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How to treat wooden benches

How to treat wooden benches (how to clean them and apply protective wood oil)

No matter how hard-wearing your wooden bench is, it is important to keep it clean and protect it from the elements. This article provides a simple tutorial on how to treat wooden benches. It includes how to clean them and how to apply protective wood oil.

How to treat wooden benches

How to clean wooden benches: step-by-step

For an outdoor wooden bench, cleaning it regularly will remove algae, lichen, plant matter and other debris that, over time, will cause damage to the wood. It is also a very simple process that shouldn't take too much time, so the more regularly you clean your bench, the better.

If you can, clean your bench on a sunny day to help it dry, be sure to lay down an old blanket or towels before you turn it over to avoid damaging your bench or flooring.

This process is also relevant for indoor benches, especially those used in food preparation areas that can pick up dirt over time, again be sure to protect your working area by laying down old blankets or sheets where you can. 

  1. Fill a bucket with warm water and mild soap. We don't recommend using washing-up liquid because this tends to contain abrasive detergents that can damage the wood.
  2. Using a clean cloth, thoroughly wipe down the upper surfaces of your wooden bench
  3. Safely turn the bench upside down. Get a family member or friend to help you, especially if the bench is heavy, and wear appropriate footwear.
  4. Thoroughly wipe down the underside of your bench.
  5. Turn the bench upright and allow to dry naturally.

And that's it!

How to treat wooden benches

Dealing with staining

If you have accidentally stained your wood with something dark, it is usually best to allow the stain to fade with time.

Bleach irreversibly changes the colour of the wood, so if you do decide to use a cleaning product containing bleach, you must ensure you apply it only to the stained area.

You can also carry out a patch test by applying the product to a hidden area of wood on the underside of your bench.

How to treat wooden benches: step-by-step

Now you know how to clean your wooden bench, it's time to look into surface protection.

Even the most durable wooden bench will eventually succumb to the elements. Outdoor benches clearly have the most need of protection due to their exposure to direct sunlight (and damaging UV rays), rain, snow, hail and extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity. In addition to following the steps below, we recommend investing in a weatherproof cover.

Indoor benches will also be affected by sunlight and temperature variations, so they need protecting too.

When looking at how to treat wooden benches, there are three main options: paint, varnish and finishing oil. Paints and varnishes both provide an exterior coating over the wood, with paint obviously changing its colour.

Finishing oil penetrates the wood for a deeper form of protection. Some finishing oils (like teak oil) will darken the wood, while others (e.g. tung oil) are known for bringing out the wood's natural colour.

Since we advise our customers to oil their wooden benches, this step-by-step guide focuses on this process.

  1. Thoroughly clean your wooden bench following the step-by-step guide above
  2. Using a soft brush or piece of cloth, apply one coat of oil evenly over the exposed wooden surfaces of your bench
  3. Wipe away any excess drips
  4. Wait for the oil to dry (this can take minutes or hours, depending on the product)
  5. Repeat steps 2-4
  6. Repeat steps 2-4 (optional)
  7. Gently sand the exposed wood using a fine-grained sandpaper
  8. Brush off the dust
  9. Repeat steps 2-4

We recommend applying oil at least once every year. Some oils (e.g. tung oil) are long-lasting, so annual application should be enough. Benches with minimal exposure to the elements are also unlikely to need more than this.

However, if your bench is outdoors and you are using a less durable product (e.g. teak oil), we recommend treating it twice a year (e.g., once in the spring, once in the autumn).

Have you seen our range of reclaimed wooden benches?

Now you know how to treat wooden benches - how to clean and protect them - it's the perfect time to browse the 7MAGOK range of reclaimed and sustainably sourced benches and stools. Each unique piece has been lovingly crafted from reclaimed scaffold boards (European whitewood), sustainably sourced oak or other eco-friendly woods.

Every product includes detailed information about its construction and specifications, but if you have any questions, please send us a message via our online contact form.

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