During this age of social distancing, we are spending more time at home, and some of the projects that you always intended to take care of may have finally made it to the top of your list. How about your outdoor wood furniture? When did you last clean yours? In order to extend the lifespan of your outdoor wood furniture, it is recommended that you clean it occasionally. You may be wondering what are the best ways to clean and protect your furniture. The following tips will help you do just that.
Outdoor Wood Furniture Cleaning Tips
Dusting Your Furniture First Is An Absolute Must
Take a brush or cloth and carefully over the outdoor wood furniture. Get rid of any leaves or cobwebs and clean off all of the loose debris, dust, and dirt.
It is a good time while you are dusting to inspect the outdoor wood furniture carefully for any parts that need to be replaced or tightened and any loose screws.
Get It Clean
Next, spray down your outdoor wood furniture with a hose using a gentle spray. Then use a rag or cloth that has been moistened with mild soap and water. (It is fine to use a dish soap such as Dawn. Combine 1/4 cup of soap with each gallon of water).
A soft scrub brush can be used for deeper cleaning. Always scrub or wipe in the same direction as the wood grain.
The best times for cleaning your outdoor furniture are at the start and end of summer. You will be using your furniture the most during this time.
Thoroughly Dry Your Furniture
Use a cloth or rag to dry the wood and then place the furniture out in the sun so that it can completely dry.
How To Clean The Cushions
If there are cases on your outdoor cases, they can be removed, and then follow the instructions to wash them.
For other types of outdoor cushions:
First, vacuum them to remove the dust and dirt. You can also use a cloth instead to dust them.
Make a gentle cleansing solution by mixing together warm water and dishwashing detergent (1 tbsp of detergent is sufficient). Dip a sponge in the cleaning solution and then scrub the cushions thoroughly.
Use a hose to rinse off the cushions.
Use a towel to dry the cushions and then allow them to air dry.
Tips For How To Protect Your Outdoor Wood Furniture
Keep It Clean
If you notice globs of sunscreen, grime, or bird droppings on your outdoor wood furniture, be sure to clean it off right away. That will help to prevent permanent staining or damage.
If you are not planning to use your outdoor furniture for a long time, you might want to invest in some furniture covers, even when the wood is strong enough to be able to withstand the elements. Additional protection is provided by furniture covers to your outdoor furniture against drying sun and wet rain to help expand your furniture’s life.
Bring It Indoors
Bringing your outdoor wood furniture inside is also an effective way to protect it. If you are not planning on using it for a long time, bring it in indoors if you have enough space.
During the winter, consider storing your outdoor furniture since you will not be using it.
Avoid Using A Power Washer
It is not recommended to power wash your outdoor wood furniture. Even when a light setting is used, the water pressure may still be too strong and damage your furniture. Using a setting that is too strong may cause the wood’s seams to open, which later on can lead to cracks. Using a garden hose is safer.
How To Clean A Garden Bench
Hardwoods are exactly what they sound like – they are hard woods that come from a slow-growing tree. After the tree has been felled and cut, you can use the wood to make a nice garden bench. A hard wood bench is long-lasting and robust, and ideal to use for many different purposes in your garden.
Teak is among the best hardwoods that you can choose. These slow-growing trees are found in the rainforests of Indonesia. The wood is impervious to changes in humidity, heat, and moisture levels. With just a minimum amount of attention and care, over time, teak ages beautifully, and is another good reason why so many individuals choose to use teak for their hardwood garden benches.
When it is kept clean there is a lower chance that it will become eroded and damage from the grime and detritus sitting on the wood surface. If you keep your garden bench covered it will help to minimize the dirt. However, when you need to treat or varnish your bench, the surface grime will need to be cleaned from it.
Here is how to do that:
You will need the following:
A bucket full of hot soapy water
A scrub brush
A couple of hours of sunshine in your garden
You will remove the surface vegetation in this step. This means using your scrub brush and hot water to thoroughly scrub all over the furniture. Start on the garden bench’s top side. Then turn over the bench and remove ay detritus on the underside. Then turn the bench back over. You may need some help to do this.
After scrubbing and removing the surface debris, use clean water to rinse off the bench. Your hose pipe can be used, but we do not recommend that you use a pressure washer. Even when you choose the soft setting, the water pressure may be too much. If the pressure washer is kept in one place for too long, the wood can be significantly damaged.
After the surface vegetation has been removed, let your garden bench dry out in the sun for a couple of hours.
We are often asked if bleach should be used on stubborn stains. Some customers do this and their garden benches turn out fine. However, we have also heard some horror stories where bleach was used on a stubborn stain on a garden bench and it resulted in significant discoloration.
We recommend that you be very careful when using anything besides diluted detergent since anything that has a bleaching agent can lift color from a material, including hardwoods.
How To Varnish A Garden Bench
To protect a garden bench against the elements can just be as simple as placing a protective cover on top of it. Taking additional steps can help as well. Garden benches can be painted, but most of our customers purchase a hardwood bench from use to enjoy the wood’s look and feel and don’t want to hide it.
You can varnish your bench to bring out the wood’s unique grain features. Here is how to do it
Step 1. Strip The Old Varnish Away
Over time, varnish, paint, or stain can become lifeless and dull. It can be very tempting to just add a new coat on top of its old finish. However, the problem with that is your new varnish will not stick very well. It can end up bubbling and peeling, which can cause grime and moisture to get underneath. That means that very shortly it will lift and have a very messy appearance.
You will need to have a high-quality varnish stripper or paint in order to remove an old finish. You can also use a heat gun if you own one and know how to use it properly.
Always make sure that the area you are working in is well-ventilated
Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove flaking and old varnish or paint
If you are using a varnish stripper or chemical paint, make sure it is suitable to use on hardwoods
Follow the product’s directions or use a medium-sized paintbrush to brush the chemical stripper on in small sections. Allow the varnish to soak for around 20 minutes and use a rounded putty knife or plastic scraper to remove it using even, long strokes over the surface.
After you have done this to the entire bench. allow it to dry for several days before you move onto step 2.
Our helpful tips
A chemical stripper should be used that says ‘wash away with water,’ or ‘no clean up’ since that means no residue will be left. Paint strippers that are not advertised this way will have to be sanded away after they have dried.
It is fast and effective to use a heat gun. Aim heat in small areas at a time. Just as soon as the varnish or paint starts to bubble, take the heat off and use a metal paint scraper to scrape it away. Be careful to not damage or jab the wood underneath. For stubborn varnish or paint surfaces, first, use a combination and then a chemical paint stripper to remove the material.
Step 2. Sand The Bench
After your bench is thoroughly rinsed and dried, the next step is to lightly sand it. That helps the new varnish coat to adhere better to the surface.
Start out using either low or medium-grit sandpaper. Next, clean the dust off. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your recently sanded garden bench to effectively remove the dust. Then use medium-grit sandpaper (the packaging on the sandpaper will have a description on it) to get the final surface prepared to varnish it.
Our helpful tips
Keep in mind that you are not sanding your bench in order to alter its shape. Instead, you are wanting to take a light layer off of the wood surface. Do not use harsh sandpaper.
In addition to light sanding, your wooden bench should be sanded with the grain – when you varnish your bench any swirl marks are going to stand out so make sure to take your time.
Step 3. Varnish The Bench
When wood is varnished it builds up a protective layer, which contributes to your wooden garden’s beauty as well as its longevity.
You need to select the right type of varnish in order to achieve the best protection and finish. You should always choose a varnish for exterior applications and hardwoods. Do not be tempted to purchase a cheaper varnish that is designed for interior use and assume it provides the same level of protection because it will not.
An exterior varnish will cure or set to a flexible finish. The flexibility that the varnish coat has will prevent it from cracking when the wood has seasonal movement, like when the humidity decreases or increases. A high-quality exterior varnish can last for two or three years before it beings to have a chalky appearance and needs to be refreshed.
Our top when an exterior varnish is being used
- A high-quality exterior varnish should be used, and it should be applied using a natural bristle brush.
Epoxy with an exterior varnish
For a really good job, an epoxy layer can be applied before applying your exterior varnish. The combination will mean that the protective coating and finish will last a very long time and be able to withstand all types of use and weather.
An impenetrable moisture barrier is formed by the epoxy on the wood to further prevent seasonal swelling and shrinkage. It supports the top exterior varnish layer so that the flexible coat that is formed will need to work too hard whenever the swelling and shrinking of the wood happens.
Three epoxy coats should be applied using a small foam roller. Follow the epoxy mix instructions. The setting or curing time can vary depending on how large your project is and what the ambient temperature is.
After the epoxy has dried, sand the surface lightly using fine-grit sandpaper. Finally, a high-quality exterior varnish coat should be applied. Let your garden bench dry naturally. You can then sit back and relax and be confident that you did everything you possibly could to keep your garden bench preserved and protected.
Our top tip
- If the last layer of epoxy is not sanded over, there will not be anything for the exterior varnish to adhere to. That means that it will bubble and peel, and all of the hard work that you did will go to waste.
How To Treat A Garden Bench
Epoxy, sanding, and varnishing mixes are of course not the only ways to protect hardwood garden furniture and benches. Other treatments are available as well, mainly in oil form.
Exterior teak oil is a decorative and protective finish for wood, and this includes keeping garden benches protected. Teak oil is effective on teak hardwood benches as well as other items. A protective layer can also be added by using Danish oil. Although they are not as durable as varnish, oils are used by many people since they bring then natural patterns out in the wood. However, after they are applied, the residue may make it hard for paint or varnish to stick to wood surfaces, so before using oils, be sure it is the final finish and look that you want to have.
It is very important that the right oil be used with the right application. For example, on exterior wood you need to select a water-resistant exterior oil and also provides some type of UV resistance to prevent the wood from being bleached by the sun.
Teak oil works well on garden benches. The wood is nourished by this oil and prevents it from weathering and dying out, which gives it a geat revitalized look. It also prevents the wood from splitting, which is caused by excessive dryness deep inside the wood.
It is also not hard to apply the oil. It involves less hassle and time compared to varnishing and sanding.
When teak oil is being applied:
The oil should be applied using a piece of cloth or a soft brush
After it is dry to the touch, fine-grit sandpaper should be used to lightly sand the surface
Three to four layers of oil should be applied
Be sure to wipe off any dripping or excess oil around the joints
Do not try to reduce the oil by applying just a single thick later – applying three or four light layers will soak in much better compared to one thick coat
How To Care For Hardwood
After a year, brush and wash down your furniture with warm water and soap. Rinse it off and then let it naturally dry.
Take weather from being reddish/brown when brand new to silver/gray. If you don’t want that to happen, a teak protector will need to be applied.
Teak only should only be applied to new teak furniture in order to prevent it from cracking and splitting. However, be careful that the oil does not transfer onto your clothes when you are using your furniture.
Do not use a sealant or oil on new oak since that it will cause it to turn black.
Hardwood cannot be painted since you will get even coverage because of its high oil content. It also might not completely dry.
How To Care For Softwood
Each year wash down your furniture using a wood cleaning product and then treat it with paint or stain. A wide color range of different weatherproof timber paints is available. You might need to do this once a year.
You must treat furniture that is made out of softwood. Otherwise, it might only last a few years before it beings to crack and the joints start to become loose and shrink. After the wood has cracked, water will penetrate and begin to rot.
If you stained the furniture in the past and need it to be a lighter color now, it will need to be stripped back to its natural wood state. You can then use a new stain.
Only purchase softwood furniture that is tanalized and comes with a 10 or 15-year warranty. A majority of softwood furniture from reputable suppliers will be treated and come with a guarantee.
Use an oil-based varnish or paint, like Cuprinol, to preserve your softwood.
Should A Sealant Be Use On Cedar Furniture?
Cedarwood is naturally resistant to decay and rot. It looks beautiful when it is unfinished. If a sealant is not used it will weather eventually to a silver-gray color.
When a sealant is applied it can help to preserve your cedar outdoor furniture’s colors. However, it is very important to keep in mind that you will need to re-apply sealants every couple of years.
Outdoor furniture needs to be cleaned occasionally, and if you are using a sealant you will need to reapply it every couple of years.
When you clean your outdoor wood furniture over the course of the year it will help to preserve your furniture’s life.