Hot Topics: You Upcycled Pallets Into a Sofa - Now How Do You Protect It?

Upcycled pallets in progress.

Here at we enjoy providing a place where home improvement novices and experts can come together to share ideas and advice. Inside our Forums, users can browse threads to see what exchanges are taking place on a topic of interest or start their own dialogue by posting something for the community to take part in. With over 250,000 members and counting, this resource is quite active so each week we highlight one of the conversations that may just help you with that next DIY project.

Obviously we’re into DIY, and we’re definitely into upcycling. Wood Pallets are a good source of cheap or even free materials and their popularity is drawing many new DIYers. But if you’re new to the game it may be easier to figure out how to make something than how to finish it (and what the proper terminology is). Contacting the Forum can be a watershed.

Original Post: Waterproof previously finished furniture

sgexpat Member

Hi, I'm in a bit of a mess and after spending days googling. I'm overloaded by so much information that I just have no clue what to do with it. Doesn't help living in Singapore, where there hardly are proper DIY stores and products available.

I made a pallet sofa for outdoor used and I stained/whitewashed it, thinking I would use some sealant after to waterproof it. However, upon reason more it seems that the sealant goes on first, followed by a stain. I'm a first time DIYer, clearly.

I used water based paint and diluted it 50 percent with water. I applied the mixture on the pallet and rubbed it off with a cloth. However, since certain parts didn't absorb any paint at all, it just got stuck on top. I was fine with that, as I didn't want it to look perfect. So I guess I would say it's somewhat stained and somewhat painted. But now it seems there is no product I can apply on top to waterproof it!! What should I do to waterproof it? Sand the whole thing down again and use proper sealant/stain (or dye)? Is this necessary? Is it even possible? I'm totally clueless at the moment.

Highlights from the Thread

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

What kind of exposure to the elements will it see? You could apply a spar urethane over your “stain.” How long the finish will hold up is dependent on how severe the weather it's exposed to. Could fail in 6 months or last several years.

Had you applied a sealant prior to the stain - the stain would not adhere well.

mitch17 Group Moderator

Spar urethane is the only thing I can think of - you'd need several coats and make sure not to miss a single spot.

Sorry, but I just don't see this holding up well long term if left outside.

Pulpo Member

What about patio furniture? By time you spend all that money on paints and sealers, you could have bought patio furniture.

drooplug Member

You cannot waterproof furniture. I want that to be clear. You can apply a finish to help protect it from the elements, but it will not last very long. Expect to reapply the finish.

sgexpat Member

Thanks for the comments so far. I live in Singapore, so it's quite humid. The furniture is on a covered balcony, but it can rain in from the side. I guess my biggest concern at the moment is not that the sofa will start to rot (I'm fine if it lasts me 2-3 years), but more that the paint/stain will actually get on my clothes and on the balcony when it starts raining.

And oh, even with all the paint, the DIY route is still much cheaper. The cheapest sofa + coffee table here will set you back at least USD600 and then you have something that looks terrible. Anything decent will cost you USD1000 and up. So I'm happy with my pallet solution, as long as I don’t get paint on my clothes!

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Sounds like a spar urethane is what you need. It will seal the paint/stain so it won't wear off. Since it's a covered balcony the urethane should hold up ok. Sun and rain is what kills the finish but it sounds like it will be somewhat protected.

sgexpat Member

Thanks! I might just give that a go.

Read more at: //