Easy How to Build a DIY Modern Outdoor Sofa

April 17, 2024
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Build your own DIY outdoor sofa with just ten 2×4’s. Design to Build’s plans include easy to follow, step-by-step instructions.

Looking for affordable extra seating for your outdoor living space? Building your own modern outdoor couch is easy and cheap.

A great weekend project. The only wood you need is 2×4’s.

I built one for my back patio makeover along with a few other outdoor builds. Be sure to grab the free plans to these great outdoor projects:

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Before we dive in, let’s take a look back in time at what this space looked like before….

Pergola space with a couple rattan chairs and couch along with a planter

And here it is now….

Pergola space with outdoor sofa and new planters

Don’t you just love a good before and after!??? Ready to build your own outdoor furniture? Just a few more things before we dive into the step-by-step tutorial…

What Kind of Wood Should You Choose?

Pinewood

My wood of choice for all of my furniture builds (indoor and outdoor) is pinewood. I like that it is budget-friendly and easy to work with.

You may be wondering, but how does it hold up outdoors? When I take the time to protect them from the outdoor elements, my furniture pieces have held up very well. I built this DIY outdoor couch back in 2021 and 3 years later, there is no damage to the wood.

The key is to give it 3-4 coats of outdoor polyurethane. Doing this, protects it from the rain, snow and sun.

We also make it a point to cover all of our outdoor furniture for the winter months. Living in northern Indiana, we get some harsh winter weather.

A couple years ago, we purchased these waterproof outdoor covers from Amazon. They were very affordable and have held up well. Not to mention, they’ve done a great job of protecting our furniture during the cold, brutal winters.

Benefits of Pinewood

  • Cost-effective: Pinewood is much more affordable compared to other woods, making it a great choice for budget-friendly projects.
  • Versatility: It’s easy to work with, meaning you can create just about any design you imagine.
  • Customizable: Pinewood takes paint and stains well, allowing for a lot of customization options.

Drawbacks of Pinewood

  • Prone to damage: Without proper treatment, pinewood can easily succumb to rot, pests, and weather damage.
  • Maintenance: Requires regular sealing or painting to maintain its resistance to the elements.
But, there are other wood options available. Such as, teak, cedar and redwood. These woods tend to cost more. However, they are naturally resistant to the weather. Meaning they might last longer without needing as much protection.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each of these.

Teak

A popular choice for outdoor furniture, Teak is very durable and holds up to the elements extremely well.

Benefits of Teak

  • Durability: Teak is incredibly durable and can last for decades with minimal care, thanks to its natural oils that protect it from decay, pests, and weather.
  • Low maintenance: It doesn’t need much beyond occasional cleaning; no need for annual treatments.
  • Aesthetics: Teak has a beautiful, rich color and grain that many find appealing for high-end outdoor furniture.

Drawbacks of Teak

  • Cost: Teak is one of the most expensive woods available, making it a significant investment for outdoor furniture.
  • Weight: It’s heavier than many other types of wood, which might make rearranging furniture a bit more challenging.
  • Availability: Due to its high demand and limited supply, finding teak can sometimes be difficult.

Teak wood

Cedar Boards

Cedar has that amazing outdoor smell. It exudes a sense of nostalgia. Reminding people of nature and happy memories outside.

Benefits of Cedar

  • Weather-resistant: Cedar naturally resists rot, decay, and insect attacks, making it great for wet climates.
  • Aromatic: It emits a pleasant scent that also helps repel bugs.
  • Lightweight: Cedar is lightweight, making it easy to move and rearrange your outdoor setup.

Cons of Cedar

  • Softness: Cedar is softer than other woods, which means it can dent and scratch more easily.
  • Fading color: While cedar starts with a vibrant color, it will turn to a silvery gray over time unless regularly treated with a UV-inhibiting finish.
  • Strength: Not as strong as some other hardwoods, so it may not be the best choice for all furniture types.

Cedar Wood

Redwood

With its rich color and grain, Redwood has a striking appearance.

Benefits of Redwood

  • Long-lasting: With proper care, redwood furniture can last for many years, resisting weather, rot, and pests.
  • Visual appeal: Redwood has a vibrant color and grain pattern that can enhance the look of any outdoor space..

Cons of Redwood

  • Cost: Similar to teak, redwood is on the expensive side because of its quality and durability.
  • Maintenance: To keep its color, redwood requires regular maintenance, including sealing or staining.

Be sure to check out My Featured Video…

Choosing the Right Outdoor Cushions

Ultimately, if money were no object, my cushions of choice would be Sunbrella. Definitely an investment, a Sunbrella seat cushion stands up to rain and the sun very well. They’re not prone to fading and therefore, maintain their color for years to come. 

Our patio table umbrella is made of Sunbrella fabric. After having it for several years, we are now looking to replace it this spring.

While it has somewhat faded and has acquired some tiny holes from being brushed by the trees above it, my main reason for replacing it is, I want a new color.

I’ve priced outdoor cushions from Sunbrella and for the number of them that I would need, it’s just not in the budget.

So, my next choice is Target. I’ve had these same Target cushions for a few years now and they have held up well.

Coming in multiple colors, Target cushions are a great choice, if Sunbrella is a little too salty for you too. 🙂

When choosing the back cushions, I decided upon these pillows from Target. I love the look of them and they provide the right amount of back support too.

Note: Regardless, of the seat cushions you choose, be sure that they are 22″x24″ for this DIY modern outdoor sofa build.

DIY Outdoor Sofa Tutorial

  • Instructions are based on a sofa with the following measurements: 25″ tall; 72″ long; 25″ wide
  • If building a different size, be sure to adjust measurements accordingly.
  • Sofa is built to fit 22″ x 24″ cushions. I purchased these cushions from Target. 

Affiliate Links Included

Wood Needed for Outdoor Sofa:

Supply List Needed for Outdoor Sofa:

Tools Needed for Outdoor Sofa:

Amazon Affiliate Links Included

NOTE: If you’ve never used a Kreg Jig, here’s a great tutorial.   If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one. You will use it all the time in the DIY realm! And it makes builds so much easier! 

Step One: (OPTIONAL) Rip your boards

This step is completely optional. I like to get rid of the manufactured edge on all of my 2x’s before starting any project. This is very easy, but does require a table saw.

I’ll share the width I’m ripping them down to for this project and then explain how I do this…

Since this project consists solely of 2×4’s we’ll rip all of them to 3″.

Now for How I Do This: (Here’s a great post on how I give my boards this finished look)

  • I want all of my boards to be 3″ wide. (Originally a 2×4 is 3 1/2″ wide).
  • I simply set my table saw for 3 1/4″ and rip one side of my 2×4.
  • Then I set my table saw to 3″, flip my board over and rip that side of my board.
  • Now I have a 3″ board with straight edges on both sides.

This extra step gets rid of that manufactured curved edge and achieves a straight edge look.

SIDENOTE: I found it easiest to sand each board as I went with this project…rather than sanding it all at the end. 

Here’s a great post all about how to get a smooth finish on your DIY furniture. 

Step Two: Build the armrests (side frames)

  • Cut four 2×4’s to 22″
  • Cut four 2×4’s to 25″
  • Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of the 22″ boards.
  • Attach together to make a square using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

See picture below for more clarity….

Two 2x4's jigged together to make an L shape

Be sure to check your boards for square with each piece of wood you add. You want to make sure you have a 90 degree angle for each corner.

Your side pieces should now look like this…

Three 2x4's jigged together to make a U shape

Follow these same steps for the second armrest.

Your armrests should now look like this and you should have two….

Four 2x4's jigged together for an outdoor sofa armrest

One last step to the armrests:

  • Measure up from the bottom of the square 10″ and mark both sides.
  • Cut a 2×4 to fit between the two 22″ boards.
  • Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on both ends of your board made to fit and attach between the two 22″ boards using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

The top of your board, “made to fit,” should line up with the mark you made on both sides….

Armrest complete for outdoor sofa

Repeat for other armrest and you should now have two armrests that look like this.

Note: The armrests you see in the background of the picture below are for the outdoor chairs I was also building at this time. (Here are the plans, if you want to check those out) 

Two side armrests made of 2x4's for an outdoor sofa

Step Three: Build the seat base

  • Cut two 2×4’s at 66″
  • Drill pocket holes on both ends and attach with 2 1/2″ p.h. screws to the front and back of the armrests.

You will want them flush with the “made to fit” 2×4 at the 10″ line you marked in step two. See picture below for more clarity….

Diagram of placement for boards for the outdoor sofa build

Gravity will want to work against you on this step. Nothing fancy, but I stacked up some scrap boards to hold my 66″ board in place while I attached it to the armrests….

2x4 propped up using boards to jig into two armrests

Add the seat slats.

Cut five 2×4’s to fit between the armrests. (Cut to fit, but they’ll be approximately 66″). These will be your seat supports.

2x4's cut to fit between armrests to form seat for outdoor sofa

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on each end….

A girl making pocket holes in a long 2x4 pinewood board

Attach using 2 1/2″ p.h. screws, attach each seat slat to the side frames. Your outdoor sofa should now look like this….

2x4's attached for seat of outdoor sofa

Step Four: Build the back rest

  • Cut one 2×4 at 66″
  • Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on each end.
  • Attach, using 2 1/2″ p.h. screws, in between top of armrests (making it flush with the top of the armrests)….

Diagram for outdoor sofa build to point out placement of 2x4's

  • Cut two more 2×4’s at 66″
  • Evenly space the back slats between the top back board and the seat back board.
  • Attach using 2 1/2″ p.h. screws.

Diagram for outdoor sofa build to point out placement of 2x4's

Step Five: Finishing touches

Always the best part! Your outdoor sofa is built and you are ready to add all the finishing touches.

  • Fill in pocket holes with wood filler (only necessary to fill in the ones that you’ll be able to see when the cushions are on).
  • Sand (If you didn’t sand as you built, sand the entire sofa. If you did sand as you built, sand the wood filler spots only)
  • Stain or paint. I used Varathane Ebony stain on my outdoor sofa. Here’s what it looked like after one coat…

A girl laying on a couch with cushions

I wasn’t going for the distressed look, so adding one more coat was necessary and gave it the exact look I was going for….

Backyard patio space with outdoor furniture and planters

Here’s the link to that beautiful soft, cozy throwBe sure to add designtobuild.nicole in the promo code for 20% off!!

Add 4 coats of exterior poly and your outdoor sofa is finished!!

Pergola space with outdoor furniture and planters

Pergola space with outdoor furniture and new planters

I hope you found these detailed instructions for this beautiful modern lines outdoor sofa to be helpful. Are you ready to build your own outdoor sofa? As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I love helping you turn these build plans into a beautiful furniture piece.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Hop over to Instagram to see all of the D2B behind the scenes. What am I working on now?….come check it out!

More Great D2B Outdoor Posts:

Modern Outdoor Chairs-Easy to Build and Affordable

The Cheapest Way to Make a Flower Box

How to Build the Pottery Barn Brooks Dining Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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