Gardens and patios can need a lot of attention, and we often think about cutting the lawn, tending plants and other gardening jobs that are equally important. However, one thing that we might sometimes overlook is garden and patio furniture, and how to keep it looking its best. We can help with advice on how to look after your wooden, metal and wicker furniture throughout the seasons.
Wooden furniture that’s made for use outside is tough enough to take on the elements, but it often needs a little help to keep it in the best condition. There are a lot of options available for the best protection for outdoor wood furniture, including oils, preservatives, varnishes and paints. However, it’s always a good idea to keep it stored in colder and wetter months when not in use.
It also depends on the type of wood your furniture is made of, whether it’s softwood or hardwood. Softwoods include wood from pine and fir trees, which can be cheaper than hardwoods such as oak, teak and mahogany. Softwoods are not always designed to be kept outdoors whereas hardwood is far sturdier and can handle a lot more from weather conditions. Hardwood can change colour and tone over time, which is perfectly normal, and can be more of an investment than softwood furniture.
Let’s take a look at each of these treatments, as they all have benefits depending on the types of furniture and outdoor conditions.
While there are many ‘all over’ treatments for wooden furniture, metal furniture can sometimes need a few different methods to prolong its life. As you might expect, rust is one of the main issues with outdoor metal furniture. From lighter aluminium furniture to heavy cast iron patio sets, the techniques of how to look after these are fairly similar.
Wicker furniture refers to the technique of weaving to form different types of furniture and can be made of different materials. These include rattan (a dried, tropical vine), bamboo and soft woods like willow.
When it comes to looking after wicker outdoor furniture, give it a regular wipe down with soap and water, perhaps once a month. However, it’s important to keep it from getting too dusty. Dust tends to form in the crevices between the woven parts of the furniture, which eventually causes the fibres to break down, weakening the furniture itself. Give the furniture a clean with a vacuum cleaner, but if you find there are stubborn pockets of dust in awkward areas you may need to use a toothbrush to clean these out.
Wicker can naturally shift, and the woven strips can move leaving gaps. You can usually move these into place with your fingers, which helps to keep the furniture in shape. While wicker is often tougher than it looks, it’s okay to keep it outside in wet weather, but it’s a good idea to keep it at least covered (or put in storage) from late autumn to spring. The other side of this is that rattan garden furniture might not be protected from fading, and sometimes cracking in strong sunlight, so you may need to keep it out of sunlight during heatwaves. Remove cushions, throws or any soft furnishings in case of strong fading.
Unlike natural rattan, synthetic rattan produced today is often given UV protection which limits risks of discolouration or damage in very hot weather (although always check manufacturer’s information to make sure). However, it’s good to not take too many risks, and treat synthetic rattan furniture very similarly to the real version. Keep it clean with soap and water, and push the strips into place if they shift.
These are some of the main ways you can protect your garden furniture, but always check the manufacturer's instructions. If you want more gardening help and advice, you’ll find it on Trade Corner.