Aluminum is the most common type of outdoor furniture frame material. Usually, if there is a metal frame mentioned in the description, it’s aluminum. This metal is lightweight, durable, and naturally rust-resistant. But, there is still standard maintenance that can be handled to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
To ensure that your aluminum outdoor furniture lasts as long as possible, it is important to adhere to regular intervals of cleaning and waxing. It is equally important to monitor for oxidation and treat any oxidation immediately.
I’m with you, aluminum is so much easier on my wallet than the other metals and can be just as perfect for an outdoor space, that it’s one of my favorite choices. The fact that a lot of aluminum products are recycled also makes me feel better about any new purchases.
What are the Different Types of Aluminum Used in Outdoor Furniture?
This is the lighter metal that is so often found as the framing of outdoor furniture. It’s pretty weather-resistant, lightweight, and cheap.
This type of aluminum is just how it sounds. During manufacturing, instead of a thin or hollow metal standard, the molten aluminum is poured into a cast mold, allowing for more shapes, designs, and of course a stronger end result.
Wrought aluminum is manipulated into the shape desired by the manufacturer and then reinforced over and over again. It ends up similar in design to wrought iron, but it’s lighter and less expensive.
No matter which type of aluminum you choose, there are key maintenance needs that will help your aluminum furniture last longer.
How Often Should Aluminum Outdoor Furniture Be Cleaned?
As I stated earlier, it is important to set yourself a regular cleaning schedule. Of course, you may be asking yourself, “Well, what sort of schedule is considered as a regular schedule for aluminum furniture?”
For the best results consider cleaning your aluminum outdoor furniture quarterly. If you live in an area near the ocean then the cleaning interval will likely need to increase to monthly due to the increased risk of oxidation forming on your aluminum outdoor furniture.
Keep in mind that covering your patio furniture while it is not in use can add years to the life of your investment, no matter what material it’s made of. This is particularly true of aluminum if it’s located in a high-salt region (near saltwater).
What is Oxidation?
Even though aluminum doesn’t rust, a different kind of chemical reaction can cause problems with it – oxidation. Coated or cast aluminum is especially susceptible to this. When your furniture is exposed to the elements, it simply can develop a layer of powdery white oxidation.
Depending on the level of oxidation on your furniture, how you clean it will change.
How to Clean Oxidation from Your Aluminum Patio Furniture
Light aluminum oxidation means you have only a few spots of oxidation. The finish will be slightly dull with no hard or crusty places or pits on the surface. To get rid of it? Mix equal parts white vinegar and water. Use the sponge with the mixture to rub away any oxidation from the surface of your aluminum-coated furniture.
Medium aluminum oxidation means the finish is dull and there is a white layer of oxidation over most or all of the metal with some pitting. Applying a small amount of fine-cut automotive rubbing compound (designed for use on aluminum) or an acid-free consumer aluminum oxidation removal product to a cloth rag, rub the compound over areas with medium oxidation.
To be honest, it acts like a buffing compound. Let the compound dry, then wipe it from the surface of the furniture, using a clean terry cloth or microfiber towel.
Heavy aluminum oxidation means the finish is very bad in some places with rough pitting. You may need to go over it with the oxidation removal products more than once and either apply more pressure or use an electric buffer. You can also use super-fine steel wool dipped in soapy water to clean areas of heavy oxidation.
Always clean and rinse the furniture with clean water once the oxidation is removed. If chemicals are left on your furniture, they can not only be harmful to the material it’s made of but can also cause a reaction to a person’s skin – you know, when they sit in the chair? Better safe than sorry.
My pick for the best oxidation removal product would be the California Custom Aluminum Deoxidizer.
What is the Best Way to Clean Your Aluminum Furniture?
Once you’ve handled any oxidation problems, be sure to properly clean the aluminum furniture. Even if you don’t have oxidation, keeping your furniture clean helps extend its life.
Something non-abrasive and thick is best to be used for final cleaning. These are especially good for scuffs and scratches. Never use any cleaners that include baking soda or ammonia for cleaning aluminum. These two things create a harmful chemical reaction that can ruin the furniture.
Each product has its own labeling and instructions for use. So, please follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Once you’re done, give it a good rinse.
Waxing to Protect Your Aluminum Outdoor Furniture
Now that you’ve got clean and dry aluminum furniture, it can be waxed. Even without oxidation, your aluminum furniture can get dull and need wax. You can use just car wax for this, nothing special to purchase here. This simple act can protect your furniture from the elements and prevent sand, dirt, and grime from settling on it.
How Long Will My Aluminum Patio Furniture Last?
If you adopt the idea of regular cleaning and maintenance of your outdoor furniture, you can expect at least 15+ years of usage from it.
Choosing aluminum outdoor furniture can be easy on the wallet, but a decision based on knowing there might be some maintenance involved in the choice. But, the better you care for your furniture, the longer it will last and the nicer it will be for those family and friends – and of course for you.
If you are still on the fence about what type of outdoor furniture is right for you then be sure to check out our article on the outdoor furniture that lasts the longest.