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What is the Best Way to Maintain and Protect Wood Exposed to Outside Elements ?

In the case of wood and hardwood garden furniture, it is a combination of keeping it covered, cleaning it and conditioning it so that the wood remains healthy and retains its beautiful warmth.

Discover what you need to know about maintaining wooden porches and pergolas, as well as garden furniture and exposed structures in outdoor environments, allowing them to maintain their natural strength and beauty.

1. Know Your Wood

The wood has two classifications: softwood and hardwood. Obviously, soft wood is softer and much cheaper than hard wood. It is often painted or treated, and maintenance usually consists of cleaning it regularly and applying a new coat of paint or finish each season.

Because it has the potential to last a long time, withstand the elements and resist insects and decay, hardwood can be a wise investment. If you leave the natural colour of hardwood garden furniture, such as pieces made from Ribera, Teak or Ipe wood, you will move to a soft silvery grey. This process will take 6-12 months, depending on the climate you live in and the amount of exposure to the elements outside.

The imperfections that are inherent to the wood will become more pronounced over time, giving the garden furniture a rich natural beauty. In humid, wet or subtropical climates that experience frequent rain, hardwood furniture can expand and contract, causing the grain to rise. This is a normal part of the wear and tear process for outdoor wood furniture.

2.- Shorea Care

The tropical hardwood known as shorea is similar to the wood of Teak or Ipe (Lapacho). Its high oil content allows Shorea wood furniture to resist water, making it less prone to rot. Like Teak, Shorea can withstand all types of weather conditions and is resistant to invading insects. As is typical for hardwoods, shorea hardens to a silvery gray. It also experiences surface roughness for a year after exposure to the outdoors, but the weathering process will stabilize over time.

When a new shorea outdoor furniture is installed, it is lightly sprayed with water to remove dust. Sometimes, a slight seasonal cleaning is all that is needed. To do this, rinse the furniture with a light spray from the hose. Soak a sponge or soft-bristled brush in a mixture of mild detergent and water. Rub lightly and evenly. Rinse again with clean water. Allow to dry completely.

If you want to return the shorea to its original warm brown color, use a high quality hardwood or teak oil each season to maintain and preserve its color. Before applying, test the oil on a small, inconspicuous area, rub it in with a soft cloth or brush, let it dry and see if you like the colour and finish. If so, continue to apply the oil, spreading it evenly with a soft cloth or brush.

3. Teak Garden Furniture Care

Teak is a very popular hardwood that shares many of the same properties as shorea. Experts recommend that teak oil be applied routinely to outdoor garden furniture in arid or extremely dry climates. It is also a good idea to apply oil regularly to prevent stains from food or drink spills. The same procedure is followed for cleaning teak pieces as for shorea.

4. Cleaning of Ipe Wood Furniture (Lapacho)

First of all, ipe is a South American hardwood that sometimes receives other names, such as Brazilian walnut, ironwood or Pao Lope. Native to Brazilian forests, IPE is supposedly three times harder than teak. Ipe shares many of the same weathering characteristics as Teak and Shorea. Hardwood or teak oil should be applied when the wood begins to look opaque, every three months in mild climates; more often in harder climates. Even on a quarterly oiling program or more, the IPE will become that familiar silvery gray. Don’t forget to clean up lightly with fresh water and a mild detergent mixture and let dry before each oil application. You may need to sand lightly to remove stains before applying the oil.

5. What if the Wood Needs More Than Just Cleaning ? Use Pressure Washing

If you have outdoor furniture or wood structures that have aged to a grayish color, with cracks and deep grooves from excessive time, they obviously need more than just good cleaning. Try sanding and repainting.

If you have an electric washing machine, use it in “light” times to remove dirt and oil residue. Or, use a hose nozzle with a strong spray to test this technique on an inconspicuous part of the furniture.

Let the furniture and wet wood dry overnight. When it is no longer wet, apply a lightweight, ergonomic sanding tool to it, one section at a time. Follow this step with another quick spray with the hose to remove sanding dust, and let it dry overnight. The next day, apply teak oil with a soft cloth, rubbing in the direction of the wood grain. This will remove its aged look. Regular applications of hardwood oil will help maintain your health and beauty.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Exterior Wood

Other Tips on how to clean and maintain outdoor wood furniture, wood decks, fences, etc.

1.- If the wood suffers from mould, algae and green growth, then it is time for a thorough cleaning, as mould, algae and green growth keep the moisture in the wood. This has a detrimental effect on the wood in the long term, as the risk of fungus and decay increases dramatically.

2.- Always clean wooden garden furniture before treatment with wood oil. Wooden garden furniture should always be cleaned before an oil treatment – even if the furniture is new. Cleaning the wood removes invisible fungi and prepares the wood for a protective wood oil finish. Wood cleaning should not be done on wood or stone surfaces, as it can leave stains and possibly scratch the wood.

3.- Maintain the Original Look: Give furniture (made of poly rattan, wood, steel, PVC, etc.) a renewed and original look – even if the furniture is several years old. Remove dirt and grease effectively with a branded multi-protector you can find on the market. The ecological products are easy to use, as they come in spray bottles.

4.- Rejuvenate old garden furniture and all exterior wood, which has already suffered from the weather. You only need a good cleaning product to rejuvenate old wooden garden furniture and all wood exposed to the outside. Try to make it a coarse, gelatinous product, so it will be very easy to apply and work with, while effectively dissolving and removing dirt, discoloration and paint or oil residue. The working process is quick and easy, and can be done in four simple stages: rinsing, spraying, scrubbing and rinsing.

5.- Things to remember before any outdoor wood treatment:

  • The wood must be completely dry
  • Temperature between 15-25°C
  • A humidity level below 80%.
  • Application in dry weather only
  • Avoid direct sunlight

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IMAGEN DE CUIDAR MADERA EXTERIOR / exterior wood care image

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