I'm about to order a solid pine loft bed and at a minimum, the included desk needs to be finished. I'd rather just finish all of it if possible. Trouble is, I live in a rented apartment, don't have the money to hire a professional, and have never finished wood before. The product comes pre-sanded and ready to be stained and finished, so I would think that as jobs go, it is relatively easy (hopefully no sanding, definitely no stripping).

My landlord is a nice guy, but finishing wood inside my apartment seems like a terrible idea. There's a little workshop in the basement, but it is dusty and I don't think it's ventilated. There's also a large yard with a big concrete area that would work if it's not raining and if wood can be finished outdoors, which due to my complete ignorance of wood finishing, I don't know (I googled it, but the results were all either about finishing furniture that belongs outdoors).

I'd be working on days without rain, and daytime temperatures have been in the 70s and 80s with humidity around 60%.

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    Welcome to HomeImprovement.SE. You may get better answers for this question at Woodworking.SE. I've flagged your question so a moderator can look at moving it over. – mmathis Aug 24 '16 at 15:32
  • I'd spread newspapers/drop cloth, lock the cat out of the room, open the windows, put an exhaust fan in the window if you feel you need it, and do the job in the apartment. If you can't open windows, you could consider a water-based poly finish. Apply with pads rather than spray, multiple thin coats until you get the depth you want. ... If you insist on spraying or are feeling klutzy, then yes, outdoor is possible too; watch out for weather and falling leaves, obviously. – keshlam Aug 24 '16 at 16:10
  • I'm guessing it would be OK — think about how folks finish wooden decks...but you might want to shade it if possible. Sunlight contains a lot of UV, and too much of it might not be too good for whatever finish you end up using if it's not something that's for outdoor use. Something like marine varnish might be a good choice, because it is. – martineau Aug 24 '16 at 18:25
  • Thanks! I can definitely open the windows, but I am always klutzy. What do you think of using Waterlox's Marine products? They say not to apply in direct sunlight or with rain coming within four hours, which (a) is totally doable [I actually have a canopy structure I can use to prevent much if any rain from falling on it, though] and (b) implies that it's definitely meant to be possible to apply it outdoors, and that if rain falls after four hours it probably won't be the end of the world. Cheaper stuff is good too if it will look nice and especially cure faster. Made separate question. – Zorgoth Aug 24 '16 at 23:32

Yes, if in shade and if the outside conditions satisfy the product label. But you could also do it in your apartment. Use cheap, thin painter's plastic and 2" wide blue painters tape to "seal" off an area with a window. Doesn't have to be air tight. Put a blue tarp on the floor. Ventilate with a 20" box fan. Keep it simple, and use water based products like water-based polyurethane. Don't use anything that requires solvents other than water.

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