Aluminium Patio Furniture is fast becoming the UK's most popular metal used in the construction of outdoor furniture, and for many a good reason.
For a starter, it is durable, versatile, and requires very little care and maintenance.
…And what TLC it does need is simple and can be done quickly with basic cleaning products we all have in our cupboards.
No expensive specialist cleaning solutions needed!
Yes, it is commonly known that aluminium doesn't rust like cast iron.
However, there is a little science behind raw cast aluminium patio furniture (and by raw I mean unpainted or coated)... 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 iron pieces would.
These unique qualities are what's most appealing when it comes to choosing a material for making outdoor garden furniture. It will weather any climate and any amount of precipitation.
It is as strong as you'd expect metal furniture to be but not as heavy as iron, so you can still pick it up and easily move around the patio or into storage.
Aluminium Patio 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:
- Wrought Aluminium
Wrought Aluminium furniture is usually used to create furniture that is Victorian in style, similar to the traditional pieces made from wrought iron.
- Tubular Aluminium
The tubular aluminium technique is probably one of the most common as it is the lightest and easiest to shape and form.
- Cast Aluminium
Cast aluminium patio furniture is made using a process, called casting, where molten aluminium is poured into a mould (shown above). 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 Patio 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. Especially during the winter months, as it will just help to keep it clean and ready for summer use.
However, one point I must stress is that much of the cast aluminium furniture sold in the UK (such as the Lazy Susan range) also comes with a powder-coated or (in the case of our range) a painted protect finish (see image below for a close up).
This gives our painted cast aluminium pieces their unique colour and helps to prevent the surface from the pitting I mentioned above. It also helps to protect the metal underneath from the elements.
Powder coating and painting increases the visual appeal as well as giving the metal additional strength, however, they do still require a little extra TLC to maintain the original appearance.
While giving this added protection and durability, it can be scratched or chipped off, especially the feet of tables/chairs as they're moved around on hard surfaces.
Uncoated 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 that aluminium does not rust, it could oxidize, which can result in discoloration. And while this will not affect the structural integrity of the metal like rust on iron, it doesn't look that great.
Care and maintenance of 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 could allow for water to enter underneath the outer layer and ultimately cause damage you might not be able to fix.
Glencrest have a 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 very good product.
For Lazy Susan furniture, that painted coating will only need an occasional wash down with warm soapy water. My preference is to just use a good quality car shampoo.
If surface is a little more grubby, you can also wash with just washing up liquid and warm water, to which you can add a little mild household acid such as lemon juice or vinegar and this will help to soften any bird droppings or tree sap.
The above method will also work on powder coated and uncoated aluminium.
However, if you have uncoated furniture, most water is slightly alkaline, so please do not add or use any cleaning products that contain ammonia, TSP or any soda as this can encourage further oxidise the metal.
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 unpainted/coated aluminium garden furniture, but do not use commercial cleaners on any anodized aluminium.
If in doubt, contact the manufacturer and/or test any products on the underside of a chair before you proceed.
Prevention is better than the cure
A final coat of car wax, baby oil, or a silicon spray when dry will also help to further protect the aluminium from the elements.
For me, once our furniture is clean and dry, I will always further protect the surface with a little carnuba car wax. lt gives you back that like new shine and lustre and helps the rain and dirt to better run off. Just a little bit on a dry cloth and work it in.