Whether you prefer traditional or contemporary style wood furniture, regular maintenance is essential to preserving its aesthetic appeal over the years. Fortunately, wood furniture is generally simple to maintain, regardless of the type of wood. Although wood furniture is very durable and long-lasting, how well you maintain it can determine how well it ages and holds up over time. Discover some tips on cleaning, repairing, and overall maintaining outdoor wood furniture. Remember to always wear protective glasses and gloves when using any chemical solutions on wood.

General Cleaning

Fortunately, cleaning outdoor wood furniture is very simple when done properly. You want to make sure you don't damage the wood during cleaning, so always use the mildest cleaning solutions possible. Basic dish soap and water are usually sufficient for basic dirt and grime removal, but a solution of 80-percent water and 20-percent household ammonia is also effective on certain finishes.

You can also dissolve greasy grime and oil using a soft, clean cloth moistened with mineral spirits. Remember to always test the cleaning solution on a tiny, unnoticeable portion of the wood to ensure no discoloration or other damage occurs to the wood finish. To prevent damaging the finish, never use any abrasive materials to clean outdoor wood furniture. Also, only use damp cloths that have been thoroughly wrung out (no excess water).

Minor Surface Repairs

Surface abrasions can occur with outdoor wood furniture. Whether it takes a beating from the weather, animals, or the kids' baseball, you can usually easily repair most surface damages using basic materials. You can try rubbing walnut meat or matching oil-based wood stain over minor scratches, while hairline cracks may require another coat of varnish or matching stain. Deep scratches typically require patching, which is typically a more extensive project. Dark spots can also develop when water penetrates the wood over long periods of time, and these areas may need to be stripped and bleached with oxalic acid and then refinished. Gouges caused by cigarette burns typically call for removal of the old finish and refinishing of the affected area. Fortunately, most outdoor wood furniture is very durable and weather resistant.

Long-Term Maintenance

Like all furniture, outdoor wood furniture does require long-term maintenance to preserve its beauty and functionality. Fortunately, wood is very durable and lasts for many years when properly maintained. However, wood finishes eventually wear off after years of weather exposure. You may also have to restain and overcoat with a new finish every five years, depending on the piece.

Structural repairs and complete refinishing may be necessary, as well, if your furniture experiences significant wear and tear. Lastly, keeping your wood furniture out of direct sunlight can help prevent the finish from fading and peeling. While some wear-and-tear is unavoidable, expect to experience many years of use and beauty from your outdoor wood furniture.