When you make a long term and perhaps expensive investment in garden furniture, you really should take as much care as possible to ensure that it remains in good condition for as long as possible. Weathering, particularly over the winter, is always likely to take its toll but with a little attention, the effects can be minimized.
On GardenSite you'll find outdoor furniture made from a number of materials such as timber, rattan, plastic, metal and stone, these naturally require different treatment as does any fabric that is used for seats, backrests and cushioning.
Probably the best time to treat furniture is when autumn approaches, the weather is dry and you are thinking of either covering or storing your chairs and tables that have been outside all summer.
Metal Outdoor Furniture
Metal garden furniture will normally be made from excellent grade stainless steel and powder-coated aluminium both of which are naturally corrosion resistant and may only need a spot of oil on the moving joints of any folding or adjustable pieces.
If you want extra shine so that your stainless steel furniture sparkles in the sun, there is the metal furniture cleaner solution from Barlow Tyrie. This can be quickly be applied and then buffed with a dry cloth to produce gleaming results with a fine coating of Teflon as protection.
There is a another cleaning product for powder-coated aluminium which is applied directly with a cleaning pad which is supplied and then rinsed, this will effectively remove any grease or mould.
Plastic, Wicker and Stone
Garden furniture made from various types of plastic such as vinyl and resin is perhaps the easiest to look after, any dirt that has been collected over the summer can be cleaned with a combination of elbow grease, soap and water.
Synthetic wicker used for collections of rattan style furniture is exceptionally durable and virtually maintenance-free. As this is a man-made weatherproof material and UV resistant, soapy water is all that's required.
Unlike some ornamental pieces that age with an attractive patina and lichen, for obvious reasons you will really want to keep stone furniture clean. Small amounts of dirt can be removed with soap and water while for ingrained marks you can use a spray containing bleach, leave it for about ten minutes and then rinse.
Soft and Hardwoods
Softwoods, the most popular of which is pine, need to be cleaned and then treated with preservative, a wood stain or exterior timber paint at least annually, paying attention to areas and surfaces where water may gather.
Different types of hardwood such as teak and roble are exceptionally durable and contain natural oils to combat weathering, that's why they are used for the best outdoor timber furniture. This type of furniture could be left outside throughout the year and brushed with soapy water now and again to remove dirt and any algae that has developed.
Teak oil can be applied to help protect and nourish hardwood furniture but it will survive without it for many years. If you want to retain the appearance of teak, rather than letting it mature to silvery grey, then there is both a furniture colour guard and a teak cleaner from Barlow Tyrie that cleanses weathered hardwood and helps it return to the original colour.
The same company also has products to prevent wasps on furniture and a furniture stain guard which forms a virtually invisible coating that prevents stains penetrating into the grain. The latter needs to be applied several times during the year and is just what you need to prevent anything from red wine to ketchup spoiling the appearance of your furniture.
If you extend your living space with a patio lounge set or similar furniture, occasional chairs and loungers, the fabric may well be waterproof and UV resistant but will eventually attract grime and pollutants. So materials such as Textilene and Sunbrella are designed to be easy to clean and protected by specialist products that can also slow down the ageing process.
Last but not least, if you leave the furniture outside over the winter or are preparing to put it in-store, there are waterproof covers from manufacturers and an extensive range from Bosmere that will offer reliable protection with secure ties from wind, rain and snow, so the furniture is ready to use as soon as spring arrives.