How To Paint Indoor Furniture For Outdoor Use

Have you ever wondered if you can use your indoor furniture outside? Say you have a cute wood side table that you really like, but it doesn’t really fit in your living room. But on your patio? it might be amazing.

You can repurpose your indoor furniture for use outdoors by painting and treating the material so it’s durable enough for outdoor use. In order for indoor furniture to thrive in outdoor conditions, some prep work is required. This article will discuss how to paint indoor furniture for outdoor use.

Painting indoor furniture for outdoor use first requires a process of preparation work such as sanding, priming, and using waterproof sealant before painting. You will need a paintbrush, sandpaper, and a dry area to do the work in. Once you have applied a few coats of paint and allowed it to dry, you’re then ready to use your indoor furniture outdoors.

Painting wood furniture with yellow paint

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Let’s explore what materials are made for outdoor use, how to paint your indoor furniture so you can use it outside, and how to care for your outdoor furniture.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Indoor Furniture for Outdoor Use 

Painting your indoor furniture for outdoor use can be a great idea! It may be a bit time-consuming to do the work, but it can save you money and create a beautiful and unique outdoor living area for your home. Plus? It’s nice (and eco-friendly!) to see your much-loved indoor furniture being refreshed and reused for outdoor use.

Depending on the state of your piece, there may be additional treatment needed to ensure that the furniture is durable outdoors. Let’s go through the general process of how to paint indoor furniture for outdoor use.

1. Clean And Repair The Piece

The first step is to clean your furniture to get rid of any dust and dirt. You could use a rag or a soft paintbrush.

Then, see if there are any parts of the furniture that need repairing and fix those. Damages that need to be fixed might be holes or boards that have come loose. 

2. Sand well

Taking time to sand your furniture will be worthwhile in the long run. Using an electric sander is typically easier, but sanding by hand will get the job done too.

Sanding the surface of the furniture creates a better surface for sealant or paint to adhere to. If the surface is generally smooth, you only need a light scuff sanding. If there’s peeling or flaking paint* present, sand until those areas are smoothed out and level with the rest of the surface.

*If you suspect your furniture has been painted with lead paint, stop and refer to this article on how to safely remove it before proceeding.

3. Apply a Sealant

Indoor furniture needs to be properly sealed before being used outside. Before you start, ensure you have a clear space and have covered the area with drop cloths to avoid getting any sealant or paint on the floor.

Using a weatherproof sealant helps prevent fading, flaking, and rotting of your wood or metal furniture. Be sure to give the piece a good wipe down to remove any dust or paint chips remaining from when you sanded before you treat the furniture. 

This Waterlox Marine Sealer is an excellent choice for wood furniture and KBS Clear Diamond Coating is great for metal.

4. Apply Waterproof Paint

When painting either metal or wood for outdoor use, be sure to use waterproof exterior paint. Some exterior paints even offer ultraviolet protection to help prevent color fade. Using a paint formulated for exterior use will further prevent rust and deterioration when combined with the sealant you just applied.

You can use a primer for the first coat if you wish, but the sealer basically acts as a primer coat.

Apply 2 – 3 coats of exterior paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. 

Options for painting tools include a paintbrush, paint roller, or paint sprayer — choose your tool(s) based on the furniture piece you’re painting. For example, a brush will be best for small intricate details and a roller or a sprayer may be best used for larger surfaces.

I generally go with several tools, starting with brushwork for any carved details or tough-to-reach areas, then finish with a sprayer (best choice) or a roller (when a sprayer isn’t available). 

When choosing paint, you can decide on what finish you would like, such as stain, gloss, or eggshell, just ensure it is for outside use. Some paints have ultraviolet protection, so that can be something to consider as well, depending on your location. Do as many coats of paint as you like until you are happy with the appearance and quality.

5. Maintain your hard work!

Consider re-painting your outdoor furniture every few years to keep it looking new and protected. Weather is tough on outdoor furniture and over time will degrade the furniture no matter how well it has been treated.

If you have a covered area outside, moving your furniture under there instead of keeping it out in the rain, wind, and sun can help prolong it.

If you have cushions on your furniture, it’s always a good idea to keep them covered or in a dry location when not in use to avoid odor and mildew. You can also apply an outdoor fabric protector to keep them in the best shape possible — here are the four best ones.

Overall, be diligent about protecting your outdoor furniture to keep it in good condition. You can use awnings or furniture coverings to help protect your furniture and outdoor living space.

What Is The Difference Between Indoor Furniture And Outdoor Furniture?

The main difference between indoor and outdoor furniture is the intention and purpose of how and where it will be used. This affects the material used, the look, and how it was made. The most common type of indoor furniture you may want to put outside are tables and chairs.

Properties Of Indoor Furniture

Indoor furniture is typically focused on aesthetics, design, and comfort. Pretty much any material goes because these pieces aren’t intended to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, such as moisture and heat.

Therefore, if it is going to be used outdoors, you’ll need to ensure that the base material can handle (or be treated to handle) the conditions.

Properties of Outdoor Furniture

The intention of outdoor furniture is to provide an outdoor living space that is durable and resilient to outside conditions. It can handle the rain, snow, wind, and hot sun. 

Outdoor furniture can be placed on a deck, patio, or grass where it is covered or uncovered. Outdoor furniture design aesthetics have come a long way, but the primary focus is to last outdoors. Therefore, it must be versatile, functional, and resilient first, pretty second.

Both indoor and outdoor furniture can be great options for decorating a small patio. Read my full guide to ideas for setting up an outdoor room when space is at a premium.

Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Furniture 
Indoor FurnitureOutdoor Furniture
MaterialsHard and softwood options: oak, maple, ash, cherry, walnut, pine, cedar, redwood



Recycled Plastics

Cast aluminum

Powder-coated steel

Recycled plastics

Wrought iron
LifespanApprox 10-20 yearsApprox 10-20 years
Design optionsA wide variety of designs to choose from for any given pieceLimited design options

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Your Indoor Furniture Outside

There are many good reasons to paint your indoor furniture for outdoor use.

1. You Spend Most Of Your Time Outside

You love to entertain, dine, relax, and play outside. Creating an outdoor room or two is a great way to expand your current living space! Bringing your indoor furniture outside is an easy way to furnish a patio, deck, or screen porch that you’ll use regularly. 

2. It’s More Affordable Than Buying New Outdoor Furniture

Buying new furniture is expensive! Why not repurpose some indoor furniture that you don’t really use inside? It’s both cost-effective and good for the environment since you’ll be repurposing a piece you already own. 

3. You’ll Free Up Space In Your Home

By creating an outdoor living space, you can free up space in your home. Say you’re converting a spare room into a bedroom and you need to get rid of the furniture. Or, you may have bought new furniture and need to make space. You can use it outside instead!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If I Don’t Sand Before Painting?

If you don’t sand your furniture before painting it, it’s harder for the paint to adhere. When that happens, the finish won’t last nearly as long. The end result will look uneven and not be very durable. 

What Should I Do With My Old Furniture?

You should restore your old furniture if you can. Repurpose it in some way! If you’d rather not, and the furniture is still usable, donate it to charity, sell it, or give it to a friend or family member. Maybe they could create something beautiful with it.

How Do I Know When To Refurbish Or Replace My Furniture?

You can refurbish and repurpose furniture when the foundation is looking good and still works well. A bit of cleaning, paint, or new upholstering may bring new life to your old furniture. However, if the piece was made from bad materials in the first place and can’t be fixed, then it would be best to get it replaced.

Final Words

Painting your indoor furniture for outdoor use is a good way to save money on buying outdoor furniture. Make sure to follow my step-by-step guide to correctly treat and paint your furniture. Cleaning, sanding, sealing, and painting are the key steps for preparing your indoor furniture for outdoor use.