How to preserve your garden furniture
Caroline Mann, of Wyevale Garden Centres, currently offering garden furniture to suit all patches, shares her top tips for maintaining your outdoor tables and chairs — perfect if you’ve just pulled yours out of the shed and they’re looking worse for wear, or you’ve just got a new set you want to keep in tip-top condition!
Before going out and purchasing wood maintenance products, it’s important to know what type of wood you’re dealing with. Whether it's hardwood or softwood will dictate the steps you need to take to care for your furniture. If you leave either type untreated, they will turn a silvery colour — although this is a preference for some!
Hardwood is considered a timeless, long-lasting investment. It’s the more durable of the two — usually made from teak or eucalyptus wood — making it less likely to be affected by general wear and tear. Due to its robust nature, hardwood has a relatively simple care procedure.
When you first purchase a hardwood set, it’s important to treat it with a quality teak oil to protect it from weathering. Then, at the beginning of each season, use hot soapy water or a hardwood cleaning product to revive it. If it’s especially dirty from storage or previous use, sand it down and then give it a lick of paint with a wood stain or oil to give it a new lease of life.
Softwood is usually made from pine, making it less durable and expensive. It tends to last about a decade when well-cared-for.
To maintain it for as long as possible, you should originally treat it with a wood preservative, followed by a furniture oil. Try to use products that include UV filters (the darker the colour, the more protection they offer), which will create a barrier to discolouration and cracking. If your softwood furniture is kept in shaded areas, there’s a risk of it growing mould which must be treated with a fungicide solution before use. This can also happen when the wood is covered with a sheet and can kick-start the rotting process, so be aware of this risk.
Metal is one of the lower-maintenance materials. Giving it a quick wipe down with hot soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or using a pressure washer on a low setting will usually be enough to keep it in great condition. However, rust can appear when scratches in the metal are not treated and begin to oxidise so, if you spot any, remove it with steel wool and then re-paint the area. To prevent against colour changes, wash your metal furniture regularly and store it away in the winter.
Rattan doesn’t require much care at all due to its UV- and weather-resistance. When working with synthetic rattan, cleaning it down with a damp cloth immediately after a spillage can help prevent staining. However, if you’ve got natural rattan, avoid getting it wet, and instead use a hoover or a toothbrush to gently wipe away any debris. Make sure you inspect the frame underneath, as this is often steel and will require the usual metal maintenance.
If you want to update your garden with a whole new look or your current furniture needs a little rejuvenation, this guide will help you keep it in pristine condition, year on year!