The garden bench is one of those things that is always there to support you. That is why we miss it when it breaks or is no longer usable. The not-so humble garden bench is a staple of the British garden, and even though a hardwood bench may not need much in the way of maintenance, a little care and attention every now and then will pay dividends. But how? What should you do or not do to your garden bench?
Wooden garden benches are affected by two things:
Over time, both will cause some problems for the bench, but the good news is that hardwood benches are really easy to maintain. By doing so, you keep your bench in tip-top condition.
British weather (and its unpredictability) is a constant source of conversation. If there is one topic guaranteed to ignite opinion of friends and strangers alike, it is the state of the weather! The weather will also affect your hardwood bench. In fact, the weather affects a lot of materials used outdoors, and but teak hardwood is a solid and well wearing option. Soft wood doesn’t stand up well to weather, but hardwood does, providing that you choose carefully. Teak is a slow growing wood from the rain forest, and it is one of the best woods to use as for garden benches and other garden furniture. It can cope with British weather, as well as intense heat and high humidity. But it needs a little help to last a long time:
• A protective waterproof cover – The biggest risk to hardwood is ice and extreme cold. When water permeates into the wood it can be bad news, especially if it freezes. On thawing, water expands, and it smashes against the grain of the wood. If this keeps happening over time, your prized hardwood garden bench will become frail and possibly even unusable.
A protective waterproof cover is the answer. We suggest that when the weather becomes too cold to sit in the garden, you pop the cover on until the spring. Varnish it – Grab a natural bristle brush, a pair of protective gloves and a high-quality external varnish and apply a protective layer of thin varnish. It really doesn’t take much time, but this layer of varnish forms a flexible top protective layer that flexes as the wood expands and shrinks with moisture and dryness. It only takes a little effort (as well as drying time) but by far, varnish is the best protective layer for wooden benches.
• Oil it – If you don’t want to use varnish but want to feed the wood, oiling is ideal. Like varnishing wooden benches, it will need time to dry between each layer. For the best results, layer the oil thinly several times rather than in one thick layer.
However, once oiled, if you changed your mind and decide to try varnish, you may be disappointed to find that the varnish will not ‘stick’ to the oiled wood.
Here are some tricks to keeping your garden bench looking great over the years:
Even with a protective layer of varnish or oil, hardwood can soak up some stains, and this degrades the overall appeal of the bench. From red wine to other coloured drinks and foods, when anything is spilt on the bench, wipe it up immediately.
Just like you brush the floors of your home or sweep the patio to keep it looking good, brushing your bench from time to time helps to remove surface detritus and grime. But don’t forget the underside, as this is where damp and other issues can linger, all of which contribute to the demise of a hardwood bench quicker than normal.
Again, just like you mop the floors of your home or swish some soapy water over the patio to lift the surface grime, you could do the same with the garden bench. In particular, wooden benches enjoy a wash with a scrubbing brush and hot soapy water. Even with fairly harsh scrubbing, the varnish or oil will not lift. In fact, it is a commonly suggested that you should give the bench a good wash before you varnish or oil it, allowing it to dry before you completely. Pressure washing – the popularity of pressure washers in recent years has meant that everything from the car to the patio can be pressured washed to a high shine. However, concentrate for too long in one spot, and you can damage the patio or decking. When it comes to garden benches, although hardwood is tough, pressure washing could ‘dent’ it. We suggest sticking with the tried and trusted method of hot soapy water and elbow grease.
Wooden benches are designed, styled and built with one thing in mind – for people to sit on them and enjoy the experience. Protecting your garden bench is about keeping it looking good as well as usable which is why many of our customers invest in bench cushions. They help to keep the varnish or oil finish looking bright so that the constant sitting and friction will not dull the appearance of the bench.
Of all the garden furniture you invest in, the garden bench is one of the most affordable and long lasting. It will also be the seat that is most used. It is simple to use, simple to maintain and the methods of keeping it looking good are equally simple. It will be with you for years, and by following these hints and tips, your garden bench will stay looking great.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.