Garden furniture must not only withstand the test of time and wear and tear in order to look beautiful and provide you with a comfortable and aesthetically appealing place to sit for many years to come but it also must be properly protected from a number of outdoor elements. These pose a serious threat to its beauty, strength and durability and if you do not want to find yourself replacing your garden furniture after a couple of seasons, it is highly important to know which elements pose a threat to your furniture and how to protect it from them.
The level of threat particular outdoor elements pose to your garden furniture depends mainly on the material from which it is made. The very same element which poses a serious threat to one material may not have any effect on the other. We will take a look at the elements which threaten most types of materials that are used for making outdoor furniture, the level of damage they can cause and how to keep you garden furniture safe from them.
Rain and high moisture levels. Most materials which are used for making both indoor and outdoor furniture cannot withstand exposure to rain and high levels of moisture for long. They need protection either in the form of water sealants, protective varnishes and paints or/and physical protection such as water resistant furniture covers which prevent the rain from soaking the furniture. However, furniture covers offer no protection from high moisture levels which is why materials which are vulnerable to moisture should not be stored in damp basements and garages during the winter. Rain and high moisture levels pose the greatest threat to most types of wooden garden furniture with the exception of woods which are naturally resistant to both rain and moisture such as teak for instance, rattan garden furniture with the exception of that made from specially designed synthetic rattan and metal furniture with the exception of stainless steel. Material that are not affected by exposure to rain and moisture besides the mentioned teak, synthetic rattan and stainless steel include plastic, stone and waterproof textile-like fabrics.
Ultraviolet light. Direct exposure to sunlight is severely damaging for most types of garden furniture. There are a few, however, that remain unaffected by direct exposure to sunlight in the terms of quality such as stone, stainless steel, synthetic rattan, and teak and some other types of wood. These contain natural oils and rubber that prevent the sunlight and heat from drying out the wood and causing it to crack, warp, check and shrink. The ultraviolet light will cause them to change colour - teak for example eventually turns into silvery grey colour but this does not have any effect on its strength and durability. Most types of wood, however, need to be protected from the effects of sunlight exposure with protective treatments. Other materials which are theoretically resistant to ultraviolet light such as plastic for instance need to be kept physically protected from sunlight because prolonged exposure causes discolouration and affects their durability.
Dust and dirt. Unfortunately, no material is resistant to dust and dirt. Most, however, need only routine cleaning with mild soapy water to keep them looking beautiful and aesthetically appealing as well as prevent the dust and dirt from penetrating the material and leaving stains. Various treatments are available which make the cleaning routine less unpleasant by making the surface more difficult for the dust and dirt to accumulate and by preventing them from penetrating the material. They do not, however, eliminate the need of routine cleaning. In addition, some may cause damage to high quality materials that are naturally resistant to the outdoor elements and may be toxic to both people and the environment.
Insects, cats and other animals. Various creatures that live in your garden or regularly visit it may cause a substantial damage to your garden furniture. Most woods for instance are vulnerable to termites and other wood-eating insects which do not affect only their beauty but durability too. Unless your wooden garden furniture is made from teak or other type of wood that repels wood-eating insects, you are highly recommended to treat it with protective coating rather than take action only when you notice signs of infestation. Many paints, varnishes and lacquers which are used to make wooden furniture suitable for outdoor use also offer protection against insects. Cats and other animals such as birds which also pose a threat to beauty and aesthetic appeal of your furniture, however, may not be easy to keep away from your furniture. To prevent the neighbour's cat from using your garden furniture as a scratching post and the birds from leaving droppings on your furniture, it is best to cover it with a furniture cover overnight and when you are not using it.
Stains from foods and liquids. These do not affect quality and durability of your garden furniture but they seriously affect its beauty. You should clean up any spills immediately even if your furniture is supposed to be stain-proof because even stainless steel, plastic and stone are not 100% stain-proof. They are, however, considerably less prone to staining than other materials, especially those that are left outdoors untreated. When the worst does happen and it eventually does no matter how well you take care of your garden furniture, do not despair. Even the most stubborn stains can be removed with various cleaning products and stain removers (be sure to choose the one that is specially designed for the material from which your garden furniture is made) or by simply sanding the stained area off if your furniture is made from wood. If you own plastic outdoor furniture, leave on the sun for a few hours and the stain will fade or perhaps even disappear completely.