Make your outdoor metal furniture last

Because metal is tough stuff, it gets used to make a lot of outdoor furniture. It holds up great with a little care.

Make your outdoor metal furniture last

Protect aluminum from pollutants

Aluminum does not rust, and that has made it the most popular metal for outdoor furniture. However, aluminum is susceptible to air pollutants that stick to the surface in the form of a fine grit that will not easily wipe away. Cleaning strategy depends on the condition of the aluminum:

  • If the aluminum is only slightly discoloured, mix up some soap and water and add a mild household acid — vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tartar. Wash with a sponge, and rinse with clear water. Clean your aluminum this way, as needed, during the season and before you put it away for the season. If you keep on top of this chore, your aluminum will need no other care. If you like, however, you can apply a coat of auto wax or a silicon spray. This will provide some protection against corrosion and pitting, so you won't have to wash your aluminum furniture as often.
  • If the aluminum is very dirty, the mild soap and acid mixture might not do the job. In this case, you can try any of the commercial cleaners sold to clean aluminum surfaces on boats and cars.
  • If the aluminum has become pitted, you'll need to polish it with a soap-filled steel-wool pot cleaner. If you do this, be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry the furniture. Any steel particles left behind will quickly cause the aluminum to corrode.

Iron needs attention

  • Iron furniture can easily last a century. Unpainted iron furniture left outdoors will develop a patina of harmless, fine rust.
  • If you like this look, just clean your iron furniture several times each season with warm, soapy water.
  • Then, dry it thoroughly.
  • Clean painted iron furniture the same way, and then, for added protection, use paste wax on smooth surfaces and apply mineral oil or baby oil to textured surfaces.
  • Oil springs and moving parts at the beginning of each season.
  • If your iron furniture is painted, touch up scratches or chips immediately, or rust will work its way under the paint and spread the damage.
  • First, lightly scuff up the area with fine steel wool, then apply several thin coats of paint. If you are using spray paint, use short, light strokes.

Don't scratch outdoor steel

  • Good-quality modern outdoor steel furniture is powder-coated, in the same process used for aluminum.
  • As with aluminum, powder-coated finishes should never been cleaned with anything abrasive. If you scratch the surface, the steel beneath may begin to rust.
  • Clean with a mild detergent (such as liquid dishwashing soap) and water.

Clean shore furniture more often

  • Salt spray, human perspiration and suntan oils can all attack the powder coating on metal furniture.
  • If your powder-coated furniture is subjected to these things, clean it at least twice a month with liquid dishwashing soap and water.
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