Garden furniture is always a nice addition to a garden. It opens up a host of outdoor opportunities; socialising, dining, drinking, even working. But, what if you’ve got limited space, or have to cater to differing numbers of visitors? Folding garden furniture can be the answer. Keep on reading to find out more.
What is folding garden furniture?
This may seem like a question with a rather obvious answer, but there are in fact many different types of foldable garden furniture.
Some foldable garden furniture, such as many types of chair, fold away until they are virtually flat. Other types of foldable garden furniture such as sun loungers or tables will only partially fold.
So, when you’re looking for foldable furniture for your garden, it’s important to establish to what extent the furniture folds. You don’t want to buy a piece of furniture only to find that it still takes up too much space when folded.
Types of folding garden furniture
As we mentioned above, there are a number of different types of folding garden furniture. We’ve set out the most common types of folding garden furniture below.
One of the most common types of folding garden furniture, folding chairs offer you the ability to quickly and easily expand the seating capacity of your garden.
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At Cotswold Teak we stock several different styles of folding garden chair. These range from solid teak armchairs that use a series of pivots to fold completely flat, through to lighter weight teak and canvas deck chairs that use a more basic pivot system to fold flat.
Folding tables are another common type of folding garden furniture. Folding tables range in style, from models that simply fold in half down the centre of the table, to models that have folding edges (so that there remains a segment of table in the centre that isn’t folded).
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Models that fold in half are the best option if you’re looking for a table that can essentially fold flat and be easily stored. Some of these types of folding tables also feature a built-in carrying handle to make it easy to move them around.
Other models include tables that feature folding legs, where the top of the table remains fixed in one piece. These types of folding tables also fold almost completely flat, but because the top of the table is one solid piece, they can be a bit more cumbersome to move around.
Folding loungers and steamers
The third most common type of folding garden furniture are sun loungers and steamers.
In a similar way to folding chairs, folding sun loungers and steamers typically use either a series of pivots or joints to fold away. Because they are bigger than your average folding chair, folding sun loungers do tend to take up more space when folded and can be quite a bit heavier.
What to look for in quality garden furniture
Whether you’re after a folding chair, table or sun lounger, there are some common things you should look for to ensure you’re buying a quality piece of furniture.
First of all, you should ensure that the furniture is made from a good quality, long-lasting material. This is because folding garden furniture has to withstand a bit more wear and tear than fixed garden furniture because it’s being folded and moved around on a regular basis.
As you’d probably expect us to say, we recommend teak over any other type of material for garden furniture. Teak is robust, very long lasting, weather and pest resistant and is beautiful!
Guide - you can find out more about the properties of teak wood in our comprehensive guide here.
Of course, other materials are available such as oak, pine and cedar, but we’d recommend you buy folding garden furniture made of the best quality wood you can afford.
As we said above, you should buy folding furniture made from hardwood such as teak rather than softwood such as pine because folding furniture has to withstand more wear and tear.
Aside from quality material, you should ensure that your folding garden furniture features a robust, well thought out folding mechanism.
Look for good quality metal fittings made from stainless steel (cheap folding garden furniture tends to use inexpensive, softer metals that don’t stand up to repeated folding). Fittings should also be recessed into the wood and flush with the surface - you don't want bolts, pivots or fittings that protrude from the surface.
These fittings should be secure and fixed firmly in place. Other things to look for include chamfered edges on any wood around the folding parts of the chair.
Chamfered, rounded, edges mean that the wood is less likely to splinter or be damaged when the chair is being folded/unfolded. If you look at cheaper folding garden furniture you will generally find straight edges which will easily become damaged over time.
Ease of folding
Another thing to think about when selecting folding garden furniture is how easy it is to fold.
You don’t want to have to worry about a complicated folding mechanism when you’re trying to put your furniture away.
So look for basic folding and pivot mechanisms. The furniture should effectively fold and collapse itself using these mechanisms once you’ve started to fold it.
You should also think about where and how you’ll be storing your garden furniture. For example, if you’ve got limited space, then you’ll want a folding table where the top splits (rather than remains a single piece). This will make storing and moving it far easier.
Folding garden furniture care and maintenance advice
Like any piece of furniture, regular maintenance and care will ensure the long life of your folding garden furniture. Below we’ve set out some top tips to help you care for and maintain your folding garden furniture.
Cleaning folding garden furniture
Cleaning teak folding garden furniture is very straightforward. If you want to remove any accumulated dirt or grime, all you need is some hot soapy water and a large sponge.
Here are Cotswold Teak’s top tips for cleaning folding teak garden furniture:
> Only clean your folding teak garden furniture when it’s dry and sunny outside.
> Fill up a bucket with hot soapy water (standard washing up soap will do).
> Gently wash and scrub the furniture using your large sponge. This will dislodge any stubborn dirt.
> Rinse off the hot soapy water along with any dislodged detritus using a bucket of cold water or a hose.
> Allow the furniture to dry naturally in the sun.
Tip - we’d advise against using a pressure washer to clean folding garden furniture, as a pressure washer can damage the metal parts of the folding mechanism.
Maintaining folding garden furniture
In addition to cleaning your folding garden furniture, it also pays to give it some TLC on a periodic basis.
If you’ve bought teak garden furniture, then the wood itself doesn’t necessarily require any maintenance. If you are happy for your teak furniture to turn silver gray over time, then simply do nothing!
However, if you want to maintain the teak’s golden brown colour, you’ll need to treat it with an appropriate teak oil at least once a year.
Note - if you intend to use teak oil on your garden furniture we strongly recommend that you do so under advice, in dry conditions, when the furniture has been kept dry for an extended period of time. Failure to treat your teak in this way can result in damage to the wood.
Maintaining the moving parts of folding garden furniture
When it comes to the folding parts of your garden furniture, there are a few key bits of maintenance we recommend you carry out on a periodic basis:
> Ensure that any moving parts are lubricated on a periodic basis with a suitable mineral oil (don’t use WD40 or GT85 as this will dry out the moving part). Just put a few droplets of oil onto any hinges, or moving parts and you’ll ensure that the folding mechanism of your furniture doesn’t seize up.
> Fold and unfold your furniture once you’ve applied the mineral oil. This will give the oil an opportunity to work itself deeply into the moving parts.
> Fold and unfold your furniture on a regular basis after this to ensure that the folding mechanism doesn’t seize up. This is particularly important if you leave your furniture outdoors in all weathers.
Look for all these things and follow this advice and you’ll be able to buy folding garden furniture that is not only functional and great to look at, but also long lasting. If, however, you have any questions that this guide hasn’t answered, please feel free to contact our expert, friendly team who will be happy to help on 01608 682 191 or email [email protected].
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For more garden furniture information and buying advice, read the Cotswold Teak blog…