How To Make Outdoor Furniture Last, According To HGTV's Erin & Ben Napier

Wife and husband team Erin and Ben Napier know a thing or two about how to make a house feel like a home, but the pair are also experts on keeping furniture looking good. Over time, outdoor furniture can deteriorate if not properly cared for. Over time, it can start to appear weathered and battered. Outside furniture is also susceptible to mold and mildew, particularly if it is made from wood.

However, when it comes to longevity, varnishing outdoor pieces makes a world of difference. In Season 3, Episode 13 of "Home Town," Erin made over a bench that had been in the homeowner's family for quite a while. "We sanded it [the bench] and put a good outdoor spar varnish on it, so it should hold up to the outdoor weather a little bit longer now." She continued, "We just put new chains on it [and] wrapped it with rope."

Keep your outdoor pieces in good shape with these tips

Varnishing a wooden bench can help it hold up better against the elements. Some benches and tables already come pre-varnished and sealed, in which case you just need to top up the varnish every so often to maintain the look and protective aspect. However, a lot of outdoor wood furniture does not come with any sort of protective seal. In this case, you should varnish it yourself. It's an easy job that, even for DIY beginners, shouldn't be too difficult and it will help your garden items last much longer.

All you need is a paintbrush and the protective sealant that's best for your furniture. Though not difficult, this task requires at least a few days to complete, as applying several coats is necessary. Erin Napier has pointed out a spar varnish is ideal for this type of furniture and will give your bench or table heightened protection against the outdoors. You should also look for a product that has UV protection like the Minwax Helmsman clear varnish to prevent fading.

The correct brush will make all the difference

In addition to picking the right varnish so your outdoor furniture looks newer for longer, it's important to pick the right brush to apply the varnish. Don't make the mistake of using the wrong brush when painting your furniture – for good application of your chosen varnish, you'll need a brush that's up to scratch. The type of brush you need depends on the varnish. For a typical oil-based varnish, you can use one with either natural or synthetic bristles. However, if you opt for a water-based varnish, skip the natural bristles and opt for a synthetic brush instead. 

A chisel-edge brush is a good all-rounder, but you might also want to pick up a sash brush for tricky corners. It's also a good idea to ensure the brush is clean and doesn't have any splaying, as loose bristles could transfer onto your furniture as you're varnishing it. Now you know how to varnish like Erin Napier, you'll find that your outdoor furniture not only lasts longer, but it looks better, too.