Creating a beautiful outdoor space with softwood garden furniture is a delightful way to enhance the look and feel of your house or venue. “Softwood” typically refers to furniture that is constructed from either spruce, fir or mostly commonly pine.
However, to ensure your investment stands the test of time, it's crucial to understand and address potential issues that can occur such as mould and rot. In this guide, we'll delve into the differences between these two problems, explore the benefits of dip treatments, and provide valuable tips for cleaning and maintaining your softwood garden furniture.

Understanding Mould and Rot:

Before we delve into prevention, it's essential to distinguish between mould and rot, as they pose different threats to your wooden garden furniture. Mould and rot are both types of fungal growth that can damage softwood, however there are some key differences between the two.


Mould is a type of fungus that thrives in damp and shady environments. It appears as black and/or greenish patches on the surface of wood and can compromise the appearance of your wooden garden furniture. Mould growth is often accelerated by high humidity levels and poor air circulation.

Mould can occur on outdoor softwood anytime the wood is exposed to moisture. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

Rainwater: Rainwater can easily soak into softwood and provide the moisture that mould needs to grow.
Dew: Dew can also provide moisture for mould growth, especially on nights when the temperature drops, and the dew point is high.
Condensation: Condensation can form on the surface of softwood, especially on cold surfaces in humid environments. This condensation can create the perfect environment for mould growth.
Groundwater: If the ground around softwood is wet, the wood can pick up moisture from the ground and provide the conditions that mould needs to grow.

In addition to these factors, mould is also more likely to grow on outdoor softwood that is:

Damaged: Damaged wood is more likely to be porous and allow moisture to penetrate. This makes it more susceptible to mould growth.
Older: Older wood is more likely to have cracks and crevices that can trap moisture and provide a place for mould to grow.
Not sealed: If outdoor softwood is not sealed with a protective finish, it will be more susceptible to moisture damage and mould growth.


Rot, on the other hand, is a more serious type of fungal growth that can cause the wood to decay and the break down the wood’s fibres. It usually occurs in areas where moisture is consistently present. Unlike mould, rot affects the internal structure of the wood, making the wood soft and spongy, leading to weakened and crumbly furniture. Softwoods can be particularly susceptible to rot, making prevention crucial.

HTML Table Generator
Feature Mould Rot
Appearance  Fuzzy or powdery growth  Discoloration, softening, and cracking of wood 
 Penetration Does not penetrate wood   Penetrates wood
Effect on Wood  Causes discolouration and a musty smell  Causes wood to decay and eventually collapse 
Health Hazard  Can be a health hazard   Can be a health hazard if the fungus produces toxins

The Role of Dip Treatments:

Dip treatments play a vital role in protecting softwood garden furniture from the elements. These treatments involve immersing the wood in preservatives that penetrate the surface, creating a protective barrier. The dip-treated products that we sell at LeisureBench such as our Picnic Tables and Wooden Garden Benches are treated for protection against penetrative rot. Here are some benefits of dip treatments:

Enhanced Durability:
Dip treatments significantly increase the lifespan of softwood furniture by fortifying it against fungal attacks and insect infestations. Dip treatments also increase softwood’s resistance to moisture absorption, preventing rot and degradation. As a result, the service life of these products is significantly extended compared to untreated timber.

Strength and Stability:
Dip treated timbers are generally denser and less prone to warping or cracking than untreated wood, which helps to maintain the structural integrity of the products, even in harsh weather conditions.

Environmentally Friendly:
By prolonging the lifespan of timbers, dip treatments contribute to sustainable construction reduces deforestation by requiring fewer replacements over time.

A dip-treated product can often have lower maintenance costs compared to those constructed from untreated wood, due to its increased longevity. With a relatively affordable initial investment, dip treated furniture presents longer-term value for money.

The furniture can be stained or painted to achieve desired colour and visual appeal whilst offering a natural and attractive look that complements outdoor spaces.

As well as protection from damp and rot, dip treatments also provide protection against termites and other destructive insects which are a common potential risk to your outdoor wooden furniture.

Tips for Cleaning and Maintenance:

As dip treatments are intended to prevent rot internally in the wood, mould growth is still a possibility if the furniture is exposed to the conditions mentioned earlier in this article. In order to prevent or remove mould growth, we recommend some cleaning & maintenance practices to help take care of your garden furniture.

Regular Cleaning: Wipe down your softwood garden furniture regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust and debris. This simple practice prevents the buildup of organic matter that can contribute to mould growth.

Mild Cleaning Solutions: For more thorough cleaning, or when mould growth is already present, use a mild solution of soap and water and a suitable cloth to scrub down the exterior of the wood. Avoid harsh chemicals that may strip the protective treatment from the wood.

Proper Storage: During the winter months or extended periods of non-use, it is recommended to store your furniture in a dry and sheltered location wherever possible. This protects it from excessive exposure to moisture and harsh weather conditions. It is also highly suggested that your furniture is regularly inspected for signs of mould growth or rot.

Reapply Treatments: Over time, the protective properties of dip treatments may diminish. Consider reapplying a wood preservative, sealant or a mould-inhibiting stain to maintain the furniture's resistance to mould, rot, and other environmental factors. These treatments penetrate the wood's surface, creating a barrier against mould spores and preventing their germination.

Mild Sanding: If required, you can refresh the entire surface of the wood with a light sanding using a medium grit sandpaper, to create a new, smoother finish the wood’s exterior. After sanding, it is imperative to reapply some form a protective treatment to re-seal the wood and providing on-going protection.


Investing in softwood garden furniture adds functionality and style to your outdoor space, but proper care is essential for longevity. By understanding the differences between mould and rot, opting for dip-treated furniture, and following our handy maintenance tips, you can enjoy your garden furniture for years to come. With a little care, your wooden outdoor furniture will remain a comfortable and inviting retreat for customers, family & friends.