This month we’ve looked at how to purchase the right size and how to dress for a garden party, however, one area we touched on in those posts and many others but not gone in-depth is how to protect your garden table.
If you’ve recently purchased a new garden table set from Lazy Susan, then we want to explain how to best care for and maintain that furniture so it’ll last.
We often use the phrase ‘prevention is better than the cure’ on this blog. Garden tables are an expensive purchase. A big-ticket item. And if you’re investing in one, then you want it to last for many a summer to come. Knowing how best to protect your garden table is the key.
It’s an item that will potentially spend much of its time sitting outside. Mother nature can be cruel. And whilst Lazy Susan garden tables, chairs, garden benches, sun loungers, etc are constructed from weather-resistant cast aluminium that will not rust or rot, leave them outside during the summer months, and they will end up dirty.
My own set is currently sitting basking in the spring sun. However, after a few days of heavy wind and rain over the last Bank Holiday weekend, it is also covered in blossom. That will have to be hosed off and swept up at some point soon. One for this weekend methinks.
Much like a car though, our Garden Furniture is painted to protect the metal from the elements. However, leave it sat outside, it will end up covered with all manner of dust and dirt, and possibly even my nemesis… Bird droppings! Plus, we are talking about how to protect your garden table here. Have a few friends over for drinks or a BBQ, inevitably, people will spill food and drinks on it.
Now, none of these things will do the table any harm as such, they just won’t leave it looking its best. Nobody wants to sit at a sticky, dirty table, or on grubby looking garden chairs for that matter. Nobody definitely wants to eat at a garden table that the local bird population have created a Jackson Pollock on.
So, with summer just around the corner, and lockdown restrictions easing, we will see our Garden Tables getting much use in the coming months. With that in mind, here is our simple guide on how to best protect them. Much of these tips and tricks have appeared in other articles too, but not necessarily together in one, so this feels a bit like a greatest hits of tips…
Lazy Susan's top how to protect your garden table tips
1. Keep your garden table clean
Of course, the easiest way to protect your Lazy Susan Garden Table is to keep it clean. Don’t let the dirt build-up. It is much easier to give them a quick regular wash and rinse than to leave for several months.
And it doesn’t matter if that furniture is constructed from metal, wood, rattan or plastic, they will all need a little TLC from time to time. The advantage of the cast aluminium we use in the construction of our range is that it will not need staining or repainting every few years.
It is designed to be left outside and require minimum maintenance, and whilst that doesn’t mean it is maintenance-free, it does mean it will require significantly less than say wood, and it is less prone to scuffing/staining/marking/fading than plastic.
However, if you want to keep it looking like new, then late spring is the time to spend an hour or so getting it ready for the summer months.
Start by giving it a simple washdown. A bucket of warm soapy water and a soft sponge is all you need. The consensus at Lazy Susan when it comes to metal is that you don’t need any specialist proprietary outdoor furniture cleaners. Washing up liquid will do the job just as well.
However, our personal preference is a good quality car soap. I myself always have a 2.5 l bottle for the car and it also works great on our furniture. It is specifically formulated for painted metals, it has a powerful blend of detergents that are ideal for removing oil, grease and road grime, so it is perfect for gently removing outdoor grime and the more stubborn stains like bird droppings and sap.
The other advantage of using car shampoo is that it will leave a streak/residue-free finish, it is easy to rinse off, and they’re available with wax in them. This means that when dry water beads up and runs off easier, and it’ll keep the dirt and dust that blows about off the surface just that little bit longer.
It is also important to stress at this point that at Lazy Susan we are very much anti-pressure washers regardless of the type of metal (or material for that matter). It can strip the finish, especially on wood, you just don’t need that much power. A garden hose set to spray is sufficient to gently rinse the furniture down after you have washed it. The warm water, sponge and shampoo will do all the hard work. Leave the pressure washer for cleaning that paved patio.
If there are any more stubborn stains such as tree sap or dried on bird droppings, then again, don’t be tempted to pressure wash them off. The car shampoo should be sufficient.
If it is dried on (or baked on by the sun), then soak your sponge in your warm soapy water and just let it sit on there for a few mins to soften it up. It should easily wipe straight off after that. Don’t be tempted to ever pick it off, you could damage/scratch the paintwork.
If you wanted to speed things up or if the sap is fresh and sticky, then we would again suggest that car cleaning products will work best. Most brands offer a Tar/Bug Remover and this will usually shift it. Another great hack is to just apply a small squirt of WD-40. Leave it for a few minutes and then wash it off with your sponge and warm soapy water.
2. Apply a little car wax to your garden furniture
We honestly don’t know if other metal garden furniture companies recommend this but at Lazy Susan we swear by it and it is one of our go-to how to protect your garden table tips…
Once your garden table and chairs are washed and dry, with a soft cloth (our go-to is a microfibre) apply a light coat of car wax. You can also use the ones you spray on when wet and leave to dry, but we’ve found the best result is with a tin of paste style wax such as a carnauba. Any brand will do, just whatever you’re also happy to apply to your car.
You don’t need much. Just a very light coat with a soft lint-free cloth. Work it in until you’ve got a nice sheen and it is dry to the touch. It will just help provide a little extra protection by allowing water to easily bead and runoff. It will also reduce the amount/frequency of cleaning by stopping any dirt that’s whipped up by the wind from sticking to the surface as easily, and it’ll really bring out the lustre of our painted finish.
The good thing about going down the car shampoo and carnauba wax route are that the products are often similar in price to the specialist garden furniture cleaners (if not cheaper). Plus, we often already have them to hand in the shed or garage for our cars. And most importantly, they’re specially formulated to clean/remove things like bird droppings, bugs and tree sap without damaging that all-important painted metal finish.
3. Use a garden furniture protector
This one follows on from the above point. Sort of. If you’ve applied a coat of car wax, we don’t think you need this too. Car wax definitely works best but it can take a little elbow grease to apply. A spray-on garden furniture protector is another option. If you have a Lazy Susan Parasol or Garden Cushions, then these products are the best solution for protecting the fabric. However, they can be applied to both fabric and metal to provide a little further protection and reduce the frequency of cleaning if you prefer:
Scotchgard™ Protector Water & Sun Shield
We all know the Scotchgard™ brand. They’ve been at the forefront of this field for many years, and for good reason. For the garden, they have a line of products that are specifically designed to provide protection from the elements.
If it can be stained, faded, rusted or tarnished, then we’re pretty sure that they’ll sell something that will help protect it, and that’s exactly what you get with their Water & Sun Shield. All you need to do is spray it on and leave it to dry.
This one-step application will provide extra protection from mother nature and it can be used on garden furniture, parasols, cushions, etc. Just follow the instructions and if unsure test on an inconspicuous area (such as the underside of a chair) before you apply. If you use it on our garden cushions it will dry odourless and won’t discolour. One can will provide up to 60 square feet of protection from rain/sun.
Professional Strength Outdoor Furniture Waterproofer
Another brand we’ve been using lately, again primarily on outdoor fabrics, but you also can use it on our furniture, is Professional Strength’s Outdoor Furniture Waterproofer. And Just like Scotchgard™, it will help to further protect your outdoor furniture cushions from the rain, dirt, grease, bird droppings, etc, and as they say on their website:
“Garden furniture has become ever more popular in recent years, with outdoor couches and bean bags showing up in gardens everywhere. Unlike older style patio furniture, the fabrics are comfortable and soft and resemble living room furniture, the difference being that they live outside and are susceptible to the elements. So, how can you protect your outdoor furniture from rain, dirt, nocturnal animals and birds that take aim at your lovely new garden sofa? You need a powerful water proofer to keep your garden furniture and awnings looking as good as new.”
It is easy to apply and great value for money. It forms a protective barrier on the fabric or furniture, so that water and other liquids simply bead on the surface and runoff. It is especially great on fabrics because if they do get caught in a sudden summer downpour, they’ll dry much quicker.
4. Cover your garden table with a tablecloth
We looked at dressing a table in the How to dress your garden table for a party post we mentioned in the intro. In that article, we were looking at the tablecloth purely from an aesthetic point of view. However, not only do they look great but they’ll help to protect your table from cutlery, plates, food spills, and so on.
When it comes to garden table cloths, we’re big fans of supporting the independent sellers you find on Etsy. Many are cut/sewn to order, so you can specify the shape, size and if you need a parasol hole. Plus, there’s some stunning prints and fabrics to choose from. A few Lazy Susan favourites are as follows. However, there are so many styles and colours to choose from that there’s a seller and tablecloth for all tastes and occasions:
Palm Leaf Vinyl Tablecloth PVC Tablecloth by GFARFABRICS
Zap Paintbox Matt PVC Tablecloth by GFARFABRICS
Natural Jute Hessian Tablecloth by UnrealBlooms
Water-repellent Tablecloth painted by the artist Ina de Saint Andéol
Ochre Modern Stylish Wipe Clean PVC Tablecloth by Dehaus®
5. Take it a step further with a table protector
You could take the tablecloth a step further and use a table protector. Personally, we don’t think you need them, but if you’ve already got one for the dining table, then no harm using if you’ve friends over.
They’re more intended for wooden dining tables to protect them from drinks, hot plates and the like. Our metal garden tables are tough enough to not need both a tablecloth and protector. And if you want to use neither, they’ll be fine. A tablecloth will just help to keep it clean more than anything else.
If you do want to look at a table protector, then our advice would be to pop over to Simply Tablecloths and have a look at their range. They offer 4 different types of tabletop protectors, so they have something to suit all needs. Their clear protectors would allow you to protect your Lazy Susan garden table from dirt, scratches, scuffs, stains, spillage, etc with the added benefit of still showing the ornate metalwork on our tables.
6. Store it inside if you can
Our advice when it comes to Lazy Susan garden furniture, and how to protect your garden table in particular, is to store it in a garage or shed during the winter months if you can.
Yes, it is designed to sit outside all year round, however, if you want to protect it, keep it clean, then that is the best way to do it. Cast aluminium is a sturdy material but it is light enough to pick up and move. If it isn’t going to get used over the winter, then keeping it in a shed or garage will help to keep it clean and save you some valuable time.
7. If you can’t, cover it with a cover or tarpaulin…
However, we also fully appreciate that not everybody has the space (or inclination for that matter) to move it off the patio and store.
Next, the best option is to cover it. Garden furniture covers are inexpensive and will do the job. The issue with them is that you must ensure they are secured in place in case the wind picks up.
Purchase a cover that is breathable, waterproof and has straps to fasten it down. We’ve found that Amazon UK has the most comprehensive range of covers with something to fit every shape, size and style of garden table set or outdoor sofa set. The King Do Way Garden Furniture Covers (featured in the video below) provide the features and durability at an affordable price:
8. Touch it up
Our garden tables are constructed from high-grade sand-cast aluminium, which has many advantages over other types of outdoor material. It will not rust or rot and is perfect for the changeable climate we all know so well in the UK.
And just like cleaning, maintenance is quick and simple. Our furniture features a protective weatherproof painted finish. The key to keeping your garden tables protected is to make sure this painted finish is not compromised. And by that we mean if there’s a deep scratch or chip through to bare metal then moisture could get in and cause issues.
The feet on garden tables and chairs are the spot you need to pay close attention to. If for example, you have them on a stone patio, when the furniture is moved over it, you could chip the bottom. So, all you need to do is flip them over from time to time. If you find a chip, then you can use our Touch Up Paint to fix it. The video below shows how you can do this quick and simple repair.
9. Protect the feet
If you are concerned about the above, and on most surfaces, it is not an issue, the painted coating is extremely durable. However, if you have a gravel patio for example, then you might want to consider protecting the table and chair legs with some rubber feet/furniture caps (as shown below) from NUOLUX on Amazon UK.
They were devised to protect expensive timber flooring from the scarping of dining chairs as they’re pulled in and out. However, they work just as well outside the home in this situation. Not just on gravel, I may add… Stone pavers, tiling or timber decking, they’ll provide a little extra protection to both your garden tables and chair legs, and the surface material you have on your patio.
If you have any questions about our Garden Furniture or how to protect your garden table, then please don’t hesitate to Contact Us. And don’t forget to share any photographs of your new Lazy Susan set in situ for our Do Some Good charity initiative.