Care and Maintenance


BENCHMARK furniture is designed and made to endure all weather conditions with minimal intervention – though even a small amount of regular care will greatly enhance its resilience and its capacity to withstand even the harshest of environments.

It is important to accept that the weathering of the timber, the slight warps and cracks that may occur, and the wear and tear it receives over the years, are an essential part of the furniture developing its own patina.

The different colour tones, patterning and grain are part of the original gift of the tree, reflecting the history of its life, which we will never completely know. Climate, water levels, the mineral content of the soil, drought, floods, storms, will all have an affect on the quality and appearance of the timber.

While we do strive to achieve consistency in our end product, these inherent qualities are often not realised until the timber takes on its new life as a piece of furniture, once again exposed to the elements. A significant element of the beauty of your furniture lies in the imperfections that tell of the tree’s individual story within its original forest home.

Finishes for your furniture:

The most straightforward, cost-effective and low-maintenance approach is to simply allow your furniture to weather naturally, particularly if it stands fully exposed. It will gradually fade to a silver-grey colour, and a degree of cracking should be expected. These changes should be seen to enhance the beauty of the item by revealing the inherent natural tendencies of the timber. Before it becomes fully silver-grey, it will go through what we call its “teenage phase”, when it becomes a bit blotchy or streaky while the natural tannins wash out. Just love it and leave it.

If a more manicured look is required, or if your furniture is under cover, our recommended approach is to oil it with Osmo UV Protection Oil Extra 420 (available internationally), either clear – which gives a warm honey-coloured finish – or tinted light grey to resemble the look of naturally weathered iroko. You are, however, most welcome to choose another shade if you prefer.


Unoiled furniture that has been allowed to weather silver-grey may need to be cleaned from time to time to remove oil stains or other marks. A simple approach is to give it a gentle wash (no scrouring) with dishwashing liquid and then spray it off with a pressure hose. Osmo supplies a range of products for a more intensive clean.

For oiled furniture, the regular reapplication of the oil – every six to twelve months – will avoid the need to re-sand the furniture in-between coats. All that is required is to clean the furniture, allow it to dry thoroughly, and then reapply the oil, following the instructions on the product specification sheet exactly: wipe on thinly, leave on for no more than 10 minutes, and rub off thoroughly.

About Iroko Timber:

Although we do occasionally use other timbers on request, most of our furniture is made using Iroko, an African hardwood with similar technical specifications to teak. It has a high oil content, is very durable, and is resistant to both rot and insect attack. Freshly cut iroko is initially yellow-ish in colour. When left indoors it darkens to a rich brown over time, but when directly exposed to sun and rain, it weathers to a pale silver-grey.
The iroko we use is FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified.

Benchmark Wood Classics
Benchmark Wood Classics
Benchmark Wood Classics
Benchmark Wood Classics


It is natural that iroko, like any timber when exposed to the elements, will weather in a number of ways:

  • Warping: a small amount of movement in the wood, and even some warping of the timber, should be expected, and can be regarded as reflecting the unique character of each individual piece of furniture. In rare cases of extreme warping (more than 5mm per 1m length of timber) we will replace the warped piece of timber. In all our years of business, we have only had to do this four times, and in each case we have adjusted the structural design of that range so that this same fault will not occur again.
  • Staining: When iroko furniture experiences its first rain or two, the natural tannins in the timber may be washed out, especially if it has not been oiled. This can look quite dramatic, especially when the red-brown residue appears on the patio. While this might leave a mark for a short while, the tannin will naturally bleach in the sun and quickly disappear, or it can be washed off with ‘Sunlight’ dishwashing liquid. We have never had a case where the tannins did not naturally bleach or could not be washed off.
  • Cracking: over time, furniture exposed to the elements will develop hairline cracks, especially on the end-grain, which may expand to several millimetres wide. These cracks might appear wider during hot, dry weather, and may even disappear completely when the weather is cool and damp.
  • Colour: when your new furniture arrives, you might notice a difference in colour between the various planks used to make the items. This colour difference is almost impossible to detect until the timber pieces have been cut, assembled and finished, so cannot be avoided during the making process. However, on exposure to light, most of these colour differences will even out very quickly. Furniture that stands under cover and is protected from the elements will darken over time, whereas un-oiled furniture that is exposed to the elements will gradually weather silver-grey.
  • None of the above factors should in any way affect the durability or beauty of your furniture. Our jointing should remain stable and robust enough to withstand any movement or changes in the timber.