A fine wood and even finer craftsmanship are the easiest way to add character to a garden or outdoor area. However, if not chemically treated or cared for adequately, a piece of furniture or deck can quickly lose its charm to the likes of mould, algae and green growth. It doesn't take much to know how to protect and maintain outdoor wood, yet even the simplest steps will help save your favourite pieces from the damaging short term effects of moisture, such as fungus and decay.
Knowing When to Clean Furniture
Its standard practice to give sensitive wooden furniture pieces an oil treatment – regardless of how long they’ve been in your possession. What some forget though is that is also the prime time to clean the wood, removing hard-to-see fungus whilst preparing it for the new finishing coat. When cleaning wood, it’s important to do so on stone surfaces (rather than those also made of wood) to avoid staining, to use oxygen cleaner for just about anything other than redwood, and in terms of weather it’s best to take care of the cleaning on a cool or overcast day.
The Next Step: Sanding
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned your wood, it’s time to let it dry. The process will quite surely raise the grain of the wood, so next is sanding. It’s tempting to skip the process, but doing so will not only rob you of that smooth furniture finish, but also means all those dents and gouges made over time will just continue to hang around. Just grab a grit that corresponds to the smoothness you’re aiming for, and ensure that the sandpaper is of the medium aluminum oxide variety.
Adding the Oil
When trying to protect and maintain outdoor wood, the purpose of wood oil is to make the material look and feel richer, and (depending on the oil time) offer adequate coverage against certain chemicals, heat, scratches and stains. When you’re furniture is sanded, rub the wood oil onto the surface; taking extra pains to get the substance right into the crevices. Then, leave the wood to soak for several hours, before wiping off the excess oil using a rag. Bear in mind that there are plenty of options for treating wood, including wax finishes, drying and non-drying oils and thinner oils that add a varnish mixture (these are sometimes referred to as a Danish oil).
Quick final tips
- As tempting and manly as it sounds, avoid using high-pressure cleaners. These can damage the wood and lead to an uneven surface.
- Like we mentioned before, ensure your wood is completely dry before treating it with wax or oil.
- When staining and sealing your wood, you must try and make sure each piece of wood has been covered completely before moving on to another. Not doing so can result in rather garish looking overlaps, with some patches of the wood being darker than others.
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