Tropical Hardwoods Are the Smart Patio Choice

Tropical Hardwoods Are the Smart Patio Choice


Since the beginning of time man has espoused the quality, warmth and beauty of wood for his cherished furnishings. Well, time marches on but some things need not change just for reasons of “progress”. When it comes to outdoor casual and patio furnishings, technology has brought us cast iron, PVC pipe, aluminum, cast aluminum and plastic. But technology has fallen short and really offers nothing in this venue to match the beauty and durability of tropical hardwoods like Teak or Balau. Between the Ultra Violet Rays of the sun in our southern clime, the salt air that we enjoy – living near the ocean, and the high humidity of this environment, there is nothing more suitable than tropical hardwood.

In considering the “new” materials available today, each one has drawbacks that leave tropical hardwoods superior. The U.V. rays from the sun are a real hazard to these new materials. These harmful rays break down PVC and plastics and burn off painted finishes. Couple that with the corrosive salt air that will make most things metallic rust and corrode seemingly while you watch, and one begins to see that man-made materials just can’t make the grade. Even powder-coated materials can chip and leave exposed the underlying material to rust or corrode.

Tropical hardwoods, on the other hand, are grown in the tropical climes of the Pacific-Asia region and for hundreds, even thousands, of years have been highly touted for their superior abilities to withstand the elements. Because of its classic, natural looks, “it will never go out of style, ” says Karin Strom, an interior decorator and author of What’s in Style-Outdoor Living. Some may think that the salt air is harmful to the tropical hardwood when actually it is a preservative. Sailors have long known that to preserve the teak decks on their great sailing ships, that a bucket of salt water wash down daily would keep the decks shipshape. Tropical hardwoods, left unattended will “weather” to a silver gray patina. However, unlike many of the new materials, tropical hardwoods can also be kept looking like new with a minimum of effort.

Many people with Teak or Alternative Tropical Hardwoods, like Balau, enjoy the superior weathering properties of these woods but are unsure as to the proper care. In this instance “proper care” actually means less work and nicer appearance. Teak Oil has long been the most common way to protect outdoor tropical hardwoods. But technology (remember that we started this article talking about technology) has provided a better way. Among the drawbacks of teak oil is the fact that true teak oil (which is tung oil) never completely dries, collects dirt, and washes off. So you now have a vicious circle. Apply the teak oil, which looks wonderful, the teak oil collects dirt, you wash the dirt off, and take some of the teak oil off in the process. After 4-6 weeks of this cycle and you have to start all over again.

A major U.S. University has developed an environmentally friendly sealer for high density tropical hardwoods that is loaded with U.V. inhibitors, incorporates a fungicide and mildewcide agent to resist those black mildew spots that grow down here, looks just like teak oil, and because it’s environmentally friendly can be applied with a brush without wearing gloves or mask or radiation suit. When done, you can simply rinse your brush out under a faucet. This product is called Banana River Sealer and is sold by Avonlea Gardens in Melbourne, Florida, 800-238-0604.

Unlike the teak oil nightmare cited above, Banana River Sealer will protect, renourish, and beautify your investment for 7-9 months out in the direct sunlight or 1-2 years under cover of a screen porch, lanai, or gazebo. Reapplication is simple and easy. Simply wash your furniture with soap and water to remove any dirt, because you don’t want to apply sealer over dirt, and reapply another coat using a soft bristle brush. If you happen to scratch your furniture the Banana River Sealer will blend in for touch-up. This process can go on indefinitely. This is why those in the know refer to high density tropical hardwood casual furniture as “heirloom furniture”. With a minimum of effort, you can enjoy your beautiful tropical hardwood casual furniture – for life.


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