It sounds like we are stating the obvious, but surely outdoor furniture should be designed and built to stay outdoors, right?
Unfortunately the answer is – it depends. Not all outdoor furniture is created equally and as a result some outdoor furniture will last much better than other brands.
As Australians we love our al fresco areas, our outdoor entertaining areas, and there’s seriously nothing better than eating outdoors in the summer, so read on and find out how to choose great outdoor furniture that’s going to last, outdoors!
Outdoor Furniture is available in so many different material choices, that it really pays to get educated and understand the pros and cons of the different styles of outdoor settings available.
We spent time with James Fogarty of Kimberly James (formerly Adelaide based Classic Timber), and got an insight on choosing the right outdoor furniture & some tips on caring for it.
Choosing Outdoor Weather Resistant Furniture
As James explained there are three main weather resistant materials that are used in outdoor lounges and dining room settings:
- Redgum or other hardwood timbers
- Synthetic Wicker
Redgum Timber Outdoor Furniture
Hardwood timbers like Redgum have natural properties that make them ideal for use in outdoor furniture. Redgum timber is renowned for its strength and durability. The grain of the wood is relatively even, making it ideal for use in furniture making.
Quality timber outdoor furniture, made from Red Gum, Teak or Keruing will stand up to the elements, and is suitable for being fully outdoors and exposed to the elements.
Tips for caring for Timber Furniture Outdoors
Redgum Timber Outdoor Furniture, and actually most timber outdoor furniture needs annual maintenance to keep it looking its best.
James recommends occasional cleaning, ‘this will help to maintain its natural appearance and prevent build-up of dirt and grime.’ He recommends:
Using your garden hose on low pressure, and simply hosing down the furniture.
Then if necessary, you can use warm soapy water and a soft brush to clean off any stubborn marks. Make sure you are out of direct sunlight when you are using warm soapy water. For stubborn stains like red wine or oil simply use a medium to light grade sandpaper.
If you have an al fresco area, and your outdoor setting is under cover, you’ll probably only need to give the timber a light sand and oil with an appropriate Timber Care product just once a year.
If it is out fully exposed to the elements, then you really will need to oil it a couple of times a year to keep the colour and texture of the timber. Without that, the timber will turn grey in colour over time.
Its important to note that all timber furniture goes through a settling in period. So after you’ve been using it for a month or so check the fasteners on the chairs and tighten if they’ve become loose.
And one final tip – before you buy check with your sales person that the screws and other fittings are made of stainless steel, this means they won’t corrode as readily, and you’ll get more longevity from your set.
Should I buy Outdoor Furniture Covers?
If you’ve done your research and bought quality outdoor timber furniture, you may want to consider protecting it with outdoor furniture covers. This is a completely personal choice – if you’ve been maintaining and caring for your timber outdoor setting, you really don’t need to cover it.
The advantages of using outdoor furniture covers are that it keeps your chairs and table relatively dust free. But some people prefer the look of their setting in the yard rather than the covers.
If you are looking at buying covers, James recommends making sure you use water proof covers that are still breathable. ‘Well-designed covers will allow circulation and avoid mildew growing on your furniture’.
Aluminium Outdoor Furniture Options
Aluminium is an awesome material for outdoor furniture, first and foremost because its so low maintenance, but there are lots of other advantages too:
- As a manufacturing material, it’s really easy to work with, and that means you can find a wide range of interesting outdoor furniture designs in aluminium – check out aluminium settings that combine timber and aluminium, glass and aluminium and wicker and aluminium.
- It’s lightweight – so that makes it easy to move around the balcony or yard, to make sure you catch the sun (or the shade!).
- It’s super easy to clean and keep looking good - cleaning and maintenance is as simple as wiping down with a damp cloth or hosing off and leaving to dry.
- Plus, Aluminium can be powdercoated in a really wide range of colours – so chances are you can find a setting that suits your outdoor space.
- It’s durable and strong too, so an all aluminium setting will last well, even outside.
So are there any downsides to buying aluminium outdoor furniture? As James mentioned not really, but because it is a lightweight material, if your outdoor furniture is in a windy spot you may need to thing about how you store it for those windy days.
Synthetic Wicker Outdoor Options
Synthetic Wicker is made of a product called Fibre Core. The material has been designed to be much more resistant to UV and moisture than natural wicker or cane furniture. Its been formulated to be resistant to mildew, mould, sea water and chlorine.
Even though it is weather resistant, synthetic wicker hasn’t really been designed to be completely exposed to the elements, so it is better used in an under cover outdoor area.
Being a synthetic product, it is available in a range of on-trend colours too.
Generally, synthetic wicker lounges and dining settings are supplied with cushions for comfort. These are made from foam and fabrics that are water resistant, and treated with anti-fungal and anti-mould agents.
Any tips for caring for Outdoor Wicker Furniture?
Synthetic Wicker furniture is easy to care for – it can be gently hosed down, or wiped off with a damp cloth to remove dust, or if needed it can be washed with warm soapy water and rinsed off.
Any Tips for caring for your outdoor cushions?
We do recommend taking care of your outdoor cushions. There are different fabric qualities and you really will get what you pay for. They will fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight, and some are more water resistant than others. For this reason, James does recommend storing them away when they are not in use –something like an outdoor blanket box is ideal for this.
What about Sunbrella Outdoor Fabric?
Sunbrella is the Rolls Royce of outdoor fabrics. If you are looking for an outdoor couch with cushions, that is robust enough to be outside and fully exposed to the elements, then you should only look at couches made with the Sunbrella range of fabrics.
Divona has launched a new range this year that combines the low maintenance of an aluminium frame with the robustness & high performance of Sunbrella fabrics together with the highest quality outdoor foam. This range of outdoor couches is easy to clean and maintain and looks awesome.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you are ready to start building your wish list of products, then be sure to check out Kimberley James's range of outdoor furniture.
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