Looking for new garden furniture this summer? It’s tempting to hop in the car and pick up the first set of plastic chairs that look the part.
But if you’re looking to be more eco-friendly at home, consuming more plastic might not be the answer.
As we all become more eco-aware, upcycled furniture has finally come into its own, and that’s just as true in the garden as it is inside the home. Thanks to an increase in choice and an improvement in quality, upcycled and reclaimed furniture doesn’t need to look second-hand.
Let’s look closer at some eco-friendly pieces that will wow your guests and reduce your impact on the environment.
Why Choose Recycled?
Recycled or upcycled furniture reduces the demand for raw materials and helps to save energy too. Any time you save energy, you also cut carbon emissions – it’s a real win-win.
And we know plastic waste is a huge and growing problem across the entire planet. Along with the bottles and packaging we all use, plastic furniture is also a waste item that needs to be disposed of carefully – and often isn’t.
Fortunately, we’re getting better at recycling hard plastics and turning them into something new. But as a country, we’re still lagging behind. The UK is still only recycling 45% of its plastic packaging, for example, while other European countries are heading towards 95%.
Recycled plastic furniture is a great option, and every piece you buy will incentivize manufacturers to make more. It’s more common to see recycled plastic in commercial settings or children’s play areas, so household garden furniture is a little harder to come by.
As an alternative, reclaimed wood can also save resources and cut your carbon footprint.
Why Reclaimed Wood?
Reclaimed wood has been a popular trend in garden design for the last few years.
It’s not only eco-friendly, but it’s also practical, durable, and comfortable. And since reclaimed wood is plentiful, it’s super affordable too.
Reclaimed wood furniture retains the character of the original timber, whether it’s made from old oak beams or floorboards from a Victorian terrace. This kind of aged wood takes on wonderful marks and imperfections that make each piece of furniture truly unique, with natural colour variations giving each piece of furniture its own individual style.
We’ve seen wood furniture made out of pallets, old wood fences, and beautiful old doors. These items often have nail marks, uneven edges, and deep cracks that enhance their individuality.
Teak is a key material in recycled furniture; its natural oils make it water-repellent and able to stay outdoors in the rain without warping. And teak takes on a rustic look with a pale appearance over time. This makes it tone beautifully with plants and trees, ideal for anyone who wants their furniture to blend in and look like part of the natural scenery.
By choosing recycled teak, you’re helping to conserve our forests and protect the wildlife that depends on them.
Taking Care of Upcycled Wood Furniture
Timber can be upcycled to make many beautiful pieces for your garden. These typically last for many years if you carefully consider the design and the location.
Reclaimed pieces have already been subject to different levels of humidity, and have typically ‘settled’ in a way that fresh timber hasn’t. But since your furniture is going to live outdoors, some swelling and movement is still likely. So making the right choice and maintaining your furniture is crucial.
First, it’s important to choose a piece that’s appropriate for your space. If your heavy table or chair is likely to ‘live’ outdoors for most of the year, you’ll want to choose a design with drainage slots or holes. This will help rain to run off and prevent puddles on flat surfaces, which is important when keeping wood in good condition.
For extra comfort and durability, consider recycled wood chairs with a wicker-effect rattan seat. Artificial rattan is very good at allowing water to flow through the flat seat area, but you still get the benefit of beautiful aged wood for the main structure of your chair.
Secondly, you’ll want to consider the upkeep, just like you do with any piece of furniture for your outdoor space.
You can treat reclaimed wood with oil or wax to bring out its natural patterns. For outdoor use, you can also consider staining, painting, or varnishing.
Keep in mind that, while this kind of treatment is more hard-wearing, it will inevitably change the appearance of the piece.
Finally, although reclaimed wood is typically very strong, you can keep it that way by doing an annual check of all the joints.
Over time, reclaimed wood naturally changes and moves, which is one of the wonderful benefits of this unique and historic material. If the joints in your chair have shifted, a simple tightening up with a wrench or screwdriver will keep your furniture sturdy for another season.
Ready to Replace and Recycle?
If it’s time to replace your old garden tables and chairs, recycled garden furniture is the ideal solution. Not only will it give a little back to the environment, it’ll also give your outdoor space a fitting upgrade that’ll last for many years to come.