I have a new outdoor table made from pallets. What is the best treatment for this wood?

Note: It will be in full sun.

  • 4
    Please provide more information here. Is the wood a hardwood or softwood? Has it been left with the same surface as in its pallet life? What joinery methods and types of fasteners were used in it's fabrication? What type of look are you wanting such as painted or wood grain showing? Pictures would go a long way toward providing this additional information.
    – Michael Karas
    Aug 1, 2013 at 10:24
  • LifeTime Wood Treatment I've never used this product and I'm not associate with this company, but I've heard of their products before. You might want to check it out and find something similar close to your own area. Feb 10, 2014 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


I looked into this question when building a picnic table out of construction lumber. I was looking for a clear finish.

It turns out that all clear finished break down under sunlight, so the most durable finish is paint.

But if you want a clear finish, it seems the best thing is spar varnish, the kind you have to go to a boating store to get (e.g. epiphanes). It is made to stretch a little more to accomodate the extra wood movement you get with outdoor temp/humidity swings, plus it resists sunlight for longer. That said, you still will have to reapply regularly, I think every year or two.

stain is a compromise between the two. Like paint, it contains pigment, which offers sun protection. I assume less pigment means less protection. But it will allow the wood to look like wood (somewhat).

  • Considering he's using pallets, I don't think the wood is probably in the best condition to want to show it off. So I'd just use a colored stain to protect the wood from further damage.
    – user24242
    Oct 27, 2014 at 2:46
  • Good point. That should offer some protection like paint, because of the pigment.
    – skiggety
    Feb 4, 2016 at 23:05

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