It's the time of year to give outdoor furniture some TLC!
If you haven't given your outdoor furniture some TLC recently, it's probably a bit faded and worn around the edges, so grab your supplies and give outdoor furniture some tender loving care.
Lots of people favour wooden garden furniture over synthetic materials, wrought iron or cane and wicker, but many also tend to forget that wooden outdoor furniture does require some tender loving care every so often to keep it looking great and extend the lifespan.
Where garden furniture has started to fade or has areas of black rot or mould, it's time to grab some tools and supplies at your local Builders store and spend a weekend giving the furniture a new life. And I constantly post on this topic as new products are introduced onto the market that make caring for and restoring wooden furniture easier for everyone.
When buying wooden outdoor furniture
Most wooden garden furniture in the stores is made from exotic timbers, or timber that is not grown locally, but rather imported from tropical locales. This means these timbers aren't indigenous to South Africa and therefore not equipped to handle a cold winter or searing hot summer, with torrential rain thrown in now and again.
When buying wooden outdoor furniture you should ascertain the type of wood used in the manufacture, the properties of this wood (is it naturally oily), and what regular treatment is required to keep it looking good.
Regular maintenance is essential
So many people overlook the fact that, as a natural material, wooden furniture is influenced by external conditions and our constantly changing climate. During the dry months of the year, the timber starts to shrink and contract as the moisture inside the wood dries out. But the rainy season brings with it lots of elements that can cause even more damage.
Protection from the elements
The sun puts out UV-rays that make the wood lose its natural colour and it begins to dull and lighten. The rainy season, on the other hand, can cause lots of damage to outdoor wood furniture that hasn't been protected. So a little TLC now and again will have your wooden furniture looking beautiful and protect it from UV-rays, moisture and rot.
Prepare the furniture
• Clean off all dirt and grime
Before you get stuck into applying any protective finish to your wooden furniture, remove any dirt and grime with water, mild dishwashing detergent and a sponge. Where there are signs of mould or rot (black areas), these can be treated with a suitable product that you can buy at Builders or hardware store. After washing, wipe with a clean cloth to rinse and let the furniture dry overnight.
• Sanding to smooth or remove defects
If, after cleaning, you notice that the wood feels a bit rough or there are scratches that need to be removed, you might want to do a little light sanding. It is preferable to use a random orbit sander and 180- or 240-grit sanding pads before applying a treatment. If you do any hand sanding or use a multi-sander, only work in the direction of the grain.
Wipe clean once you're done to remove all traces of dust, as this will spoil the protective finish.
Protection for wood
For many years I have ignored one of the easiest and most affordable ways to protect outdoor wood... creosote! I'm busy making a fence at the moment and it's such a large expanse that I was worried the exterior sealer was going to cost me a fortune. Lets be honest, this product is not cheap!
Creosote has done a good job for many, many years and I completely forgot about it. Now I've saved myself a bundle and managed to cover the entire fence at minimal cost (will be sharing the fence project with you shortly).
Creosote is a dark brown oily treatment that is a combination of distilled tar and plant derivatives. It gives a luxurious dark brown colour to timber while offering excellent protection from the elements. Creosote is not a human-friendly product, so do be sure to wear gloves and a face mask when working with this product.
Yes the stuff stinks to high heaven, but it does a brilliant job of protecting outdoor structures constructed of wood or timber, and the smell does go away after a couple of days. Use creosote to protect a Wendy or shed, treat a wooden fence, protect exterior structural timbers on your house or lapa, and more. At a cost below R200 - you can protect all your outdoor timber. Alternatively, you can apply an exterior sealer to all your outdoor timber and to wooden furniture, or a suitable oil-based product.
And lastly, while your outdoor furniture is now protected from the elements, don't forget that you need to re-apply a treatment on a regular basis, or as an when the wood starts to look dried out or dull.