Author Topic: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?  (Read 841 times)

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Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« on: July 27, 2020, 02:20 PM »
I’m building a simple/solid table for backyard meals that I’ll be leaving outside year round in Colorado. I’ve still got to glue-up and sand/shape the top. It’s going to be exposed to intense sun/rain/snow. (I’ll sweep off snow after storms). I know most backyard tables use a slatted design for drainage, but my previous table I built used a top like that and I didn’t enjoy actually eating at it and sitting cups/plates down across slats....I also figure a solid panel will be a lot easier to constantly refinish.

I know a lot of folks like just leaving cedar unfinished and letting it grey, but I’d like to preserve the brown color. I’ve got a sprayer and am not opposed to quickly sanding and spraying once a year.

I’ve looked at marine varnish, spar, deck sealer, etc....but am leaning towards General Finishes outdoor oil just knowing that I’ll have to do routine upkeep. Am I crazy for going this route? I've heard marine varnish like Epifanes can be pretty difficult to apply your 1st time and that if I neglect it to a certain point that re-finishing will entail completely stripping it.

Any other finishes I should consider?

On another note, I made my 1st ever dominos after seeing how expensive the outdoor 10x50mm are out of scrap white oak. Really not sure how much a difference they'll make vs. beech buried so deep in the cedar and coated in TiteBond 3, but it was fun to learn how to make my own domino stock nonetheless!

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Offline rmhinden

  • Posts: 331
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2020, 02:51 PM »
Nice table.

I am in the process of making three cedar (Cedar, Alaska Yellow) outdoor side tables, and have exactly the same question regarding what kind of finish to use.

Bob

Offline TwelvebyTwenty

  • Posts: 82
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2020, 02:58 PM »
I've had success with Osmo Poly X UV Protection Oil on exterior doors made from cedar.

Offline jrfuda

  • Posts: 6
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2020, 04:47 PM »
Very nice table. I think the white oak dominos will work great. I do not have any first hand experience with outdoor finishes, however, my in-laws used Epifanes on a cypress porch swing about 8 years ago and it still looks brand new. It gets plenty of sun and moisture, but very little snow (on a pier in eastern North Carolina). I have used plenty of General Finishes interior products and have never been disappointed. Worse case, if you don't like the General Finishes results after a year, you can always apply epifanes later (I think). General Finishes has always been great responding to email questions I've sent them; send them a message and ask if a clear coat can be applied in the future.

Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2020, 11:48 AM »
I've had success with Osmo Poly X UV Protection Oil on exterior doors made from cedar.

Thanks! I saw the wood whisperer recently used some Osmo for an outdoor table here in CO, so that could be my best bet. Is Osmo something I can just reapply each year easily?

Very nice table. I think the white oak dominos will work great. I do not have any first hand experience with outdoor finishes, however, my in-laws used Epifanes on a cypress porch swing about 8 years ago and it still looks brand new. It gets plenty of sun and moisture, but very little snow (on a pier in eastern North Carolina). I have used plenty of General Finishes interior products and have never been disappointed. Worse case, if you don't like the General Finishes results after a year, you can always apply epifanes later (I think). General Finishes has always been great responding to email questions I've sent them; send them a message and ask if a clear coat can be applied in the future.
Thanks! I've heard good thinks about Epifanes, not sure why a lot of people say applying it is so tedious?

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3083
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2020, 12:05 PM »
I tried the Epifanes finish on an outside table and ended up sanding it off. I thought I had followed the instructions I found on their website, but the finish never leveled out. It dried with the brush (foam) marks standing proud. My guess is that the finish needs to be thinned a lot more than to 10% recommended.

In retrospect, I should have experimented with the finish before applying to the table. I still have a couple of cans and the thinner. I may try it again thinning by 30%.
Birdhunter

Offline mwolczko

  • Posts: 50
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2020, 01:17 PM »
I built an outdoor sofa from redwood a few years ago. I used the combination recommended in a FWW article: seal with CPES and then apply Epifanes. The first coat was significantly thinned, later coats progressively less.  So far, so good - it still looks great. We have lots of sun, rain in winter but no snow. And I keep a cover on when not in use.  I highly recommend getting a cover from Koverroos. They will make one to your measurements.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3083
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2020, 01:23 PM »
What was the first thinning ratio?
Birdhunter

Offline TwelvebyTwenty

  • Posts: 82
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2020, 01:32 PM »
I've had success with Osmo Poly X UV Protection Oil on exterior doors made from cedar.

Thanks! I saw the wood whisperer recently used some Osmo for an outdoor table here in CO, so that could be my best bet. Is Osmo something I can just reapply each year easily?

Very nice table. I think the white oak dominos will work great. I do not have any first hand experience with outdoor finishes, however, my in-laws used Epifanes on a cypress porch swing about 8 years ago and it still looks brand new. It gets plenty of sun and moisture, but very little snow (on a pier in eastern North Carolina). I have used plenty of General Finishes interior products and have never been disappointed. Worse case, if you don't like the General Finishes results after a year, you can always apply epifanes later (I think). General Finishes has always been great responding to email questions I've sent them; send them a message and ask if a clear coat can be applied in the future.
Thanks! I've heard good thinks about Epifanes, not sure why a lot of people say applying it is so tedious?

Yes. One of the strengths of Osmo is you can reapply with little to no preparation, other than ensuring the surface is clean and sound. You can also make spot sanded repairs without the need to sand the entire surface.

Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2020, 01:48 PM »
I tried the Epifanes finish on an outside table and ended up sanding it off. I thought I had followed the instructions I found on their website, but the finish never leveled out. It dried with the brush (foam) marks standing proud. My guess is that the finish needs to be thinned a lot more than to 10% recommended.

In retrospect, I should have experimented with the finish before applying to the table. I still have a couple of cans and the thinner. I may try it again thinning by 30%.

That's what I fear happening to me and then having to strip it. I'm now leaning towards Osmo for the ease of application and touchups....I'd personally rather do simple yearly maintenance then lay down a bunch of coats of various products at the start, but to each their own.

I built an outdoor sofa from redwood a few years ago. I used the combination recommended in a FWW article: seal with CPES and then apply Epifanes. The first coat was significantly thinned, later coats progressively less.  So far, so good - it still looks great. We have lots of sun, rain in winter but no snow. And I keep a cover on when not in use.  I highly recommend getting a cover from Koverroos. They will make one to your measurements.


Thanks! I'll look into that cover maker.

I've had success with Osmo Poly X UV Protection Oil on exterior doors made from cedar.

Thanks! I saw the wood whisperer recently used some Osmo for an outdoor table here in CO, so that could be my best bet. Is Osmo something I can just reapply each year easily?

Very nice table. I think the white oak dominos will work great. I do not have any first hand experience with outdoor finishes, however, my in-laws used Epifanes on a cypress porch swing about 8 years ago and it still looks brand new. It gets plenty of sun and moisture, but very little snow (on a pier in eastern North Carolina). I have used plenty of General Finishes interior products and have never been disappointed. Worse case, if you don't like the General Finishes results after a year, you can always apply epifanes later (I think). General Finishes has always been great responding to email questions I've sent them; send them a message and ask if a clear coat can be applied in the future.
Thanks! I've heard good thinks about Epifanes, not sure why a lot of people say applying it is so tedious?

Yes. One of the strengths of Osmo is you can reapply with little to no preparation, other than ensuring the surface is clean and sound. You can also make spot sanded repairs without the need to sand the entire surface.

That ease of application has me heavily leaning towards Osmo. There's a place about an hour drive away that sells it...same place the wood whisperer goes to.

Offline mwolczko

  • Posts: 50
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2020, 02:10 PM »
What was the first thinning ratio?
50% (and I used the epifanes thinner)

Online kcufstoidi

  • Posts: 901
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2020, 03:03 PM »
This discussion came up on the original FOG a couple of months ago. I think if you watch all the Wood Whisperer's videos on the topic 3 or 4 he finally admitted defeat and completely rebuild the table and its now in an outdoor enclosure  with no exposure to direct sun or rain. Anybody with any experience with outdoor cedar knows it almost impossible to get a finish to last any length of time. It is a good excersise in futility though. LOL
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 03:47 PM by kcufstoidi »

Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2020, 03:16 PM »
This discussion came up on the original FOG a couple of months ago. I think if you watch all the Wood Whisperer's videos on the topic 3 or 4 he finally admitted defeat and completely rebuild the table and its now in an outdoor enclosure  with no exposure direct to sun or rain. Anybody with any experience with outdoor cedar knows it almost impossible to get a finish to last any length of time. It is a good excersise in futility though.

Yeah, I watched that video. Confirmed my suspicions that no finish will last, but I'm fine reapplying once or twice a year so something that goes on quickly and easily is what I'm looking for. Hopefully routine maintenance will keep it looking decent...I'm using really cheap Home Depot fencing so I don't have much invested, much more interested in it being functional. Climate here in CO is incredibly strange....we've had backyard X-mas meals some years and a few feet of snow in May.

Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2020, 05:30 PM »
I've got the top glued and initial sanding done. Wish Osmo was more readily available...looks like I'm going to have to order online as I can't seem to find the exterior line (410 or 420 product code) in anything smaller than a gallon in Colorado. Really want to get this thing finished and onto another project, any suggestions for the best/quickest place to order from?



On another note, I'm debating routing a slight reveal on the tops of the legs/stretchers to make the top look a little more separated from the base. The attached photos show what I'm talking about...just not sure how the rout'ing will look since there's already a vertical 1/4in reveal on the legs/stretchers as opposed to them being flush like I normally see this done on. Thoughts?

« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 05:32 PM by gearhound »

Offline CeeJay

  • Posts: 130
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2020, 08:35 PM »
You could rout a reveal on the frame, but I’d be inclined to either rout on the underside of the top, or glue in a thin laminate spacer on top of the frame.

Routing the frame will mean running across end grain with the legs and you could get some blow out. If you rout the top, end grain first then long grain you will likely get a better finish. That’s what I did on this one:




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2020, 08:40 PM »
You could rout a reveal on the frame, but I’d be inclined to either rout on the underside of the top, or glue in a thin laminate spacer on top of the frame.

Routing the frame will mean running across end grain with the legs and you could get some blow out. If you rout the top, end grain first then long grain you will likely get a better finish. That’s what I did on this one:




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Routing the top or using a spacer is a great idea, CeeJay. Thanks! I don't think anyone would ever see a spacer, but me just knowing it's there and how crazy I am even on a simple build like this has me thinking routing the top is my best bet
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 09:08 PM by gearhound »

Offline jcrowe1950

  • Festool Dealer Affiliate
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  • Posts: 68
    • Woodcraft Chattanooga, TN
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2020, 09:21 PM »
I've had success with Osmo Poly X UV Protection Oil on exterior doors made from cedar.

Thanks! I saw the wood whisperer recently used some Osmo for an outdoor table here in CO, so that could be my best bet. Is Osmo something I can just reapply each year easily?

    First of all, with regards to Osmo....the company makes a wide array of products for different applications. The Polyx product is an interior product targeted primarily at flooring. The outdoor UV Protection Oil is recommended by Osmo for vertical surfaces. I used it on a red oak "Victorian" screen door recently and it looks stunning. What they recommend for horizontal surfaces, including cedar, is their Decking Oil...(I used this on actual treated SYP deck boards...jury's out) to quote their brochure:

Osmo Decking-Oils protect and maintain wooden
decks, garden furniture and screens made of
numerous softwoods and noble woods, e.g.
pressure impregnated Pine, Douglas Fir, Cedar,
Oak or Bangkirai – also suitable for a transparent
treatment of Teak, Eucalyptus and other exotic
wood species.

    Also, if you do use Osmo products, follow their directions on application methods (don't ask me how I know about that)

Very nice table. I think the white oak dominos will work great. I do not have any first hand experience with outdoor finishes, however, my in-laws used Epifanes on a cypress porch swing about 8 years ago and it still looks brand new. It gets plenty of sun and moisture, but very little snow (on a pier in eastern North Carolina). I have used plenty of General Finishes interior products and have never been disappointed. Worse case, if you don't like the General Finishes results after a year, you can always apply epifanes later (I think). General Finishes has always been great responding to email questions I've sent them; send them a message and ask if a clear coat can be applied in the future.
Thanks! I've heard good thinks about Epifanes, not sure why a lot of people say applying it is so tedious?


   Epifanes is a Dutch company that makes perhaps the finest marine varnish on the market, IMO. What you must realize is that it is a hard film finish that will slightly yellow over time but it provides amazing protection. As to application, up to ten or twelve thin coats establishes a fairly bullet proof result. In contrast, Osmo will be renewed periodically but instead of actually sealing the piece in a film finish, it allows the wood to "breathe" such that it expands and contracts in a controlled way. Oh, by the way....your home made dominos are awesome and your table is too.....man, the FOG has a plethora of talented people contributing.... [wink]

P.S. - I wish we could get a good supply of western cedar here in TN....
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 09:23 PM by jcrowe1950 »
Festool Specialist at Woodcraft, Chattanooga, TN

Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 93
Re: Recommended finish for outdoor cedar dining table?
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2020, 10:38 AM »
I've had success with Osmo Poly X UV Protection Oil on exterior doors made from cedar.

Thanks! I saw the wood whisperer recently used some Osmo for an outdoor table here in CO, so that could be my best bet. Is Osmo something I can just reapply each year easily?

    First of all, with regards to Osmo....the company makes a wide array of products for different applications. The Polyx product is an interior product targeted primarily at flooring. The outdoor UV Protection Oil is recommended by Osmo for vertical surfaces. I used it on a red oak "Victorian" screen door recently and it looks stunning. What they recommend for horizontal surfaces, including cedar, is their Decking Oil...(I used this on actual treated SYP deck boards...jury's out) to quote their brochure:

Osmo Decking-Oils protect and maintain wooden
decks, garden furniture and screens made of
numerous softwoods and noble woods, e.g.
pressure impregnated Pine, Douglas Fir, Cedar,
Oak or Bangkirai – also suitable for a transparent
treatment of Teak, Eucalyptus and other exotic
wood species.

    Also, if you do use Osmo products, follow their directions on application methods (don't ask me how I know about that)

Very nice table. I think the white oak dominos will work great. I do not have any first hand experience with outdoor finishes, however, my in-laws used Epifanes on a cypress porch swing about 8 years ago and it still looks brand new. It gets plenty of sun and moisture, but very little snow (on a pier in eastern North Carolina). I have used plenty of General Finishes interior products and have never been disappointed. Worse case, if you don't like the General Finishes results after a year, you can always apply epifanes later (I think). General Finishes has always been great responding to email questions I've sent them; send them a message and ask if a clear coat can be applied in the future.
Thanks! I've heard good thinks about Epifanes, not sure why a lot of people say applying it is so tedious?


   Epifanes is a Dutch company that makes perhaps the finest marine varnish on the market, IMO. What you must realize is that it is a hard film finish that will slightly yellow over time but it provides amazing protection. As to application, up to ten or twelve thin coats establishes a fairly bullet proof result. In contrast, Osmo will be renewed periodically but instead of actually sealing the piece in a film finish, it allows the wood to "breathe" such that it expands and contracts in a controlled way. Oh, by the way....your home made dominos are awesome and your table is too.....man, the FOG has a plethora of talented people contributing.... [wink]

P.S. - I wish we could get a good supply of western cedar here in TN....

Thanks! I decided to order the Osmo clear decking oil 1277, but didn't realize until after ordering that the clear doesn't provide UV protection. I'd prefer to keep the natural cedar color, so I'm wondering if there's something I could use that has UV protection I could apply as the base coat and then use this Osmo as the top-coat or vice versa? Can Osmo be used this way? If so, any product you'd recommend? I just came across this outdoor oil: https://www.realmilkpaint.com/shop/oils/outdoor-defense/ and it looks interesting.