The sun is finally shining again and it’s time to make the most of your outdoor space. Here’s how to ensure your patio or garden furniture is ready
Wooden wear and tear
Teak is a popular wood for outdoor furniture for good reason – its natural oils protect it from water, heat and even termites, allowing it to spend years outside. All you’ll need to do is give it a wash with soap and water (dishwashing liquid works well) to get rid of last year’s grime. The only downside is that the natural warm colour will fade to a greyer shade. If you’re not keen on this, you can apply a sealant designed specially for teak. Even cheaper wooden furniture can live outdoors if treated correctly. For raw wood, you can prepare the surface by sanding it to open the grain of the wood and smooth out any imperfections. If the furniture is sealed already, take a look at its condition. If there are cracks, chips or marks, you’ll have to sand it down to the raw wood; if not, just give it a wipe with a rag and some genuine turpentine, which is a grease cutter. Then apply a clear sealant, or choose a coloured stain if you’d like to give pine an expensive-looking glow. You may need to apply more than one coat, depending on the product. Opt for a formula designed for outdoor use, which will shield your furniture from both water and UV rays. Many sealants come in aerosol cans for easy application. If you’re not committed to the natural wooden look or you feel like a new colour scheme outside, painting your wooden furniture is another great way to protect it. Use an exterior paint, but ensure you still use a sealant for full protection from the elements.
Making the most of metal
If you have a classic wrought-iron table-and-chair set, you may be dismayed to see peeling paint or even spots of rust. Fortunately, these can be repaired easily. Start by cleaning your furniture with soap and water. Scrape off flaking paint and use sandpaper to get rid of any rust. Then give the furniture another rinse. It’s important to paint as soon as possible, before that exposed metal starts rusting again. Rust-proof enamel spray paint is a real winner when it comes to wrought iron, as it can get into the nooks and crannies of those intricate designs. Modern aluminium furniture won’t rust, but it can oxidise, especially when exposed to sea air or spray from a saltwater pool. Keep it clean with window-cleaner and a soft cloth, so as not to scratch it. Protect it by applying a layer of car wax once a year.
Keeping plastic perfect
The ubiquitous white plastic patio set may seem impervious to the elements, but it can still end up a little grimy after months spent outdoors. The plastic it’s made from is actually a resin, which is porous. This means that dirt gets trapped in the plastic. Give it a good wash with warm soapy water, adding a splash of bleach for really tough marks. During summer, try not to leave it in direct sunlight, as this can make it brittle and more likely to give an embarrassing crack when your guest sits down.
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