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Outdoor six seats corner couch and coffee table.
Give your outdoor setting a refresh ahead of the cooler season.

Winter fix

After a summer of working hard in harsh sunlight, your outdoor furniture is due for a little pampering. Some attention now can help your furnishings recover from rough treatment or prepare them winter. Here are our D.I.Y. TLC tips for different types of outdoor furniture.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment.

Timber

Stuart McCausland of Cabot’s says outdoor timber furniture can be kept looking good with an annual clean and a coat of oil. “Timber adapts to its environment: it dries out and contracts in dry conditions and it absorbs moisture and swells in wet conditions,” he explains. “This swelling and contracting can lead to splitting. Moisture can also lead to rot, which thrives in damp and unventilated environments, even if your furniture is covered. So it’s a good idea to give it a few coats of oil or stain in the lead-up to winter to prevent more moisture from getting in.”

This is an easy weekend project. First, remove any surface marks, oil and grease using a mild oil-based soap and warm water, or a specialised cleaner like Cabot’s Deck Clean. Allow the timber to dry naturally. Next, apply a quality outdoor furniture oil as per the instructions. Allow to dry before covering or storing.

A person wearing protective gloves uses a paint brush to oil an outdoor timber bench seat.

Synthetic wicker

While synthetic wicker furniture is much hardier than the natural version, it still needs some TLC. It’s easy to clean with a mild dishwashing liquid and water solution, a stiff brush and a soft cloth. Leave it to soak for one to two minutes, then rinse off with a gentle spray from the garden hose. Avoid bleach and scouring agents as these can cause cracks in the plastic weave of the furniture.

Marquee ‘Bayfield’ wicker bar table and bar stools on a deck.

Cane, wicker and rattan

“Natural wicker furniture is not intended for sustained outdoor use,” warns Richard Beazley of Wicker-Works (wickerworks.com.au). That said, it can be used outside if properly cared for. “Clean using a mild soap solution and a soft scrubbing brush, and rinse well with clean water,” says Richard. “It’s important to allow the wicker to dry naturally away from any heat.” If there is mould present, spray on diluted bleach and leave for a few minutes before rinsing.

Once dry, sand with a fine/medium sanding sponge. When smooth and dust free, apply a thin coat of equal parts raw linseed oil and mineral turps and leave for 15 minutes. Wipe off any excess oil. Allow to dry overnight and apply one or two more coats. Buff well. “The sheen will fade over time, but can be revived by lightly wiping over again with oil,” explains Richard.

Wicker outdoor lounge setting including a lounge, two arm chairs and a coffee table.

Metal

Metal furniture should be cleaned with a cloth or sponge and a mild soap and water solution, then wiped dry. Sunscreen and bird poo should be cleaned off immediately as they can permanently stain and corrode. Avoid using abrasive scrubbers or cleaners that might scratch the finish, expose the metal and encourage rust. For ingrained dirt, use a non-abrasive multipurpose cleaner. For tougher stains and mildew, use a solution of water and white vinegar.

While stainless steel does not rust, fingerprints, water marks and ‘tea staining’ – where the steel attracts brown marks – can affect its sleek, clean lines. Use white vinegar on a damp soft cloth to rub off fingerprints and water marks, and a baking powder and water paste on a soft-bristled brush to remove tea staining. Rinse clean with fresh water.

Aluminium also does not rust, but can oxidise into a chalky white stain. Remove with a metal polishing paste or an equal parts solution of white vinegar and water, then wash with warm soap and water.

Wrought iron is more challenging in the rust department. Remove chipped paint and rust spots with a wire brush or paint scraper, and finish with fine sandpaper for a smooth surface. Vacuum using a small brush attachment, then wash with warm soap and water. An old toothbrush makes cleaning tight curves and crevices a cinch. Repaint or reseal the metal immediately to prevent further rust forming; wipe down with mineral spirits such as turps, prime with a rust-resistant primer and finish with a few light coats of rust-resistant enamel paint.

Two Mimosa outdoor metal modular lounges with charcoal cushions, and a matching metal coffee table on a deck.

Outdoor fabric

Outdoor furniture fabrics are resilient and easy to clean, says Ron Wannet of Pacific Trends International (suppliers of Mimosa and Marquee outdoor furniture). For post-summer therapy, “brush off loose dirt and particles, then wash with warm water and mild detergent using a sponge or soft brush,” he says. “For stains, don’t rub with a circular motion, but wipe across the fabric from seam to seam to prevent water rings. Allow your cleaning solution to soak the fabric for one to two minutes, then rinse with clean water and air-dry.”

For best results, clean regularly to reduce opportunities for mildew and mould to grow. Do not remove the foam from the fabric when cleaning. Do not machine wash or dry, and avoid bleach.

Does your outdoor timber piece need a little more TLC?

Try reviving your timber furniture with paint with this simple guide.

 

Photo Credit: Sam McAdam-Cooper, Getty Images and James Moffatt.

 

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.