused with each other. It is not exactly an ‘oil’ as was the original formulation of the product by the same name. Also, the new formulation actually does not contain wax as the older, original one did, at least it is not noticeable. On the other hand, it contains ‘UV Additives for protection against the sun’ – really. 

It may not protect against water as well as the old formulation did. However, it actually does provide simply unmatched protection against the sun’s deleterious effects. It also penetrates the wood to nourish it.

Cuprinol Ultimate’s price is at the higher end but it is a very versatile wood treatment as it is suitable for all hardwoods and can also be used on most softwoods.

Pros

  • Provides best-in-class protection against the sun’s ill effects and UV rays.
  • Reliably and consistently restores worn-out furniture to its original, natural colour.
  • This ‘Clear’ finish product is very versatile as it can be used on just about any wood.

Cons

  • This new product’s somewhat thoughtless naming and labelling can mislead one into confusing it with an earlier, discontinued product.
  • A little costlier than similar wood treatments.
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How To Oil Your Garden Furniture

If your garden furniture has any coat of paint or had a sealant applied previously, these will first have to be removed. Sand off all layers of paint, sealant, or such by hand or with an electric sander so that bare wood is exposed. Then jet wash the furniture or hand clean it using diluted white vinegar and a clean cloth.

Before you apply oil, slide a plastic sheet underneath the furniture to catch any drips or run-offs (unless the furniture is on bare earth or some other surface on which spots of furniture oil will not pose a problem). Do not apply furniture oils or treatments close by a pond, brook, or aquatic life.

Though you can use a paintbrush or a sprayer to apply furniture oil, the best choice is to use a lint-free cloth so that you can rub in the oil with discernment; a little more here, a little less there.

Spraying a wood oil onto furniture is quick and easy but inefficient and, therefore, costly. Rubbing oil in with a lint-free cloth, besides its other advantages, also proves cost-effective. If you decide to spray, use a specialised electric oil sprayer or a paint sprayer. Painting the oil onto your furniture can be considered a good compromise between cloth application and spraying.

Shake the container well before opening it and pouring out oil; this is very necessary because oftentimes ‘wood oil’ is not a pure oil but is a compound emulsion.

Take some oil on the cloth and rub it gently onto and into the wood, being sure to do so in the direction of the grain and not against it. 

Soon after the oil has penetrated the wood, wipe away any excess with an absorbent (but lint-free) cloth.

If your garden furniture is made of slats or close-set strips of wood, as are many benches, and the oil is not viscous or thick, you can use any old spray bottle to get oil into difficult-to-reach crevices. Alternatively, use a narrow paintbrush to apply oil in between strips or slats.

How Many Coats Of Oil Should You Use On Garden Furniture?

If you are oiling bare, unfinished, dry, or weathered wood, the magic number is three, and there is a good reason behind it.

The first coat will virtually disappear as the wood will ‘drink’ in the oil (or composite treatment). For this reason, the first application takes a greater quantity than subsequent coats. A single coat is insufficient to protect furniture from sun or water damage.

After three to four hours (or perhaps more), apply a second coat. This intermediate coat is the one that will restore old furniture to life and start to bring out its colour and grain even as you are applying it.

After about six hours (or perhaps more), apply the third and last coat. Noticeably less oil will be needed for this coat and it will also take longest to dry. It is this last coat that will weatherproof the furniture and act as a sealant.

About the author

Kersasp 'Kersie' Shekhdar

Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.

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