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Teak: Ideal for outdoor, patio furniture

I have been following decorating ideas for patios and the outdoors on some of the more prestigious décor websites and literally drooling at some of the furniture featured on these sites.

Report by Helen Devmac

Little did I know that we have it all right here in Zimbabwe. Not only do we have the right climate for outdoor living and entertainment, the right ambience as the sun sets daily, but we also have beautiful patio furniture and decking manufactured right under our noses using our very own indigenous timber. There are a number of companies that make teak furniture in Bulawayo.

We all know that choosing the right furniture for the outdoors and patios is not as easy as it may first appear. Like I said last week, there are so many things to consider, apart from the fact that it must look good; it has to be durable, built to last and must be able to withstand the vagaries of the weather, not to mention insects. Wind, rain and sunshine all must be taken aboard. The most durable materials that come to mind, will either be metal or wood.

While metal may suffice in that it is sturdy and heavy and not easily blown away by the wind, it also has distinct disadvantages, like the tendency to corrode and rust and therefore needing frequent painting, and worst of all, metal retains heat for long periods, so imagine taking a seat on a hot bench! Not very comfortable.

Then I came across teak. Did you know that the park benches used in the Commons have been standing for more than 70 years and may have well come from this part of the world?

Over a 100 years ago the indigenous woods of southern Africa were found to be useful in many applications, particularly railways, mining and flooring. As a result there was an indiscriminate stripping of the forests in order to supply the railways and great houses of Europe. Today, thank God good sense has prevailed and while the great beauty of teak is undiminished, what has changed is that there is now a sustainable approach to the use of this great resource, ensuring that future generations will continue to enjoy the great beauty of this hard wood in their flooring and furnishings.

I believe that most types of wood have to be pressure treated in order to make them suitable for manufacturing furniture for the outdoors. Not so with teak, as it has in built properties that make it insect and water repellent.

Although its warm rose tinge may change to grey when exposed to the elements for long periods, this is easily dealt with by light sanding. What more would you want for your garden and patio area? All these special properties do make teak the most expensive wood available but you can take solace in that, whatever item of furniture you choose to buy will be built to last and you will be leaving beautiful heirlooms for your children and grandchildren.

When we talked patios last week, we did not really dwell much on decking, which is suddenly all the rage for outdoor spaces, around the pool area and of course on patios and verandas. Nearly every house can benefit from a deck, giving you additional space and flooring for entertaining or just lounging around.

Decking makes good sense for many reasons. Apart from giving you more floor space, it brings together the indoors and outdoors, minimising dust and muck from the outdoors. Entertainment areas and pool areas look clean and elegant.

Decking complements landscaping
Decking helps overcome landscaping issues presented by uneven sloping ground, particularly near the house, by evening out the surface and making it easier for children and the elderly to walk.

It can be used to enhance a beautiful garden and many features may be incorporated onto your decking such as water features plants and interesting plant containers. And there is absolutely no doubt that by giving you additional space in which to entertain family and guests, decking adds value to your property.

The beauty of all this is that all that beautiful patio furniture and elegant decks in backyards or the front garden are here, and are no longer the stuff of décor magazines.

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