Attractive outdoor furniture can make your outdoor summer activities a lot more fun. While most friends and family will find any suitable place to sit down, a gathering is much nicer when the deck or patio furniture is in good shape. Fortunately, this is a home maintenance project you can handle on your own with ease.
Maintaining your outdoor furniture takes more dedication than the furnishings inside your home. Chairs and tables take more abuse, and the elements may bear down on them year round (or you can store your furniture indoors through the winter). But in just an afternoon, you can get your outdoor furniture looking great, just in time for the first barbecue (read Holiday Tips: Make Your Memorial Day Memorable).
Cleaning Outdoor Furniture Made From Resin, Rattan or Wicker
Resin patio furniture is everywhere, from discount stores to the big-box giants. Maybe you have an old set of stackable chairs in every color, or perhaps you’ve got a table and chairs that look a little grungy. Either way, you can make them presentable for the warm months. Although rattan and wicker are a lot different from plastic, the care is very similar.
Make cleaning your outdoor furniture part of your spring, home maintenance routine. And remember it's easy when the only thing that’s wrong is a little dirt. You just need a bucket with sudsy water, a sponge, a soft brush, and hose, and you’re all set. Be cautious when scrubbing with a brush, though, as this can scratch resin and remove paint from rattan and wicker.
If your furniture has seen better days, and the colors are faded, bubbling or flaking, you’ll need more than soap and water. Resin needs special paint primer and spray paint made for plastics. With rattan and wicker, you can use general purpose an outdoor-safe primer and spray paint.
After cleaning and letting the furniture dry, spray on a thin, even coat of paint primer. Once that’s dry, apply your paint the same way. It’s best to hold the can about 12 inches away from the surface, and spray in an even, back-and-forth, sweeping motion. Heavy coats might seem like they’d take less time, but they run, and can also peel off.
Maintaining Your Cast Iron Tables and Chairs
Cast iron furnishings can last for generations with regular home maintenance. Cleaning requires a soft-bristle brush to reach all of the details, and a bucket of soapy water. Be sure to let the iron dry completely before proceeding, as water is the enemy of iron.
If your cast iron is painted, you may need to freshen it up occasionally. Some paint is baked on so it can withstand the elements for years, the same as a wrought iron fence. But if the paint is wearing off, or if you see rust spots, you need to take action to protect the metal.
Address flaking paint and rusty spots with a wire brush, but not one that’s overly coarse. You’ll want one that has bristles that flex at least a little. Scrub the old paint and rust you want to remove, then clean those areas and dry them.
Painting iron requires primer and paint made for metals. Spray on primer in a thin coat, and then apply a couple of coats of paint using the sweeping motion, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. If your iron is only sealed and not painted, you can apply a clear protective coat instead of primer and paint.
Making Wood Patio Furniture Look Good Again
Wood deck and patio furniture takes a lot of abuse from the elements. (Read: Deck or Patio: What's Right for Your Backyard?) If it’s not sealed, the wood will turn a soft gray over time, which is the same patina see on beach cottage siding. This isn’t a bad thing, and many home owners like that look. But you can also keep wood looking newer, if that’s your preference.
Pressure washing isn’t the best, as it can cause permanent scars. A better idea is scrubbing with a soft brush and cleaner made for wood patio furniture. Be cautious about using bleach because it can cause wood to rot, and turn the surface gray.
If you’re letting the wood weather naturally, cleaning is all you need to do. But if you want to keep it looking newer, or if your furniture is painted, you’ll need to do more.
An oil-based wood sealer, such as urethane with a UV protectant, gives the wood some sheen while helping preserve its natural color. This brushes on using a paintbrush, or you can also find urethane in a spray can. Avoid water-based urethane for outdoor furniture, as water droplets leave white spots that sometimes fade.
If your furniture is painted, you'll need primer and paint made for wood. You can use paint from a can and brush it on, or use a spray primer and paint. Before painting, check for chips and flakes in the old finish. You’ll need to scrape those off using a 5-in-1 tool before you paint.
Getting your outdoor furniture ready for summer is one of those jobs that few people really enjoy, but everyone loves once it's done. Take a warm, clear day, and you might be finished before it's time to fire up the grill. But be careful about applying primers and paint in direct sunlight. While a warm day is good, you'll need a shady spot. Otherwise, the coatings can bubble up as they dry.
If your furniture has cushions, the care is usually fairly straightforward. Either touch them up using a damp sponge, or hose them off and let them dry in in the sun.
Are you ready to tackle your outdoor furniture? Have some tips to share, or some questions about how to do the job right? We'd love to hear from you!