How to care for garden furniture

Difficulty: Low

Once you’ve found the perfect garden furniture, you’ll want to keep it in the best condition so it will last you for years to come. The type of material your furniture is made from will determine how you look after it, but whether you’ve bought a wood, metal, resin or rattan garden furniture set, our guide will help you to keep it looking as good as new.

What You'll Need:

  • Paint brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Wood preserver
  • Sponge 
  • Bucket
  • Pressure washer
  • Protective covers
  • Metal paint 
  • Rags  
  • Anti-rust treatment

How to care for wooden garden furniture

Wood is a natural product and therefore will produce natural oils. However, you’ll still need to look after it to make sure it remains in the best possible condition. The way you do that ultimately comes down to a combination of regular care and personal taste.

For general care, clean it with either hot soapy water or a hardwood cleaning fluid at the beginning of the season. If the furniture is really dirty, you can lightly sand it after cleaning, make sure you brush away any dust that remains when you’ve finished and remember to oil or paint afterwards as explained below. Teak furniture can also be cleaned using a pressure washer, but make sure you don’t use one on furniture made of eucalyptus as the strength of the water jet can cause damage by lifting the grain of the wood.

When you’ve finished cleaning your furniture, there are three options to consider:

  • Let your furniture age naturally. As wood ages it takes on a silver patina look that can be quite attractive. You can preserve this appearance, using a clear hardwood oil for eucalyptus, or teak oil for teak furniture. At least 2 coats should be applied, allowing 48 hours for the oil to dry.
  • Have a complete change. Express your individuality by using wood paint to bring a splash of new colour to your garden furniture. Apply 2-3 coats of paint to achieve a solid colour; and this should last around 3 years with only regular cleaning needed.
  • Keep your furniture looking like new with stained oil. 

How to treat wooden garden furniture

Apply a protective treatment to your wooden garden furniture each year and it will look great and last longer. Follow our step-by-step guide to this quick and easy task.

Step 1

Simply cleaning your furniture with some hot soapy water or some hardwood cleaning fluid at the beginning of the season is often enough to rejuvenate it for the summer.     

Step 2

Always check the weather. If it’s too hot, cold or wet it could affect the quality of your finish.

Step 3

Before you treat any wooden furniture make sure the surface is clean and lightly sand it. Making sure to brush away any dust afterwards.

Step 4

Apply your first coat of oil with a long-haired natural-bristled brush, painting it on in the direction of the grain. Stir the oil before you start to avoid any colour variations.

Step 5

If you need to do a second coat, let the first one dry for at least an hour.

Step 6

Your furniture will be ready to use again in 48 hours and it’ll be protected for another year.

How to care for metal garden furniture

Metal garden furniture doesn’t need very much attention at all – in most cases you’ll just need to give it a clean with some hot soapy water, using a non-abrasive cloth. You can also use a pressure washer to clean it, but make sure it’s on a low setting and avoid using it on more fragile parts such as glass tops.

If your garden furniture is made of steel, you’ll need to make sure that any scratches that expose the bare metal underneath are treated to prevent rust. If rust has already set in, remove it using some steel wool, then touch up the affected area using an exterior metal paint of the same colour.

Aluminium garden furniture won’t rust, but it can suffer from aluminium oxidation. This will change the colour of the metal over time, but won’t affect the strength of it – in fact, it actually makes it stronger. If you want to maintain the original colour of your furniture, make sure you clean it regularly, and either store it away or keep it fully covered during the winter months.

Top tip

  • An easy way to extend the life of your metal garden furniture is to polish it with car wax after you’ve finished cleaning it. The wax will make it more water resistant.

How to care for rattan garden furniture

Because synthetic rattan is UV and weather resistant, furniture made of this material won’t need much looking after – simply wash it with soapy water whenever you need to. However, you might need to pay a little attention to the frame underneath – if it’s made of steel rather than aluminium you’ll need to follow the same care instructions as metal garden furniture to make sure you keep it in top condition.

How to care for garden furniture cushions

Most garden furniture cushions are shower proof. meaning they are layered with a protective surface to make any spillages of harsh drinks ie coffee, red wine etc. will wipe off immediately if you get to it fast and don't let it sit on the cushions. If you have a stain that just wont come out there are textile cleaners that are made specifically for outdoor cushion cleaning. Just spray it on the cushion and leave for ten minutes and wipe it off. 

A lot of retailers will tell you they have "magic" waterproof cushions. This is a blatant lie. To make a real waterproof cushion would cost far too much money and would be so uncomfortable you wouldn't  even be able to call it a cushion. Your best bet is to make sure its shower proof, therefore if it gets left out in a few rain falls it's no big deal. But most importantly to keep your cushions looking fresh for longer just keep them in a dry place with room to breathe as much as possible and especially in the winter.

Storage bags and storage boxes are a handy idea for having a designated place for your cushions. 

After many years of use the sun will eventually break down the shower proofing you can respray it with textile protector to get that showerproofing back. It may be worth spraying your cushions with textile protector at the start of your cushions life span for extra protection. Especially if there are mucky hands around or you have a particularly muddy garden. 

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