5 smart tips for choosing and maintaining patio furniture

Once you've created your outdoor patio or deck, you'll want to shop for outdoor furniture. Here are five tips for choosing the right patio furniture.

5 smart tips for choosing and maintaining patio furniture

1. An introduction to patio furniture

Inexpensive plastic chairs and tables are a good choice for short-term use, but if you want to have patio furniture that lasts, you may want to invest in more durable pieces.

  • Cast-iron or wrought-iron furniture will last for generations with minimal maintenance.
  • Wicker requires more looking after, but it makes up for this by giving a softer, more natural look to your porch, deck or patio.

2. Easy ways to maintain iron furniture

  • Rub new or newly painted wrought or cast-iron furniture with a mixture of one part lanolin to four parts petroleum jelly and let the coating air-dry.
  • Inspect the furniture annually for flaking paint and rust spots; clean any spots with steel wool and naval jelly, available at hardware stores. Rinse with clear water.
  • After the furniture is dry, retouch it with a rust-retardant primer, followed by two coats of exterior enamel.

3. Cleaning all-weather fabrics

Cushions should be covered in all-weather fabric and stuffed with water-shedding polyester fibrefill.

  • Acrylic fabric looks and feels very much like cotton, but it dries quickly and resists fading and mildew. To clean, scrub the surface with soapy water, rinse and air-dry.
  • Coated-fibre fabric has a more open weave than acrylic. Sponge its surface with soap and water.

4. Quick wicker maintenance

Like wood, natural wicker can be damaged by exposure to too much sun and moisture.

  • To clean, use a soft toothbrush or stiff paintbrush to loosen dirt deep in the weave, then dust with a whisk broom or vacuum it with a brush attachment.
  • Wipe the wicker every month or so with a cloth that has been dipped in clear water and wrung out well, and clean spills with mild soap and water.
  • Never use abrasive cleaners or solvents, because they can harm the finish or damage the wicker itself.
  • If the weave of the wicker is becoming loose, give it a thorough soaking with the garden hose and let dry in the sun. As it dries, the wicker will shrink and tighten back into place.

5. Look for all-weather wicker

If you like the look of wicker but are concerned about its exposure to the elements, consider low-maintenance, all-weather wicker.

  • This wicker is made either from natural wicker impregnated with a protective plastic sealant or from woven plastic that mimics the real thing.
  • Unlike natural wicker, it can be used on open decks and patios and can be left outside all year.

Furniture can really add a lot to your outdoor space, but you don't want something that requires a lot of cleaning and upkeep. Remember these tips and find the low-maintenance furniture that fits your outdoor space perfectly.

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