From the moment I laid eyes on this outdoor drop-leaf dining set, I was smitten. In fact, my husband encouraged its purchase right after our kitchen renovation to celebrate with friends. I mean, you don’t have to ask me twice, Hunny Bunny. 😂
After a few years, the acacia wood dining set had taken a noticeable beating. With its pockets of rotted wood and aged grayish tones, the dining set may have appeared unsalvageable to some.
However, not every piece of wood was in dire disrepair. Anything horizontal or vertically-facing the elements unprotected were the worst off. Yet the bottom and covered sides were in pretty good shape. To conserve time, I decided to do a “spot treatment,” which varied from chair to chair.
Used widely throughout the Brigham Craftsman, I broke out my favorite stain of all-time, ZAR’s Dark Chocolate Truffle to revive this tired and sad-looking set.
All in all, this restoration took approximately 24 hours over the course of four days.
First things first, the down n’ dirty work! A mix of orbital sanding as well as hand sanding in hard to reach places was the first test of the wood’s condition, which revealed a beautiful, light-colored wood grain underneath.
Sanding the dining table and chairs alone took up an entire day. Next, each chair was thoroughly dusted and wiped with a wet cloth to remove all dust and debris—a critical step prior to stain application.
I focused on sanding only the shabbiest sections, then simply wiped the rest clean. Since the dining set was never sealed, stain is able to permeate areas left as-is.
LET THE STAIN BEGIN
A rich brown, ZAR’s Dark Chocolate Truffle is undoubtedly the home stain of choice in the Brigham Craftsman. Prior to use, start by giving the can a good stir.
The freshly-sanded wood was very dry, sucking up a ton of stain. Using cotton rags, as I applied generous coats, I also wiped away excess stain as I progressed.
It’s important to clean the excess as it can leave unattractive blotches while curing, especially with the summer heat going strong.
Each chair took about 50 minutes, give or take. I came up with a system to apply as efficiently as possible; starting at the top, then the front slats, then the back, the legs, sides, and so on.
FUNNY ANECDOTE: What was the least fun and unanticipated part of this DIY project was coexisting with neighborhood wasps. They took a liking to the smell of the varnishes and really wanted to be part of the action. I’m like, “Don’t tase me bro.” Fortunately, those scary bastards obliged. 🐝
THE FINISH COAT
For ultimate outdoor protection, I applied ZAR’s Exterior UV Oil Base Poly in a satin finish. When it comes to wood refinishing, I’ve always been partial to a simple sheen.
When applying poly—especially on steamy summer days—it’s pertinent to work swiftly and methodically, applying in sections following the wood grain. A natural bristle brush is my preferred tool for application.
PRO TIP: Do not overlap sections as they are drying; this may possibly produce an unattractive smear in the finish as it cures.
ZAR recommends two coats with a light sanding in-between each coat. This product is top-notch; I’m confident recommending one or two coats. Here, I applied just one coat and will be applying a fresh coat at the start of each season.
THE PROJECT REEL, FROM START-TO-FINISH:
Now is that good lookin’ wood or what?! I’d fancy to say this dining set is even better than before. The deep brown hue with its light sheen finish, quite frankly, makes it feel way more expensive than it actually was.
The total cost for one quart of stain, one quart poly, bristle brush and rags: $65 smackaroos.
Looking back, had I immediately followed up this stained-only dining set purchase with a coat of ZAR’s Exterior UV Oil Base Poly, I do believe I would have saved this set from decay much sooner, as well as my own time spent.
Nevertheless, did this project take up a good chunk of time? Heck yeah it did. Did this project also save me a heck-ton of money by restoring instead of buying new? You bet your bottom dollar it did! Nothing beats the rewarding feeling of doing-it-yourself.
My wallet (and hubby) thanks me, too. 💯
This post is sponsored by ZAR. Any and all experiences and outlandish commentary are my own. Incredibly grateful to the great companies who continue to support this online magazine.