Care and Maintenance of Your Outdoor Wood Patio Furniture

by Trey Collier - Date: 2007-02-13 - Word Count: 819 Share This!

Some of the most beautiful Outdoor Patio and Deck Furniture is made from wood. Wood is a natural product, but when exposed to moisture and changes in temperature and humidity, wood will respond in a variety of ways. Proper maintenance of your Wood Patio Furniture will ensure longevity through years of exposure to the elements.

Caring For Different Types of Wood

Teak is perhaps the most desirable and, arguably, the most expensive outdoor wood furniture available. Teak is a beautiful, honey-colored, dense, tropical hardwood that is resistant to insect infestation and contains natural oils which make it resistant to rot and decay. Unfortunately, teak trees require at least 60 years to reach harvestable size, and, because teak furniture is in such high demand, teak supply is not as readily available as supplies of other woods like cedar, oak, or pine. With supplies not able to meet demand, the price of teak has increased dramatically. The advantage of teak, though, is that, with proper maintenance, it can last for more than 50 years, which makes the initial investment worth it for many homeowners.

While cleaning teak is not necessary, it is not a bad idea to clean outdoor teak furniture each year to remove any buildup of pollen, sap, or mildew. Follow each cleaning with a coat of teak oil (optional) if you wish to keep the wood its original honey color.

Other tropical hardwoods, like Eucalyptus, have become increasingly popular as the price of teak has grown prohibitive for many homeowners. Eucalyptus wood, like teak, is beautiful, dense, durable, and resistant to rot and insect infestation. The rapid growth of eucalyptus trees makes them more readily available and more easily affordable. Like outdoor teak furniture, outdoor eucalyptus furniture can be treated with teak oil following an annual cleaning to help preserve the wood's natural color (if desired).

Other popular choices for outdoor wooden furniture include cedar, redwood, oak, and pine. These woods, though (especially pine), must be treated with a preservative to prevent decay, which can occur quickly depending on weather conditions. Protecting this wood furniture with a water-resistant stain, protective oil, or polyurethane is also recommended. Your local hardware store will have many options from which to choose, and a store associate should be able to assist you in selecting the most appropriate protectant for the weather conditions in your area. Furniture should be cleaned annually, and the protectant you choose will need to be reapplied regularly (check manufacturer's instructions for details).

Cleaning Your Wood Furniture

Outdoor wood furniture should be cleaned once a year. Mix one tablespoon of bleach, five tablespoons of a gentle dishwashing liquid, and a gallon of water, and gently scrub the mixture on the surface of your wood furniture with a soft bristle brush. Wash the solution from the furniture, and allow it to dry completely in the sun. Repainting or restaining wood furniture may be necessary at this time to cover and protect any worn or damaged areas.

Protecting Your Furniture From Water, Temperature, and Chemical Damage

No matter what type of wood is used for your outdoor furniture, all woods are susceptible to rot and decay if left in moist, wet, or shady areas for extended periods of time. Wood that becomes saturated with rain water is more likely to warp and rot, so using waterproof protective covers when your furniture is not in use is highly recommended to keep your wooden patio furniture in good shape. The bases of furniture legs are probably the most vulnerable when it comes to water damage. If wood furniture is kept in the grass, at the poolside, or on a surface that collects even a small level of rain water, the legs can become easily saturated and damaged. Covering the bottoms of each furniture leg with rubberized material or small sections of cedar fencing material will help protect your furniture from rotting from the bottom up.

In addition, temperature extremes can take a toll on wood furniture. During the cold winter months, keeping your wooden patio furniture protected in a shed or garage is highly recommended.

Finally, exposure to chemicals including solvents and chlorine, and exposure to common items such as alcoholic beverages, plants and flower nectar, and hot items (off of a grill, for example) can stain or damage wood and many wood finishes. It is also important to prevent plastic objects, like plastic table cloths, toys, placemats, and appliance covers, from lying on wood furniture for a long period of time because plastic can discolor wood. Plastic can also stick to and damage a wood finish.

Lifespan of Outdoor Wood Furniture

The lifespan for any wooden patio furniture depends greatly on the type of wood used and local weather conditions. Properly maintaining your outdoor wood furniture can significantly improve its lifespan and maximize your investment. Outdoor wood furniture makes a comfortable, natural addition to any backyard, deck, patio, or garden, and, with care, it will continue to make a beautiful impression for many years.

Related Tags: maintenance, care, furniture, caring, wood, oak, outdoor, patio, cedar, teak, wooden, pine, eucalyptus

Trey Collier is owner of, North America's finest Outdoor Casual Living Store, designed and created to help fashion the outdoor living space, deck, porch, or patio you've always dreamed of having. Since 2001, has offered internet customers quality outdoor living products, including Wood Patio and Deck Furniture, at very reasonable prices.

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