Furniture Makeovers

How to Paint and Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

Hello Friends,

If I were a professional furniture flipper, I’d simply have to hire the Hubs as the official furniture scout. You know he finds the best stuff.

Like, for example, this sad-looking side table. One day he sent a photo via text from a garage sale and said the price was $3.00. Honestly, I didn’t know what on earth I’d do with another side table, but figured, at the very least, I could refinish it and give it to somebody who needs a side table.

Then something totally unexpected happened.

Before: A $3.00 garage sale find | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.comHow to Paint and Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

Last week, a package arrives at my doorstep from a brand new (well—new to me) company called Dixie Belle. And my reaction was pretty much, “Ok, nice color.” That’s the honest truth. I didn’t think much about it other than I needed to see which piece of furniture would work best with the color.

Limeade Paint | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Dixie Belle Paint, however all projects and opinions are 100% my own.

And since I had already started the She Cave Spring refresh, I thought this lime green would provide the perfect pop of color —somewhere. So I started moving all of the furniture around to get a fresh look to the room. It may sound crazy, but I always put pieces in place based on size and then decide on color. 

But at this point, the little side table was still in the garage.

You see, a few months earlier it had been cleaned up and painted to use as a prop. I’ve used the top as a backdrop for tablesettings and the table as a filler piece for whimsical posts. So, for whatever reason, the ah-ha moment needed to connect the limeade paint with this table was a bit delayed.

Whimiscal prop in polka dots | The Chelsea Project |

But eventually, the little $3.00 table made its way into the sunroom —and the rest, as they say, is history.

Limeade meets polka dots | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

Step 1: Prep for Paint

The table was wiped down so that all surfaces were clean, but not sanded. It had been painted with home-made chalky-type paint and then sealed with one coat of poly. On the website, Dixie Belle says their paint will adhere to just about anything. And so you know I just had to put it to the test. Not to be mean or anything, but I really did want to challenge Dixie Belle to see if it really was any different from the others.

Limeade color with slight distressing | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

Step 2: Apply Paint

And all I can say is —- WOW. The paint went on super smooth and covered almost all of the dots and bows in one coat. But I did, after about an hour, apply a second coat. 

Fun color called Limeade refreshes a rustic side table | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

Step 3: The Turning Point

And now, you may be wondering, “Ok, based on what you’ve said, what makes this paint so great —-especially for outdoors?” And again, I’m going to be honest. 

At this point, I was planning to use this piece as a side table in the sunroom so I really wasn’t concerned about durability, just color.

Then, a couple of days later, I took it outside and tried to lay-on a little distressing, but couldn’t.

Holy cow, I couldn’t! I promise, I couldn’t make a dent in it.

I called on the human power sander (AKA the Hubs) to help. And although he huffed and puffed, he really didn’t get anywhere either.

So we changed out the sandpaper to a brand new piece of 60-grit (YES! 60).

With the gritty sandpaper and a ton of elbow grease, the paint finally gave way and allowed some of the beautiful taupe to peek through. All of the rough and rustic goodness shown here comes from the table. I left it on purpose because I wanted the table to look like it came from an old potting shed.

A rustic side table in funky limeade adds a color pop to the sunroom | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

This is when I realized there truly is something different about this paint. It has got to be the toughest chalky-type paint I’ve ever encountered. And tougher than any of the chalkies from the side-by-side comparison I did some years ago.

A rustic side table is refreshed with fresh and fun Limeade | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

Step 4: Talk to the Experts

So I emailed the company with a list of questions about their products’ durability when used on wood and left outdoors. They replied that Dixie Belle has been used on furniture that is always outdoors (in Florida) and it has never washed off. Even after years of exposure, it is still “going strong.”

With the evidence clearly on my table and this information, my thoughts about the paint did a complete 180. I was so surprised to learn that this paint is durable enough to use outdoors. With the exception of the porch swing, I have always used oil-based spray paint for outdoor pieces. Now, there’s an alternative. An easy-to-use, chart-filled-with-fabulous colors alternative.

Having said this, let’s think about a piece for you.

Step 5: Review Tips for Prep and Paint



  • Then turn the table upside down and paint every teeny space — with at least two thin coats.

  • Apply at least three coats to the bottom of the legs and a few inches up the leg.

  • Always use thin coats. The paint will love you for it.

To help protect wood, always paint the bottom of the legs (the feet) | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

  • When the feet are dry, flip the table over and paint the outer portions with at least two or three thin coats.

Step 6: Review Tips for Distressing Wood

Dry Distress:

  • If using sandpaper, distress the wood when the table is dry, but has not begun to cure.

Wet Distress:

  • Wet distressing is also an option. This process is simple. Dampen a clean, soft cloth and wipe away nearly dry to newly dry paint in the areas you wish to distress. Just make sure that the basecoat is good and dry before applying and distressing the topcoat paint.

Apply a Resistant:

  • Apply a resistant (like beeswax, candlewax) where you do not wish the topcoat paint to adhere. Then paint the piece, let it dry, and use a cloth to wipe away paint that sits over the resistant.

Step 7: Finish with Polycoat

Once the table is painted and dried (I waited a couple of days), it’s time to apply Dixie Belle’s water-repellant topcoat called Gator Hide.

This product is applied just like the paint —using three thin coats while making sure to cover every nook and cranny under and out. It dries very quickly and the brush washes up with water.

But what surprised me about this product is its durability.

Water-repellant Gator Hide polycoat | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

After the Gator Hide was dry, I dribbled a few drops of water on the table top and it did bead up –similar to the way water beads up on a waxed car. Remember, not all polycoats can claim to be water-repellant. Some are only water-resistant, which is weaker protection than a repellant.

Water beads on Gator Hide polycoat | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

As for the finish, it is definitely a matte, but there is still enough light reflection to give the piece life. What I mean by this is that the matte finish does not merely add protection, it adds depth to the piece by using light to pop the color. 

It’s quite striking, actually.  I’m just sad that this piece doesn’t do it justice. In fact, I’ve already decided to refinish another piece that isn’t so rustic to show you the finish in a better light. 

Light reflects off the surface of the side table polycoated with Gator Hide | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

In the meantime, you can check out the Dixie Belle website by clicking here.

And just to orient you about quantities, this table needed about 8 ounces of paint and 8 ounces of Gator Hide. 

Limeade is a neutral pop of green when combined with other colors | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |

As always, thank you so much for spending a few minutes of your day at The Chelsea Project.

If you’d like to save these tips…

How to Paint and Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture | #spon Dixie Belle Paint | The Chelsea Project |







  • Reply Carolann February 1, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Firstly, I love the color. Wow, does it pack a punch of sunshine! And yes, Dixie is amazing paint. I wish I’d read this before I used it as it’s jam packed with a great tutorial and product info. I have to say as well that I LOVE Gator Hide. Oh my gosh, I’ve never used a product like it before. I can’t wait to use it again. That little table is not adorable Susie. I just love it. Another GREAT post from my dear friend. xo

  • Reply Michelle February 1, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    That color…..WOW! I love it so much. It looks just amazing. Thanks again for all of the tips. You are a wealth of knowledge!!

  • Reply ARod February 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for all the information on this awesome paint. I love how you transformed this little end table. Great job Susie.

  • Reply Teri Ronk February 2, 2017 at 11:05 am

    This is such a wonderful blog and really packed full of great info….love the step by step tutorial….thank you so much for letting people know about Dixie Belle…..warms our heart!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 2, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Thanks, Teri. My pleasure!

  • Reply Sue February 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Your Limeaid table looks good enough to drink. It is a tall glass of joy to look at. I could not agree with you more how much I like Dixie Belle and how tough this paint is too. I think I may have to order this color now too.

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 2, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks Sue. I’m so happy you like the paint and the color – Limeade. I think it would work great in almost any decor! Send me a photo when you get a piece painted.

  • Reply Marie from The Interior Frugalista February 3, 2017 at 12:07 am

    See, told ya! I’ve tried many brands over the last 3-4 years and after I opened my first can of Dixie Belle, I was totally hooked. LOVE their products. I did learn the hard way, like you, to get that distressing done while the top coat is still wet. Your Limeade table looks great!

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 3, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Thanks, Marie! You were absolutely right! It is fabulous paint!

  • Reply Suzanne February 3, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Limeade is one of my Favorite Colors!!! Adds just the right pop and isn’t too overpowering 🙂 You’re sweet table looks Fantastic!!! I’m so happy you enjoyed working with Dixie Belle Paint it really is easy peasy and very addictive if I do say so myself 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 3, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Suzanne and thanks! You are so right about the paint. It is super easy to work with and so wonderfully durable. So happy I got to give it a try.

  • Reply Debrashoppeno5 February 5, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Great job. I love the Dixie Belle product line. The colors are gorgegous and the other products they have live up to our expectations. The table is a fun pop of color.

  • Reply Nancy @ Slightly Coastal February 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Wow! I’m so interested in the polyacrylic. Your table looks great and I can’t believe the durability. I’m for sure going to go look them up.


    • Reply theChelseaProject February 8, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Nancy and thanks! Yes, I will tell you that I was as surprised as anybody to learn this. It’s totally fabulous and I plan to do more pieces.

  • Reply Lynn Spencer February 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Susie, cute table! And great review…I may have to contact them if for no other reason than their gator hide…just so happens I’m in the midst of project now that could use that durability.

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 15, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Lynn and thanks. Yes! You certainly should contact them and try the products. That Gator Hide is dabombdiggity!

  • Reply leanne with February 15, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Susie, I am in love with that color! And the durability of the gator hide… be still my heart!

  • Reply misstoni65 February 16, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Your hubby is so so good to you, finding you furniture and actually calling to tell you about it. That color is sunshiney and awesome and I’m pretty sure I need that Gator Hide stuff, like now!

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      LOL. Thanks Toni!

  • Reply Sue March 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    You would be shocked to know how many times a week I think of this beautiful green color that makes me want to drink lemonade or limeade.

  • Reply domesticdeadline March 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I love the color! I too end up picking up end tables without a need for them, lol. I’d love for you to share this at linkup, you can find it starting every Friday on my blog,

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Thanks so much. I just linked up. Appreciate the invite.

  • Reply 8 Ways to Easily Refresh Over-the-Hill Patio Furniture - The Chelsea Project June 13, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    […] After a good cleaning and some sanding, the table was painted and sealed so that it could live outdoors. I will tell you that I do not leave it out all of the time, although the paint manufacturer assured me that it was ok to do so. To see how this little table got ready to tame the wild outdoors, please click here. […]

  • Reply Lily July 25, 2020 at 2:15 am

    Ty so much for such great, clear instructions!!

  • Thanks so much for your comment!

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.