5 easy ways to make your garden furniture last longer

Whether you’re just getting round to washing off your dusty old patio table and chairs or you’re considering investing in a new outdoor dining set, knowing how to look after your garden furniture is essential if you want it to last.

Choosing the right materials is a great place to start, but regular maintenance and proper protection will go a long way to keep your garden set looking new for many summers to come.

From garden furniture covers to cleaning, sealing and treating, read on for our quick and easy maintenance tips, or head straight to our expert guide on buying the best outdoor seating and sun loungers.

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1. Buy durable materials

Durable garden furniture

Having a garden furniture set which looks nice is great – but it’ll all be for nothing if it’s already rusting or falling apart after a couple of uses. Buying durable patio pieces which can withstand a bit of bad weather is key to ensure you won’t need to waste money regularly Replacing it.

Metal furniture, including aluminum, stainless steel and iron, will be extremely durable, although heavy. Hardwoods such as teak and synthetic rattan garden furniture will be lighter, yet still very durable if properly maintained.

Plastic furniture pieces are usually cheap, light and can be long-lasting if constructed well, but have more of a tendency to snap under weight than other materials, can warp in extreme heat and aren’t eco-friendly.

We reveal all the pros and cons for different materials in our expert garden furniture buying guide.

2. Regularly clean your garden furniture

Cleaning garden furniture

As much as we try to prevent it, your garden furniture is bound to get the odd stain here and there – whether from mildew, sun cream splatter or a dripping ice lolly. But luckily, mucky garden furniture is usually only one good scrub away from looking new.

Wiping the frames with a damp cloth once a week is a good way to keep on top of cleaning, but giving it a more intensive wash two to four times a year will keep it looking pristine.

How best to clean your outdoor furniture will largely depend on what material it’s made from – we offer our top tips below. But before you start, always check the care instructions so as not to damage the materials or invalidate your warranty.

  • Wooden garden furniture. Brush it down with a stiff brush at least once a year to remove debris, allergens and mildew. Soft woods should ideally be rinsed with a wood-cleaning product yearly and treated with stain, while hard woods can be washed with warm soapy water.
  • Rattan or wicker garden furniture. Remove any fabric pillows and wash as per the manufacturer’s instructions. You can then use a pressure washer on a low setting (or your garden hose) to clean the furniture itself. Scrub off tougher grime and dirt with a sponge and some warm soapy water, before hosing it down once more and leaving to dry.
  • Plastic garden furniture is the easiest type to clean. Simply wipe down with warm soapy water and a soft sponge to avoid scratching. A very diluted bleach-water solution can be used to scrub tough mold or mildew patches.
  • Metal garden furniture should come with a sealant to protect from rusting, so will only need an occasional clean with soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge. You can make your metal furniture really shine and get rid of fingerprints by buffing it with a microfibre cloth.

Washing up liquid makes a great replacement for a lot of pricey cleaning products – head to our washing up liquid reviews to find the best dirt-busting products.

3. Seal, stain and treat your garden furniture

Sealing wooden garden furniture

Typically used on wooden and metal furniture, treatments can help to refresh tired-looking pieces and more importantly, extend their lifespan.

Soft and hardwood furniture

Staining, oiling and sealing will brighten up old wood and keep it protected from mildew and mold.

  1. Find an outdoor or well-ventilated area and set your furniture down securely.
  2. Sand your furniture down to the bare wood.
  3. While wearing latex gloves, use a microfibre pad or brush to apply your chosen stain evenly across the wood, being careful to keep dust and debris away from the area.
  4. Leave to dry for a couple of hours in a warm area, then apply a clear protective coating to seal. Oil or water-based polyethylene is a good choice.

For wooden furniture which features an intricate design, you may want to call for a professional as this can be harder to sand down.

metal furniture

Most metal furniture should come with anti-rust sealant as standard, but if it doesn’t, applying a protective coating before rust becomes an issue is a good idea. Preventing rust before it starts is far easier than repairing it once it’s spread.

Unsealed iron or any iron-containing metal furniture is particularly prone to problems so don’t wait around if you plan to leave these out over the winter months. You should also repair any worn down or flaking areas on your metal furniture, too.

If you don’t fancy sealing your furniture yourself, opt for aluminum or galvanized steel instead. It won’t rust but it can still corrode over time, so it’s a good idea to cover or store them safely away in harsh weather.

It’s not just your furniture that needs regular maintenance. Keep your grill in good working order by following our top tips on how to take care of your barbecue.

4. Bring your garden furniture inside

Garden chairs in a shed

British weather is notoriously unpredictable, and leaving your garden furniture uncovered in the wind, rain or blazing sun can really cause damage in the long run.

Wooden furniture is most vulnerable to moisture, while lightweight furniture such as plastic or aluminum can blow away in strong winds and storms. If you want your garden furniture to stand the test of time, storing it under a shelter in adverse weather is the best solution (and bonus points if it’s under a furniture cover too!)

A shed, garage or utility room is ideal, but if you’re more limited on space, under an awning would work. Opting for compact folding garden furniture will also help to avoid taking up too much valuable storage space.

Are you in need of more storage options? See our shed buying guideor if you want something smaller, see our guide on how to buy the best outdoor storage.

5. Invest in a garden furniture cover

If storing your furniture inside isn’t an option, a cover is the next best thing. A quality cover should help protect your furniture from the long-term effects of wet weather, animals and UV damage.

Whether you opt for a one size tent-like structure or invest in a made-to-measure custom covering to fit an awkwardly shaped piece of furniture, there are key things to look out for:

  • Waterproofing – while it’s good to have a water-resistant cover, totally waterproof coverings can trap moisture inside and lead to mold and mildew build-up on your furniture, especially with fabric covers. Look for one with vents to help breathability.
  • Size and design – measure the dimensions of your garden furniture beforehand to make sure the cover you’re buying is the correct size.
  • Materials – the outer material should be water-resistant, durable and lightweight; treated or laminated polyester is a good choice. Covers with a soft cloth lining will also prevent your furniture being scratched.
  • Security – drawstrings or ties are great additions to ensure your cover fits snugly and won’t blow away in strong winds or storms.

Complete your full patio furniture set with help from our guide on how to buy the best sun loungers and outdoor seating.

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