Garden furniture

Wood, metal, plastic – looking after garden furniture properly


Tables and chairs always look their best when they're brand new. You should regularly maintain your garden furniture to ensure that this remains the case. The attention you give to your furniture will be rewarded with smooth surfaces and long durability, whether it is made from wood, metal or plastic.

Durability comes from good care and attention

Chairs and tables placed on balconies and roof terraces don't have it easy. Bright sunlight, pelting rain and strong wind, extreme heat and icy cold affect them terribly. This results in colours fading, surfaces being damaged or even corrosion, making them look old really quickly. You should take good care of your furniture to prevent this from happening. How you do this depends on what material your furniture is made from.

Metal garden furniture – stainless steel

The secret behind the robustness of stainless steel includes a 'passive' coating on its surface. The advantage of this is that the protection mechanism regenerates again and again after minor damage under normal use. However this resistance also has its limits. For example, iron particles, chlorine water or mechanical influences affect stainless steel terribly because then it can no longer regenerate. But such harsh elements are rarely experienced on a balcony.

You shouldn't normally have to intensively treat stainless steel garden furniture. Polishing it with stainless steel cleaner to prevent rust once or twice a year should be sufficient. Otherwise, surface dirt can easily be wiped or rubbed away without leaving any residue.

There is a downside to stainless steel when the weather is fair. It can get very hot in the sun which can be very unpleasant on bare skin. This trait is also common with other metals such as aluminium and iron. Using seat cushions makes sitting down considerably more comfortable.

Looking after aluminium and iron furniture

Aluminium is just as robust as stainless steel. It doesn't rust either. But it can take on a grey oxide patina. If you want to prevent this, treat it with paint care sprays and during the cold season and bring the furniture into a dry winter location, like the garage.

Coated iron is also a popular metal for garden furniture. Provided the varnish is intact, this works as an anti-corrosion sealant and there is not much danger of rust. You can remove superficial dirt by using warm water. There is only a danger of rust if there are scratches in the metal, for example. To prevent this, it helps to paint with touch-up paint.

Plastic garden furniture – wiping and high-pressure cleaning

A lot of garden furniture is made from this material. The advantages are obvious. It is lightweight and resistant to wind and weather.
Plastic garden furniture is really easy to maintain, as the material is indestructible from a structural point of view. Provided plastic garden furniture is of high quality, it can withstand temperatures below freezing without cracking.

However its surface is quite delicate and tends to go discoloured when exposed to forces of nature. You can use strong cleaning agents, wire wool or coarse cleaning sponges to combat this, but success comes at a price because these methods scratch the top layer of plastic, in which dirt really collects after cleaning. So we can't recommend abrasives unreservedly. This also applies to products containing solvents, which severely corrode surfaces.

The jet of a high-pressure cleaner is a better option for cleaning really dirty areas. However, this depends on the quality of the plastic. If it is low quality, it can split or crack. This doesn't happen if you use washing powder or toothpaste. In addition to specialist cleaners, both washing powder and toothpaste are really good for cleaning plastic garden furniture. You just need to rub them into the dirty areas and rinse with clean water.
Tip: use a microfibre cloth to regularly wipe your furniture; this should save you the trouble of having to carry out the above measures.

Incidentally, you can use car polish to restore tarnished areas to their former glory. This seals the surface to repel water and dirt for months.

Garden furniture

Wooden garden furniture – oils and varnishes

The natural substance is particular well-suited to garden furniture. Dark, reddish or light wood is pleasing to the eye. And also to the skin. It feels nice to touch.

But over time the surface fades, discolours and goes rough. You can do something about it. You can use specialist chemical wood brighteners to tackle faded wood. If you are after a more technical solution, you can use a high-pressure cleaner. But only if you use a special attachment to protect the surface. Standard nozzles produce too powerful a jet and hit the wood so powerfully that it splinters. So this method is possible in principle, but should only be used sparingly. The best option for combating the grey film is to sand, either gently by hand or carefully using a belt grinder or a disc sander.

Last but not least, hard woods such as weather-resistant teak as well as the less weather-resistant eucalyptus wood, acacia wood, yellow balau wood or robinia wood enjoy being cared for with wood oil. Treat softer varieties such as pine and spruce with varnish on an annual basis.
There are pigments in varnish which strengthen durability in the face of UV-light as well as restore the original colour. This is provided the grey film isn't already too deep. In this case, it helps to sand down before brushing on the varnish.

Although a coating of paint withstands environmental influences which takes their toll over a longer period of time, just the smallest of scratches lets harmful moisture into the wood. This could then cause rot. Use a new layer of paint to repair damage before it gets to that stage.

Garden furniture – general care instructions

Whether it is made from wood, metal, plastics or other materials, balcony and garden furniture has to withstand a great deal. And usually they're able to do just that. How durable your furniture is greatly depends on quality. The better the material, the more robust it is.

But you can make life for your garden furniture a lot easier by looking after it regularly. Usually it's enough just to wipe it with a damp cloth every few days to remove any superficial dirt. This means that dirt won't be able to collect. But don't forget to let the furniture dry, particularly if it's made from iron.

You will be able to enjoy using your outdoor furniture for longer if you cover it up to protect it from the weather. It is important for air to still be able to circulate underneath and for any moisture to evaporate. You will be doing your tables and chairs a huge favour if you store them over winter in a dry, frost-free place. Although in principle the best materials and mechanisms come off unscathed, the weather has a very detrimental effect on surfaces. They become discoloured or take on a patina. In turn, this means that at the start of the season, you will have to painstakingly polish in the spring.