Weather-proof your garden furniture


Thursday 14 February 2013 16:28 GMT

England isn’t the most forgiving country when it comes to the weather. While many of us invest in garden furniture for those summer months, weather-proofing it is essential all year long.

Buy waterproof furniture

The easiest way to weather-proof your furniture is to buy pieces which are naturally waterproof and don’t weather easily. One of the best materials is poly or resin rattan, made from resin or plastic instead of the authentic rattan cane. This is a best kept secret of hotels as they need their furniture to withstand regular use in outdoor settings! The majority of this material is manufactured with aluminium frames and a resin mesh and is woven to mimic the appearance of the rattan palm which although attractive, is not naturally waterproof.

Hardwoods like teak are largely oil-based. This makes them a good second option as they’re also waterproof. However, they develop cracks along the grain following sun and rain exposure. The weathering is a matter of personal taste as rather than tarnishing the furniture, they can be said to adopt an appealing silver tone.

Treat the material

Applying three coats of marine varnish every two years to unfinished rattan and other natural wicker will waterproof them and preserve their natural colour. Only a continuous downpour will affect their performance. Slightly less effective is tung oil which doesn’t safeguard against heavy rain but will keep out moisture and maintain rigid bonds between the fibres.

Treating outdoor furniture every three months with waterproofing sprays can also help to prolong their life. The most popular sprays are hardwood sprays which come in a range of colours. A water-resistant film builds on top of the wood’s surface to create a barrier between the material and moisture. Check the ingredients label for silicone as this will work wonders on all types of metal too.

Waterproof lacquer works well on other natural furniture but it’s not ideal for rattan or wicker. It’s easy to trap moisture underneath the coating which will slowly damage the fibres from the inside over time.

Clean and cover

While treating the material protects against rainwater, cleaning your furniture will remove other air-based debris. Artificial resin and wicker can be hosed down every few months with cold or warm water, while hardwoods should be sponged down with soap and warm water once a year. Metal can be cleaned as often as you like with soap and warm water to prevent rust from forming.

Of course, the ultimate fail-safe option is to cover your bench, chair or dining table with a PVC backed polyester cover. The best of these will have water taped seams on their joints. These are breathable as well as waterproof and hence they will prevent any mould growth on your furniture, particularly with hardwood. A cheaper alternative to polyester is polyethylene, averaging between £0-£15 (half the price) but keep in mind that you will be saving money while increasing your risk of mould.

All of these treatments are simple weekend DIY projects, but if you’d prefer not to get your hands dirty you can hire a local tradesman to do the job.

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