We’ve spoken a lot lately on this blog about how to select the right Outdoor Tables & Chairs from our range but, for those who’ve purchased from us already, aftercare and maintenance are essential to keep your furniture looking like new and ready to use.
The downside of leaving anything outside for any period of time is that it will get dirty. Whilst our range of cast aluminium sets are practically maintenance-free compared to other popular materials such as wood, iron and rattan, that comes with a caveat or word of caution.
Our furniture is protected with a durable powder-coat-like painted finish that protects the metal. That paint is what makes our furniture maintenance-free, and how it is applied means it does not have to be regularly reapplied as you will find with wood or iron pieces.
Of course, if you drop say a heavy kitchen knife on it, then you could chip or scratch the paint. That will require touching up. I suppose you could argue that is maintenance, either way, it is a super quick job and we will look at how to do it later in this article.
Cleaning on the other hand is inevitable. Even if you leave it covered or stored during the winter months, it will need a wash. Think of it like a car. You wash it today, leave it parked on your driveway, and in a few days it’ll have a layer of dirt on it.
That is what we want to focus on in this post. Look at how to care for your garden table sets in terms of cleaning and protection. Plus, we will focus on some of the common things to look out for in order to minimise the need for any maintenance (i.e. repairing scratches and chips).
How to clean our outdoor tables and chairs
Why touched on why we think cast aluminium is the best material in our comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect garden table and chairs article, and one of the main reasons is how easy it is to clean and maintain.
Our simple method for cleaning our garden table sets is as follows:
Start by removing any cushions or table accessories so the furniture is clear and ready to wash
Use a soft-bristle brush to remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface.
Spray the whole set with the garden hose on a light spray/mist setting
Mix a solution of car shampoo and warm water in a bucket and with a soft sponge or microfibre cloth, wash the table and each chair. Paying extra attention to the decorative elements where dirt and grime can build up.
With a garden hose on the light spray setting or with a bucket of clean water, rinse the set down.
Take a clean towel and wipe the furniture dry or leave it in the sun to air dry if it's a warm day.
How to protect your outdoor tables and chairs
Once clean and dry, we have a number of tips and tricks that will keep it looking like new, further protect it from the elements, reduce the amount of cleaning in the future and keep it cleaner for longer.
- Wax It
A good carnauba-style car wax is our garden table sets best friend. Not only does a light coat applied with a soft lint-free cloth give our painted finish a nice lustre, but it also forms a protective barrier that helps rain bead off the surface and prevents dirt and grime from building up as quickly.
- Cover It
A well-fitted garden furniture cover that is constructed from a breathable fabric and can be secured to the furniture is a great form of protection from the weather. They will help to keep it clean and if there’s a summer shower it is dry and ready to use when the sun reappears.
- Protect It
When you use your garden table set, you can also give it a little extra protection just like you would a dining or kitchen table inside your home. Pair our garden chairs with cushions, pop a parasol up, use a tablecloth or placemats and coasters, etc.
How to safely remove tree sap from your outdoor table and chairs
We looked in detail at How to remove tree sap from outdoor furniture last summer, and in that article, we stressed the importance of not leaving it on too long, especially during the summer as it can dry rock hard.
Again, if it has been in the sun, as with bird droppings, you don’t want to pick or scrape it off. Our go-to tricks for softening and then safely removing are as follows:
trick for safe removal of tree sap on the other hand is best done by softening first and we have a handful of go-to methods you can try:
- Warm Soapy Water
The first method we would suggest you try is just warm soapy water. Soak a microfibre cloth in warm water and a little car shampoo and pop it on the sap for a few minutes. If the sap is pretty fresh, then often the warm soapy water will be enough and you can wipe it off.
- Cooking Oil
If it is a little tacky and step one isn’t enough, then try softening it as above and then wiping it off with another cloth with a little cooking oil such as olive, vegetable or rapeseed.
- Baking Soda
Repeat steps 1 and 2 and if that doesn’t shift it, then try adding a little baking soda. Mix up a paste with warm water and cover the tree sap with it. Be gentle as it can be quite coarse. Leave it to sit and fizz for a few minutes and then rinse it off with warm water.
If none of the above is working and it is baked on, then try spraying a little WD-40 directly on the sap and leave it to work for about 5 minutes. You could also spray and pop a wet cloth soaked in warm soapy water for a little extra penetration and then use that to wipe away. WD-40 have a handy guide that shows you what else you can use their spray on to remove tree sap.
- Isopropyl Alcohol
If that all fails then we have two more options, first up is a little Isopropyl Alcohol or Rubbing Alcohol. Pour a small amount (enough to cover the sap) onto a clean cloth and apply it directly to the tree sap. Leave the cloth to sit on the sap for about 20 seconds. Don’t leave it on long as it could dull/strip the paintwork. It will soften the sap quickly and then wipe it off, wash with soapy water and rinse.
- Car Bug & Sap Removers
Last up, if the sap is really stubborn, and the above feels a little scary, then our advice would be to purchase a car sap remover such as Car Gods Bug & Sap Remover. If there’s a lot of sap, then this is also the method/product we would suggest you use. Follow the instructions on the bottle but with most of this type of product, you basically just spray it on like your metal outdoor furniture is a car, leave it to do its magic, wash, rinse and hey presto.
How to safely remove bird droppings from your outdoor tables and chairs
Bird droppings are another that can be tricky to remove but you definitely don’t want to sit at a garden table with it on, so the key is to remove it safely, and whilst this is easy when soft, things can get tricky when it dries.
As we said in our How to clean bird poo off your garden furniture article, you should never try and pick, scrape or scrub it off your furniture.
If it has been in direct sun, then you need to soften it before you try to wipe it off and we have 4 methods that will safely remove that bird poo off your metal garden furniture by “neutralising” it:
- Warm Soapy Water
Soak a microfibre cloth in warm soapy water, pop it on the poo for a couple of minutes, and then gently wipe it away. Most of the time this method will do the trick. However, with some birds, it can be a little harder. Our HQ is close to the sea, and Gull droppings in particular can be difficult to remove with just soap and water so move on to one of the following methods.
Visit the WD-40 website and you’ll see that it has literally 100s of uses but one of them is removing stubborn dirt such as tree sap and bird droppings off your metal garden furniture. Simply, spray it directly onto the mess, leave it for about 1 minute and then wipe away with a clean damp microfibre cloth.
- Baking Soda
If you don’t have a can of WD-40 to hand then head to the kitchen cupboard. Mix up a solution of 1 tablespoon of baking powder to 100ml of warm water in a spray bottle. Give it a gentle shake and spray the fizzy liquid directly onto your garden furniture. Leave it for a couple of minutes to fizz away and then wipe it off with a clean damp microfibre cloth.
- Car Wipes
If you want to use a proprietary product then there are a number of bird poo sprays and wipes sold for cars such as Autoglym’s Bird Dropping Car Wipes that work great on metal garden furniture. Made from biodegradable, ultra-soft bamboo, they come pre-soaked in a natural cleaning solution that will soften and neutralise the uric acid in bird droppings. Uric acid doesn't easily dissolve in just water alone, hence why the rain or a damp cloth will often not shift it.
Check the protective feet pads on our tables and chairs
Our garden table sets all come supplied with screw-in plastic feet pads (pictured above) to fully protect the paintwork from chipping on a hard patio surface such as stone pavers.
The key is to make sure they are securely screwed in (as shown above) to help prevent any stone chips or scratches in the feet of your garden tables and chairs.
How to repair a scratch or paint chip on your outdoor tables and chairs
If the worst should happen and you drop something on your garden table or a foot pad works loose and you chip a chair foot, then it is an easy repair with our Touch Up Kits.
Just be vigilant and if you find a chip or scratch repair it immediately, because if moisture should find its way onto the raw metal it could compromise the finish.
To repair a paint chip or scratch on the paintwork of our garden table sets, the first thing you need to tackle this job is our touch-up paint (pictured above) and they are available to purchase in the Lazy Susan Shop.
The kits are available in our Antique Bronze (shown above), Slate Grey and White paint finish for only £12.95 for a 10ml bottle.
Our Antique Bronze paint is a two-stage finish, so you get the black base coat and a bronze top finish. The white and grey are single-stage, so one colour only is required.
The touch-up kits are specially formulated to match your furniture and leave a tough durable finish. Each pot is supplied with a built-in applicator brush in the screw top lid, similar to what you’d find in a pot of nail polish.
To repair a paint chip or scratch you need:
- Lazy Susan Touch-up Paint
- Kitchen Roll
- Clean Cloths
- Bucket of Soapy Water
- Car Wax (optional)
In terms of the repair process, follow these simple steps for our 2-stage antique bronze finish (for white and slate you can skip steps 4 and 5):
- Clean the area you want to paint
Make sure the area you want to repair is clean and free from any dirt or debris. Give it a wipe with a damp cloth soaked in warm water and a little washing-up liquid. Pat it dry with a sheet of kitchen roll or leave it in the sun for 5 minutes or so.
- Carefully apply the black paint
Once clean and fully dry, apply a small amount of the black base paint with the applicator brush.
- Dab with kitchen roll
Remove any excess paint with a sheet of kitchen roll. The best results are achieved, if you build the paint up in 2 or 3 layers, rather than applying one large blob of paint and leaving it to dry.
- Carefully dab on bronze paint
When you are happy with the coverage of the base layer, it is level with the surrounding paintwork and is dry to the touch, you can carefully dab on a small amount of the bronze paint.
- Remove excess paint
Again, with a sheet of clean kitchen roll, carefully dab the bronze paint to create the stippled effect of our Antique Bronze finish.
- Repeat as necessary
Repeat the process until you are happy with the finish and the paint chip or scratch is no longer visible. Leave it to dry fully for a couple of hours before use.
- Apply a coat of car was to protect
To provide a little extra protection, apply a light coat of carnauba-style car wax with a soft lint-free cloth. To find out more about how to apply, why we recommend a light coat of car wax and some of our favourite products, please read our How to apply car wax to metal garden furniture article.