May 16

Springtime Patio Upkeep 101


Tips on Maintaining and Repairing Restaurant Patio Furniture To Increase Its Lifespan

If you’re reading this, spring has likely sprung – if you’re reading this in the dead of winter… you are either a person who loves being very prepared, or you’re very stoned and trapped in some kind of Google search wormhole.

Patio season means wiping off that patio furniture for your outside customers and getting ready for the Friday afternoon rush. If you’ve neglected to take proper care of storing your benches, tables, and awnings over the winter, use this handy list of quick fixes to get them looking like new and lasting for years to come.

How To Fix a Picnic Table With Dry Rot

There are degrees of fixability when it comes to wooden patio furniture issues. Both wood and metal shrink and swell to a degree, which will loosen nails, screws, and bolts until they straight up fall out. So one thing I always check for is loose fasteners— or ones that have gone missing.

If a particular piece is assembled using screws that have fallen out, the hole is likely stripped or rotted out so that a new screw won’t hold. You have two choices here:

  1. A small piece of wood, like a wooden match or toothpick, can be stuffed in the old hole with a little glue. This can reduce the size of the hole enough for the new screw to get a bite.
  2. If it’s too far gone for that, you might be able to drill it all the way through and put a bolt and nut on. This will be a little more permanent than a screw by itself, and you can also get a locking nut that resists loosening up.

Dry rot will destroy your wooden picnic tables, benches, and chairs if they get wet, plain and simple.

The trick is to seal it up with some water-based wood sealant. An even coat should be applied to the entire table. A water-repellent wood preservative can protect against sun damage, mildew, and even termites depending on the brand you purchase.

Pay special attention to where screws and fasteners are met with water or sun. These places typically create a weak point for water to enter and cause damage. This can be exasperated if the metal fasteners start to rust as well. So touching up these spots with sealer using a brush or a spray is normal.

Inevitably, some boards and planks will have to be replaced if you let them go too long – once a piece of wood has its integrity compromised, there’s not much you can do to make it strong again.

Anything Metal Will Rust, Eventually

So with metal patio furniture or just the metal parts of a wooden piece of patio furniture, replace or clean and seal any rusty parts before they become brittle and break.

First, you need to remove as much of the rust as you can. Be careful not to just whip out your rotating sander and start grinding away at the metal. Only do this if the metal you’re cleaning is thick, still sturdy, and not experiencing any seriously deep oxidation.

There are some nifty hacks for removing rust from just about anything. You can make a paste from baking soda and water, spread that over the rusty section, wait 20 minutes, and then scrape off using steel wool or a wire brush.

Coca-cola is also kinda amazing at removing rust— apparently, the carbonation helps dissolve the iron oxide by pouring it right on the rusty spot and then scrubbing it with a microfiber cloth. As with any of these efforts, after you get the rust off, clean and dry the metal and then coat it with either a rustoleum paint or fancier metal sealant.

Don’t break your budget here. The only thing that is going to make a difference is regular maintenance. The elements are just too good at breaking man-made things down… so plan on doing this every other year, and you’ll be good to go.

How To Keep People Fawning Over Your Awning With a Mural of Yanni on It

Depending on what it’s made of, you can keep most awnings in tip-top shape for longer than average using the same principles as above. If you have vinyl umbrellas or awnings that are attached using hooks and cables, inspect them once a year.

Look for rust and rips wherever they are attached, and don’t forget the poles, hooks, and parts of your building they attach to… those can also get water damage like the rest.

There are some very effective vinyl repair tapes on the market that work remarkably well. Just make sure what you’re sticking it to is clean and dry— and it wouldn’t hurt to apply some constant pressure while the glue sets. (I took my canvas tarp down, taped it up, and set it between two books with a weight on top to hold it together for a few hours).

As with anything, fix holes, remove rust, and seal it with something that will protect it from water damage. If it’s just that your mural of Yanni needs a touch-up, all I can say is, bust out your most delicate paintbrush and treat that image with the respect it deserves.

This article was not written by A.I. — but the writer is in a long-term relationship with a robot.

About the author

Jakup Martini

Jakup Martini likes to quote the movie Ghostbusters in social settings... During the rectification of the Vuldronaii, the Traveler came as a large and moving Torb! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex supplicants, they chose a new form for him - that of a giant Sloar! Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of a Sloar that day, I can tell you!