Duo Ventures

Thursday, August 17, 2017

DIY Outdoor Wood Sofas


After we finished our DIY deck back in March, it became even more apparent that we needed more outdoor seating.  The only seating we had at the time was a round patio table with 4 chairs.

Initially, we looked around for sectionals, but everything we liked was at least $2,500.  Then we came across some plans to build your own outdoor sofa from Ana White...for around $50 in lumber!  The cushions are the most expensive part of this project, but even so, we were able to build 3 sofas for under $800 total.

Here is the original Ana White sofa design that we modeled our sofas after:

Ana White Outdoor Sofa Plans

It's a great basic design, but I wanted to modify it slightly by adding a couple more 2x4's for extra back support, as well as some 2x2's under the arm rests for more detail.

We also built our sofas to the size of our cushions, so we used one less 2x4 on the seat bottom.  Our sofa seats ended up being about 23.5" deep.  Here's a comparison of the original vs. our sofa:

I assumed the most difficult part of this project would actually be finding cushions that we liked in our budget, so we decided to pick out our cushions first & then build the sofas to those specific dimensions.  Ideally, I wanted something in the grey family, but the few grey cushions I came across were either too brown, too thin, or too expensive.  We ended up going with the IKEA KUNSO cushions in black instead:

Here are the dimensions of our cushions:
Back cushion dimensions:
Width: 24 3/8 "
Depth: 17 3/8 "
Thickness: 7 1/8 "


Bottom cushion dimensions:
Width: 24 "
Depth: 24 "
Thickness: 4 "


The entire sofa was built out of pine 2x4's, with the exception of the "X" detail under the arms - which were pine 2x2's.  We did not use treated lumber for this project since I planned on staining & sealing the sofas - so we saved a little money by going with regular pine AND the lumber was also not as heavy since it wasn't treated.  If you can afford to build with cedar, that is the way to go for outdoor furniture (since we were on a budget we went with pine).  My dad helped us build the first sofa, but then we were on our own for the remaining two.


Before we added the "X" detail:

Another change we made was to the top 2x4 on the back rest - we decided to attach the 2x4 vertically to give the back a little more height and notched out the ends to fit on top of the arm rests:

Here are the sofas after we added the 2x2 X detail under the arms:

For extra support, we also screwed in two vertical 20" 2x4 supports on the back of each sofa:

*UPDATE* Here are some more detailed photos of the back of the sofas from April 2020:


Once all three sofas were assembled, I filled the holes with exterior wood filler & gave them a light sanding all over.  I focused on the edges - particularly around the arm rests.

Next, I gave them all one coat of semi-transparent stain & sealer in the color Pewter by Rustoleum:

The stain is subtle in person (and even more difficult to tell the difference in photos), but the stain sort of reminds me of that gray driftwood Restoration Hardware look.  I could have done a second coat of stain, but I was honestly exhausted & just wanted to be done.  You can see the stain the best in this photo:

Ana's original lumber list only calls for (11) 2x4x10' boards, but because of our modifications we ended up needing to buy the following for each sofa:
(12) 2x4x10'
(1) 2x4x8'
(2) 2x2x8'

Here is the final approximate cost breakdown:

ONE SOFA:
$65 lumber + $180 cushions = $245

THREE SOFAS:
$195 lumber + $540 cushions = $735

We also spent $37 in stain, so our total cost was about $772 ($735 + $37).  Please keep in mind there can be other costs involved depending on what materials, tools, or stains you already have on hand.  We already had the screws we needed (mostly 2 1/2" & some 4" galvanized screws), sandpaper, wood glue, and tools - so all we needed to purchase was the lumber & stain.

Overall, we love the sofas - they are comfortable & very sturdy!  Since I didn't give step by step instructions, please let me know if you have any questions on our building process.

We also ended up building an X-base dining table for our new deck as well.  I will write a post on how we built that in the near future...

Thanks for reading!
Mel

28 comments:

  1. I wanted to see how these were holding up after a couple of years without having used treated lumber. I'm about to build these and would prefer to use non-treated pine too, as I plan on painting them. They will be under a covered deck.

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    1. Hey Peyton, The sofas have held up awesome actually! The only thing I've noticed is that the exterior wood filler has come out of some of the holes - but other than that, no issues. I think you should be fine to use non-treated. :)

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  2. Hi! I came across your post here and I'm planning to use your design and Ana's design to build my own sectional. I really like the extra support you added to the back! Would it be possible to see a picture of the back of one of your sofas so I can see how you put that all todgether? Thanks! Annie

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    1. Hi Annie, I added a couple of photos of the back of the sofa in the post above. Hope that helps! Mel

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  3. Now that you've had them for a bit, how is the arm rest height on that design? Would you place it lower or is comfortable at that height? Thanks so much!

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    1. Hi there! I would say the arm rest height is comfortable as is. Hope that helps!

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  4. Hi there! Your sofas look great!! Curious if you had a cut list?

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    1. Hi Crystal,

      I do not, but check out the link below. We followed Ana White's Plans (with some modifications) and she does have a cut list with instructions:

      http://eff5c75290b0e498bfcc-cdb2fd2cc8e016557784fa363a2704b5.r93.cf1.rackcdn.com/Outdoor%20Sofa%20Plans.pdf

      Hope that helps! :)

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  5. I like the look of these. I have a lot of larger and taller people in my family. Can you guestimate the weight capacity of these benches?

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    1. Unfortunately, I don't have that number for you. They definitely feel very sturdy to me. I tried checking Ana White's original plan for a weight limit, but I couldn't find anything there either. You could always build these and add extra support 2x4's if needed. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful :)

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  6. Annie in Sunny MiamiMay 10, 2020 at 6:27 PM

    Hi there. Today is Mother's Day and handy, handsome hubby is making this as my gift. We bought the 2 by 2's for the x on the sides (which I love) but his compound miter saw only allows him to make 45 degree angle cuts. He says that angle is closer to 50 or 60 degrees. How did you do that? Thank you so very much.

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    1. Hello! That is so sweet of your husband! Yes, he's correct - It is a 30 angle/ 60 degree cut. I don't know how to explain it, but I found a video that might be helpful if he hasn't already figured it out:

      https://www.thesawguy.com/cut-60-degree-angle/

      Hope that helps!

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    2. He should be able to stand the 2x2 on end and do the cut!

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  7. Annie in Sunny MiamiMay 10, 2020 at 6:37 PM

    HI there, today is Mother's Day and handsome, handy hubby is making this for my gift. We bought the 2 by 2's for the x, which I love! However, he is using a compound miter saw and he can only make 45 degree cuts and he says this is more like 50 or 60 degrees. How did you do it? Thank you so much.

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  8. Hello! So glad I found your post as we'd like to build our own outdoor furniture. Would you change anything to make the sofa more comfortable? Also, have the cushions held up well?
    Thank you!

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    1. Hello! The sofas feel comfortable as they are & the cushions have held up great! Very durable fabric, and so far no fading from the sun. Hope that helps!

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  9. Hi there, he did figure it out, but I'll admit he almost threw in the towel regarding that little detail. I am going to show him the video for the future. He actually built a chair and a table, too, based on the couch. They came out great. Your addition of the "x" on the sides really makes this furniture even more beautiful; thank you so much! He also decided to angle the back of the couch and chair to make it more comfortable with the cushions we bought. We are having a bit of an issue with the cushions, so fingers crossed that the remaining sets are delivered. I'll see if I can find a way to upload a picture. Now I need to stain it, but it needs to match an existing tables and chairs that we have, which I am nervous about. I truly love this furniture, thank you so much!

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    1. That's great to hear! I'd love to see pictures! We thought about doing an angled back too, but decided not to last minute - I'm sure your sofas are super comfortable.

      You may already be doing this - but I'd just use some scrap wood from the sofas to test out your stains first.

      You can email me photos if you'd like - melissasabra@gmail.com

      Thanks for sharing and I'm happy to hear you like them so much!
      Mel

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  10. Hi. We're also planning on doing this as well but following the sectional plans that Ana White has with a few of the changes you made. But it looks like you both used 24in cusions but your depth is different, why is that? Thank you.

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    1. Hello - good question. I remember watching a video she did on the sofas where she said she used 25x25" cushions and it looked like the 2x4 from the seat stuck out a bit under the cushion. Since our cushions were even an inch shorter, we thought that might be uncomfortable & the cushions might slide back & forth. That's why we decided to shorten the depth. Our seat ended up being about 23.5" deep.

      Honestly, I think it would have been fine either way though. I'd say some might actually prefer a deeper seat- especially if you are taller. My mom is on the shorter side & finds our sofas very comfortable. I'm 5'7" and I think the extra depth in Ana's plan wouldn't hurt, but I don't find ours uncomfortable by any means either. I hope that makes sense & helps a bit!

      This is the link for the video I was referring too:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6liMOuSGZ5g

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  11. hi Wondering if it will make a difference to stain the wood(pine) firat before assembling? Or should you allow it to dry 1st before staining?

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    1. You definitely could stain before assembling - the reason I chose to stain them after we put them together was so that I only had to stain what was visible and didn't have to worry about underneath or any 2 pieces that butted up next to each other. Hope that helps! :)

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  12. Hi there! These look great! I'm wondering if you find the couches as comfortable as store bought, with the straight back? I think most store bought usually angle the back so you are reclining a little bit. Has anyone in your family noticed a difference in comfort?

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    1. Hello & thank you! I think angled backs are always more comfortable. That being said, nobody has mentioned anything to me about these being uncomfortable. I usually put the back pillow at an angle which helps too. I think modifying this design with an angled back definitely wouldn't hurt though! :)

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  13. These look fantastic! I am about to embark on the mission of making this for our deck. Like you mention I have search the internet for something i like, and I have found plenty i love, BUT I DONT love the price tag. My question is, how long did it take you to finish one seat? Also when you are done using them for the season do you cover them? It seem from your pics like these have held out pretty well. Im wondering if they have been expose to inclement weather? Beautiful job!

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    1. Thank you! That's a good question - I don't remember exactly. I think we built all three over a weekend & then sanded and stained the next weekend. We do cover them in the winter, but Georgia winters are mild. They definitely have been exposed to a lot of rain. They have held up great so far - I'm probably going to sand and re-stain this year or next year though. Hope that helps! :)

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