DIY Plywood Outdoor Couch

I’ve been searching for a vintage outdoor sofa for awhile, ideally an iron set with hairpin legs, and have come up with nothing. Ready for a patio napping spot now and not willing to spend $2k on something new, we decided to build what we wanted – floating side tables and all! It cost us around $400 total. While we plan on using ours outdoors, this project could easily produce a good looking couch for inside too and I was very tempted to move this inside to the den!This was entirely constructed of plywood besides the hairpin legs, premade cushions, and angle irons we added underneath last minute for addition support. We used 2 pieces of  4′ x 8′ sande plywood, laminating two pieces together to form thick and sturdy surfaces for every component of our couch.

The original plan was to stain this black but the wood was much prettier than I imagined and I didn’t want to cover it up, so we switched to a walnut stain last minute and I’m so glad we did. It adds a lot of warmth to our patio (it would look so good sealed in its natural color too). Note: Even though we used exterior stain on this piece, I would only use in a COVERED outdoor location.

This isn’t a full tutorial because you need some woodworking skills, but I’ll share our basic steps below if you are interested. When we were well into our project I found this video with a similar build (and was inspired to add a slight angle to the tops of our back supports instead of the right angle I was planning on!). The design isn’t exactly the same, but the steps are similar so check it out if you want to do this but don’t have much building experience.

Materials:

2 – 4′ x 8′ plywood
4 – 12″ hairpin legs
3 – 24″ x 24″ outdoor cushions with backs
10′ angle iron (optional, cut in half)
stain – General Gel Stain in Antique Walnut
Varathane Spar Urethane in Satin

  1. Cut 2 matching pieces for couch bottom and 2 matching pieces for back horizontal rail, one from each piece of plywood. Bottom is 96″ x 28″ (though we should have gone 29″ or 30″!). Horizontal back bar is 72″ x 9″. Tip: it’s easier to cut the pieces slightly larger and then trim to exact size once laminated together in step 2. My lo fi plans if you need a crappy visual…
  2. Laminate the matching pieces together with glue and clamps (we screwed the bottom pieces together as well). We got creative because we did not have enough clamps…
  3. Repeat the laminate and cut process for the 3 back rest support “triangles” and 2 bottom back rails (to prevent cushions from shifting back). Our supports are approx. 18″ x 4.5″ and with a slight angle cut off at the tip. Back rails are approx. 29″ x 3″.
  4. Sand everything.
  5. Screw it all together.
  6. Add legs. We used these heavy duty 12″ hairpins.
  7. Try out couch and find it has more flex than you are comfortable with, so add angle irons for extra support :) We found some for cheap at a local fabrication shop and bought a 10′ piece then cut it in half.
  8. Stain and finish. We used General gel stain in antique walnut followed by several coats of Clear Satin Varathane Spar Urethane.
  9. Cushions. After an exhaustive search, I decided on these outdoor cushions. I wish I found some in a non-neutral color (obviously wanted orange) in my price range, but high quality, washability, and a tailored silhouette (not sloppy/slouchy looking!) were most important. These are the color of concrete – not thrilling but not bad. They came with cheap non slip pads that are doing the job.

The only changes I’d make if I could do it again are: 1.) To make the seat 2″ deeper (and adjust the support angles/measurements accordingly) or to inset the horizontal back rail into the vertical supports…I didn’t account for the depth of the double-thick horizontal back rail and it pushes the back cushions a few inches further into the seat area than I’d like. 2.) To find low back cushions or to skip back cushions all together. I really like a low slung look and the square back cushions detract from that. But they are great for nap pillows! And 3.) To screw in from the back instead of the front…I was sure the front would always be covered with cushions and the back would be seen from inside through the windows but it’s super pretty without pillows and I wish those screw holes weren’t visible in front.

I’m still messing around with the furniture out here and just found the wildest vintage orange table that I can’t wait to share eeeeeekkk!!!


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