by Craig Blake
True to its namesake, an outdoor bench is probably going to spend a huge amount of time in the harsh outdoors. Even on your patio, an outdoor bench can undergo some undue wear and tear unless it is cared for properly. If you want your outdoor bench to last, you must give it the care and cleaning that it requires. Outdoor benches may come in a variety of different materials to match your outdoor patio furniture, and each one requires its own type of maintenance. Most likely, your bench will be either wicker, wooden or metal. A wicker bench is perhaps the easiest to maintain, and many wicker benches are made to be weather-resistant. Either way, here are a few ways to ensure your patio furniture lasts as long as possible.
Maintaining a wicker bench: Remove any outdoor cushions and spray any dirt off of the bench. Let the bench dry completely. Apply a paste wax to the bench frame. This will make it water-resistant and will also give it a nice shine.
Maintaining a metal bench: Metal benches might be made of aluminum, wrought iron or steel. If you bought your metal bench specifically as a garden bench, most likely it is rust-resistant and will be okay in poor weather. If you are not sure, you should probably treat it as if it isn't, just in case. Remove any cushions and wash the bench frame with a mild soap and rinse with water. Dry off the bench completely with a soft cloth.
Maintaining a wooden bench: Apply a paste wax or naval jelly to the wood bench frame. Wooden benches are the most vulnerable to inclement weather. Before buying one, consider a cedar or teak bench, as they can usually withstand most inclement weather. There are a number of steps that must be taken in order to restore and protect a wooden outdoor bench. Clean the bench surface entirely to remove any dirt, grease or paint particles. If it is already painted, you should consider waterproofing it by stripping off the paint completely with sand paper. Afterwards, apply a layer or exterior enamel prime or a good exterior latex primer. Apply one to two layers of exterior paint. If you used an enamel primer, use enamel paint. If you used a latex primer, use a latex paint.
Maintaining a varnished bench: Use sandpaper to remove the old varnish and even out any blemishes in the wood. Apply an outdoor varnish -- either marine varnish or spar varnish -- to the bench. Allow the outdoor bench to dry completely. This should take 12 to 24 hours. It is best to keep your outdoor bench under a covering, either a roof awning or a tree canopy. This will protect it from damage caused by sunlight, wind and precipitation and help the bench to last longer.