Though most woods weather to a silvery gray if left unprotected, moisture is wood’s greatest enemy. Treating a piece with a water sealer or other product will extend its life. Before applying an preservative or coloring product, check the manufacturer’s finishing or sealing requirements to avoid voiding the warranty. A list of common finishes follows.
Exterior latex paints: Best for treated pine, this paint requires a base coat of stain blocking latex primer. Paint all areas to keep moisture out.
Semitransparent exterior stains: These stains, which typically include a water sealer and UV blocker, add as wash of color while allowing wood grain to show through. They are good for cedar, redwood, and treated pine. Oil-base versions are recommended for redwood.
Solid exterior stains: Pick stains with a water sealer and UV protectors. They add an opaque coat of color to pine, cedar, and redwood, but will obscure the wood’s grains.
Water sealers: These products, good for cedar, redwood, and treated pine, protect wood from drying out, cracking, and splitting. They are available in clear and tinted finishes. If you prefer the silvery-gray weathered look, keep moisture out by applying a water sealer once the furniture has aged to the desired color. Apply water sealers annually or as needed. The exception is treated pine: Water sealers tend to change it back to its original color.
Wood oils: Makers of teak, roble, and jarrah furuniture recommend using oil finishes to preserve the original color. For teak and jarrah wood, consult the manufacture on which oil to use and how often to apply it to achieve the tone you want. Roble benefits from semi-annual applications of teak, boiled linseed, or marine oil.