How to Care for Wooden Outdoor Furniture

This week we woud like to talk to you about how to take care of your beloved wooden garden furniture.

First step in caring for your wooden outdoor furniture is knowing what type of wood you are dealing with. Good quality wooden furniture is usually made out of hardwood such as teak, iroko and oak. These wood types have a high content of natural oil that protects them from weather conditions as oil makes the wood more resistable to water. These types of wood are also naturally resistant to insects. The reddish brown colour of these tropical hardwood usually turn into a beautiful silverish grey and sometimes this is specifically desired in architectural projects, such as in the wall-cladding of houses. Outdoor furniture made out of softwood such as pine, fir, cedar and spruce are usually more economical and they usually need to be painted or varnished in order to be more resistant to outdoor conditions. 


To start with, investing in hardwood furniture rather than softwood is a wiser decision as they last long, resist the elements, rotting and insects naturally. They are also lower maintenance. Secondly, remember that weather conditions are the main reason behind it all, therefore before anything, keeping your wooden furniture under cover and away from extremes in temperature and moisture would be the smartest thing to do. Thirdly, do a little maintenance work every year, especially during the first couple of years when the biggest changes would take place.


Still, if your hardwood furniture has been outside without protection for some time, you should expect to see that greyish colour and also a rough surface as the grains in the wood would have come out of the tiny cracks in the wood that happened over time. In this case we recommend that you clean the surface of the wood with a brisk brush or a pressure-washer and some soap. After getting rid of all the dirt, wipe your hand on the furniture and see if the surface is still rough. If that is the case you may want to lightly use a fine sanding paper to smoothen the surface. Remember that the first couple of years usually make the biggest impact on the wood and after that the changes would not be as drastic. After the treatment, you are best to apply just a few layers of teak oil with a soft brush. Teak oil is not varnish therefore it will be soaked by the wood without leaving an actual layer. The final look will be just a natural matte tone and the silver colour will again be dark brown and rich. 


If you are treating softwood outdoor furniture, you might need to go a little heavier on that sanding paper as you will probably be dealing with some layers of paint or varnish. Before repainting or re-varnishing furniture you first need to thoroughly clean the furniture and get rid of all the loose and blistered paint. Stripping the old paint completely and repainting is an option but that is not very practical and will require special equipment (hot air gun for oil-based paints and special chemicals for water-based ones). What we aim really is that new paint sticks on the existing paint, and sanding the old paint lightly will do the trick. After dusting off the sanded bits, apply the paint in thin multiple layers rather than a single thick one.

Remember, all types of outdoor furniture are prone to damages due to elements and time. Investing in more durable materials and regular maintenance makes all the difference.


* Photo credit: Martin Barak, Ehud Neuhaus

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