Caring for outdoor furniture: ‘The most attention people pay is the day they buy it’ | Homes
It is well documented that 2020 was the year our personal spaces became more beautiful. Whether it was a balcony, garden, or roof, we were busy outfitting our outside space with chairs and tables, potted plants of all sizes, or cute new greenhouses to feed our newfound gardening addicts.
Moving forward so fast nine months and a half later and how are you? Has the wood started to fade? Did the stripped Adirondack plastic chair that looked sturdy online turn out to be lighter than expected and will take off in the next stiff south? Are your outside pillows moldy from this season’s rain?
Once plastic furniture shows signs of age, little can be done to save it. Photo: Noctiluxx / Getty Images
It is exposure to the elements as well as the sun’s UV rays that damage your patio furniture and some materials more than others. The saying that you get what you pay for definitely applies. If you are thinking about spreading the cost of the furniture over the number of years you want it to last, rather than the initial cost that weighs on your credit card, you are ahead of the game.
Plastic furniture in particular tends to be cheaper, which is reflected in its performance and reduced durability. Covering plastic chairs or tables when not in use can save their lives, but there is not much you can do if they are showing signs of age. However, garden furniture made of other materials is maintained. A little love and attention will carry these pieces through the rest of this summer – and beyond.
As a rule of thumb, if you apply the elbow grease and some reliable products once a year, for example at the beginning of summer when it is most used, it will extend the life of your patio furniture.
The name of the wood doctor contradicts the scope of her work. After 40 years of restoring furniture from every conceivable material, owner Adam Taylor sums it up: “The most attention people pay to their patio furniture is the day they buy it.” But what if you made up your mind to prove him wrong for 2021 and beyond?
Thoroughly cleaning and then treating wooden furniture with four coats of oil once a year should be enough to keep it in good condition. Photo: Zbynek Pospisil / Getty Images / iStockphoto
“Wood is easy to look after,” explains Taylor, “but better if you do it from the start”. If you’ve missed the boat and owned a fast-graying table outdoors for nine months, all is not lost. “The next best time to do this is now,” he says.
Clean it by removing dust with a brush or fine steel wool 00 to get more dirt. After cleaning, Taylor recommends Sikkens oil-based products that enhance and preserve the natural beauty of the wood. “An oil-based product expands and contracts with the weather, feeding and protecting the wood without covering it. Other products that introduce a film that covers the wood. “This means that where there are gaps, water gets trapped and the wood rots inside out.
Oils are available in many shades to achieve the look you want. Ideally, new furniture should be applied with four coats of oil about 16 hours apart. Once you’ve done that, it’s an annual task. Wash off any dust and dirt that has been washed off, then “slap the oil and wipe off the excess with a clean rag”. Easy!
Fortunately for late starters, gray wood is actually very fashionable right now (call it ultimate gray if you have to). If you want to make new wood furniture look weathered, use an oxidizing product like Sikkens Deck and Wood Cleaner Gel followed by a gray-tinted oil – because you still need to protect your items while you enjoy the patina of age and exposure.
“Wiping with a hard-bristled brush can remove dust and dirt such as bird droppings.” Photo: Ann Smith / Getty Images / iStockphoto
In an ideal world, you would have storage space large enough to store fabric-covered items in their downtime, then bring them out for afternoons at home, visiting friends, and barbecues. The reality is that they are sitting outside experiencing the full burden of the elements day in and day out.
Wiping with a hard-bristled brush can remove dust and dirt such as bird droppings. A cold wash with a colourfast detergent can remove the real clutter as long as they have removable covers. Hosing down regularly is recommended to avoid buildup.
Cane or wicker
Rounded artificial braids structured with spaghetti (right) withstand the elements better than thinner fettucini-style patterns (left). Composite: Getty Images
If you want artificial cane or wicker to successfully survive the elements in Australia, it must be made from UV safe resin. Phillip at Naturally Cane furniture store advises people to “buy thicker, round” spaghetti “-shaped resin stick as opposed to the flatter” fettuccini “style because it’s more durable and lasts longer.”
When wrapped around a powder-coated frame, a sun bed or lounge is backed by a 10 year warranty from a store like theirs. Artificial cane can be serviced with a high pressure hose to remove the buried debris. An annual trial with car wash soap and water per year is also sufficient.
As for real sugar cane or basket – that can only survive outside where a roof can protect it.
Surface rust removal is relatively easy, but very rusty furniture may require expert assistance. Photo: Image supply / Getty Images / iStockphoto
The first step with wrought iron is to qualify the condition it is in. The average home handyman can remove surface rust with a wire brush and then paint with an anti-rust agent to keep them from gripping again.
Adventurous DIY enthusiasts with older furniture that shows signs of deeply embedded rust will need to pull out the grinder to remove rust, then use a buffing pad, and then apply the anti-rust paint.
When you reach rust levels that require sandblasting, galvanizing, and powder coating, it is time to call the professionals.