10 Tips for restoring your garden furniture

Nick Moyle and Rich Hood

Make rusty chairs, splintered tables and fading umbrellas a thing of the past but giving your garden accessories a little love

A combination of lockdown restrictions and blistering hot sunshine has led to more people spending time in their gardens, be it for the purpose of outdoor home-working or just general lounging. If like us, you’ve had to dust down your old garden furniture to facilitate these enforced changes to your regular routine, you may well have noticed signs of wear and tear on your tables and chairs, especially if they have spent a winter or two sitting outside in your garden, exposed to the elements.

Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to buff them back to shape. Here are our top 10 tips... 

 

1. Spruce up

Garden furniture purchased at the cheaper end of the market is usually made from softwood such as pine and spruce. Softwood tends to deteriorate quickly, so the furniture will most likely have been pre-treated with a wood preserver or painted with wood stain for protection. A light sanding, followed by a re-application of wood stain or paint should see it looking spick and span for another season of use. 

 

2. Harden up

Wooden garden furniture is particularly vulnerable to rot at the points where it touches the floor, so to protect chair and table legs, stand the furniture in preservative overnight and allow the liquid to penetrate up into the wood. Wipe off any drips in the morning then place your furniture upside down to dry. 

 

3. Sand it down

For top-end teak furniture, use a light grade sandpaper and sand in the direction of the wood grain. Don’t go mad, just apply enough pressure to smooth down any rough patches. Follow up with a coat of teak oil or teak preserver. Apply liberally with an old brush, then work it into the wood using a cloth. Make sure you wipe off any excess oil as this can actually promote mould growth

 

 

4. Rust off

For rusty patches on metal garden furniture, brush over the offending area with a stiff wire brush, then work the area over with wire wool for a smooth finish. Finally, daub on a generous coat of rust-inhibiting paint before allowing it to dry. 

 

5. Nuts and bolts

Check over any bolts, brackets and fillings on your furniture. Retighten any that may have worked loose, then give them a squirt or two of WD40 to help prevent rust forming. 

 

6. Wash time

Treat any grubby plastic furniture to a wash of soda crystals. Add the amount prescribed by the package’s instructions to a bowl of warm water, stir to dissolve, then apply liberally to your target using a sponge or cloth. Leave the soda solution to work its magic for a few hours before rinsing off with clean water.

 

7. High pressure

For those wishing to avoid the chemical route, it’s possible to clean outdoor garden furniture with a pressure washer. You need to be quite careful—some of the more high- end powerful pressure washers can cause permanent damage to surfaces (especially those made of wood), so always try it on an inconspicuous part of the furniture first using the washer’s lowest setting, then turn up the power accordingly.  


 
 

8. Get soft

Fabric chair coverings will pick up their fair share of grime and are not the sort of thing that will readily fit in a washing machine. To tackle unsightly stains, apply a solution of dishwashing liquid to the offending areas, work in with a sponge or cloth before rinsing off with a hose. For speedy drying, rest your wet cushions and coverings on their edges.

 

9. Brush off

Garden-borne debris such as leaves and twigs should be brushed off any fabric coverings to prevent any permanent staining. Flick them off with a soft hand brush, or deploy a car vacuum cleaner for stubborn detritus stuck in fabric folds. 
 
 

10. Store away

If possible, store your freshly spruced garden furniture in a shed or outhouse over winter and during times of extended bad weather. If space is an issue, store them under a well secured tarpaulin cover or similar. 

Read more: How to spring clean your garden

Read more: How to paint a garden shed


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