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Garden furniture is the most stolen household item with lawnmowers in third and tools in third. Kids nip over fences, bust into your shed and hop back over the fence and then sell the stuff after school. We don’t bother to lock up garden furniture and it’s left to the weather and those tealeaves’s and so doesn’t last too long. Some of it from places like Homebase and B&Q is not even treated properly in the knowledge it will rot and so you will have to buy more next summer. When we bought this Billyoh from B&Q the first thing we did in the spring was to treat and varnish it.
It comes in a flat pack and fairly easy to assemble. You just need a screwdriver and mallet and away you go. The two chairs fold with a simple mechanism although you have to watch your fingers when you do that as it’s quite urgent. It’s the same when you sit down quickly on them as you don’t want to catch your fingers as you unfold or wiggle your bum to adjust it. The benches are not foldable and come as they are so you might need to have them delivered. B&Q stiff you for twenty bucks on that.
The benches seat two intimately or three for a party. They are not too heavy and you can flip them over when it rains. Wood warps and buckles and that means it splits around any screw or nail joints. So far the wood on ours has been OK on that but you still have to keep an eye. If the wood gets too much weather it will flake, weaken and then snap, normally when you sit on it. You don’t want your Auntie Ethel to go flying with a gin and tonic in her hand when YouTube is rolling. Plastic also weaken and warp and eventually snap.
There is a slot in the table to fit a parasol but you may need a big one to cover all six places and when the wind blows they can hop over the fence and take out your neighbors. There is no weight balance for any sunshade with the garden set so you will have to figure out how to anchor it down. I would say the table is sturdy enough on your patio and doesn’t dig in too much to the lawn. You could use the set up in your house or conservatory if you so chose. It’s a soft pine style wood and, again, easy to move around. They are priced high at £250 for the full set but you can easily pick on up now for half-price as they clear their summer stock. We got our for £125 as it had damaged packaging and one chair missing. Good kit but wont last forever.
Billy Oh Classic 1.5m 6 Seater Wooden Bench Set Including 2 Benches and 2 Armchairs
WHY DID YOU BUY THIS?
About six years ago we finished major renovations on our house and had just got our rather smaller garden (we had sold off half our property so that I could stop teaching full time) all ready for us to enjoy again. Although the garden was smaller it was now a proper garden rather than an orchard and football area for the kids. We now had a nice big patio and so we were looking for some nice wooden furniture to sit on. We had had some of that white plastic furniture before but we wanted wood and something that would last a good number of years.
WOOD OR PLASTIC?
Although we wanted wooden furniture we were also keen to go for something that would last but was not going to mean the destruction of precious rainforest trees. We chose Billy Oh as the company only use hardwoods from managed forests so made of sustainably forested wood.
Although teak is a lovely hardwood with a great lasting quality many of the teak products sold in the UK are from Burma and the oppressive dictatorship there benefits directly from the sale of the country's teak resources. Much of it is illegally logged and may also be from sources that are not considered sustainable. So unless you know the source of your teak then avoid this wood as it supports this unpleasant regime and destroys valuable forests that will never be replaced.
Our set is made from Shorea which is a red coloured hardwood; it is a really good quality wood that is beautiful and very durable so perfect for garden furniture. It fits really well in our garden as we have a really old (built in 1793) house in a country setting so wood is a perfect, natural material for fitting in to our garden. It is certainly a lot nicer than the big plastic one we had when the children were growing up.
Shorea is a hard wood from Malaysia with similar properties to teak but slightly less fine grained, it is a tropical hardwood and comes from the Eucalyptus Family. There are many varieties and names, most usually known as Balau, Yellow Balau and Meranti. It is not quite as fine grained nor is it quite as weather resistant as teak but it is strong and pretty good at resisting the conditions of being out in the weather. It is also quite a lot cheaper than teak too.
That being said, the "Friends of the Earth: Good Wood Guide" does warn that Shorea all varieties from Balau, Yellow Balau, Red Balau, White Balau, Meranti, Salangan, batu, bangikirai, Seraya, lauan) as a timber with many varieties at 'high risk' or 'very high risk' of extinction. So if you are buying wooden garden furniture and you care at all about the world's timber resources then please check that you ensure your Shorea or indeed any wooden furniture is made from wood from sources that are certified as sustainable.
I believe we bought this set from Simply Garden furniture on line http://www.simplygardenfurniture.co.uk as they offered the size of table we wanted and at the time I studied several sites and this company stated that they used only wooed from sustainable forest resources. It did come with a bit of paper stapled to it to confirm this fact too.
We choose a large rectangular table which was very simple design with a leg at each corner rather that struts in the middle. We also chose two long benches and two arm chairs as we thought we could squash three on each long bench so this allowed us more seating options with our large family. You could have chosen all separate folding chairs but ours do not fold and again we thought that these were stronger with less chance of being broken by being folded and unfolded regularly; although they would have taken up less storage space in winter when they go in our garage.
OUR FURNITURE ARRIVES
Another plus when ordering from this company was that our stuff was delivered free. It arrived flat packed at about 3 o' clock in the afternoon on a lovely sunny day. By 5 o' clock it was all set up and I was in the kitchen preparing our meal to eat outside.
The table comes as one huge flat top and four legs with large screws on them. You put the top on the ground and then screw in the four legs and then carefully turn it over. This part needs two people so that you don't put too much strain on to legs as you are turning it over.
The benches and chairs were a bit trickier and needed a little more effort as the backs had to be fixed to the side arms and legs part. The seat slots in last.
STORING IN WINTER
Every winter we reverse the process of building the table and store the top leaning against the inside garage wall at the end and the four legs are tucked behind.
We don't take the chairs and benches apart every winter but they are stored in the top of our garage which has a sort of attic. It is a bit of a challenge getting them up there but we only do the up once a year and the down again once a year so not really too bad.
If you haven't got anywhere inside to store this or other wooden furniture then cover it in our wet and cold winter months and they will last so much longer.
Apart from making sure that it is out of the winter weather it is also important to look after the wood by 'feeding' it with teak oil or something similar. We do ours twice a year at least. We always oil it before we put it away for the winter months and then again as we get it out ready to enjoy sitting on and using it throughout our lovely warm sunny summer months. We are still waiting!
HOW BIG DID YOU SAY?
Our table is a large rectangular one and measures about metre across and a metre and a half long. It is about 75cm tall. The bench is about 1.2m long and the chairs sit one person very easily. The benches easily seat three friendly people so when we have all our family round quite a few of us can sit at this table and you can squash another chair at each end of the table too so at a push we can fit ten around the table to eat.
IS IT COMFORTABLE?
Well it is hard and made of wood so it doesn't mould to your body and I wouldn't like to sit for hours sun bathing on this. We did buy bench and chair cushions at the time and they spend most of their time in the garage as none of us can be bothered to fetch them if we are only there for a quick coffee or lunch. If we are having a planned meal and the weather is good then they make an appearance. That does make them a bit more comfortable on the bottom but of course when the grandchildren are eating with us I usually don't get them out as they are still at the stage when they drop a lot of food and wipe their hands on cushions! The cushions would take a lot of washing and certainly would not fir in a washing machine and come out in any decent state. I have washed kitchen ones before and they were a sorry sight afterwards and went in the bin.
We also get an umbrella to fit in the centre hole I the table along with very heavy metal base to hold it up and this does stay out all summer unless we go away for any length of time. It does do a very good job of shading the table if it is very sunny. The hole in the table is not a problem for a table cloth unless you have the umbrella in the hole then that does make it quite a challenge so I am afraid I don't bother with a cloth!
I believe we spent about £200 on this set and the cushions stand and brolly were extra.
At the moment on the site I mentioned our set without cushions and brolly is going for £180 which I think is a very good price as we have had a good few years use out of ours. It has seen a number of children's birthday parties, graduation celebrations, a retirement part, an engagement and also a 30th and a 60th Birthday celebration besides all the other general family get togethers so we have had some good times sitting on these chairs and using the table.
We have had this table set for well over five years probably six or seven actually and it has changed colour a lot. One winter it was out with a tarpaulin over it but since then it has been inside over the winter. We feed it with garden furniture oil of some kind at least twice a year, sometimes more if it is very wet or very sunny. Instead of the reddish colour it was when we first bought it our set is now a dark matured wood. It has not cracked at all or split in any exposed places so caring for this set has been worthwhile. The oil isn't cheap but it does do a good job so is worth spending about £15 a year on buying this. A nice looking natural garden set that with the right care will give you years of use.
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