How to care for your outdoor furniture

You’ve invested in some beautiful outdoor furniture, now it’s time to keep it looking its best for years to come. In this article we’ll share some tip & tricks for maintaining your garden furniture so that it always looks as good as new!

Wooden garden furniture

Good quality wooden furniture should be fairly weather resistant, so you can let it age naturally. Over the months and years you might notice that the golden brown colour weathers & fades and turns into a lighter silver colour.

Some people prefer this natural look. If that’s the case, simply wash your furniture once a year with warm soapy water to remove any dirt or moss that may have accumulated over the winter.

If on the other hand you want your furniture to keep its colour, you should apply a suitable paint or wood preserver at the start of the season. Here’s how:

  • Clean your furniture with soap and water then lightly sand it. Sanding the surface will help to remove stubborn dirt, and it will help prepare the surface for painting. Be sure to thoroughly brush away any dust and debris once you’re done sanding.
  • Check the weather – extreme hot or cold can affect the quality of the finish. Choose a dry day when the weather is mild to warm. Your furniture will also need to time to dry, so check the long-term forecast.
  • Choose a suitable paint or wood preservative that is designed specifically for outdoor furniture. Be sure to stir the product before use and apply it with a long-haired natural-bristled brush, painting in the direction of the grain.
  • If you want to apply a second coat, wait at least 1 hour for the first coat to fully dry.
  • Your furniture will be ready to use in around 48 hours, and should be protected for another year.

Note that hardwood is particularly weather resistant, as it produces natural oils that protect the wood from rot an decay. We wrote an in-depth article here about the difference between hardwood and softwood.

Softwood furniture is usually tanalized (pressure treated) at the factory to help protect it from rot – although some people still prefer to paint it for added protection.

Rattan furniture

Rattan garden furniture requires very little attention, making ideal if you’re short on time. Modern rattan dining sets are made from synthetic materials that won’t rot, age or decay. Good quality rattan sets are also UV resistant so they won’t fade in the sun.

All you need to do is give your rattan furniture a good wash with warm soapy water once per year. Take care if your furniture has an exposed metal frame – see the metal furniture section below. You should also remove any fabric cushions during the winter and occasionally wash them according to their instructions.

Metal furniture

Metal garden furniture needs very little maintenance – giving it a good clean once a year is usually sufficient.

One thing you should look out for is scratches and dents that can lead to rust if left untreated. If you notice any exposed steel, you can touch it up using an exterior metal paint that matches the colour of your furniture. If rust has already set in you can remove it with some steel wool before painting.

Keep your metal furniture covered up during the winter – or store it indoors if possible – to extend its lifespan even further.