With winter out the door and summer on the way, many of us are busting out our hammocks and getting ready for a summer of rest and relaxation. Luckily for us, sinking into a nice comfortable hammock and tuning out the world is a perfect solo activity to while away the summer days!
While spreader bar hammocks are a great investment that can produce many years of enjoyment, without the proper care and maintenance, you run the risk of shortening its lifespan. This article will focus on the importance of taking care of your spreader bar hammock – particularly the wooden bars – along with the importance of using natural wood wax.
A spreader bar hammock is a little different from traditional hammock due to the bar (usually made of metal or wood) on either end, which is used to help keep your hammock's fabric flat and taut. Spreader bars are most commonly used onrope hammocks and some fabric hammocks.
While a non-spreader bar hammock can sometimes be easier to pack up and bring with you to the beach or the cottage, spreader bar hammocks have many benefits. They are much easier to get into and tend to dry more quickly than non-spreader bar hammocks after a rain shower, as the fabric is pulled more tightly rather than gathered together at either end.
In order to continue looking and working at its best, your spreader bar hammock will requirea little TLC. Wooden spreader bars can degrade more quickly than their metal counterparts, due to rot that occurs when your hammock is left out in the elements. But by taking these three basic steps, you can be confident that your spreader bar hammock will stay in tip-top shape throughout the summer!
The first step, and one of the most important, is simply to keep your spreader bar clean. Washing your spreader bar can be done at the same time as the rest of your hammock – and there is no better time to do so than after a long winter in storage. Just make sure to keep the spreader bar itself from soaking in the soapy water for too long, or it could damage the wood. All it takes is a quick wipe-down with a clean, wet rag. And remember to let your hammock dry completely before using it!
Knowing where and when to store your hammock is essential. Leaving your hammock to the mercy of the sun, snow, wind, and rain for long periods of time can cause the wood to rot prematurely. If you do not have ahammock stand to move your hammock indoors, it is best to put them in storage before winter or whenever there is a big storm or prolonged rainfall on the horizon. When not in use, do not leave outside unnecessarily!
To store your hammock, the first step is to wash it – but only if there is time for it to dry completely before it is time to fold it up and put it away. Storing a wet hammock is a one-way ticket to mildew and even mold. Once your hammock is dry, you can fold it up and store it in a cool, dry place until it’s ready to use again. To fold a spreader bar hammock, you simply lay the hammock on a clean, flat surface, fold the ring and ropes at one end into the fabric, and use the bar to roll the hammock towards the other end.
Finally, the third and final step to keeping your hammock at its best is to seal the spreader bar with a fresh coat of high-quality wood wax. The best (and most convenient) time to wax your spreader bar would be immediately following cleaning after the wood has dried. This only needs to be done a couple times a year, but it does wonders for your hammock.
Without the proper protection, over time, the spreader bar on your hammock could become vulnerable to excessive moisture and rot. Wood wax provides more protection than other wood coatings like varnish or oil. A light coat of wood wax will create a tight seal, protecting the spreader’s beautiful finish and keeping the moisture at bay.
Just as wood wax can keep your spreader bar from retaining too much moisture, it can also slow down the drying process and prevent cracking. A cracked spreader bar can permanently damage your hammock, so maintaining the quality of the wood preventatively is a critical part of hammock care. On those extra hot summer days, wood wax can protect your spreader from sun and heat damage.
Not only does waxing your spreader bars provide an added layer of protection, but it can also be used as a treatment to keep your spreader looking brand new. Most wood waxes are available in a variety of colours to match the colour of your spreader, whether yours is stained, painted or bare. Even when using clear wood wax, waxing your spreader bar regularly will keep it looking polished, allow it to hold its natural colour and resist fading or sun-bleaching.
Beeswax is one of the oldest animal-based finishing waxes and is used in many commercially available wood waxes. However, it takes much longer to dry than carnauba or paraffin wax. It is also quite soft and requires a little more upkeep in order to continue providing the best protection. For these reasons, the use of beeswax as a wood treatment has declined over the years. Despite this, beeswax is inexpensive and easy to find – so it will absolutely do in a pinch!
Carnauba wax is vegetable-based, made from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree. It is the most durable type of wax and offers quite the boost of added protection, with the one downside being that it can be difficult to buff carnauba wax to give it that perfect sheen. For this reason, many brands of wood wax combine carnauba wax with beeswax. Carnauba wax is also relatively inexpensive, but it can be harder to find than beeswax or paraffin wax.
Paraffin wood wax is a mineral-based wax, refined from crude oil. It is perhaps the most versatile and durable type of wood wax. Because it is non-acidic, paraffin wax won’t degrade your spreader bar’s finish. It is also the hardest and most protective type of wood wax. Although paraffin wax can be pricier than the market alternatives, it is absolutely worth the splurge.
Whatever type of hammock you prefer, keeping it in good shape is important. A hammock can last in near-perfect condition for years with the proper care, and for spreader bar hammocks that use wooden bars, wood wax is a crucial tool.
When deciding the best type of wood wax to use for your spreader bar hammock, it ultimately comes down to preference. Each type has its own “pros and cons,” it all depends on how much upkeep you’re willing to do and the level of protection you need.
While you’re taking your hammock out of storage this summer, why not treat your spreader bar with a nice layer of wood wax while you’re at it?