Chances are your garden furniture emerges from the winter period looking a little dingy and sorry for itself. Together with a garden pond and a water feature, your garden furniture can be the most admired aspect of your garden.
If it is going to take pride of place amongst your bedding plants it will need some care and attention. This is the most cost effective way to ensure you have gorgeous furniture every year and done right, it could be a decade before you have to replace it.
Check over for any problems and repair/replace as needed
Have a quick check of the joints of the furniture to ensure that there are no loose or broken areas. These will need to be repaired before any further renovation starts.
Sometimes, table tops are so rotten that you can’t salvage them and you have to start again. The exciting part about this is that you do not have to replace it with another wooden table top. You can use an entirely different material and you can use one that will last longer than wood and require little in the way of maintenance.
One option is to fix on a galvanised iron sheet; you will need one that is a minimum of 1.5mm thick. This can be transformed into a stunning piece of furniture if you apply an acid etched finish. It makes galvanised iron look similar to lead which is, of course, heavier and a lot more expensive and therefore unsuitable for garden furniture.
It reflects light beautifully and so it becomes a real feature in the garden all the way through the winter as well. You can even fold the sheet around the sides of the table top to give it a gorgeous final look.
If you have a slightly bigger budget you could consider zinc which is a more expensive material but which is a popular table-top choice for outdoor furniture. You buy is as a sheet and it is available in various thicknesses. It is best to select 0.8mm or 1.5mm for a garden table top. Zinc is a very soft material and will not be strong enough to serve as a useful table top on its own. You can choose a plywood backing (this is easy to pick up from any building supply merchant). An alternative is birch ply which costs more but which is considered more suitable for outdoor use.
Invest in a good quality pair of tin snips. These can easily cut zinc up to a thickness of around 1.2mm. You also need a mallet and blocks and of course a good YouTube tutorial on how to fit zinc onto ply-board helps if it’s not something you do everyday!
If you want a more professional finish you may need to get a professional to do it for you.
Preparation is so important.
This is the most important stage. You must thoroughly clean the garden furniture to remove any moss, lichen or mould that has built up over the winter.
Start off using a power washer, which can be a lot of fun and very satisfying, not to mention a lot less back-breaking that spending hours with a brush. If you have not yet invested in a power washer, this is a good time to do so. With so many models available why not check out powerwasherinsider.com to help you narrow down your selection.
Remove stubborn rough patches
Even after a good power wash, there will be stubborn patches that still look rough. They need to be rectified or they will ruin the finish of the paint or stain that you apply to the furniture.
Once the furniture is dry, you can lightly sand the patches down with some sandpaper and a block. This protects your fingers and gives a better finish. Remove all the dust when you have finished with a dry cloth and wipe over the area with some white spirit. This will remove any residual grease.
Choose the finishing coat that you want to apply
Now you have a choice about how your finished project will look. The simplest solution for wooden furniture is to apply a special garden furniture restorer. This is a liquid stain and treatment that puts colour and sheen back into the weathered wood of garden furniture. You simply apply with a brush and then work it into the grain with a mildly abrasive scouring pad. Leave the restorer on for around 15 minutes and then wash it off with plenty of clean, warm water. Once the furniture is dry, you can sand it down to remove any loose fibres and bring out the wood’s natural sheen.
For a varnished or painted finish, you may want to apply a coat of exterior primer and allow it to dry for around eight hours. Then turn the furniture upside down, and, apply the paint or varnish to the underside. Allow this to dry before you turn it the right way up, finish off.
Be creative with finishing touches
Buy some pretty scatter cushions or seat covers in bright summer fabrics. If you are feeling creative you could even make your own!
Some tables work best with long wooden benches which make the garden look less cluttered. To make bench cushions you need canvas twill or outdoor fabric, outdoor cushion filling, a standard sewing machine, a zipper the width of your cushion and fabric scissors and sewing pins.
Measure your bench to work out the requited dimensions of the finished cushion and cut your fabric to size, allowing 2 cm all the way around for hemming. Now sew the cushion cover on three sides to create a bag that you can fill with the filling. Finally, sew up the fourth side and plump up the cushion.
Long cushions look great and cover up rough surfaces. If you can’t be bothered to make new cushions you can breathe some new life into them with fabric spray paints for external use. Bold, bright stripes are a classic summer look. Finish the effect with some garden lights and candles.