Web stretchers are made from wood; either beechwood or maple. Both of these woods are strong and hard wearing which means they should last well even with a lot of use. However, as they are still wooden products they should not be left outdoors or used in the rain as the moisture will make the tool less durable and over time will rot the wood.
This also applies to web stretchers with spikes, as not only is the wood susceptible to moisture but the spikes are made from steel which will rust if exposed to moisture over a period of time.
If buying a slotted web stretcher, it is preferable to buy one with the dowel attached by a metal chain rather than string as it more likely to last longer. String can become frayed, damaged and more easily broken than a metal chain.
Linseed oil is a wood preservative, also known as flax oil. It can be used to retain the finish of the wood on your web stretcher by occasionally rubbing it over the tool with a dry cloth.
How do you identify a good quality tool?
Web stretchers made from solid woods are generally sturdy tools which are made to last. Plastic spiked web stretchers are generally of poorer quality so cannot withstand frequent use or a lot of pressure, but they are cheaper.
As well as this, slotted web stretchers with dowels attached by a chain rather than string are generally better quality as the string can become frayed or broken more easily.