Hardwood Bench Care Guide

All the hardwood garden benches we supply at Garden Benches Direct are selected for their attractive appearance and exceptional durability. We stock hardwood benches in a range of different timbers, each with their own care requirements. To ensure your hardwood garden bench lasts as long as possible, follow the advice in this hardwood bench care guide or print off a downloadable copy here. Looking for advice on teak care? Check out our teak bench care guide here.

Hardwood Timber

Hardwood, like all timber, is an organic material that will change, flex, and mature over time. Each variety of hardwood has its own unique properties, responding in different ways to changes in temperature, weathering, and general wear and tear.

Cornis Mahogany Acacia Roble
Cornis Acacia Roble

Cornis, also called khaya mahogany, is a warm, auburn-coloured tropical hardwood with straight, tightly-locked grain.

Our cornis is FSc approved and comes with a uniform, oiled finish.

Cornis is a robust hardwood with an expected lifespan of 10 years. To retain its smooth, reddish-brown lustre, cornis requires a minimum of one treatment a year.

Left untreated, cornis mahogany will darken in colour before fading to a silvery-grey.

Acacia is a highly decorative, multi-toned hardwood with an attractive, swirling grain.

The timber features unique amber and dark brown striping, making it a popular choice for outdoor furniture.

Acacia is generally less dense than other hardwoods, but it has impeccable water, pest, and mould resistance.

To retain the striking appearance of acacia timber, it will require two annual treatments. Left untreated, the timber will begin to fade to a grey hue.

Roble is slow-grown Bolivian hardwood with a classic honey-coloured, tone.

Similar in appearance to American oak or teak, roble has a smooth, golden-brown finish.

Considered a worthy alternative to teak, roble is exceptionally durable and weather resistant — with an expected lifespan of 25+ years.

To keep roble timber looking its best, an annual treatment is recommended. Left untreated, roble will begin to fade.

Cleaning and Oiling

Despite the different varieties of hardwood available, most timber can be cleaned and treated in the same way. To maintain the fresh appearance of your hardwood garden bench, we recommend an occasional sealing with our premium teak oil spray. This will rejuvenate the timber, provide an additional layer of protection against the weather, and prevent your hardwood bench from warping.

Cleaning & Oiling

Typically, teak oil would be applied once a year at the least. To achieve the best results, apply the teak oil treatment to a clean piece of outdoor furniture and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Each hardwood timber requires different amounts of protection, please refer to the individual care requirements above for reference.

To clean your furniture, use a non-metallic brush and lightly stroke in the direction of the grain, removing any dried-on mud or dirt. For persistent stains, you can use warm soapy water. Be careful not to scrub too hard though, as you run the risk of removing the surface layer of the wood and damaging its smooth lustre.

Once clean, pat your furniture down and leave it outside to dry naturally. The wood needs to dry out completely before you apply teak oil. We recommend leaving your timber to dry overnight, for a minimum of 12 hours.

Once dry, you can then apply teak oil to your hardwood bench. Apply a small quantity of the wood treatment onto a lint-free cloth and massage it into the timber — wiping off any excess as you go for a streak-free finish. Allow the surface of the bench to dry fully before adding any further coats.

Storing your Hardwood Bench

Premium Bench CoverHardwood timber is naturally resilient to moisture, mildew, and pests, making it the ideal material for outdoor furniture and you can even leave your garden bench outside all year round. Hardwood that’s been continually exposed to the elements and left to age naturally will fade to a delicate silvery-grey colour.

If you prefer the vibrance of fresh timber, a suitably sized garden bench cover can be used to keep the harshest weather from damaging the wood. If you do decide to cover your hardwood garden bench, make sure the cover is pulled taught. This discourages mould and mildew from settling in and ensures that any moisture runs off the cover and onto the floor, rather than onto your bench. For prolonged periods of rainfall or bad weather, you could move your hardwood garden bench into a garage or garden shed to ensure the timber won’t be damaged by standing water.

Stain Removal

A spilt glass of wine or cup of tea shouldn’t be an issue for a piece of treated hardwood timber.

Spilt Wine

If, after the initial spillage has been mopped up, a stain appears, the best course of action is to lightly sand the stained area. Using fine-grade sandpaper, gently rub the timber — making sure to rub in the same direction as the grain. For persistent stains, you might need to use a harsher grade of sandpaper first, then switch to a finer grade to restore the timber’s smooth finish.

For roble and acacia hardwood, this is standard practise. However, it is recommended that you exercise greater caution with cornis, as this hardwood has an oiled finish that might be damaged by aggressive sanding.

After sanding, to restore the colour of your hardwood garden bench, apply some teak oil to the sanded area and leave to soak overnight.

Your hardwood garden bench should now look as good as new. For really stubborn stains, consult a timber specialist who may be able to recommend a reputable cleaning product that’s specifically designed for hardwood furniture. However, most stains can simply be sanded away, and the timber restored.

Bench Splitting

Wood is a natural living fibre that constantly responds to changes in its environment. Every now and again, you may notice a small split or crack appear somewhere on your garden bench. This isn’t a defect, or even a sign of damage: splitting in any timber is an entirely natural phenomenon.

An example of a naturally occurring split in a wooden garden bench

Splitting occurs because of a piece of timber’s water content. Fresh wood, called green wood, has a water content of up to 50% of its total weight. This water is stored deep within the timber, called “bound water” or inside capillaries, called “free water.” Timber’s “free water” is the first to evaporate throughout the drying process and when it reaches a water content of between 25-30% it is ready to be made into a garden bench. The “bound water” deep within the timber is the cause of splitting further down the line.

Splits typically occur around summer due to changes in air moisture and hotter weather. These changes force a piece of timber to dry out and split in an attempt to release the “bound water” at its centre. There is no way to prevent this from happening: it is a process completely governed by the nature of wood itself. However, once a piece of timber has released its “bound water” the cracks will often close up — only to reappear later when the weather changes again.

In this sense, wood is a unique and imperfect biological material. Timber will never provide the immaculate appearance of man-made materials and part of the charm of owning a wooden garden bench is that it will change and develop over time. Providing you take the correct precautions and treat your hardwood garden bench with the appropriate care, splitting will not be the cause of a larger problem — it is simply a quirk of timber’s organic development.