Whether you're just getting round to washing off your dusty old patio table and chairs or you're considering investing in a new outdoor dining set, knowing how to look after your garden furniture is essential if you want it to last.
Choosing the right materials is a great place to start, but regular maintenance and proper protection will go a long way to keeping your garden set looking new for many summers to come.
Having a garden furniture set which looks nice is great - but it'll all be for nothing if it's already rusting or falling apart after a couple of uses. Buying durable patio pieces which can withstand a bit of bad weather is key to ensuring you won't need to waste money regularly replacing it.
Metal furniture, including aluminium, stainless steel and iron, will be extremely durable, although heavy. Hardwoods such as teak and synthetic rattan garden furniture will be lighter, yet still very durable if properly maintained.
Plastic furniture pieces are usually cheap, light and can be long-lasting if constructed well, but have more of a tendency to snap under weight than other materials, can warp in extreme heat and aren't eco-friendly.
As much as we try to prevent it, your garden furniture is bound to get the odd stain here and there - whether from mildew, sun cream splatter or a dripping ice lolly. But luckily, mucky garden furniture is usually only one good scrub away from looking new.
Wiping the frames with a damp cloth once a week is a good way to keep on top of cleaning, but giving it a more intensive wash two to four times a year will keep it looking pristine.
How best to clean your outdoor furniture will largely depend on what material it's made from - we offer our top tips below. But before you start, always check the care instructions so as not to damage the materials or invalidate your warranty.
Typically used on wooden and metal furniture, treatments can help to refresh tired-looking pieces and more importantly, extend their lifespan.
Staining, oiling and sealing will brighten up old wood and keep it protected from mildew and mould.
For wooden furniture which features an intricate design, you may want to call for a professional as this can be harder to sand down.
Most metal furniture should come with anti-rust sealant as standard, but if it doesn't, applying a protective coating before rust becomes an issue is a good idea. Preventing rust before it starts is far easier than repairing it once it's spread.
Unsealed iron or any iron-containing metal furniture is particularly prone to problems so don't wait around if you plan to leave these out over the winter months. You should also repair any worn down or flaking areas on your metal furniture, too.
If you don't fancy sealing your furniture yourself, opt for aluminium or galvanised steel instead. It won't rust but it can still corrode over time, so it's a good idea to cover or store them safely away in harsh weather.
British weather is notoriously unpredictable, and leaving your garden furniture uncovered in the wind, rain or blazing sun can really cause damage in the long run.
Wooden furniture is most vulnerable to moisture, while lightweight furniture such as plastic or aluminium can blow away in strong winds and storms. If you want your garden furniture to stand the test of time, storing it under a shelter in adverse weather is the best solution (and bonus points if it's under a furniture cover too!)
A shed, garage or utility room is ideal, but if you're more limited on space, under an awning would work. Opting for compact folding garden furniture will also help to avoid taking up too much valuable storage space.
If storing your furniture inside isn't an option, a cover is the next best thing. A quality cover should help protect your furniture from the long-term effects of wet weather, animals and UV damage.
Whether you opt for a one size tent-like structure or invest in a made-to-measure custom covering to fit an awkwardly shaped piece of furniture, there are key things to look out for: