8 tips to spruce up your garden furniture for spring
Chances are you can’t wait to get a head start on your garden, with longer, brighter evenings and warmer weather on the cards.
One thing that could prove tricky is outdoor furniture. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a garden shed to store your things, cobwebs, mold, dust, dirt and leaves may have soiled upholstery – and everything in between. in the open air will have taken a hit.
Sound familiar? Here’s how to give your furniture a facelift…
First, do a general cleaning. “Just like you would inside your home when tackling a little spring cleaning, clean up the mess,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, resident style advisor at Wayfair (wayfair.co.uk).
“A quick patio brushing or sweeping of the deck to remove fallen leaves and general dust and debris will help revitalize the area. Pressure washers come into their own this time of year, for fast cleaning with impressive results.
Whether it’s watering the walls or mowing the lawn, take the opportunity to think about how your furniture will be framed.
“Before starting any restoration work, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough cleaning – it can make all the difference to furniture that has accumulated grime over the winter,” says Holly Sambells, interior design guru. Christow Home and Garden (christowhome.co.uk). “Use warm soapy water with sponges and brushes to deep clean your furniture.”
Ben Thornborough, co-founder of Thorndown Paints (thorndown.co.uk), agrees: “If your furniture is old, make sure the surface is thoroughly cleaned. Wash off any dirt with soapy water or use a pressure washer. Washing with a mild solution of bleach and water will also help kill algae.
For rattan furniture, you can always try dipping an old toothbrush in soapy water to remove dirt and let it dry in the sun.
3. Prepare tables and chairs
“Preparation is the key to a perfect finish, so before you consider painting your tired old furniture, sand down any rough edges or loose old coatings that will show or affect the finish,” suggests Thornborough.
“Wooden furniture may need to be preserved with a wood preservative. If your furniture is made with treated softwood, remove any surface residue from the pressure treatment process.
4. Take your time painting
“Don’t rush to start your paint job. Make sure your wood is dry, otherwise the coatings will not bond properly to the wood, which will affect the performance and longevity of the paint,” advises Thornborough.
“To ensure a perfect finish, apply a bonding agent or stain blocking primer to prevent possible tannin stains on the paint coating. However, if you love all things natural, fret not and let nature take its course.
“If there is rust on the fasteners, treat the metal surfaces or use paint with an instant rust inhibitor, to prevent rust from forming on ungalvanized metal or metal screws and nails (other than the ‘stainless steel).”
And before you start painting, Thornborough adds: “Check the weather to make sure it doesn’t rain for at least 24 hours. This will allow enough time for the paint to dry and set/stick properly.
5. Get rid of rust stains
Harsh weather conditions can adversely affect heavy parts. “The wind, rain and humidity of colder seasons will likely have caused the metal to corrode, creating a layer of rust on the surface,” notes Jon Sharpe, creative director at LuxDeco (luxdeco.com).
“Fortunately, there are simple home remedies that can remove rust and restore your furniture to its former glory. Simply use white vinegar and pour it evenly over the affected areas. Let it sit for a while, then wipe – it once the product has had its effect.
For a pop of color, Annie Sloan (anniesloan.com) Chalk Paint is a go-to for all exterior paint jobs, including metal dining chairs and tables. For added durability, sand the area and treat with a rust inhibitor before painting. Annie Sloan English Yellow (£23.95, 1 litre) is particularly cheerful with overflowing jugs of daffodils.
Even though it has been weatherproofed, soft outdoor furniture will still need a little TLC. As Sharpe points out, some will simply have smelled musty after being packed for so long.
“Wash on a low heat and use a gentle setting to ensure they retain their size and shape, and don’t tumble dry,” he says. “Take advantage of the upcoming sunny weather to let the blankets dry outside before putting them back on.”
“With the recent storms, many umbrellas may have been damaged,” says Sambells. Rather than buying a new one, she suggests buying a new canopy to put over an existing frame – a more durable option and a win-win solution if there’s nothing wrong with the frame.
Likewise, a sofa set, bench, or hanging chair can be transformed with a throw pillow update. “A cost-effective way to make an impact, rather than replacing the whole thing,” says McCowan Hill. “A different color or pattern will give existing furniture a whole new look.
“Make the seats a focal point with a pop of color or choose bright contemporary whites to reflect the sun. A few small, elegant decorative touches, like outdoor lanterns and a change of flower pots, can make a big difference in the overall finished look.
For more inspiration, check out websites such as Celina Digby (celinadigby.co.uk) – they have a great range of water resistant garden cushions (from £29.99) and matching tablecloths ( from £49.99).
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