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Outdoor Life

Simon Stevenson

 Here in Australia, particularly on the Northern Beaches, we are very fortunate to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle for many months of the year. Choosing the right outdoor furniture is an important part of creating a pleasant atmosphere and for most people this purchase represents a significant investment.  Of course you want it to look good, be comfy and durable but it has to be right for your circumstances as well.  Before you spend your hard earned cash, here are a few things to think about.

Yes, Outside furniture is designed to be outside but here in Australia we experience some extreme weather conditions, such as blazing sun, torrential rain, hail and high winds... sometimes all in one day.  Before you spend your hard earned cash, think about these things. Will the furniture be in the full sun or is it protected?  How close are you to the ocean? How much time do you want to spend on maintenance?  And of course a big factor is how much do you want to spend?  

Hands down, timber gets the top prize for beauty and durability.  With regular maintenance it can handle almost anything Mother Nature throws at it and can look great for decades. Whether it’s stained, painted or oiled, timber requires higher maintenance than manufactured materials, especially if it’s in the full sun. With so many beautiful varieties available, from eucalyptus and pine to teak, there is one for every budget and each will require different maintenance. It’s also very important you have high quality stainless steel fixtures. If your setting doesn’t come with them, have them replaced with stainless.

Painted steel outdoor settings are durable and can last for many years with a small amount of care. The number one enemy of steel is rust so it pays be on the lookout for signs of it, especially if the paint gets scratched or chipped.  If you spot any, treat it immediately.

Powder coated aluminium is another great option.  It’s lightweight yet sturdy and easy to clean.  Since aluminium doesn’t rust it’s good in areas near salt water.  However, it can oxidise which causes pitting and also dulls the finish.  If you spot any white, powdery oxidation, wash the furniture with equal parts white vinegar and water to remove it.

Wicker furniture is lightweight, versatile and low maintenance.   It’s usually lacquered, painted or varnished to provide protection from the elements.   Wicker will benefit from a regular cleaning with soapy water and then letting it dry in the sun to avoid mould growth.

Plastic is the most affordable option and one that requires the least amount of maintenance.  It’s a good idea to keep it out of the full sun for extended periods as the plastic can become brittle, unsafe and likely to crack.  We’ve all had a run in with an old plastic chair, and we all know that never ends too well. One word of caution, because they are extremely lightweight they’re unsuitable for high wind areas.  A good gust and your table setting could take off down the street and end up at your neighbours place or worse, come flying through your plate glass window, which is not good for high rise balconies either. 

There will always be some debate on which is the most durable of the materials but without doubt, whichever you choose, you’ll get much more life out of your furniture with a little regular TLC.  

Simon Stevenson hosts the very popular Simons House Home Improvement Show on 2UE 954am Saturdays from 1.00pm and Fridays from 1.00am.  His handy home improvement tips can be heard on radio stations all across Australia.  You can visit or send an email to

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 at Mona Vale have loads of tools and tips for painting and outdoor needs. Visit them today - 

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