At Edinburgh venue The Peartree, outdoor furniture maintenance is a regular job during the summer season.
“It’s constant repair and maintenance,” said GM George Fyvie. “We strip everything down on a Monday and get replacements in.
“We have a store yard where we keep things all ready. It’s just a well-oiled machine, just replacing things.
“We’ve always got spares sitting there.
“We send things away to get repaired again and it’s just a never ending supply.”
Stuart King, director at Cawley Hotels, said the firm has a maintenance team of six working across its House of Darrach, Duck Bay Marina by Loch Lomond, The Loch House at Lochwinnoch and The Wheelhouse Bar and Grill in Langbank outlets in a bid to keep outdoor areas in tip top shape.
Make sure all furniture is dry before storing for the winter.
“If a tabletop breaks or comes off, it’s repaired instantly,” he said. “But we also have back-up tables and chairs, so if the second one breaks it’ll go away and the spare will go out.”
In addition to the maintenance team, King said he keeps his outdoor areas in shape through a focus on quality when purchasing furniture.
“At Duck Bay [Marina] the furniture is getting used all the time,” he said.
“It’s of a very good quality and can take a very busy summer. We buy good quality – it’s stainless steel-topped tables and the chairs are wicker, so they can last.”
Jan Dammis of hospitality furniture supplier Go In echoed King’s comments, advising operators to “buy the best quality outdoor furniture you can afford”.
Dammis added that there are several steps operators can take to ensure furniture lasts through the winter.
“‘Winterising’ your outdoor furniture is really important,” said Dammis.
“While most outdoor furniture is built to last and will cope well with the winter weather, its life can be significantly increased if it’s stored carefully over this period.
Storing furniture correctly can significantly increase its life span.
“This not only avoids having the furniture outside through the worst of the weather but also ensures it undergoes careful annual maintenance and a thorough cleaning routine.”
Dammis highlighted five “top tips” for preparing furniture for the winter: to clean, making sure everything is dry before storage; to repair; to treat, following manufacture guidelines; to store either indoors or protected and wrapped for outdoor storage; and to ensure it is checked at regular intervals during storage.
Larger pieces of outdoor furniture may present a challenge when it comes to storage but Ricky Kerr of garden furniture firm Champfleurie Estate reminded operators that not all wooden furniture needs additional protection from the elements.
“If it’s pressure treated then leave it outside uncovered,” said Kerr, adding that plastic covers can cause condensation and mould.
Not all operators will want to shut down their outdoor area over winter, however. Martin Mayes of Leisure Bench said that by introducing outdoor heaters, “it is possible to enjoy outdoor furniture throughout the year”.
Mayes also suggested using a ‘jumbrella’ to offer additional protection from the elements.
Awnings and umbrellas were also highlighted by equipment supplier Shading by Design.
“Install terrace awnings, giant umbrellas or retractable awnings,” said the firm’s Tony Reynolds.
“These can be fitted with low energy infra-red heaters, which heat people not the air around them, and halogen lights.
“Side sheets, screens and folding sliding doors can also be incorporated to enclose the area.”
Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) trade association UKLPG offered some gas safety advice for those cooking outdoors.
• When moving, lift gas cylinders carefully or use a trolley. A full cylinder will weigh around double the labelled contents.
• Store cylinders with the valve in an upright position.
• Restrain gas cylinders to stop them falling over.
• Ensure there is always clear access to cylinders.
• Do not use LPG cylinders inside.
• Do not expose cylinders to heat.
• When empty or no longer needed, return gas cylinders to your nearest stockist.