Taking care of wood and wooden objects that are meant for outdoors can be tricky. The chosen wooden furniture or other wooden objects have to withstand the weather at all times. The first and foremost factor to consider while purchasing wooden furniture is its durability. It is very tempting to pick up beautiful wooden furniture during sales, but many times we tend to overlook the quality of the wood, and its durability when exposed to the elements in the long run.
Untreated wood also develops tiny cracks initially. If this is not addressed and the wooden furniture is left out in the rain, the water seeps through the cracks. Once water enters, it continues to soak deeper and expand, causing the cracks to get wider. There are several products in the market that help treat wood of any kind. It is important to choose the right product for the right kind of treatment, which can help you in achieving a long lasting solution.
Once the wood that is exposed outdoors shows signs of deteriorating, the best thing would be to treat it with waterproof glue and exterior finishes. Generally outdoor furniture is sturdily constructed with thick pieces of wood and joints which can endure exposure to the weather. But if the wood is not maintained, it will rot and crack gradually. Chemical treatment of wood can prevent this rotting for decades. Some of the measures that can save wood from rotting are given below:
1) Water repellent: This is an important method widely used to save wood from rotting. A good water repellent can be applied regularly, to prevent water from seeping into the wood. If this is done every year the wood will last longer.
2) Oxygen bleach: Oxygen bleach is largely used on outdoor wood. This is a stain solver, but it can darken certain types of woods, for example redwood turns darker.
3) Sander: A sander can be used after washing the wood well. The wood can be sanded till smooth. A medium aluminium oxide sandpaper can be used as this paper sharpens itself while its being applied.
4) Synthetic resin: After sanding the wood, it should be sealed with pigmented synthetic resin, which is a water repellent. However, it is better not to use an oil-based product. Oil-based sealers attract mildew and algae. And clear sealers will grey rapidly.
Just like choosing the perfect wood for furniture, choosing the right stain for sealing the wood is equally important, and it also adds to the décor. After treating the wood with the above measures, the sealer has to be applied and this is best applied with the object in the shade. Sealers require at least two coats within fifteen minutes of each other, in order to get maximum protection. Working in sunlight can shorten this time and will lead to spotting and overlaps. Staining and sealing outdoor furniture requires a fine touch. The brush strokes should not be evident and there should not be any overlap marks.
There are several wood stains available in the market. Depending on the type of wood and the amount of damage, the right product should be chosen and used. One of the important factors that should be addressed is that while applying the stain, each piece of wood should be stained until the end is reached or until it intersects with another piece of wood, failing which, there will be unattractive overlaps.
While treating any kind of outdoor wooden furniture, it is better to adopt an eco-friendly approach. There are several eco-friendly products in the market today, which can be used to treat wood. These products work by penetrating into wood fibres and create a sort of buffer against water and fungal decay. This also increases the durability of the wood, and creates a patina after a few hours.
Some of the benefits of using eco-friendly products are
1) They contain non-toxic preservatives
2) A single coat is sufficient
3) They can be applied to bare untreated wood
4) Contain mineral based ingredients
5) Safe to use around pets, plants and children
6) Leave no residue
Wood preservatives are pesticides that prevent attacks from fungi, insects or bacteria. These wood preservatives generally contain a chemical named pentachlorophenol, also often known as Penta or PCP. And if this is incorporated into a paint or stain, it is considered as a pesticide.
Though wood preservatives are useful they should be chosen with care. These can pose health and environmental hazards, and should be assessed before you purchase them. If a wood preservative’s use is imperative, then compare labels to find out the level of toxicity in the product. Go for the least toxic preservative available.
Heat-treated wood is an eco-friendly alternative to wood that has been treated with chemicals. Thermowood is obtained via the process of drying woods like spruce or pine, using high temperatures. No chemical is used during this process and the deposits do not harm the environment. It is also cost effective.
In order to heat treat wood, a controlled heating is done to dry the wood. In the second phase, it is heated up to 200 degrees, after which it is conditioned to avoid cracks. Due to this treatment, Thermowood is considered durable. Thermowood can preserve its dimensions and can resist swelling and shrinking even during varying humidity levels. It can be reliably used in making outdoor furniture.
However, it has been found that heat treated wood is not as strong as regular wood as the high temperature treatment reduces its strength and so it is not often recommended for construction. But it used at times for decorative wall cladding, as you can see for the back of a house pictured above. This abode was designed by SDA Architecture Ltd., from United Kingdom.
If you are looking for more inspirations or ideas, then here is another ideabook you can go through – Easy Steps to Make Patina on Wood Furniture.