Aluminium patio furniture is fast becoming the UK's most popular metal used in outdoor furniture, and for many a good reason. For a starter, it is durable, versatile, and requires very little care on the part of you, the owner.
Yes, it is commonly known that aluminium doesn't rust like cast iron. However, there is a little mad science behind cast aluminium patio furniture... When exposed to the elements, aluminium will develop a microscopic layer of oxide on its exterior. This oxide layer basically acts as a barrier to protect the metal from further damage by said elements and prevent it from corroding like cast iron.
This unique quality is the most appealing characteristic when it comes to choosing a material for making outdoor garden furniture. It will weather any climate and any amount of precipitation. Aluminium furniture is the dependable option for the British patio.
Different types of cast aluminium patio furniture
There are three different types of aluminium that we generally tend to use in the construction of patio furniture:
1. Wrought Aluminium
Wrought Aluminium furniture is usually used to create furniture Victorian in style that similar to styles also found in most wrought iron outdoor pieces.
2. Tubular Aluminium
Tubular aluminium techniques in furniture is probably most common as it is the lightest and easiest to shape and form.
3. Cast Aluminium
Cast aluminium patio furniture is made using a process, called casting, where molten aluminium is poured into a mold. This process produces the most pure and resilient form of aluminium. The cast pieces are then welded together, which seals out water and the elements. As cast aluminium is solid, the resulting product is heavier than wrought and tubular aluminium furniture, and hence why it is the route we took with our furniture.
Aluminium furniture does not need to be covered or protected in the same way that say wood or wicker furniture needs to be. Saying that, we would always advise you pop it in the shed or cover it when not in use.
However, much of the cast aluminium furniture sold in the UK also comes with a powder-coating. This gives the aluminium colour and helps to reduce the surface becoming scratched and dented as its moved around the garden.
Powder coating often has increases the visual appeal as well as giving the metal additional strength, however, it does require a little extra care to maintain the original appearance. While giving this added protection and durability, it can be scratched, especially the feet of tables/chairs as they're moved around.
Aluminium like all metals, is affected by pollution in the air and moisture (especially near the coast) and its surface can discolour and become 'pitted'. And even though aluminium does not rust, it does oxidize, which can result in discoloration. And while this will not affect the structural reliability of the metal like rust, it doesn't look that great.
Care and maintenance for cast aluminium patio furniture
In order to keep your furniture looking as new as the day you bought it all you should do is wash it down with warm soapy water. However, the level of care required will depend on the condition of the furniture. And if you need to do any deep cleaning, then its always best to do this cleaning after the summer is over.
Keep an eye out for small chips or cracks in the powder coating, as this will cause water to enter underneath the outer layer and ultimately cause damage you might not be able to fix.
Click here to see maintenance info for Lazy Susan garden furniture and to view our video on how to repair chips in the finish.
Glencrest do great cleaner as part of their Golden Care range that has been specifically designed for powder coated furniture. And whilst I don't really like promoting specific brands, this is a good product.
If surface is only mildly discolored, wash with soap and water, to which you can add a little mild household acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. Most water is slightly alkaline anyway, so please do not add ammonia, TSP or any soda as this can encourage further oxidization.
Wash as needed during the summer; and always wash at end of summer before you store for winter.
There are also a variety of commercial cleaners used for aluminium surfaces on boats and automobiles which may help clean extremely dirty aluminium garden furniture. Do not use commercial cleaners on anodized aluminum. A coat of car wax, baby oil, or a silicon spray will also help to further protect the aluminium from corrosion and pitting.
Prevention is better than the cure
Once clean and dry, it is a good idea to further protect the surface with a little car wax or baby oil. This will give you back that like new shine or gloss. Just a little bit on a dry cloth and polish it in.
And as I've said already but it needs repeating, always use touch up paint to cover any scratches or scrapes. This should be available from a manufacturer (See the Lazy Susan Shop for details of how to order ours free of charge), or use a clear nail varnish if need be, but whatever you do, don’t leave scratches uncovered.