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DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

The moment you have all been waiting for! The DIY outdoor sofa tutorial. First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has commented and given me such positive feedback on our sofas! I can’t express how much your support means to me. So thank you from the bottom of my heart! And thank you for being patient with me! Now, onto the highly requested tutorial!

DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialThis post contains affiliate links. Please see my policies for more information. 

First things first. You are going to need lumber and you will likely need to buy it from an actual lumber yard. We used 6x6s for the arms of our sofas and they were not available at our Lowes or Home Depot. I should also mention that we ordered all of our wood for the two sofas and the dining table at the same time and had it delivered because a) all that lumber would not fit in my Fit 😉 and B) those timbers are pretty heavy. For one sofa, you will need the following items to build them as we did.

DIY Outdoor Sofa Supply List

3 – 6x6x10 Timbers*
2 – 2x8x12 Boards
1 – 12in Sliding Miter Saw
8 – 2x6in L Angle Brackets
1pk – #8 1 1/4in construction screws
1pk – GRK 5/16in x 5-1/8in Structural Screws
1 – 3/4 in Spade Drill Bit
1 – Impact Driver and Drill **
1 – Impact Driver Extender
1 – Belt Sander
1 – Orbital Sander
1gal – PPG Timeless Semi Solid Exterior Stain in Chestnut Brown
1 – Speed Square
1 – Tape Measure
1 – Safety Glasses
1 – Work Gloves
3 – Deep Seat Outdoor Cushions
3 – Outdoor Back Cushions
Decorative Pillows

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial*We used smooth swan Douglas fir timbers. Ours were not pressure treated, however, I do recommend using pressure treated wood. This was the biggest mistake I made on this project because our wood has since produced sap. I have been able to clean it with a wet rag once it dries but I am looking for a more permanent solution.

**Make sure both your impact driver and your drill each have fully charged batteries and have an extra standing by if possible. You will need them.

Step 1Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Cut the 6x6s to size. You will need to cut the 6x6s into 8 pieces, each 32 inches long. These will be your sofa arms. We used our miter saw to cut these (ours is linked above) but the blade is not large enough to cut all the way through in one pass. So if you are in the same boat as us, you will have to rotate the wood until the blade goes all the way through. Below is a video clip of how we cut ours.

Step 2 

Measure and cut the 2x8s for the seat supports and the back support of the sofa. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing your cushions before starting this step. We used these seat cushions and back pillows. If you choose different cushions than we did, you will need to adjust your measurements accordingly. This is why you should have the cushions on hand prior to making any cuts in this step.

Based on the size of our seat cushions, we cut our 2x8s to 67 inches long. You will need three 2x8s for the seat supports and one 2×8 for the back support, all cut to the same length.Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Step 3

Sand all the wood smooth. We used our orbital sander on the flat surfaces of the timbers and the 2x8s.Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Then, I sanded all the edges of the timbers with a belt sander to create a bevel. Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

I am not going to lie, this part was far from fun but gave the pieces a lot more character in my opinion. If you have never used a belt sander before I highly recommend you practice on some scrap wood first. They are pretty powerful and can damage your wood quickly if you are not careful.Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Step 4 Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Attaching your timbers for the sofa arms. This part is a little tricky, so pay attention. We attached the timbers for the arms with screws, but before you drill any holes, determine the orientation you want for your wood. Meaning, if not all your pieces look the same on all sides or have a blemish you don’t want seen, stack them up the way you want to see them. Then when you are satisfied, flip each piece upside down and number them on the bottom so you remember the order.Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialYou will be drilling holes to attach the pieces from the bottom side of each block. This way none of the screws or holes will be seen when fully assembled. To begin, use the 3/4 inch spade drill bit to drill 4 staggered holes into block two about 3 inches deep (I actually measured mine every time so they would be the same). Remember, these are all upside down right now so you are drilling into the bottom of piece 2. Word of caution. These timbers are pretty heavy duty and take some serious force to drill into. Wear gloves and hold onto your drill tight so it doesn’t pull you unexpectedly or swing around and hit you. As I mentioned above, you will need a fully charged battery for your drill as this drains the battery pretty quick.
Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialGarrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Now stack block two (still upside down) onto block one (also upside down). Make sure all edges are lined up and it is positioned to your liking. Then use the GRK screws to attach the two pieces. Since the holes are drilled 3 inches deep, your screw will go through block two into block one securing them together. Note, if you choose to use different screws to attach the blocks, you may have to drill different size holes. Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

We found the impact driver to work best for this part since you are driving the screw through 5 1/8 inches of wood, about 2 1/2 inches on each block. Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

From a diagram perspective, this is what you are ultimately doing. Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialGarrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialOnce you have attached block two to block one, drill your holes in block three making sure to stagger them so they DO NOT line up with the holes you drilled in block two. To avoid confusion, we only drilled holes into one block at a time.

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialOnce you have drilled the holes, stack block three on top of block two and use the screws to attach them as you did above. Repeat with the remaining block four.

Once all the blocks are attached you can flip the arm over and repeat for the second arm.

Step 5

Stain all the wood. I used an exterior deck stain to seal and stain the wood. This particular stain applied like a stain but cleaned up like a water based paint with just soap and water. A HUGE plus in my book. Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

I used the stain version of my favorite brush to apply the stain. And I used Dawn dish soap and a paint brush comb to clean my brush when I was done. Although this stain was not super smelly, I stained the pieces in the garage on some folding tables we had in the basement.

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

I applied one liberal coat to all sides and allowed 24 hrs of dry time on each side. BTW, please don’t judge me for our messy garage! The garage is on our list of spaces to overhaul someday, but for some reason it’s not high on my priority list, haha! 🙂

Step 6

Assembly. Note, these sofas are VERY heavy! I HIGHLY recommend assembling them where they will sit permanently. We made the mistake of building the first sofa in the garage and then we couldn’t move it to the backyard without help. So we assembled the second sofa in place on the patio.

Lay each arm on the ground next to each other and lay out the support brackets for the seat supports. In the photo below, the inside timbers are the bottoms of each arm. We attached the brackets just above the bottom timber based on the height of our cushions. You will also want to consider the total depth of your cushions when spacing the brackets. The placement of each bracket should be the same on the right arm and the left arm. If not, your sofa will be crooked. This means measure them 🙂

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

We used  #8 1 1/4in construction screws to attach the brackets.

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Once the brackets are attached to each arm, stand them up and use a scrap piece of wood to prop them up. You will need to be able to lay underneath the sofa to attach the seat supports.Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Then lay three 2x8s across the brackets. Make sure everything is straight and square. Also, the distance from the edge of the front 2×8 to the edge of the back 2×8 should equal the depth of your cushions. Once everything is lined up, lay on the ground under the sofa and attach the brackets to the bottom of the seat supports with the same screws used above. For this part, I sat on the boards to keep them in place while Barry screwed them in from underneath. Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Attaching the back support is very similar, but I HIGHLY suggest placing your seat cushions and sitting on your sofa before deciding where to put the back support, which is exactly what we did. Once we felt comfortable with it, we attached the first bracket with one screw not fully tightened straight up and down. By doing this, we could hold up the 2×8 and swing the bracket back and forth to help us decide what angle we wanted. This was a two person job so I do not have photos. Theoretically, you could leave them straight, but we wanted a more lounge like feel.  Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Once we decided on a angle, we used the speed square to position each bracket at the same angle.  We used a 35 degree angle. Then we attached the last 2×8 to the brackets.Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Step 7 

Add cushions and pillows!

Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialGarrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Step 8

Enjoy your new DIY Outdoor Sofa!Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full TutorialGarrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial Garrison Street Design Studio - DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

Check out the full reveal of the Backyard Makeover with source list here. You can also make the matching Outdoor Dining Table with Full Tutorial here. Curious how or DIY Outdoor Sofas are holding up? Check out my two year update and frequently asked questions here.

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DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial

This post, DIY Outdoor Sofa Full Tutorial, appeared first on Garrison Street Design Studio.

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    1. Hi Sarah, thank you so much for stopping by! We bought all of the lumber for both sofas and the matching dining table at the same time, but if I break it down per sofa, it was about $230 in lumber. Still substantially less than the original RH inspiration 🙂 Hope that helps!

      1. Hey Lisa! I see the link for the pillows but it doesn’t show one for the cushions. Am I missing something?? these look FAB by the way!!!

        1. Thank you so much Molly! I did link the seat cushions and the back pillows at the beginning of the post with the list of supplies (last two links) but it looks like the color we have is sold out.

  1. Therese are beautiful. Did you add any support to the 3 seat boards? Are they sturdy enough with that span?

    1. Thank you so much Cathy! No, there are not any additional supports under the seat but they are quite sturdy. We just had people over last night and had 3 grown adults on each sofa with no problem.

    1. It is still winter here. We get snow through May so they are still covered. We were able to wipe the sap off with a damp cloth, but ultimately decided to wait on the matter until after winter since we may need to re-stain them anyway.

    1. No. I do not recommend using 4x4s. They are not substantial enough to construct the sofa in the manner I have outlined in my tutorial.

  2. Thank you so much for the help making this. I’m at the half way point. Thanks for the tip to pick cushions first. I also purchase the Lil ones you posted. Love your style.

    1. Hi Ashley! The length you choose will depend on how many cuts you want to get out of each 6×6. We used longer pieces because we built two sofas and a table and the longer pieces were better pricing per foot.

  3. Love this so much!! Do you feel as though the height of it is tall enough/comfortable? Or would you make it higher sitting if you did it again? Like with 5 blocks on each side instead of 4 maybe?

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I was originally concerned about the height as well, but our cushions are thick enough that it is not an issue. If you choose thinner cushions, 5 tiers might be a better choice.

  4. are the cushions on the bottom supported somehow? I feel like if you sat down overtime the cushion would slide through the back between the back support?

    1. No, they are not and this does happen. We have definitely considered adding a piece of wood to the back to prevent this.

      1. We are starting our outdoor couches. So excited .Thankyou for pointing this out.We have rambunctious GKs..lol

  5. We ended up using brown-treated wood and it looks fab! We also added an additional 6×6 on the bottom as it’s a little low and tough to get of over 40 😉

    Has anyone made a coffee table to match? I wanted to used our tabletop fireplace in one….

    1. I’m so glad it worked out for you! I haven’t seen a coffee table yet, but I bet it wouldn’t be too hard. I’d love to see it if you end up making one 😉

  6. So it looks like the back support wood isn’t very high/supportive. Any issues leaning back on the sofa and it not being tall enough? If so, what would you do differently?

    1. I had this same thought, we’re tall and like to rest our shoulders. If you altered the design to accommodate the back height, I’d loved to know how you did it! I was thinking either adding one more bracket and back rail up top of their current design. if not enough space than that with the help of an additional side arm, but I felt the profile would be much bulkier. And this seems to be the best I’ve seen…Hmm!

    1. We made them over a six week time span along with the dining table and other backyard improvements as a part of the One Room Challenge.

  7. Hi, could you please tell me what the sizes/numbers are in, centimeteres, inches, feet? Is it 6 inches x 6 inches x10 feet Timbers? And
    2 inches x 8 inches x 12 feet Boards?

  8. Beautiful!!!
    I have a question on your “no” to 4 x 4’s. I see alot of diy sofas made out of 2 x 4’s. What makes the 4 x 4’s not substantial enough? Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you! I appreciate that 😉 If you wish you make this sofa per my instructions here, I do not recommend 4x4s for this design. This is because of the method we used to attach them and the amount of surface area you loose with a 4×4. Other projects using 2x4s are not the same design I have outlined here.

  9. I’m sorry if you answered this already. What are the measurements from the seat to the top of the back? I have high back cushions and I wanted to see if I needed to add a 5th arm rest and a 2nd back board.

    1. The measurement from the seat to the top back will depend on how thick of a seat cushion you use, as your back cushions should sit on top of the seat cushion. With no cushions, the top of our seat is 15 inches from the top of the back. The top of our back cushions are not flush with the back rest though. I hope that helps 😉

  10. What grit sandpaper did you use? Did you start with a coarse grit and work up to a fine grain? Or go straight to fine? Thanks!

  11. How sturdy this design is? I love the idea but are wondering if maybe I should use thicker boards and bigger brackets and screws. I am on the heavier side (weight) and want to make sure it will support me and others.

    I am also considering making them longer seating area, if I do that should I add support in the middle?

    Great job and ideas

    1. I am glad you like it 🙂 It has worked out very well for us and we have not had any issues. I am not an engineer so I cannot speak to the specific amount of weight it can hold. The longer the span of the center supports for the seat, the weaker it will be. You could try using 2x10s or 2x12s with additional brackets for the seat, but I am not sure how much additional weight that would allow for.

  12. Would you make this for purchase, fully assembled with cushions?? There’s no way we could ever build and it’s beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you like it. I do not sell these. I create for my home and teach others how to duplicate. Many readers have made these sofas. Just take your time and I promise you can you do it 😉

  13. Just finished our two sofas and dining table!! Took 4 people and 5 days but we did it! Made some small adjustments to the sofas to allow for a second back rest. And made the table longer to allow for a little wider chairs. Thanks so much for the amazing tutorials!!

  14. Hi Lisa , we made this sofa last year ! It’s gorgeous!! But many of our 6x6s have split .. have you found this to be an issue with yours ?

    1. Wood naturally splits in the sun over time, but how much will depend on your climate. We have definitely has some splitting but not a lot. I re-stained ours last year and added a coat of spar urethane. If yours is splitting a lot, it may not be sealed well.

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