How to oil garden furniture

When asked the question, how to oil garden furniture, you might think the answer is simple…

However, are we talking applying oil to any moving parts such as one of our Lazy Susan’s or an Extending Garden Table or, are we talking about the application of a little oil for cleaning and protection purposes?

When it comes to garden furniture, oil, of various types has a number of different uses. Be it Teak, Danish, Linseed, 3-in-1, Water Displacement or even Baby oil, they can all be used for a variety of reasons on our outdoor furniture.

And whilst some of those reasons are obvious, there’s also a few hacks that the Lazy Susan team and I have come across over our many years in the garden furniture industry.

That is what I want to look at in a little more detail in this article. The different types of oil, and the different ways you can use them to restore, replenish, clean and protect your garden furniture…

Timber Oils

I suppose the oil that jumps first and foremost in peoples minds is the oiling of timber patio and garden pieces for maintenance and protection.

There’s a variety of different types on the market, but they all provide additional protection from the elements and nourish the timber to keep your outdoor furniture looking good.

When properly oiled, it helps the wood better resist dirt and moisture, and with many of the different types we’ll look at today, even make the timber more pleasant to the touch. Important if you want to sit on it!

Wooden garden furniture looks great when its new but without regular care and maintenance, the elements can take a heavy toll.

Natural weathering and UV exposure will make the wood lose much of its natural colour, turning it to a grey silvery colour. Now, some people like this ‘weathered’ look, however, if you don’t, you will need to maintain it.

Of course, there are a variety of paints and stains specifically designed for outdoor pieces. It all very much depends on the type of timber used, the condition of the wood and the look you want to achieve.

For me, I like to keep it looking natural. Purchase a good quality piece of timber garden furniture, and keep it looking like new, let the quality of the wood do all the talking. To achieve that, oil is the best way to go.

There are 4 main types you can use, all of which are relatively easy to apply:

1. Teak Oil - A 100% natural oil that is perfect for the treatment of teak garden furniture and other exotic hardwood timbers.

2. Tung Oil - A premium 100% natural wood oil that can be applied to both interior and exterior wood. Tung is ideal for use on food contact surfaces such as timber garden table tops and kitchen countertops.

3. Danish Oil - A high quality clear Danish Oil can also be used on interior and exterior timbers. Suitable for both softwood and hardwood garden furniture this is a great cost effective all-rounder oil.

4. Linseed Oil - Another affordable all-rounder that will help restore and revive the beauty of old and weathered timber furniture. Also good for protecting and waterproofing exotic timbers such as teak and other hardwoods.

Establish what timber your furniture is made from, do a little research and identify which oil is best. Test different types to find the one that you like. You basically want something that will nourish and protect the wood, bring out that natural grain.

If you have got premium timber pieces then you might want to consider going for a premium oil. Some of the best that money can buy are designed to be applied to timber on boats and yachts.

Take a look at Marine Supplies Direct, they stock Owatrol, one of the leading names in this area.

As you’d expect, boat oils offer incredibly high water-repellency and high UV protection. They penetrate deep into the woods fibres, fully protecting it from weathering, embrittlement and greying for many years.

Water Displacement & 3-In-1 Oils

When it comes to Water Displacement spray oils we are basically talking about one brand, WD-40

Now of course, it is ideal for protecting any moving metal parts. But WD-40 is primarily a petroleum-based volatile solvent that evaporates leaving behind a non-volatile lubricant, so it has a whole host of other uses you wouldn’t necessarily expect…

We have recently moved house, however, in our previous home we were a little short on space. To store our metal Lazy Susan garden table during the autumn/winter, I had to remove the table legs. It meant I could get it flush against the wall down one side of the garage, chairs stacked in the corner.

When it came to rebuilding, I would have all the bolts in a zip locked plastic bag. Before I screwed everything back together, I would give them all a blast with WD-40. 

This just helped the nuts, bolts etc screw together much easier and prevented them from potentially rusting. They shouldn’t, they’re designed not to, coated, but it just gave me peace of mind and made them fit together quicker/smoother.

One other hack that not many people know is that you can actually clean plastic/resin garden furniture with WD-40 too… 

You simply spray it on a clean dry cloth and rub it into the surface, making sure to wipe away any excess. You’ll be surprised how much muck it lifts off and the shine you’ll put back.

It isn’t my oil of choice (more of that in a moment) but it can also be applied to painted metal surfaces such as those across the Lazy Susan range. 

It won’t harm the painted finish but it will remove dirt and bring back the lustre of the paintwork. A little blast on dried bird droppings or tree sap is great way to gently loosen it off. Then you just wipe away with a little warm soapy water

Water Displacement spray oils such as WD-40 are totally safe to use on metal, rubber and plastic. 

If you have wrought iron garden furniture, it is essential. It is prone to rust and WD-40 can also be used to lubricate any rust-prone parts like feet/table legs. 

Any seized metal parts that may have got stuck, then WD-40 is my go to. 

Spray it on, leave it to soak in for a few minutes, and I guarantee they will move smoothly again.

Next time when you see even a little rust appearing on your garden furniture, use WD-40 to remove the rust and keep it at bay. Just spray it on and scrub with aluminium foil. Sounds crazy and it can take a little bit of elbow grease but trust me the results are astonishing.

3-in-1 oils on the other hand have been around forever and have a number of different uses. 

For me, their best application is to unstick, and the lubrication of, moving parts. In fact the properties are similar to that of the water displacement oils, and you can use them in much the same way. 

However, many are a little thicker so can leave a film, I would avoid on areas you touch such as seating, arm rests, table tops.

Baby Oil

Unless you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you might be reading this thinking, Baby Oil? 

At Lazy Susan we’ve been advocates of it for many years now on metal garden pieces. 

Give it a wash with warm soapy water, leave it to dry then apply a very light coat of Baby Oil with a dry lint free cloth. 

It will make the paintwork shine like new and leave a coating that will allow moisture to better bead and run off the surface.

It works great indoors too on any stainless steel surfaces such as sinks, extractor fans and cookers.

Applying Oil to Lazy Susan Garden Furniture

However, all that said in the previous section…

Whilst Baby Oil is a good option, me personally, I prefer to go with a light coating of a good quality car wax. 

I know, this post is about oil but I think it’s just a little easier to apply and tends to last a little longer in terms of repelling moisture and dirt than baby oil.

When it comes to my Lazy Susan Garden Furniture, I simply treat it exactly the same as my car. They’re both painted metal after all. I know, very different but I just find that car cleaning products work the best. 

I’ve tried it all over the years. Purchased all the specialist garden furniture products. Yes, they work too but I’ve always got a large 5v litre car shampoo and tin of wax in the garage. 

Also the products that are designed to remove tar and bugs that we find baked onto the from bodywork/bumpers of our cars in summer are great for removing tree sap and bird droppings from metal garden furniture.

The only oiling I do is a little squirt of WD-40 on the revolving mechanism of my Lazy Susan turntable every now and then, and the aforementioned lubricating of any nuts and bolts. 

For me, I wash it, dry it, and pop a little car wax on!

My advice with any of the oils (or car wax for that matter) mentioned in this article is to test before you commit though.

Carefully flip a chair, bench or table over and apply a little to the underside where it won’t be seen if it doesn’t take or feels too difficult to apply!