Most garden furniture is made from Teak or other types of dense, exotic, hardwood for good reason. Dense hardwoods are extremely durable and resistant to the effects of weathering, which makes them ideal for the construction of garden furniture and garden benches.
Does garden furniture need a wood preservative?
In short, if the furniture is new and made of teak or other exotic hard wood, the short-term answer is no. Dense exotic hardwoods are naturally oily and resilient to weathering, mould, algae, wood rot, and decay. Other outdoor furniture made of woods such as Oak, Pine and other softwoods however should be treated with a wood preservative, and a top coat such as garden furniture oil, garden furniture stain or garden furniture paint. This will provide the best level of protection from both biological threats such as mould, algae, and insect attack, and the effects of weathering.
When does garden furniture need a wood preserver?
Although new hardwood outdoor furniture doesn’t initially need protecting, a wood preserver is recommended in the following circumstances.
- When outdoor furniture hasn’t been maintained and has perhaps turned grey or silver over time
- When wooden patio or garden furniture has been affected by mould, algae, or other biological growth. This will need to be treated before preserving
- When new softwood garden furniture or garden benches haven’t been sealed with a garden furniture stain or oil
- For outdoor wooden furniture that has been stripped or sanded back to bare wood prior to refinishing
In some of the above cases, if the wood has been unprotected for sometime, it is recommended that the wood is treated with a mould and algae cleaner or fungicidal wash first. This will kill and remove any existing mould and algae on the wood, an essential step before applying a wood preservative and top coat. Failure to treat and kill any mould and algae spores in the wood will result in it growing back quickly.
Wood preservers suitable for garden furniture
Garden furniture can be treated with virtually any exterior wood preservative either water-based or solvent-based. Solvent-based preservatives often have deeper penetration and dry quicker whilst water-based preservers are more user and environmentally friendly.
Recommended wood preservers suitable for garden furniture
- Barrettine Premier Wood Preserver: A general purpose, solvent-based high-performance exterior wood preserver suitable for all garden wood, including patio and garden furniture. Available in clear and a range of colours.
- Ronseal Total Wood Preserver: A highly penetrative, solvent-based, clear wood preserver, suitable for garden furniture and all other exterior wood.
- Sika Sikagard Wood Preserver: A clear wood preservative that protects all interior and exterior wood from wood rot and decay. Fast-drying, non-flammable formula can be applied to wood in damp or wet conditions without loss of performance.
Low-odour and solvent-free. Contains fungicides and algaecides to protect wood from mould, algae and insect attack.
Limitations of wood preservatives
Wood preservatives offer little in the way of weather protection and should always be over-coated with a suitable top-coat such as a garden furniture oil, or other suitable exterior wood oil, once fully dry. The oil top-coat seals in the preservative to extend its effective life and provides weather resistance. Wood oils are easy to maintain and can be topped up by simply applying a thin maintenance coat as and when required. This can depend on location and how much exposure to the elements the furniture gets. Alternatively, wood preservatives can be over-coated with a compatible garden furniture stain or garden furniture paint.
Wood preservatives are designed to prevent mould, algae, insect attack, and other biological threats, and protect wood from wood rot and decay. Using a wood preservative on furniture already affected by any of these will not eradicate it. If the furniture already shows signs of mould or algae, it must first be treated with a garden furniture cleaner before applying any preservative. Garden furniture cleaners not only clean the visible effects of mould and algae on the wood but also kill off the spores embedded in the wood grain, that would otherwise regrow. Once treated and dry, apply the preserver to help prevent future growth.
As wood preservers contain biocides and other ingredients to protect the wood, it’s important that they are over-coated with a compatible top-coat to seal away the preservative and prevent direct contact.
Painting garden furniture
If the aim is to coat your garden furniture with a water-based paint or wood stain, its worth mentioning that many wood preservatives contain a small amount of wax. This provides some limited weather resistance and prevents water from penetrating into the timber. Many exterior wood paints and garden furniture paints are water-based and as a result, are not suitable for painting over a preservative that contains wax, oil or silicon. If garden furniture is to be painted, always get a preservative that does not contain wax, oil or silicon.
Recommended preservatives suitable for water-based top-coats
These preservatives are ideal for garden furniture that is going to be painted with a water-based garden paint, varnish or stain.
- Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver: A clear, wax-free, solvent-based exterior wood preserver suitable for garden furniture and all exterior wood
- Sadolin Quick Drying Wood Preserver: A clear water-based wood preserver for new and bare timber. Perfect as a pre-treatment before applying a wood stain, paint or other wood finish to outdoor furniture
- Cuprinol Wood Preserver – Clear: A deep penetrating, exterior wood preservative, that offers a high degree of protection to sound wood against decay, mould, and blue-staining fungi
When using any type of wood finish, it is always recommended to do a test area to assess product suitability and final finish before starting any project. Products can usually be tested on the underside of garden tables and chairs where they wont be seen.
Garden Furniture FAQ’s
Can’t find the answer to your garden furniture care or maintenance project above? See our frequently asked garden furniture questions and answers page, where we try to answer some of the more commonly asked questions relating to garden furniture care, maintenance, and furniture treatments.