5 Things to keep in mind when buying wooden outdoor furniture

Peterson's Wooden Outdoor Furniture

By Renate Engelbrecht

Monday, Oct 25

We’ve been thinking of replacing our outdoor furniture (as the dogs got the best of us and the furniture), but we’re in two minds about whether we want to opt for wooden outdoor furniture (again) or something else. Still, when it comes to investing in outdoor furniture, there is nothing as welcoming as the warm honey tones of wood.

As we live in South Africa, we need to take in consideration the harsh summer conditions. We need quality furniture that will withstand all weather conditions, fit in with our budget, but also our style and preferably last a lifetime. Quite a tall order, isn’t it?

Gary Petersen, the Founder and Managing Director of the quality crafted luxury furniture brand, Petersen’s says that there are several reasons why wood outdoor furniture can range extensively in price. “Quality wood outdoor furniture is worth investing in as buying cheaper alternatives will cost you much more in the long run. (Something we’ve learned the hard way, I’m afraid.) He says that if the furniture is maintained well, it should last for decades to come.

So, before we rush off and buy the next best outdoor set, Peterson’s shared some tips on what to keep in mind when buying wooden outdoor furniture:

Peterson's wooden outdoor furniture
Peterson’s wooden poolside furniture. Image: Supplied

Timber tips for wooden outdoor furniture

There are very few genuine outdoor timbers that will withstand the harsh South African weather. Therefore, it’s a good idea to double check what the furniture is made from. It should preferably be a timber that has a high natural oil content like Iroko, Jarrah or Teak. These are the timber types that are often used in marine work and in the boatbuilding industry, which means they should also be well-suited for outdoor furniture.

“These timbers are incredibly durable, resistant to rot and don’t require regular preservative treatments. They are also Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC) certified to ensure that the material is sourced from sustainable forests.

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Stainless steel fittings

Any metal accessories on outdoor furniture must be stainless steel to prevent it from rusting and weathering. This also applies to any of the steel fittings used to hold the furniture together.

“Before buying, ensure that any of the metal used in the crafting of the furniture is stainless steel and more specifically, A316 marine-grade stainless steel, which is corrosion and rust resistant,” says Gary Petersen.

Craftsmanship is key

Timber is a natural material that has natural movement, which is why it shouldn’t be held together with screws. Instead, look for hand-crafted outdoor furniture that uses dowels, finger joints, tongue in groove and mortise and tenon joints that provide incredible strength and stability and won’t fall apart over time.

Do your design homework

Small design details such as glides will ensure longevity in wooden outdoor furniture. These furniture pieces should never touch the ground directly. Ensure that the glides are fitted to lift the feet slightly off the ground to avoid absorption of water into the end-grain of the timber leg. This helps to prevent the timber from rotting.

Oil your wooden outdoor furniture

Good wood should never be varnished as varnish is a sealant. “Wood needs to breathe, and varnishing is like shrink-wrapping it. Always oil your furniture,” says Petersen. The colour of outdoor furniture will change from the natural warm honey tone of new wood to a silvery grey as it weathers.

Peterson suggests that if you want to keep the natural wood look, you should have it lightly sanded every twelve to eighteen months to remove atmospheric pollution. Then nourish the timber by re-oiling it with a natural product like linseed oil, or Danish oil. If you prefer the silvery grey look, Peterson says you can leave it to age naturally.

If you adhere to the above and you buy the best quality you can afford, there is no reason why you can’t have wooden outdoor furniture that you will enjoy for years to come.

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