How to Weatherproof Garden Furniture

Garden furniture is (naturally) designed for outdoor use so quality garden furniture will maintain its condition for a considerable amount of time. However, as you might expect, natural materials will be affected over time by the weathering process.

Some materials are better than others at withstanding rust, rot and mould, but you should check to see if there’s anything else you can do to prolong your furniture's life span.

Does Your Furniture Need Weatherproofing?

First let’s look at whether you will need to weatherproof your garden furniture.

Material choice is crucial when buying garden furniture. Some materials are more durable than others – for example quality artificial rattan is naturally waterproof, as is teak due to it being oil based. Metal however is more susceptible to rust, while natural rattan (despite commanding a premium price) is not naturally waterproof.

That said, just because you opt for a better material doesn't mean you don't have to take care of it. We recommend taking precautions with all outdoor equipment to ensure you receive maximum longevity and enjoyment from your furniture.


How to Weatherproof Wooden Garden Furniture

The treatment of wooden garden furniture depends on whether it’s made from hardwoods like teak, or softwoods like pine. Hardwoods are oilier and denser so will fare better outdoors and require less frequent treatment. Softwoods are more prone to rotting when exposed to the elements.

Both varnish and oil will add protective layers to your wooden garden furniture. If you have a hardwood product and don’t wish to colour the wood, you can protect it by following the instructions below.

How to weatherproof wooden garden furniture made from hardwoods:

  1. Begin by cleaning the furniture. Fill a bowl with warm water and washing up liquid and use a gentle scrubbing brush to clean the grains.
  2. Rinse after cleaning and allow to completely dry before moving onto step 3.
  3. Once dry, apply a coat of Danish or teak oil to the wood using a paintbrush. Teak oil is especially good for nourishing the wood and keeping it looking fresh. If the furniture has been oiled before, gently sand before applying the new coat.
  4. If your bench has steel screws apply some petroleum jelly to stop them rusting (but only once dry). Brass screws won’t rust so can be left alone.

How to weatherproof wooden garden furniture made from softwoods:

  1. As with hard wood products, start by cleaning the furniture with warm water, detergent and a brush.
  2. Once the furniture is dry, apply a wood stain to maintain the grain but replenish the colour.
  3. Additionally, you should apply a further coat of varnish for extra protection once dry.
While treatment is important for maximising the lifespan of wooden garden furniture, covering the furniture when not in use (and bringing it inside during winter) is strongly advised.

Wooden Garden Bench

How to Weatherproof Plastic Garden Furniture

While plastic furniture is often less aesthetically pleasing than other materials, it is practical. Plastic doesn’t rot or rust so it won’t need weatherproofing, but it is prone to staining. A cover will make cleaning easier once you’re ready to use again. You should also bear in mind that plastic furniture is quite light, so should be tethered down or taken inside during strong winds.

How to Weatherproof Metal Garden Furniture

Aluminium garden furniture is waterproof and as it doesn’t rust, it will withstand the weathering process quite well.

Aluminium is arguably the best type of metal furniture you can buy; however we still recommend covering your furniture when not in use to ensure its longevity. We also recommend cleaning it regularly to maintain its condition.

For the most part, rust forms when metal furniture becomes wet, so the more you keep your tables and chairs covered the more protected they will be. In winter it’s advisable to take further precautions if possible and store your garden furniture indoors.

While covering garden furniture should be a priority, you can also spray metal furniture with a specialist coating spray. This can stop rust from forming. Alternatively you can use car wax to achieve the same effect.

You should also look to keep your metal furniture away from soil. Rich in moisture, soil can dampen the legs of your table and chairs, causing them to rust. Rubber caps for furniture legs are recommended as they help keep your furniture away from any water on the ground.

Rust tends to develop quicker on metal furniture where the paint has been chipped. It can be tempting to paint over rust but it's a short term, ineffective solution, as the rust won't go away just because you cover it. Once chips and rust start to appear, clean your furniture, sand down the corrosion, prime with a specialist treatment, and then paint.

Devon Metal 6

How to Protect Rattan Garden Furniture

Weatherproofing rattan garden furniture depends on whether you have opted for natural rattan or synthetic rattan. As a rule, natural rattan doesn’t fare well outdoors.

It can’t be exposed to sunlight for an extended amount of time, nor does it cope well in rain. Synthetic rattan furniture however is waterproof and withstands the elements quite well. You don’t have to do much at all to weatherproof this type of garden furniture.

If you did want to opt for a natural rattan garden set, there are few things you can do to weatherproof it.

  • Clean the furniture to remove any debris. Use a small brush to get in all areas of the rattan.
  • Carefully and lightly use a fine grain sander to smooth down the furniture. This will give you a better area to paint.
  • Use a clear yacht varnish to coat the furniture. Three coats should help protect it.
  • Make sure the furniture is completely dry before use and repeat the process every two years.

Natural rattan particularly doesn’t fare well in extreme conditions so in winter, covers or not, we'd recommend housing your furniture indoors.

Synthetic rattan can be left outdoors all year round, however we would always suggest using a cover to protect any garden furniture during adverse weather conditions. A cover also prevents cushions from flying around the garden when the wind picks up, too.

Looking for new garden furniture? Start your shop here.