How to Maintain Your Outdoor Furniture

Summer might be behind us, but that doesn’t mean you won’t use your outdoor space for another year. The weather is still warm enough to sit outside (in most places), and tons of special occasions are still to come. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New year are almost upon us. So your outdoor space still has plenty of uses until next summer.

However, just like your indoor furniture, your outdoor furniture needs some TLC and proper maintenance as well. If you don’t maintain them, you run the risk of your furniture becoming ruined to the point of replacement. But it doesn’t need to be like this, as keeping your outdoor items is just as easy, if not more so, than traditional furniture.

How to Maintain Your Outdoor Furniture

Teak Wood

Teak is classed as hardwood and originates from South East Asia. As such, it is suited to a hotter climate and does well in tropical conditions. It is also highly durable, which makes it excellent for garden furniture such as chairs and tables. However, teak is one of the more expensive woods due to simple supply and demand. 

Because of this, it is necessary to maintain teak to extend its life. When cared for properly, teak will last for between 75 and 100 years. The durability of teak comes from its high levels of silica. Silica allows the wood to resist the weather and elements to a high degree, maximizing teak furniture’s potential lifespan. 

Unlike other woods, teak required no additional oiling. Fortunately, cleaning teak wood furniture properly isn’t difficult and requires no effort at all. However, like most woods and expensive materials, you must take care to do it properly. Teak can be cleaned using typical household and readily available items such as bleach, a soft bristle brush, and sandpaper.

To clean teak:

  • Add bleach or detergent to warm water.
  • Wet your brush and begin to scrub from top to bottom.
  • Let dry and sand in the direction of the grain.

Plastic Resin

Plastic resin is a mixture of synthetic materials that are formed into a solid material. The nature of plastic resins makes them very tough and durable. Because of this, they can be applied to numerous products with varying uses, such as car bumpers, garden furniture, and toys. And in most cases, plastic resin products are cheap to buy and last a long time if cared for properly.

Suppose you have heard any kind of environmental sustainability talk. In that case, you will be aware that plastics last for a long time. Unfortunately, plastic resin is one of these materials that aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. However, some resins such as PET, HDPE, and PP are recyclable. So if you are concerned about environmental sustainability issues, then resin isn’t for you.

On the plus side, plastic resins don’t require much maintenance and can be left to their own devices. The strength of hard plastic means the weather and elements won’t do much to hinder them. Yet, they do require some essential maintenance and cleaning, depending on the type. Some furniture is made by injection molding, and more expensive resin is used to resemble rattan.

To clean plastic resin:

  • Mix vinegar with warm water.
  • Use a rag to apply the mixture.
  • Rub all over.

Don’t use bleach or chlorine as it can dissolve the plastic.

Stainless Steel

A world-changing material, stainless steel replaced valuable materials as a safe and cheap way to manufacture cutlery in 1912. The critical feature of stainless steel is that it is highly resistant to rust. This makes it an ideal material for outdoor items such as garden furniture. While a chair made for stainless steel would be somewhat uncomfortable, it is used for legs and other pieces.

Although stainless steel is highly resistant to rust, it may become a little rusted or not cared for properly. However, if you need to throw away your stainless steel furniture, you might be pleased to know that it is highly recyclable. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing your old furniture won’t go to landfill if you dispose of it correctly via your local sorting yard.

The nature of stainless steel makes it one of the lowest maintenance materials available. In most cases, all required is essential protection, such as a tarp or plastic sheets. However, if left in the rain for an extended period, rusting will occur eventually. To maintain stainless steel furniture, you should wipe it down regularly with warm soapy water. But debris can accumulate.

To bring your stainless steel back to life:

  • First, clean the affected area with a general cleaning detergent.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol to a microfiber cloth and clean the steel
  • Apply mineral oil to get the shine back.

Tempered Glass

Glass is almost as old as time and dates back to 3,500 BC. Glass is one of the most abundant materials on earth since we use it for windows, artwork, decoration, and, of course, glasses. Yet, the process of making glass is complex, and the finished product is somewhat fragile. This means the glass isn’t really suited as a furniture material since it is easily broken.

That’s where the tempered glass comes in. Tempered glass is toughened glass at around four times the strength of regular glass. While making toughened glass is almost the same, the process has a longer annealing time. This is the time it takes to cool. As a result, tempered glass is left too cool for a much more extended period, making the finished product more robust.

Given its increased strength, tempered glass is suitable for stunning furniture such as decorated glass tables for your garden. In addition, thick pieces can be used or even layered, further increasing the overall strength. But like all glass, tempered glass is prone to dirt accumulation, standing, and clouding. However, it is easy to care for with household and available predictions.

To clean tempered glass:

  • Mix detergent with warm water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray all over the glass and leave for 5 minutes. 
  • Clean vigorously with a soft sponge.

Note: You can prevent streaks by washing on a cloudy day.

Synthetic Fabrics

No matter what style of furniture you have, it should be accompanied by accessories. Accessories like blankets, cushions, and pillows are standard. Yet if you were to use your delicate cushions and blankets from your indoor décor on our outdoor furniture, they certainly would not last very long. Therefore, you should spend a little extra money and get cushions and blankets explicitly made to endure the elements.

Fortunately, this is just as easy as finding indoor furniture. Almost every garden and DIY store sells outdoor cushions and such. As do many home retailers. Modern manufacturing means dozens of unique materials can withstand the elements and won’t be damaged if left outside. These include acrylic, polyester, and olefin. Acrylic is robust and weather-resistant as well as mold and mildew resistant. Polyester is difficult to tear and dries very quickly. Olefin won’t fade, is heat resistant, and is difficult to stain – making it perfect for summer.

All of these materials are very tough and, as such, don’t require a delicate touch when cleaning. And that’s if cleaning is required at all. In most cases, it is enough to simply wipe down following a spillage or rainstorm since they are designed to withstand anything you can throw at them. However, everything needs cleaning at some point, and synthetic materials are no different. 

To clean your synthetics:

  • Wash on a low heat, gentle spin cycle if possible.
  • Wipe down regularly with general-purpose household clothes.
  • Allow drying naturally.

Note: Synthetic fibers can be ruined by a tumble dryer.

Laminate Flooring

Not actually furniture, but a material that is widely used for outdoor furniture areas. For example, laminate flooring is one of the most desirable flooring solutions for patios and decking. Laminate is used instead of natural wood for sustainability reasons, and it’s around a quarter of the price. In addition, laminate doesn’t require as much maintenance as natural wood, but care is needed nonetheless.

As mentioned, laminate is more sustainable than natural wood. This is because it is made from recycled materials. Common materials used in laminate include sawdust, processed foods and chips, and plastic polymers. These high-density fibers (HDF) are then compressed into layers. 4 layers are used in laminate flooring. The layers are then compressed and laminated to form a single product that resembles a wooden slat. 

Each piece is treated, colored, and then applied with vinyl according to the wood it is supposed to appear like. Laminate can resemble almost any wood, such as pine, oak, and mahogany. Although the finished product only looks like wood, it is highly resistant to wear and tear, easily cleaned, and inexpensive. This makes laminate a great alternative to natural wood.

To maintain your laminate wood:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of dish soap or baby shampoo into 1 gallon of water.
  • Use a flat head mop to apply to the laminate flooring.
  • Gently mop the floor all over.

Be careful not to saturate the floor as laminate doesn’t do well when soaked.

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