Cedar outdoor furniture is a popular choice for many homeowners, known for its natural beauty, durability, and resistance to decay. Whether you have a cedar picnic table on your patio or cedar Adirondack chairs in your garden, proper care is essential to ensure that your outdoor cedar furniture retains its charm for years to come. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of caring for cedar patio furniture, from cleaning and sealing to protecting it from the elements.
Understanding Cedar Wood
Before delving into the care regimen, it’s important to understand what makes cedar wood an excellent choice for outdoor furniture. Cedar, particularly Western Red Cedar and Northern White Cedar, is revered for its inherent properties. It contains natural oils and tannins that act as preservatives, making it naturally resistant to decay, insects, and fungal growth. Cedar’s pleasant aroma and fine grain also contribute to its appeal.
Cedar’s lightweight nature, coupled with its dimensional stability, means that it remains relatively resistant to warping and cracking. However, like all outdoor wood furniture, cedar is not entirely maintenance-free. Over time, it can still succumb to weathering and graying if not properly cared for. Fortunately, with the right care routine, you can keep your cedar furniture looking as beautiful as the day you bought it.
Cleaning Your Cedar Furniture
Regular cleaning is the first step in maintaining your cedar outdoor furniture’s pristine appearance. Here’s how to do it:
- Gentle Brushing: Start by using a soft-bristle brush or a dry cloth to remove loose dirt, dust, and cobwebs from the surface. This simple step prevents dirt from grinding into the wood during cleaning.
- Mild Soap Solution: Mix a solution of mild dish soap and warm water in a bucket. Dip a soft sponge or cloth into the soapy water and gently scrub the furniture’s surface. Avoid using abrasive scrubbers or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the wood’s natural oils.
- Rinse Thoroughly: After cleaning, rinse the furniture with a garden hose to remove any soap residue. Make sure to rinse all crevices and corners.
- Allow to Dry: Let the furniture air dry completely before proceeding to the next step. This usually takes a few hours, but it’s essential to ensure that the wood is dry before sealing or staining.
Sealing and Staining Cedar Furniture
Sealing or staining your cedar outdoor furniture is crucial for preserving its color and protecting it from the elements. Here’s what you need to know:
- Choose the Right Finish: Select a high-quality outdoor wood sealer or stain that is specifically designed for cedar. Transparent or semi-transparent finishes are ideal if you want to maintain the wood’s natural appearance, while solid stains can provide a colorful finish.
- Prepare the Surface: Ensure that your furniture is clean and dry before applying the finish. Sand any rough spots or imperfections lightly with fine-grit sandpaper.
- Application: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the sealer or stain. Use a brush, roller, or sprayer, depending on the product’s recommendation. Apply the finish evenly, working with the wood grain, and allow it to penetrate the wood.
- Multiple Coats: Depending on the product, you may need to apply multiple coats for optimal protection. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.
- Maintenance: Reapply the sealer or stain every 1-3 years, or as recommended by the product manufacturer, to maintain the furniture’s protection and appearance.
Protecting Cedar Furniture from the Elements
Cedar is naturally resistant to decay and insects, but it still needs protection from the elements to maintain its appearance. Here are some tips:
- Cover or Store: During harsh weather conditions or long periods of non-use, consider covering your cedar furniture with a durable furniture cover or storing it indoors. This shields the wood from excessive moisture and UV exposure.
- Elevate from the Ground: Avoid placing cedar furniture directly on damp ground or grass, as this can lead to moisture absorption. Use furniture glides or rubber feet to lift it slightly above the surface.
- Regular Inspection: Periodically inspect your cedar furniture for signs of wear or damage. Catching issues early can prevent more extensive problems.
- Avoid Extreme Conditions: While cedar is hardy, it’s best to avoid exposing it to extreme conditions like prolonged direct sunlight or heavy rain whenever possible.
Cedar wood furniture, with its natural beauty and durability, is a fantastic addition to any outdoor space. By following a routine of cleaning, sealing, and protecting, you can ensure that your cedar furniture continues to shine for many years. With proper care, your cedar outdoor furniture will remain a comfortable and attractive place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors, season after season. So, invest a little time in maintaining your cedar furniture now, and you’ll reap the rewards of its lasting beauty for years to come.