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Recently I decided my garden bench that used to be a Craig’s List bed frame, needed to be refinished. I repaired, sanded and repainted the bench before setting it onto our porch where it would get less exposure to the rain.

Well, it wasn’t weathering the elements too nicely. Or maybe I should say it was weathering them poorly. Regardless, I really liked the bench and decided to strip it and start over again. I believe the main problem was that the bed frame was not solid wood, it was glued pieces. Then, if you factor in that I used spray primer and spray paint, the rain and moisture got in easily and caused the wood to swell and some of the glued joints to come undone.

But, the bench was still structurally sound, so we moved it onto the screen porch and I got ready to refinish it.

Refinishing a Weathered Garden Bench

Safey First, (as Meri-K will tell you.) Because I was sanding and scraping the old paint I had to wear eye protection and a dust mask. I also wore ear plugs while sanding and gloves to keep my hands from getting rough.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Begin by using the wire brush to remove any flaking paint and to get into the grooves of the spindles (and other hard to reach places.)

Tip from a Handy Girl: I am about to share with you a helpful time saving trick, so pay attention. If you have a power sander that holds the sandpaper with a clip. You can stack your sandpaper. I put the 220 grit on the bottom, then put the 1oo grit on top of that. After sanding my bench with the 100 grit, I simply tear off the top sheet and expose the finer 220 grit.

Sand down the bench with a rough 100 grit paper first, then follow up with a finer 220 grit sand paper.

Secure any loose pieces of the bench. To use Gorilla Glue, you need to moisten the two pieces that you will secure.

Then put a small amount of Gorilla glue onto one of the pieces.

Clamp the joined pieces and allow to dry overnight. (By the way, don’t waist your money on cheap clamps. That little black & orange number below just bit the dust last weekend. My Irwin clamp is a CHAMP!) Check back after 30 minutes to wipe off any Gorilla glue that has spread out of the seam.

Because the posts on my bench were really falling apart, I decided to remove the ball finials.

Use a saw to cut both finials off.

Patch the hole using toothpicks and wood glue.

After the glue has completely dried, saw off the toothpicks.

Add a curtain rod finial on top of the sawed off posts.

It looks like those finials were there all along!

Clean your bench off with a damp rag to remove any sawdust.

Cover the entire bench with one coat of KILZ Clean Start Primer. Want to know why I use KILZ Clean Start primer for all my projects now? Read how much I love it in this post where I used the same primer for painting a bamboo rug. I’m never buying any other primers (unless I’m priming a tricky surface, then I’ll use BIN 1-2-3 oil based primer. But, I won’t be happy about using that stinky stuff.)

After the primer has dried, use a piece of fine grit sand paper to gently remove any burrs or imperfections.

Then wipe off the bench with another damp wipe. I used Benjamin Moore Impervo Semi Gloss paint for the top coat on my bench. It leaves a really tough coating and will hold up to wear and tear.

Roll on the paint in one area. Then follow up with a brush to even out the paint. Remember to run your brush in the same direction as the grain of the wood.

Lightly sand after the first coat has dried and finish up with a second coat of Benjamin Moore Impervo paint. I didn’t add polyurethane, but if you are really concerned about a piece of furniture that will be exposed to the elements, go ahead and add two or more coats of polyurethane.

My bench should successfully last outside now for three reasons:

  1. I moved it inside the porch and out of the direct sun and rain.
  2. I primed the bench with a good quality brush-on primer (instead of a spray paint type.)
  3. I brushed on two coats of paint making sure I got into all the cracks and crevices of the bench.

Here she is in her newfound home, our screen porch:

With zero VOCs and the quality that is standard in all the KILZ products, this primer is a must have for the DIY painter!


Disclaimer: The products mentioned in this post are products that I use and stand behind. The opinions expressed in this post are authentically mine. I was sent a gallon of KILZ Clean Start Primer and the Irwin Quick Grip clamp to try out, but I was not paid or swayed to write favorable things about the products. If I don’t like a product, I won’t write about it. And I certainly won’t pass it off on my valued readers.



176 replies
  1. Erin
    Erin says:

    I have a slew of projects in the works, but I think the first project it would be used on would be a step stool for my kiddos. The cheap Ikea ones just aren’t holding up.

  2. Renea
    Renea says:

    Love your bench. I just showed my husband as he has been wanting to get a garden bench to put in our backyard. Thanks for the inspiration. I would use the KILZ on a dresser that I want to paint to put in our 2nd bedroom. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Andrea Skeens
    Andrea Skeens says:

    And I have a lot of stuff that I could use the Kilz primer for, but I think I would start with an old church pew that I want to repurpose. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. Julie
    Julie says:

    I love your bench…and while alot of work, it looks amazing!! I would use it in my daughter’s bathroom. We have been redoing it and now am to the stage of painting the new drywall. Due to moisture in the bathroom, we need to use a GREAT primer like Kilz to do it right! (her husband is deployed right now…so it’s just us girls doing this project, but I have to admit, we are enjoying the process alot!)

  5. Sharon L
    Sharon L says:

    We just rescued some cutesy tables from the barn that are in dire need of refinishing! I would definitely use this on them and set them out on the front porch sitting area!

  6. annie
    annie says:

    I have a glider my grandfather built. What better way to honor him on Father’s Day than to declare I will use this Kilz to refurbish his wonderful glider swing for my back porch. I love the white and the pillows.

  7. linda blanton
    linda blanton says:

    I love your projects! So many great ideas! I would use it for an old table and chairs for outside! I have used the old Kilz but not the new one.

  8. Susan Bryant
    Susan Bryant says:

    I’m not really sure what project I will use it on….I have so many!!!!! I will probably start with an old dresser that I need to get started refinishing!

  9. Paula
    Paula says:

    If I win (fingers crossed!), I will use the primer first, on a dresser and two twin headboards and footboards for my son’s room. Can’t start my project without primer….

  10. Melodie Eldridge
    Melodie Eldridge says:

    And for my second entry…. LOL I have almost everything I need to begin work on my kitchen cabinets. I’ll be sanding and priming them, transforming them from 1970’s pine-ish to a gorgeous buttermilk paint, giving me a brand new *farmhouse* kitchen. So exciting!

  11. Melodie Eldridge
    Melodie Eldridge says:

    And I’m now a follower on google friend connect. Love DIY blogs as hubb’s and I are renovating an 1895 farmhouse from the electric out.

  12. Rondell
    Rondell says:

    I’d love to win this for when I paint my kitchen cupboards white, I’ve heard it is a great product!

    Thanks for the chance to win!


  13. Kristina Combs
    Kristina Combs says:

    OMG I LOVE this redo! Although it was cute before too! I understand that it did need some work; however, due to the elements.

    Regarding the Kilz primer giveaway, I’m so excited for the opportunity! I tweeted, updated my status, and I don’t know how to friend you on google friend connect, but if I did I would! I plan on using the Kilz to prime a stationery desk that my hubby bought at a garage sale for me for $5. I plan on starting a blog (thanks to @garagesalediary and @junkyvagabond for encouragement), and using this as my first project! Thanks for the consideration 🙂

  14. BeckyL
    BeckyL says:

    The first project I would use this on would probably be one of the dressers sitting in my garage waiting for me to refinish…or maybe my Seller’s cabinet that is stripped and waiting to be repainted.

  15. Boxer
    Boxer says:

    Wow! Where has this blog been all my life? I may no longer have to ask a friend to always do some of what I consider the more difficult parts to home projects. Love the way this post was put together step by step. I just did s similar post about making a chandelier but I am so not worthy after having visited here. 🙂 I’ll be back!

  16. Susan Jennings
    Susan Jennings says:

    I have enjoyed your blog since I found you. Now that I’ve learned how to “follow” (two days ago) I am now one of yours! I’d use the new Kilz primer on my bathroom cabinets I need to paint but have put off far too long. Thanks for the chance to win your giveaway.

  17. Kristina Combs
    Kristina Combs says:

    Hey Brittany,

    I added you in my google reader, so now I get to see all your posts! Thanks again, I look forward to more of your projects!


  18. Janice
    Janice says:

    I am planning to paint my coffee table very soon…it was my grandmama’s and doesn’t match my house, but I wouldn’t dare think about getting rid of it. I also have a dresser, rescued from a trash pile, that I want to make into a outdoor plant display in need of some serious attention.

  19. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    I really loved the purple colour before but it also looks really nice in white – well done! Hope it lasts this time.

  20. Caroline
    Caroline says:


    I will use this primer to paint my hand-me-down cabinets for the laundry room. They will be white and they will be spectacular. This I command.

  21. Stephanie C
    Stephanie C says:

    I have a headboard & foot board that would be perfect to try the primer with. This was a curbside find & my grandson wants it paint grey.

  22. Liz, Midwest Cottage
    Liz, Midwest Cottage says:

    It does not look like I am the only one who loves the results. Your bench turned out SOOO cute. I love the white with those adorable pillows. I loved it too when it was all chippy and sanded..but the white is so fresh and inviting!

  23. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I am actually in the process of stripping the paint off our old shed. It needs a good cleaning and then a really good coat of primer. This would be an awesome giveaway to win.

  24. heymudda
    heymudda says:

    I’ve never tried this product before but would love to repaint all four desks in my office the SAME color and this primer would start me off right.

  25. Alice
    Alice says:

    I am a follower. And to think so many people would have just thrown the bench away. You did a great job on the repair and those replacement finials are awesome. Thanks for the sandpaper tip. I didn’t know about that one.

  26. Monique
    Monique says:

    I have a couple projects: a pair of stools and I’d like to create a floorcloth. Noticed you wore a white shirt — it’s a sign you are a professional. Within 5 mins. of any project, I manage to have paint globs on my clothing.

  27. Jody
    Jody says:

    I would use the primer to paint my very first toddler picnic table – I’m building it with an Ana White plan for my kiddo to use outside, so it will need a good primer.

  28. Caron
    Caron says:

    I would love to win the Kilz primer! I would use it to paint a weathered picnic table that I bought my parents years ago. It has a bit of sun & sea damage & I think it would make for a great house warming gift for my parents who are remodeling.

  29. Jessica @ Decor Adventures
    Jessica @ Decor Adventures says:

    This is a fabulous tute because I am just trying to do this to a set of shutters. Don’t know how they will come out because there is a lot of paint on those bad boys. I hope as good as the bench!

    And I love reading about the Clean Start, glad to know it works well!

  30. VintageBeachgirl
    VintageBeachgirl says:

    Love your bench and the great tutorial! Thank you for sharing and for hosting the giveaway. I have a chair that needs to be repainted and would like to try this Kilz product on it. Thanks again and take care, VBg

  31. VintageBeachgirl
    VintageBeachgirl says:

    I follow your blog via Feedburner and love getting your posts in my mailbox! The toothpick idea was great, I’m sure I’ll use it some time! I am looking forward to trying the Kilz Clean Start, sure hope I win! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!! Take care, VBg

  32. Sandi
    Sandi says:

    I am a new follower with GFC.
    I would use this primer on an outdoor bench and some chairs that need some attention.
    I Love your makeover on your bench. What a transformation.

  33. Samantha
    Samantha says:

    Happy Birthday!!! Blogaversary, celebration thingy! Welcome to 40, it’s better than you can imagine! I follow you on Google and am kinda new to blogging. Love it and am learning as I go. Very fun stuff out there! I’m planning on painting my kitchen cupboards this summer…not sure how that will go but we’ll see!!!

  34. Heather :) :) :)
    Heather :) :) :) says:

    I follow your site here as well as on Facebook. Everytime I’ve asked my friends about painting and pri mer, the first thing they mention is the Killz. I actually have a wooden storage bench that I need to repaint. I found it at a yardsale for $5. It’s made from real wood and in excellent condition.

    Have a great weekend. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather 🙂

  35. Darci
    Darci says:

    Where should I begin? I have a wooden chair I bought at a garage sale for cheap and an old dresser I want to paint & distress to use as a buffet. Would love to win!

  36. MaryAnn
    MaryAnn says:

    am in the middle of sanding an old rocker for my outdoor shed porch. Thanks for your thumbs up on this Kilz primer, Brittany. Even if I don’t win I’m going to by some! Your porch looks SO cozy. You’ve made me think about painting a bamboo rug, as well!

  37. Billie
    Billie says:

    The project I would use this on is, in the next few months I plan on ripping all the carpet up out of this odd little house Im buying and just having wood floors!! so this would be what the kilz would be used on. I love your blog!! =)

  38. Lynda
    Lynda says:

    Sweet! I would put this primer on my “stuck in the
    90s” oak dining table and it’s six chairs! Or maybe it was the 80s? Either way it was that time when big hair was in! Thanks;)

  39. AJ
    AJ says:

    I have the perfect project just waiting for this gallon of primer… would love to win! Thanks for the chance to win. I am a new follower! AJ

  40. SE
    SE says:

    My first project would be to repaint an old rocking chair for the kids’ room. Like your bench, I left it out in the elements. I need to take it from beat-up-white to pink-&-purple-polka-dot.

  41. Janet
    Janet says:

    the first project I would use it on will be my walls. I have an 8-year-old with developmental delays. He had a time where drawing was done on the walls. He drew with Sharpies, crayons, pencils, … anything not locked away.

  42. Sharon McDonald
    Sharon McDonald says:

    I have a double bed that was mine from the second grade until I got married to my present husband…around 35 years…it’s a french provincial canopy bed and I’ve been wanting to turn it into a bench for a few years now…This is great inspiration.

  43. ingrid
    ingrid says:

    I shared your link on FB. This is the first giveaway I’ve ever entered. Thanks for all of the great info. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  44. ingrid
    ingrid says:

    The first project I would use the Kilz on would be an old desk that I want to re-do for my kiddos to use for doing homework.…it’s a gorgeous piece, just painted a not-so-gorgeous color.

  45. EmilyinGeorgia
    EmilyinGeorgia says:

    Great job on the bench and excellent tutorial! I am a follower and put info on contest on facebook status.
    I am getting ready to re-do a number of pieces of furniture as well as complete redo on entire inside of home for my granddaughter. Was going to use regular Kilz, but Clean Start Kilz, with low odor would be so much nicer. It would be fabulous to win a gallon to get me started. Thanks!

  46. Anna Bordofsky
    Anna Bordofsky says:

    I SO appreciate your step-by-step instructions! The photos are clear, and helped MY brain process your steps. Where ever you live, it’s gorgeous! Thank you! Goleta Cal Gal


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] some time, I repaired and re-painted the bench. To prevent further splitting, my bench spends its days on our screen […]

  2. […] wasn’t weathering the elements being outside, so I brought her in and gave her some TLC by sanding and re-painting. With a new cushion, she is very inviting indeed! Thank you so much for coming over. I enjoyed […]

  3. […] Apply a coat of primer to the bookcase, shelves and sides. (Still working on emptying that can of KILZ Clean Start primer! Love that stuff. Have you entered to win your own gallon HERE?) […]

  4. […] is a fantastic tutorial on how to fix and refinish old furniture. Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl did a fantastic job on giving her homemade bench new life. And just look at that adorable porch! I […]

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