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!