Make Your Patio Furniture Last a Lifetime with These Tips and Tricks
From teak to wicker, outdoor furniture comes with different levels of care—and wear and tear. Here are the pros and cons of each.
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When it comes to buying outdoor furniture, don’t skip corners on cheap pieces that will need replacing every season. By investing in furniture that is well-made, sourced, and designed, you’ll end up with a comfortable outdoor space for lounging year-round with less maintenance and repair.
Before we dive into some simple care tips for your outdoor furnishings, it’s important to note that different materials come with different levels of care, and can endure varying degrees of wear and tear, over time. Some materials, like aluminum and wicker, should be covered in wet climates, while teak can stand up to tougher elements.
We know appearance is important, but maintenance also needs to be kept in mind. If you’re not looking to apply sealants on an annual basis or more, stick to furniture made of aluminum instead of, say, concrete.
To get the inside scoop on how to make your outdoor furniture last a lifetime, we chatted with Jim Singer, general manager at Terra Outdoor. The California-based company builds pieces that put quality, comfort, and innovative design at the forefront. Terra Outdoor started after founder Steven Keihner drove past a teak bench store for sale in Mill Valley. He bought it and soon made connections overseas with teak and outdoor furniture manufacturers, expanding the brand beyond benches. Over time, Terra’s outdoor furniture specialists created their own brand, Ventana, to create contemporary capsule collections that can only be found at their stores to ensure quality, comfort, and design.
Now the brand has 12 locations across California and a thorough stock of items available online for purchase. Terra also expanded beyond teak to offer aluminum, wicker, concrete, and more. Here’s how to take care of each material, and why you might choose one over the other for long-lasting outdoor furniture.
Teak Is the Traditional Easy Pleaser
Teak is a go-to material for outdoor furniture of all kinds, from tables to benches to loveseats. “People have misconceptions about teak that it’s not going to last, or they’ll have to maintain it,” Singer says. “Good quality teak, like the teak that we use, doesn’t do that.
“Teak will weather and age gracefully,” Singer adds.
While you might be able to find a wood-style bench at a discount store, it won’t be made of teak with low moisture content that’s been kiln-dried to avoid warping and discoloration. Terra’s teak has no more than a 6% to 7% moisture content so it’s not going to bend or warp or crack,” Singer says.
After a bit of exposure to the elements, Terra’s teak turns a soft gray over time. This happens naturally and is preferred by some furniture enthusiasts; Terra Outdoor even sells pieces that come pre-exposed in that shade to avoid any new coloration.
If you’re looking for a bright wood look long-term, you can treat teak with a simple sealant every few years to maintain the natural golden brown color. This sealant is “a sunscreen for your surfaces” Singer says. “A thin layer brushed on will protect it from the sun’s UV rays.”
As far as storing and taking care of your teak in changing weather conditions, you can just leave it alone through cold winters and hot summers alike. The natural coolness of teak ensures it doesn’t become too hot for comfortable seating—like an aluminum seat might. Just be sure not to cover it in wet climates: Direct exposure to rain and snow is fine, but covering it while the wood is wet can create space for mold to grow.
If you find that your teak furniture has a layer of dirt or grime that might come from being outside, Singer suggests using a teak cleaner and brightener solution that removes not only dirt but also that greyish tint to reveal its original brown hue again.
Keep It Contemporary with Concrete
Concrete dining tables have been the top-selling item for Terra Outdoor. Concrete tabletops, benches, and side tables have become increasingly popular in the last few years for their minimalism. Concrete can blend into any room.
All of Terra’s concrete is “reinforced with fiberglass fibers to strengthen the concrete and bond it to prevent any cracking or hairline fractures that may form over time,” Singer says.
Similar to teak, you will want to apply a sealant to your concrete. It’s naturally porous so liquid spills and stains are more likely to leave lasting marks. To be safe, Singer suggests applying this sealant every year or more, though he adds that “some customers like the look of stains and scratches and natural deterioration.”
Terra’s pieces come pre-sealed, so you won’t have to worry about applying sealant right away. Just be sure to mark your calendars so you don’t end up with a gnarly stain.
To clean your concrete furniture, you’ll want to wipe it down with a damp rag. If you’re looking to get out some deep stains, use a soft brush and some soapy water. It also might be time to reapply a sealant if you notice liquid is sinking into the surface instead of sitting on top of the piece. Overall, concrete is a long-lasting material for outdoor furniture, and you won’t have to worry about any weather-related wear and tear.
Looking for Light and Chic? Wicker Is the Way
Wicker is making its way back in style, and Terra is taking its own approach with collections that feature a unique all-weather wicker. This type of wicker is man-made as opposed to the natural wicker or rattan you might find in some vintage pieces. This makes for a piece that can withstand rain and other elements without deterioration.
“Wicker has become more of a fashion statement and style for people to incorporate throughout their homes,” Singer says. “Fashion, like furniture, might go in and out of style, and wicker is a good example of that.”
There are some big benefits to all-weather wicker. It won’t change color over time like teak (though we love that silvery shade), and it’s also lightweight for easy moving from outside to inside, and vice versa. As for care, it’s simple: “You can just hose it down,” Singer says.
Terra’s pieces have an aluminum frame, which keeps them “lightweight and strong,” Singer adds. By combining the strength and sturdiness of aluminum with the laid-back and relaxed vibe of wicker, you end up with outdoor furniture that will last season after season with minimal maintenance.
All-Aluminum Furnishings Are Perfect for Painting
You can also opt for all-aluminum furniture for your outdoor setup. Aluminum allows for a range of colors as painting it is easier than other materials. Terra offers hues of gray, taupe, white, and more,
“All of our paints are powder-coated and have UV inhibitors to help minimize fading from the sun,” Singer says. “Our sets can be repainted if you want a new look.”
Repainting is easy and can be done as a weekend project with some spray paint or by hiring a professional. Powder-coating, which is similar in durability and finish to car paint, is another professional option that will last for years. After painting, you’ll still be able to clean your pieces easily with soap and water, leaving you with strong pieces that can change appearance with ease.
Light, sleek, and easy to clean? Sounds like a solid idea for your next patio remodel.