How to keep your outdoor furniture looking its best
As summer approaches, many of us are looking forward to spending some time outside. An outdoor dining set can add an extra room to your house, one that may just become your favorite place to be. Outdoor furniture is built differently from the pieces you have in your home. Increased durability means your outdoor setting can stand up to the elements, but that doesn’t mean it’s invincible.
materials still need to be maintained for them not only to look their best but
to function as intended for years to come. There are several popular types of
material used, and each has a preferred cleaning method. You don’t need to go
crazy but a good clean, even if it’s only once a year will go a long way.
A typical outdoor dining set will include chairs, a table and maybe some cushions for the seats. Timber is the perennial choice for furniture, but you may find metal-framed tables and chairs. Synthetic rattan is very durable and is popular for outdoor sofas and chairs. Cleaning these materials isn’t difficult with a little knowhow. Here is how we maintain our materials:
Some timber lends itself better to outdoor
applications than others. Naturally oily timbers like teak are perfect
materials for an outdoor dining setting and with proper care can last decades.
Regardless of what timber you are cleaning the method is the same; a good old-fashioned
spray with the hose and a decent scrubbing. If your furniture is particularly
dirty, all-purpose wooden furniture cleaner diluted accordingly can provide a
Once you have scrubbed away any grime and
let the furniture thoroughly dry (I suggest at least two days) then you can
give it a coat or two of furniture oil. This step is optional, as some like the
weathered grey look of un-oiled furniture. Check with the manufacturer on how
many coats to apply etc. The oil will keep moisture out of the wood and protect
from food stains etc.
When not in use, I highly recommend putting
a cover over your wooden furniture. A cover can be found at any outdoor or BBQ
shop and will stop stains, animal droppings, and falling branches before they
have a chance to ruin your table. It is important to deal with food spills and
any organic matter quickly, as this can stain or damage your furniture if left
to sit and collect bacteria.
Synthetic wicker and well as other
hard-wearing plastics have found a welcome home in the outdoor furniture world.
These plastics are pleasant to the touch and can sit in the baking sun all day
long and not fade. Cleaning them is easy too, a simple spray with water and a
brush, just be sure to use a non-abrasive sponge or cloth as some of the plastics
can be scuffed. A premium car shampoo will do wonders for this furniture as it
includes chemicals that protect from dirt and further UV damage.
A piece of furniture made solely from metal
is a rare sight, but many outdoor dining settings have metal components for
structural strength. Hardware such as nuts and bolts should be checked every
year and tightened if necessary. If these bolts or washers have begun to rust,
Aluminum is a popular metal for outdoor
furniture as it is light and can be treated to protect from rust. A basic hose
down with water is adequate if you regularly clean the furniture. If you havent
cleaned your furniture in a while, a 1:1 diluted mixture of vinegar and water
will keep your metal shiny and a coat of car wax can keep it looking good all
year round. Again, a premium car shampoo can give it an extra layer of UV
Outdoor cushions are made from synthetic
fibers that have been treated with an anti-fungal, UV resistant coating. The
quality of outdoor cushions obviously varies, but as a rule, even the toughest
cushions won’t stand up to prolonged bouts of sun exposure. It is recommended
you keep your cushions in a dry covered place when not in use.
For cleaning these cushion covers, mild
soapy water and a gentle scrub is fine, and any stains or spills should be
dealt with as soon as possible. Many cushions can be machine washed but check
with your brand of cushion first!
Regardless of what materials your outdoor setting is made from, keeping your outdoor furniture looking its best is easiest when you follow a regular maintenance schedule. I may be overzealous, but I clean my outdoor setting thoroughly every 3-4 months, depending on how much use it sees. Keeping covers on your furniture as well as keeping any accessories inside will also help you immensely in maintaining your furniture, keeping it looking fresh and beautiful for years to come.