Stainless steel garden furniture maintenance

Whilst not as popular as wrought iron or cast aluminium, we are definitely seeing increased demand for stainless steel garden furniture across the industry, especially when its paired with other materials such as timber or rattan. As a material it tends to lend itself to the more contemporary pieces, and although we currently don’t stock stainless steel garden furniture here at Lazy Susan, it is a material we have a significant understanding of in terms of its use in outdoor furniture.

The current industry standard for stainless steel garden furniture – in fact any outdoor use in general – is what’s known as ‘grade 304 stainless steel’. Much like cast aluminium it is a very tough, strong and weather resistant metal, but at the same time is incredibly lightweight. The appeal for use within the construction of contemporary pieces is its bright high shine lustre, which gives it that clean, modern and kinda industrial appearance, especially with the brushed finish.

Like cast aluminium, it is not vulnerable to moisture, however, where it does differ to other metals is the fact that it requires no protective coating (such as powder-coating for example) to be made suitable for use outdoors. It is highly resistant to corrosion, and while it can rust and discolour, this is much less likely to occur than with iron. Stainless steel garden furniture is designed to be fully moisture and mold resistant, hence why it has proven so popular in the kitchen over the last decade. It will not fade, peel, or crack if exposed to direct sunlight, it will not need to be repainted after a couple of summers, and its highly resistant to staining as the name suggests.

Stainless steel garden furniture care and maintenance

However, like any other form of garden furniture, it is not completely maintenance free, especially if you want to keep it looking all shiny and new. Stainless steel garden furniture, much like any other type of metal garden furniture, needs to be looked after properly. If you want to retain that bright lustre that makes the material so appealing, then it takes a little care and attention. For a starter, no garden furniture is resistant to dust and dirt, its sitting outside, so its inevitable, you have to clean it on a regular basis.

There’s no need to waste your money on specialist stainless steel cleaning products unless you really need them. If the furniture is pretty new, and has not been left outside for a long period of time, then you can simply remove any dirt that’s built up with a damp cloth. Just wipe the furniture and then polish the metal with a dry cloth to bring out the shine. If you clean your stainless steel garden furniture once every couple of weeks this way, you’ll probably only need to spend 5 minutes each time to keep it looking like new.

If the furniture has been left outside for a while longer and there’s a few stubborn looking stains, then don’t fear, it might just needs a deeper clean. Mix up a solution of warm water, mild washing up liquid and little household bleach. Wash the furniture all over and leave it for a minute or so without letting it fully dry as it will go streaky. Rinse it down with cold water, wipe off any excess water with a cloth and then take a dry cloth to polish the furniture.

If this fails, then you might need to invest in a stainless steel cleaner such as Gloster or Magic Dazzle. They are not cheap, around the £20 mark, so only purchase if your furniture can’t be cleaned by the previous method. And if you have to use one of these chemical cleaners, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully, taking all the necessary safety precautions. They contain harsh chemicals and this type of abrasive cleaner can damage the surface of your furniture if you’re not careful. Always make sure you test on a small hidden part of the furniture first too.

Stainless steel garden furniture discolouration

While stainless steel might not rust easily, you might notice over time that small brown spots have started to appear on the surface of your stainless steel garden furniture. This can occur when the surface starts to deteriorate and is usually caused by prolonged exposure to air-borne particles, high levels of salt in the air if you live close to the sea, or chlorine water if the furniture is used poolside. However, as with cast aluminium where it can oxidise, they are not cause for too much concern, they’re simply a cosmetic discolouration on the surface of the metal and they do not affect the structural integrity of the furniture as with rust on wrought iron. And the good news is that they can be removed…

You will need to rub the surface carefully with a specialist stainless steel cleaning pad, such as those available from the likes of Scotch-Brite™ and 3M. Always gently scrub the surface by following the grain of the metal, not not across it, so as to not damage the finish. After you’ve scrubbed away the brown spots, rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly. I always advise people to try and avoid the use of any abrasive cleaners, steel wool pads, highly abrasive cloths, or an industrial pressure washer, you can very easily scratch the surface of stainless steel garden furniture and ruin the shine, but if you are at this stage then its last chance saloon I’m afraid.

Protect your stainless steel garden furniture

Stainless steel garden furniture is designed to withstand exposure to the elements, however, it is a good idea to protect it with garden furniture covers when not in use and during the winter. And if you have the space, you should always go one better, and store it indoors. Always store it in the upright position so that any moisture can drain off as intended. If you store upside down, water can pool inside the tubing, freeze, expand, and split the metal.

Keep fingerprints off your stainless steel garden furniture

The final enemy in the battle against good looking stainless steel garden furniture, is the dreaded fingerprint. Due to the high shine, they show up very easily, and can be extremely unsightly. A couple of good tips I picked up from the kitchen industry where the use of stainless steel is common is to take a glass cleaning cloth and a little glass cleaner and polish it up. Baby oil is also great solution, and you just need a tiny amount on a lint free cloth. You don’t want greasy furniture, but a small amount on a cloth and a little elbow grease will remove fingerprints and keep them away for a little while too.

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