Although it's designed to weather the elements, outdoor furniture isn't indestructible. Especially over winter, harsh conditions – including extreme temperature changes – take their toll and almost all types of outdoor furniture require care if you want them to last.
Here’s how to keep wood, metal, wicker and plastic outdoor furniture looking good so it's ready when summer rolls around again.
How to clean and maintain wood outdoor furniture
Exposure to ultraviolet light and moisture can be very damaging to wood furniture, causing it to fade, split and rot.
The best line of defence against sun damage, moisture, mould, mildew and dirt is to paint the wood with latex paint, or seal it with a clear water-repellent preservative, or with a semi-transparent waterproof wood stain.
Depending on the paint or sealant that you choose, you may need to sand and re-coat the furniture every 1-3 years. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see when you’ll need to apply another coat.
Keep your wood furniture looking good by removing any mould and mildew as soon as it appears. The best way to do this is to scrub the furniture lightly with a mild soap solution, or sand the mould off with fine-grit sandpaper.
Always wear gloves and discard brushes, cloths and sandpaper after use so that you don’t risk spreading the mould spores. When the wood is clean and completely dry, apply a fresh coat of waterproof paint or sealant.
How to clean and maintain metal outdoor furniture
Although metal is more resilient to the effects of moisture than wood and wicker, most metals – with the exception of aluminium – are susceptible to rust. To prevent the formation of rust, metal outdoor furniture should always be sealed with paint, clear varnish, or a protective powder coating, and should be kept as dry as possible.
Rust formation is gradual, so inspect metal furniture frequently for signs of rust. Look for discolouration, bubbling paint, scratches and smudges.
Keep metal furniture looking good by cleaning it regularly with mild detergent and a soft cloth. Remove rust stains and mould by sanding with fine-grit sandpaper.
Once the furniture is clean and dry, seal with wood paste wax or a layer of metal polish to prevent rust formation.
How to clean and maintain plastic outdoor furniture
Resin and all-weather outdoor furniture is usually made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE) – two plastics that are manufactured with chemical additives to prevent sun damage and the growth of fungus.
To clean plastic furniture, use a mild dish detergent and a scrubbing brush. For tough stains, use a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water.
How to clean and maintain wicker outdoor furniture
Traditionally, wicker furniture is woven from reed, rattan, cane, bamboo or coated paper (protected with a coat of clear varnish or paint). It should not be used outdoors as it is highly-sensitive to moisture and UV rays, which can cause it to quickly warp and crack.
Modern outdoor wicker furniture is more likely made from durable plastic – usually PVC or Polyethylene.
If you do use your natural wicker furniture outdoors, make sure that it is coated with waterproof paint or varnish, and do not leave it outside overnight. Reapply the varnish at least once every two years to keep your furniture protected.
For added protection, apply a layer of tung oil to your natural wicker furniture to protect it from water damage.
Use a protective cover for outdoor furniture
An easy way to protect outdoor furniture from the elements is to cover it when it’s not in use. If you have the money, get custom covers made, otherwise buy pre-made covers or use a vinyl tarp to cover outdoor furniture.
Consider seasonal self-storage
Protect your outdoor furniture from the elements by keeping it indoors during the winter months, when it's unlikely to be heavily used in any case.
At XtraSpace, we offer clean, affordable storage units in a wide range of sizes, at facilities across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.