I bought a lovely set of wooden garden table and chairs last year and already they have become very faded and dried out looking. What are my options. Should I varnish them?
Many people leave their lovely garden chairs etc out there in the wind and rain and forget about them. Others treat them with the wrong finish resulting in the finish peeling off. Here are a few simple ideas and tricks to get your furniture looking lovely again.
Firstly, you need to get the wood cleaned up and its colour restored. If there was a finish applied like an oil or stain in the past you will need to remove that with something strong like Prepdeck first. It's fairly easy to use. Sometimes in the course of removing the previous finish this stuff can darken the wood but you can reverse that with something like Net-Trol, an environmentally friendly, oxalic based cleaner brightener. If there was no stain or oil applied before and the wood has simply faded and become dirty all you will need is the Net-Trol or similar. I've used it to bring back the original look to faded wood and even fibreglass. It also works well to remove fading on teak windows or doors after first stripping varnish off with Nitromors.
Back to your question, (assuming you there was no previous oil or stains applied) first you must wet the surface thoroughly and then apply the Net-Trol which can be diluted up to 4:1 ratio depending on how dirty or faded the wood is.
Leave it for about 20 minutes and then give it a quick light scrub with a stiff nylon brush. (Follow instructions) Rinse off thoroughly with a hose or better still a power washer at low to medium pressure. When fully dry, your wood should be back to how it looked on day one.
You have various options after cleaning. If you like a nice natural look, you could apply something like Textrol, a clear, anti-UV penetrating oil that is easy to apply. Just two coats wet on wet one after the other and you end up with a lovely natural looking matt finish that will not peel or flake. (Wipe off any excess and do not allow it to pond”.
If you are really fussy, and have lots of time on your hands, you could apply numerous coats of Deks Olja D1 that penetrates the wood deeply and leaves a nice, matte finish. This stuff is used a lot on wooden boats. If you want a highly durable, yet flexible gloss finish, apply a few coats of Deks Olje D2 after a few coats of D1.
For a completely modern or different look, you could also use a “stain” of any colour oil based paint, gloss or matte mixed 30% with my old favourite, all-rounder Owatrol oil as mentioned in this column last week. In that case a 4:1 wash with Net-Trol will suffice just to clean the surface before staining. This durable finish would be expected to last up to 6 years without any peeling or flaking. You can pick up those items at most specialist paint outlets and timber merchants and boat shops.