Whether you live in Bangor, Brewer, or Ellsworth, Maine when it comes to your metal patio furniture the extreme Maine weather can wreak havoc on it. Storing it outside will shorten the life of your furniture exposing it to extreme cold and being ice caked for months on end will compromise the integrity of the metal. Self storage is a great option to protect your metal patio furniture when the garage, basement or leaky shed out back are no longer viable places for storage. To properly store your metal patio furniture will require a little prep work depending on the type of metal used for your furniture. Proper cleaning and repair are your best weapons for maintaining the new look of your furniture.
General Metal Cleaning Tips:
First let’s address mold and mildew on your metal furniture. On most metal surfaces mold and mildew are easily removed with a good washing using a solution of warm soapy water. Have you ever noticed that mold and mildew can stain your furniture? To remove this stain is easier than you might expect. Mix a solution of water and white vinegar in a 50/50 mixture. Simply spray the solution onto the affected surfaces. Let this sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing with clear water. Towel dry the surface and allow it to thoroughly air dry before storage. Moisture is needed for mold and mildew to thrive. White vinegar is the best cleaning solution to kill mold and mildew spores because the PH level is typically 2.5 which is extremely acidic. While mold and mildew need a slightly acidic environment to grow, white vinegar’s extremely acidic formula is perfect for killing mold and mildew.
Most metal surfaces are easily cleaned, first wash away any large debris with a hose. Use soapy water to thoroughly clean all metal surfaces. Rinse the soap from the metal and dry with a soft cloth, microfiber cloths are great for drying metal furniture. Avoid using anything abrasive as this will scratch and damage your metal furniture. Some metals require special care see those below:
Aluminum Coated Furniture Cleaning Tips:
On aluminum coated furniture use non abrasive liquid cleaners. Remove scuffs by gently rubbing the area with a soft cloth covered with the cleaner and warm water. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth. If the powder coating is glossy you can apply a light coating of baby oil or a car wax to maintain the finish.
Stainless Steel Furniture Cleaning Tips:
Stainless steel requires a different approach especially with grease or smudges. These are easily cleaned with white vinegar on a damp cloth, once gone rinse and dry with a clean soft cloth to restore the stainless steel shine. Rust and corrosion are combated with a paste of baking powder and water. Scrub the mixture onto the affected area, in the direction of the grain of the finish, using a soft bristled brush, rinse with clean water and wipe off excess water and allow it to air dry. Water marks from hard water are easily removed with a cleaning followed with a good wipe down to remove excess water and allow it to air dry. Hard water hazing aka the white film can be cleaned with a mixture of 1:4 of distilled white vinegar and water. On galvanized steel use a mixture of 50/50 of distilled white vinegar and water to remove the white haze.
Wrought Iron Furniture Cleaning Tips:
Wrought iron can be the trickiest of all to clean due to the often ornate designs. Vacuum with a small brush attachment to remove dust and dirt. Use soapy water and a soft bristled brush to clean, a toothbrush can be used for small crevices in the intricate designs. Rinse well and wipe dry with a soft cloth. If there is damage to the finish follow these instructions to repair. Scrap to remove large flakes of finish, use a wire brush to remove small flakes and rust areas. Sandpaper any remaining rust off and smooth the rough spots in the finish for a sleek finished product. Clean thoroughly using the method above, allow it to dry. Use a rust proof primer to cover the exposed iron, followed with a few light coats of enamel paint. Once dry polish with a paste car wax and buff to a shine. Storage tip: Make sure your metal furniture and appliances are thoroughly clean and dry before storage to prevent mold, mildew or rust.
After properly cleaning your metal patio furniture it’s now time to store it. Typically your cushions should be cleaned and thoroughly dried before storing (see here for cushion cleaning). Stack your metal chairs if possible, protect any surfaces that can be scratched with plastic furniture wrap or an old blanket. Make sure where you store your furniture is dry as moisture will cause rust. Look into self storage as a great alternative to on site storage in your basement or garage. Cleaning before storage has a dual purpose, it prevents rust, mold and mildew during storage. Then next Spring you will be able to enjoy your metal patio furniture as soon as the first nice day arrives!
How to Care for Wooden Patio Furniture
Wooden patio furniture leads a rough life in the extreme Maine climate. Some woods high in oil are designed to withstand the worst Maine can throw at them and others are better suited for self storage to protect them. Depending on the wood type and what the desired goal is for your wooden patio furniture will dictate the type of care you choose for your furniture. Some wood like teak, meranti, baloui and ipe to mention a few are high in natural oil. These woods are designed to withstand years and years outside with minimal care. They will fade to a warm grey or reddish brown color over time. If that is your goal no extra care other than an occasional cleaning is needed, other wood types will require more care to maintain their natural glow. So how do you care for wooden patio furniture?
General Wooden Furniture Cleaning Tips:
Normal cleaning is easy for all wooden furniture, clean off surface debris with a soft nylon bristle brush then use a mixture of mild household cleaner on a sponge or cloth rag. Rinse, if required by the household cleaner, then remove any moisture with a lint free or microfiber cloth and allow to completely dry before storage. If you plan to maintain the natural brown color of your wooden furniture, treat your wood with furniture oil before storage or you can skip the oil and allow your furniture to gain the faded wood look.
If you oil your wooden furniture use an outdoor oil formulated with both resin and oil designed for outdoor furniture. A good brand will have heat stabilizers, UV and mildew inhibitors great for extra protection for your wooden patio furniture. Outdoor oil can easily be used over exterior oil paints, clear coats or stains for added protection. When you notice signs of wear on the finish, clean the surface and apply the outdoor oil without any need for sanding. The added oil will bring that luster of new wood back to a much loved outdoor wooden piece. No cleaning tips would be complete without touching on the cushions used to create your patio space. Keep the cushions bright with proper cleaning and storage tips found here.
High Oil Wooden Furniture Cleaning Tips:
Teak, meranti, baloui, shorea, jarrah, eucalyptus, ironwood, Brazilian walnut, pro lope and ipe woods are all oil rich wood that require a different care aside from regular cleaning. Due to their natural oil content they are strong and weather resistant. Eucalyptus and jarrah wood have the least amount of natural oils and require the use of a good outdoor oil and 2 to 3 layers of sealant to prevent cracking and should be dried off after a rainfall to help maintain their natural glow. To keep them looking great, eucalyptus and jarrah need to be kept in the shade to protect them from UV ray breakdown of the wood.
Teak, meranti, baloui, and shorea will naturally weather to a warm silvery gray over time. If you would like to keep the natural warm golden honey color of teak it should be sealed after 2 to 3 weeks of being weathered outside. Clean the teak, allow it to thoroughly dry and then apply a thin layer of sealant, allow it to dry for an hour and then apply a second coat of sealant, wait 5 hours before using the furniture. Only oil teak if it is to be used inside, oiling teak used outside will more likely mildew over time.
Meranti, baloui and shorea have very high oil concentration in the wood making it rot and insect resistant. To keep the warm reddish-brown color, oil the wood every few months with teak or linseed oil. These woods can also be sealed to keep their glow.
Ironwood, Brazilian walnut, pro lope and ipe woods are three times harder than teak. Kept outside these woods will go from dark brown to pewter gray. Light cleaning will suffice for this extremely durable wood. However, if you do need to deep clean these woods you can use a stiff brush and mild soap and water to clean, then rinse and allow to air dry. Allow furniture to age 30 to 60 months before oiling to keep the dark color. You can also sand the surface to remove any stains and no need to use any sealant to keep this wood looking new.
Mold and Mildew on Wooden Furniture:
Wooden furniture requires a different approach to mold and mildew removal. If after a normal cleaning the mold or mildew is still evident then utilize the following solution. Use 1 gallon of warm to hot water, add 1 cup of ammonia, ½ cup of white vinegar, and a ¼ cup of baking soda. Sponge onto the mold and mildew scrub with a soft bristled brush until the stain is gone, rinse and allow to air dry. For stubborn stains a light sanding may be required with a fine grained sandpaper. After sanding oil the furniture or reseal to protect the wood.
Storing wooden patio furniture for the winter will depend on the type of wood used for your furniture. Woods high in oil with the exception of Eucalyptus and Jarrah can be stored outside unprotected. All other woods should be cleaned and dried thoroughly before being stored. Self storage offers climate control to protect your wooden furniture from extreme temperatures that can cause damage. Wooden Patio Furniture that has been stored improperly will show signs of crazing which is fine lines and cracks in the finish. This can crack and peel off leaving your patio furniture exposed to the ravages of the elements. Keep your investment protected with proper care and storage!