With the summer-like temperatures we have been experiencing, people are beginning to think of outside activities. The big box stores haul out the patio furniture in January to coordinate with retail department stores displaying bathing suits, preempting spring altogether. While I am still holding out for a bit of winter and the possibility of some much needed rain, I’m considering washing my windows to bring the rainy season.
My latest project has to do with patio furniture and yet another “great find”, for my client in Burbank. She has a pair of decorative metal chairs and a matching settee. I have found some pretty outdoor fabric for cushions to compliment the newly painted seating set. I suspected the pieces were aluminum because they were so light, but the cross pieces or stretcher bars were pretty rusted, indicating they must be a steel or alloy of some kind. The chairs have been painted several colors, over the years, so a good clean up was necessary.
I started with sandblasting off the worst of the paint; I was sure it would take ten years off my face, since I didn’t have a full face shield, only goggles, but alas, no such luck. After getting the worst of the old paint off, I took them to the patio to be pressured washed and sun dried.
The next day, I began the spray painting, which is a big improvement, since the coverage is consistent and the previous painting was not; the previous coverage consisted of several sloppy hand painted attempts.
People often ask me what is the best choice for outdoor furniture and most cost effective. Those questions that have no easy answer, since budgets vary and use considerably different. In general, teak is a good product with little or no maintenance, if you do not mind the natural aging of teak to a silver gray color. All you need to do is a light sanding and enjoy.
If you would prefer the look of new teak, you can use a teak oil to maintain the look of new teak. You can add colorful cushions if you like. Teak is a fairly heavy wood, which is good if you are using it in a windy area; it is not likely going to be tossed about your space in a hearty wind.
Powder coated aluminum is a good choice for a lasting finish, but like any metal, the arms and seat will be hot if left in the sun. Heavier metals will be more stable in any kind of weather, but heavy to move for repositioning. Again, colorful cushions add to the beauty of these pieces.
There are pros and cons to any choice, expense is usually a deciding factor—which brings me to the second-hand choice. You may not get exactly what you envision for your patio space, but if cost is an issue, you should take a look at used pieces, wood or metal. A little sanding and paint could net you a very satisfactory seating arrangement.
Upholstery for outdoor furniture, is usually a fairly costly expense, since outdoor fabrics rate a premium price, due to their durability. Check to see what the fade expectations are when considering upholstery. You might find ready made aftermarket pieces that will fit your furniture and satisfy your needs. Custom is expensive because it is custom, that never changes. Of course if you are handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own and save about one half the cost; the fabric cost will be about the same as the labor cost, which can make re-upholstery an expensive choice.
If you are considering second hand furniture— a big cost savings, and re-upholstery or ready-made cushions, you might come out ahead. Your decision should be based in a similar manor to furnishings inside; how much will you use it, will you store it in the off season or purchase covers to extend its life, how long do you expect to have the furniture? All questions you should consider when making your purchase.