Garden Inspiration – Outdoor Patio Furniture

Chimineas and outdoor furniture go together like strawberries and cream. Is your patio furniture made of wood, or is it plastic, UPVC, metal or wicker? Whatever it’s made from it’ll last a lot longer if you look after it properly. Here’s how, plus a few cool ideas about creating your own garden furniture instead of buying it.

If you’re after a chiminea, by the way, that’s what we do. We only stock the best quality, best-performing chimineas in clay, cast iron and steel, and they make the perfect accompaniment to outdoor living. Hello summer!

Looking after wooden outdoor furniture

Most good quality wooden outdoor furniture is made from hardwood, frequently oak, which lasts longer than softwood. The best wood garden furniture also usually comes tanalised, a clever way to pressure-treat wood with special chemicals to give it a much longer life.

Your first step is to keep the table, chairs and whatever else you have outdoors clean. The less mud, muck and dirt there is on the wood, and the faster you get rid of it, the better. If you leave the wood dirty it won’t last as long. It’ll attract more dirt, and moss, and the wood will decay faster.

Do you need to re-apply the original wood finishing product? It depends which finish you had on the furniture in the first place. If it was varnished, you may want to sand off the remaining old, peeling or flaky varnish and apply a new coat or two. If it was waxed, you might want to re-wax carefully to add shine, re-condition the wood and keep moisture out.

Maintaining plastic or UPVC garden furniture

Once upon a time you could only get the white stuff. Now sturdy UPVC outdoor furniture is available in all sorts of fab colours, including garden-friendly greens and browns. UPVC lasts for ages and as long as it doesn’t split it should give you many loyal years of comfort.

Like wood outdoor furnishings, keeping UPVC clean is important. The more dirt and muck you let build up, and the longer you leave it, the worse your patio furniture will look and the faster it’ll die. Specialist UPVC cleaner is a brilliant way to get stains and stubborn dirt off, after which a good rub-down with a damp cloth, warm water and a dash of washing up liquid should keep it looking nice.

How to look after wicker outdoor furniture

Wicker is beautiful stuff, and can be made from a variety of woods. Whatever it’s made of, it’s vital to cover wicker furniture if you want to leave it outside for more than a couple of weeks. Obviously plastic wicker is different, hardy in all weathers since it’s basically made of a UPVC-like plastic extruded into strands.

To remove dirt and debris from genuine wicker outdoor furniture, hoover it or use a dry paintbrush to get any dust and dry dirt off, then clean it with a mild soap solution and rinse with clean water. Make sure it’ll dry fast, ideally doing the job in warm, dry weather, since standing water can make the wicker swell up.

DIY alternatives to ready-made outdoor furniture?

Do you have to spend a fortune on outdoor furnitue from a shop? Not really. As long as you have decent DIY skills and an imagination, there are some really cool creative ways to make your own outdoor furniture. If you’ve traipsed around the shops and garden centres but the outdoor furniture they sell is too ugly, or too expensive, or too big, too plastic-looking or simply too boring, how can you make your own? Here are some cheap, fun alternatives to shop-bought patio furniture.

5 fun and simple ways to make your own unusual garden furniture

  1. Simple chunks of tree trunk make beautiful garden seating. You can make short and taller stools, burying the foot of the stool a few inches into the ground for stability. If you like, you can pop a chunk of stone or a cement flagstone or stepping stone on top so it’s comfortable and clean to sit on all year round. In summer, you can add cushions for comfort. A segment of an oak tree trunk will last for years and years, and there’s no maintenance necessary. If you leave the bark on it’ll also act as a useful home for insect life
  2. Take two segments of tree trunk, set them into the earth or into sand and cement, then nail or screw a plank on top and voila, the perfect garden bench. Paint it with trendy chalk paints or heritage shades for a contemporary look
  3. Take four chunks of tree trunk, set them in the ground and fix a wooden top on to create a rugged natural-style garden table. How about using an old top from an unwanted wooden kitchen table, or even a handful of old floorboards for the surface?
  4. There’s treasure inside every broken washing machine and tumble drier in the shape of a beautiful, shiny, silvery metal drum studded with holes. Stand four of them on your patio, add a circular wooden top or circular concrete paving stone to each, pop on a cushion pad and you have a suite of four contemporary, stylish metal stools that look like they’re fresh from a designer shop. Try your local tip or scrap metal yard – they might have some drums you can take off their hands for next to nothing
  5. There’s no law says to have to buy actual garden furniture, outdoor furniture designed specifically for the purpose. ‘Brown’ furniture is extremely cheap right now and you can pick up wood furniture from some periods and styles for next to nothing. If you adore old wood, you can pick up a really un-trendy pine kitchen table and chairs, and use them outsoors. Paint them if you like, for example with one of today’s popular heritage greys, purples or greens in matt water-based eggshell. Or strip the nasty orangey-brown varnish off and re-coat it in a wood finish – a dye or stain – that delivers a subtler look.

Need help choosing the right chiminea?

This blog contains a wealth of advice about every aspect of chimineas. If you have any questions or want help making the right choice, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.