When it comes to outdoor furniture, cast aluminum is undeniably one of the best options out there. But what exactly is it about the material that makes it endearing to many?
Well, for you, it could be the timeless look. For others, it is probably the long lifespan. And for some, it might have something to do with the strength and versatility.
For us, it’s got to be the low-maintenance. And we know, for sure, a lot of people will agree. A cast aluminum furniture has the ability to retain its shine for many years as long as you’re upbeat about taking care of it.
Unfortunately, low maintenance doesn’t mean “no maintenance”.
Even though your cast aluminum furniture is easy to look after, it can quickly become less inviting when allowed to slide. Dirt and grime can build up, and weathering may set in.
In this article, we will show you how to clean cast aluminum patio furniture including some of the preventive maintenance you could do to extend its lifespan.
But before we delve in, let’s understand what cast aluminum is and how it is different from other aluminum furniture.
What is Cast Aluminum Furniture?
Cast aluminum furniture patio furniture is any furniture made from cast aluminum. The process involves pouring molten aluminum into a mold. The use of specific molds allow a more intricate and consistent design to be achieved.
Unlike hollow aluminum furniture, cast aluminum can take a beating from heavy winds and won’t corrode when exposed to moisture, like other metal types. They also require little-to-no maintenance.
How cast aluminum is made
Cast aluminum is simply “aluminum” that has been “casted”.
Casting, itself, is a process that involves pouring hot molten aluminum into a mold and allowing it to solidify.
Below are the steps that lead to the finished product.
- First, the pattern for the shape of the furniture or frame is made and then carved in wood.
- Next, the pattern is fed into a molding box that contains the casting sand which makes up only half of the mold. After the pattern is pressed into the sand, the upper half of the box is filled with additional sand.
- After some time, the pattern is removed (this is usually after the box has been turned over). Then the sand is given some time to dry, and eventually for the mold.
- Next, molten aluminum alloy is fed into the box and then given sufficient time to cool.
- The solidified metal usually reveals a lot of imperfections after the sand have been removed. Thus it may be sanded to remove some of the rough edges.
- Next, the parts are then put together and welded to form the furniture. Some manufacturers may also sand the weld to make it look seamless.
This whole process is known as sand casting. Other types of casting are die-casting and mould casting.
Difference between Aluminum furniture and Cast Aluminum furniture
Both are aluminum products so the main distinction lies in the manufacturing methods. Patio furniture that are designated as ‘aluminum’ usually have a hollow frame while the cast aluminum models are usually solid.
Of course, each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Hollow aluminum is typically made from a process known as extrusion, thus you will often hear it being called ‘extruded aluminum’. The process involves forcing aluminum billets through a die with a specific cross-sectional profile, which could be a round, square, or hollow frame.
As you can see, the manufacturing process of extruded aluminum leads to a lighter metal that is easier to handle and move around than cast aluminum. This makes aluminum furniture suitable for seniors and children.
However, extruded aluminum usually lacks the support provided by cast aluminum furniture. Also, the latter tend to last longer and offer more complex and intricate designs. They are also less susceptible to denting.
Why people Choose Cast Aluminum Furniture
Besides its low maintenance, here are some of the reasons why most people prefer cast aluminum furniture over other options.
Lightweight & Sturdy
As we pointed out earlier, aluminum is pretty lightweight, and cast aluminum is no different.
However, cast aluminum is still heavier than tubular or extruded aluminum but lighter than wood or iron patio furniture. This makes it easy to lift and move around, yet sturdy enough to resist tough winds.
Another huge advantage of cast aluminum is that it can last for a very long time, especially when maintained properly.
The incredible durability is largely connected with the “solid” construction which doesn’t only make it fairly resistant to wear but also ensure it doesn’t warp or bend like plastic and other metal types.
A high-quality cast aluminum piece can last over 20 years.
Unlike steel and iron, cast aluminum doesn’t rust. As a result, you can use the furniture anywhere without worrying too much about the climate.
People who live in humid areas usually benefit most from this, as using other types of metals or furniture in such places can be disastrous. However, it’s important to note that overexposure to harsh weather conditions can pose a problem for any type of furniture, even cast aluminum.
Cool to touch
Have you ever tried sitting on a steel or iron patio bench on a hot afternoon? You probably escaped being burnt.
Luckily, cast aluminum is quite different. It doesn’t get as hot as other metals when left in the sun for long. And this is largely due to its ability to naturally disperse heat.
So even when the temperature is 90oF outside, it will still be cool and safe to touch.
This can be really beneficial during summer when ordinarily the heat of the sun can make it quite uncomfortable to sit outside.
Endless Design Options
Also, due to the manufacturing process, cast aluminum offers more complex and intricate designs than other metal types. So you will find furniture pieces with various kinds of surface textures and styles. This makes it super easy to find a unit that blends in with your style and patio.
How to clean cast aluminum patio furniture
So, what’s the best way to clean your cast aluminum patio furniture? Below is a general guide of how things should be done.
Before anything else, you have to prepare the patio furniture for cleaning. You can do this by simply removing all the covers or cushions, and every other thing that is not cast aluminum.
Once the cushions are out of the way, next, set the furniture on a clean, leveled surface as you get ready to begin cleaning.
Next, get rid of loose debris on the furniture using a stiff wire brush. Do this for your benches, sofa, and table.
For any piece with a more complex or intricate design, use a smaller wire brush. This will allow you comb certain areas which you may not be able to reach with a bigger brush.
Now is the time to start washing.
Using a garden hose, spray the furniture thoroughly with clean warm water.
After doing this, get another bucket of water and use a sponge or a wet wipe to get rid of any remaining surface dirt. If you don’t have a sponge or wipe, then you can use a soft clean cloth. You can add a mild detergent to the water.
Avoid using anything abrasive, like steel wool, to avoid leaving scratches on the metal surface.
Step Five (Optional)
You can apply a cleaning solvent to remove any stubborn dirt on the frame. However, it should be something without any bleaching agent or oil as those could be abrasive. A good example is marine aluminum cleaner.
You should have your rubber gloves on while doing this.
Next, you can rinse the frame by spraying it with water from a hose or you can pour it from a bucket.
Then, dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
You can add a bit of car wax to prevent corrosion and give the furniture a bit of shine.
However, try not to do this every time as too much wax can damage the cast aluminum material in the long run.
The tips below do not apply to general cleaning of your patio furniture but they can help to keep it in shape and extend its lifespan.
Painting is another way to deal with scratches.
For cast aluminum furniture with a powder-coated finish, try and inspect occasionally for any chip or scratches. And whenever you come across one, you can reach out to the retailer or manufacturer on the best way to deal with it.
Most of the time, the repair process will involve painting the bare metal. Ideally, you should use paint that matches the existing frame color. This is the more reason you should contact the manufacturer.
Depending on the finish and texture of the cast aluminum furniture, you can also apply wax or oil to preserve the look and shine.
For glossy finishes that are not textured, you can use any good automotive wax product. Besides protecting the look, applying wax can also help to reduce the buildup of dirt and debris on the finish.
For units with textured finishes or surfaces, you can use baby oil or mineral oil to achieve the same effect.
Remove the Foot Caps
Cast aluminum furniture with foot caps or adjuster slides fitted to the legs end up collecting and storing water, which can damage the frame.
This often happens during winter when the furniture is left outside under freezing temperatures.
To prevent this, you can remove the slides or foot caps.
Another thing you could to prolong the useful life of your patio furniture is to use covers.
Even though cast aluminum is ordinarily rust-proof, the effect of rain, snow and ice can begin to take a toll on it when constantly exposed. This consequently leads to damage or structural issues which may affect the lifespan of the furniture.
To prevent this from happening, you can either store the items indoor or use good patio covers.
This will not only help in reducing dirt and grime, it will also help to maintain the look of the furniture.
To sum it up, use covers or storage when you don’t plan to use the furniture for extended periods. This is extremely important especially during winter.
Preventive maintenance remains the best way to guarantee the longevity of any metal furniture. So instead of washing frequently, you will benefit more by buying a good cover and covering the furniture when not in use. This will keep the rains out and ensure the paint finish is not scorched by the heat from the sun.
Let us know if you need any more help on how to clean your cast aluminum patio furniture.