WORDS: ANNE SCHAUFFER IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

As our South African lifestyle creeps more towards the outside than in, good quality weather-resistant furniture has become prized. Not only because it’s wonderful not to have to move cushions or furniture inside from out, but it looks far better to have a dressed patio, too.

Some products will have their own specifications in terms of caring for it, and it’s smart to wise up on that to ensure you don’t jeopardise any warranty. The fundis also advise against any harsh treatments like high-power hosing or bleaching, because that will undoubtedly weaken the material. A good vacuum clean is often very handy, particularly for woven furniture.

Mia Delport, marketing manager, Patio Warehouse, points out that we need to distinguish between a covered and uncovered patio. “We recommend all wooden products should be under cover. Our harsh South Africa sun dries out the wood, and it requires too much maintenance.”

She suggests all-weather wicker, aluminium, resin (plastic) and cast aluminium as furniture types for an uncovered patio. “New-technology products are also available such as fully upholstered products that can be left outside. The foam in the cushions is designed to let through as much air and water as possible, and it’s mould resistant. So when you leave the fully upholstered set outside, and it has rained, it will dry within 30 minutes,” she says.

If your cushions aren’t weather proof, you’ll need to put them away, or at least, cover them with weatherproof covers. Don’t put them away damp or wet, or cover them in plastic. Dry them thoroughly first.

All products

Delport has advice for maintenance and cleaning on all products. “Use a dry, clean cloth to dust your furniture weekly and help maintain its lustre. To clean furniture, spray off any dirt or debris with a hose, and wipe dry with a soft cloth. Avoid allowing water to stand on the surface of your furniture and cushions. “For prevention, there are sprays for wicker protection, aluminium protection and Textilene, perfect to help keep your furniture looking at its best.”

Wood

Of course, if you love wood and are prepared to maintain it, the experts advise regular oiling, or annual sealing or varnishing. “If you don’t want to constantly reseal the wood, apply wood oil or polish on a regular basis from the day you buy it. Liquid polish is easy to apply, repels water, and is cost-effective too. It keeps the furniture looking youthful.”

Metal

Metal furniture can become stained, and acquire rust spots. Keep it clean, as dust traps water, and accelerates rusting. If you see a rust spot, treat it swiftly by sanding it, applying a metal primer, then paint.

Plastic

Among other things, sun creams and screens can stain plastic, so rinse off the chairs regularly with a mild soapy solution.

Different climate, different treatment?

Delport says because it’s more moist at the coast, it’s easier to treat wooden products there. “You don’t need to oil your set as regularly as you would inland. But, although our aluminium products are powder coated to prevent them from rusting, coastal areas need to apply the aluminium protection more often.”