How to Maintain Outdoor Furniture
When the weather isn’t too cold and the sky is clear, that means more time you can spend outside. It also means that you’ll need patio and lounge furniture to help you while away the hours al fresco in comfort and style. Such pieces can take a lot of abuse from the elements, of course. So in order to maximize your enjoyment of the outdoors any time of the year, it’s important to maintain your outdoor furniture the right way.
To help keep it always looking and performing its best, here are a few tips on maintaining the various materials common to outdoor furniture.
All-weather wicker (a durable synthetic resin woven into a classic wicker pattern) is a common outdoor material. Chairs and side tables are often made out of it, and it’s pretty easy to clean. Now and then just take some mild soap and water and give it a good scrub. To extend your furniture’s life, keep them out of direct contact with chlorine and salt water. If you live near the ocean where salt water commonly gets into the air, you’d be wise to give it a good rinsing every day or so.
With strength and an industrial feel, concrete has become a popular material for furniture in contemporary outdoor spaces. Due to its porosity, natural concrete requires a wax or water repellent treatment, while concrete blends (with resin or fiberglass) usually have inherent water-blocking properties. For all concrete pieces, avoid abrasive, acidic or high pressure cleaners; clean gently to maintain the distinctive texture.
Despite the fact that many of today’s fabrics are more durable than ever, dirt and grime can still find their way into the weave. Sometimes it might be sufficient simply to wipe off the surface with a duster or broom, but other times you’ll need a hardier clean. Grab a bucket. In said bucket goes about one-fourth cup of soap (like Dawn or Woolite) and about a gallon of water. Scrub the fabric with a sponge or soft bristle brush, rinse thoroughly, and let air dry.
As an outdoor material, glass is pretty much impervious to damage from the sun, but it can become etched with dust and debris. And it can get waterspots if rained on or doused with a sprinkler. In most cases, you should periodically dust the surface. To remove any waterspots, use a standard glass cleaner and wipe it dry completely to eliminate streaking.
Today, most metals are finished with a protective coating that makes it almost impervious to the elements. But over time, that finish can get scratched, corrode and/or wear down. So it’s usually a good idea to take a look at your metal fixtures and furnishings around spring time and inspect their finishes. If the varnish is bubbling or if you see any rust, take some sandpaper and remove the damaged area. Then all you have to do is apply a fresh coat of varnish.
Made out of similar materials as all-weather wicker, molded plastic furniture comes in a variety of designs, making it a popular outdoor material. Another selling point: it’s the easiest to clean. Simply spray with some all-purpose cleaner and wipe down with a sponge or damp cloth, and keep your furniture looking good all summer.
While most often used for patios and outdoor flooring, natural stones and tiles are now seen in outdoor table tops. Often you simply need to swipe away the leaves and wash away dust with water from a hose. However, stains can accumulate on stone, and they require a little more effort. For grease stains, squirt a bit of detergent on it and scrub with the rough side of a sponge. For biological stains caused by moss and mildew, use a solution of half a cup of bleach and a gallon of water. This will clean the stains and kill the organisms that will cause them to return.
Like with fabric, all you need to clean wood is some soapy water. Most wood is coated with exterior-grade varnish that is easy to clean. Just make sure to rinse thoroughly. It should also be noted that most types of wooden furniture should be stored indoors during the winter months. To maintain the new color of unvarnished woods like teak or cedar, it is also recommended to periodically treat it with a sealant.
Regardless of material, the best practice during the winter is to bring your outdoor furniture inside, or at least cover it securely. With these basic maintenance tips in mind, you’ll enjoy a clean and vibrant-looking summer with your family and friends.
Rhyen Clevenger is a site merchandiser at YBath. While he is new to the bath team, it does not hinder his enthusiasm for decorative plumbing. On the weekends he enjoys curling up with his fiancé and watching some good science fiction.