How to make your metal furniture last

Metal is durable enough for outdoor use, but can be crafted into pieces that are elegant enough for indoors, too. Indoor metal has an easier life but still needs a bit of attention.

How to make your metal furniture last

Clean your indoor metal

  • Indoor metal furniture is usually made of chrome, wrought iron, or steel — either painted or stainless.
  • It's easy to keep clean. Just wipe it regularly with a damp cloth, or use a vacuum with the brush attachment.
  • If the metal gets dirty, you can wash it. Squirt a little liquid dishwashing soap into warm water.
  • Dip in a sponge or cloth, wring it out, and use it to scrub off the dirt. Wipe dry with a cloth or paper towel to avoid water spots.
  • Most metal furniture can also be cleaned with metal-cleaner polish — check the product label to make sure it is intended for the type of metal you are cleaning.
  • Also check the label on the furniture — some metal finishes should not be cleaned with commercial cleaners.
  • If there's no label, try cleaning a small, inconspicuous area first.
  • A coat of regular paste furniture wax also can offer extra protection to most indoor metal furniture, but again, check the label or try a small area first because some metal finishes shouldn't be waxed.

Be gentle with coloured aluminum

  • Two different processes are used to colour aluminum: If the surface is shiny and the colour seems to be in, rather than on, the aluminum, the piece has been colour-anodized — a process in which the surface is hardened and dyed.
  • If it looks textured or spray-painted, it has been powder-coated — a process in which colourful polyester powders are applied and then baked on.
  • Powder-coating is more common for outdoor furniture.
  • Both processes make aluminum more durable and resistant to pollution.
  • Both should be cleaned only with a mild detergent (such as liquid dishwashing soap) and water.

Solid metal outlasts hollow

  • If you want a piece of iron furniture that will last, look for pieces made with solid metal rather than hollow tubing.
  • The best pieces have parts that are welded together, not bolted.
  • If you are buying aluminum furniture with vinyl straps or webbing, make sure the vinyl has been processed with mildew inhibitors and ultraviolet stabilizers.
  • Armrests or any other wood pieces should be thoroughly coated on all sides with a smooth coat of finish.
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