New Zealanders spend a lot of time in their outdoor living areas during the warmer months but these hard-working spaces are exposed to the elements all year round.
Decking, paving and outdoor furniture can get damaged or mouldy if it’s not looked after, so a regular maintenance routine is a must.
Clean and prep
The first step in maintaining the appearance of your outdoor living area is a regular deep clean. Resene’s technical services manager Jeff Jurlina recommends this should be done a minimum of once a year, but if your outdoor area doesn’t get much sun or sees a lot of moisture it’ll be prone to mould or mildew growth so could require more regular attention.
For timber decking or furniture, if you’re planning to re-stain it, first spray it with Resene Timber and Deck Wash and leave on for 15-20 minutes. It’s important the product doesn’t dry during this stage, so don’t attempt this part in high winds or harsh sunlight and only apply it to small manageable areas.
Brush or scrub the area thoroughly with a soft bristled broom or scrubbing brush, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Wash off with clean water, allow to dry and then apply your chosen stain.
If you just need a good maintenance clean on timber, and for composite, stone and metal furniture or tiled or concrete paths and patios, use a product such as Resene Deep Clean instead. As a bonus, this product requires no scrubbing or brushing, it’s just sprayed on and left.
If you have wicker or rattan furniture use a damp cloth rather than a brush or hose to clean it – excess pressure or moisture can damage the fibres of this type of material.
Fabric furnishings should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions, so make sure you’re familiar with those before you use any products on it. It’s also important to clean up spills as soon as they occur as stains are trickier to get rid of the longer they are left. Brush off any debris such as fallen leaves or bird droppings as soon as you spot them.
Freshen up painted finishes, such as painted wooden furniture, with Resene Paint Prep and Housewash, then wash off with clean water.
The jobs don’t stop at cleaning though, your outdoor area also needs protection. "Paint and stain provides protection from biological decay and weathering, UV light and rain," Jurlina says.
If you want the natural beauty of your timber to show through choose a stain rather than a paint, although Jurlina says staining is a "high maintenance option" compared to an application of a solid paint system because stains have to be reapplied every two-to-four years. Painting outdoor spaces and furniture follows the same process of prep, prime and paint as it does for indoors, although the priming and topcoating products will differ. If your surface is already painted and is in good condition, you may be able to clean and go straight to topcoating. Visit your Resene ColorShop for advice.
Some people prefer to use an oil to protect timber furniture and decking as it’s a natural product. "To give UV protection the product must contain UV absorbers and additives designed to inhibit mould and algal growth," Jurlina says. "If your stain or oil has both of these then there will be little difference in durability between them." However if your oil doesn’t contain mould inhibitors, the nutrients in it could actually encourage mould to grow.
Outdoor timber will still silver off if your product doesn’t contain any UV inhibitors or absorbers but there are very few oils or stains available in New Zealand that do not contain UV protection.
"The most commonly used UV protection is achieved by addition of a transparent iron oxide pigment to the product," Jurlina says. "As the name suggests these are transparent but are not water white which means that the range of stain colours is limited by the base colour which is often yellow or orange. This can be a challenge for pale coloured decking timbers such as Vitex where a customer wants to retain and maintain the colour."
A good option is to choose a stain colour similar to your timber colour to protect the timber while keeping the same style. Always do a patch test in a less visible spot to make sure it gives the look you’re after.
Avoid using clear finishes on exterior timber as they don’t provide any protection to the timber against the sun’s UV light. The timber will deteriorate under the clear and you may find your clear finish starts coming off in large flakes or pieces.
The best protection for fabric furnishings is to store them under cover over the winter months, during bouts of bad weather or at any time you aren’t using them for an extended periods. Sprays that protect against UV damage and repel water are also available but again, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do a patch test.
As Kiwis spend more time at home they are starting to carve out outdoor spaces that they can use year round. Consider if you have a space that could be turned into an ‘outdoor room’ year round with the addition of an awning or pergola. This may help protect your outdoor furniture from the elements while still allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors over the cooler months.
This article was created for Resene