How Outdoor Furniture Covers & Indoor Storage Can Protect Your Patio Set This Winter
Your patio furniture was there for you throughout the warm months, facilitating your enjoyment of the beautiful outdoors all summer long. Now that the cold weather is upon us, don’t neglect your patio set! Even though you’re no longer using it to bask in the sun, you should still give it attention before winter hits.
Winter can wreak havoc on patio furniture. Depending on the materials that make up your set, there are some care instructions to consider before winter arrives. Whether your set was a small or large investment, use these tips to protect your patio furniture from the harsh winter elements. You’ll be glad you did come spring when you’re ready to enjoy the outdoors again.
How Winter Weather Damages Patio Furniture
The excessive moisture from rain, ice, and mounds of snow can cause outdoor furniture to warp, rot, and rust. And some furniture, like plastic, will become brittle and more prone to cracking in the freezing temperatures.
There are protective measures you can take to secure the longevity of your investment, big or small.
Storage Or Covers?
Ideally, you will cover and store your patio furniture for the winter. If you can’t store your furniture inside, use fitted outdoor furniture covers, including patio chair covers. Measure your furniture first to make sure you find the right size covers.
If you don’t use fitted covers, use a tarp to protect your set at the very least. Just make sure to tie the tarp down so it won’t blow away. You’ll also want to leave some space around the bottom of the tarp to allow for air circulation.
What Can I Leave Outside?
You can leave synthetic wicker and treated teak and cedar furniture outside for the winter. Treated teak and cedar are the most weather-proof patio furniture materials. And if you have fitted patio furniture covers, you can also keep other furniture (except plastic) outside.
On-Season Care Tips for the Off-Season
Caring for your patio furniture when in use will make it last longer, especially through winter while in storage.
Protection from Excessive Sunlight
Too much direct sunlight can cause patio furniture to fade. Keep your patio umbrella open on sunny days to minimize this risk of fading and store cushions when not in use.
Clean & Dry
Regular cleaning and maintenance of your outdoor furniture during patio season will help keep it in good condition for longer.
On a weekly basis, clean off twigs, leaves and other debris from your furniture and scrub off any dirt and grime. You should also thoroughly clean your outdoor furniture at least once per month. It’s also important to make sure to clean it thoroughly before storing for the winter.
While mild soap and water should work but follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for optimal results. Be quick to remove dirt and debris to prevent mold and mildew as these can cause permanent damage to your set.
Here are general cleaning instructions for different types of patio furniture:
For cushions, shake and dust pollen off with a brush. To remove stains, use an enzymatic stain remover, or spot clean with mild soap, water, and a sponge. Allow to dry completely before storing.
If your cushions have mildew, spray a solution of 1 cup bleach, 2 cups detergent, and 1 gallon of water. After spraying on, allow to soak for 30 minutes. Then scrub with a rag or a sponge.
Some fabric pieces, like removable cushion covers, cloth chairs, and hammocks, can be machine washed on the gentle cycle. To remove mildew, add a small amount of bleach to the wash (but only if the care label permits).
Make sure to lay out covers, stretch fabric over furniture frames, or hang up hammocks, allowing these to dry thoroughly before storing.
For patio umbrellas, clean with a brush and mild detergent. Allow the umbrella to dry in the open position. Lubricate switches, locks, and pivots, and store in the closed position once dry.
- Metal Furniture
Wash all surfaces with water and detergent, scrubbing with a brush. Then use a hose to thoroughly rinse off. And look for signs of rust to be treated.
- Plastic Resin Furniture
Wash thoroughly with water and detergent, and rinse thoroughly. Store in a warm, dry area where the temperature won’t drop to below freezing.
- Wicker Furniture
Brush surfaces with a solution of bleach and water to clean mildew. Then rinse with a hose on a fine spray setting. And allow to dry completely before storing.
- Teak & Cedar Furniture
Clean mildew and brighten with a bleach solution, letting the bleach to sit for a day or two. Use a 120-grit abrasive to sand the surfaces. Apply a coat of tung oil—China wood oil.
- Other Wood Furniture
Wash with a mildly-abrasive sponge and a water-detergent-bleach solution. Rinse well with a hose and allow to dry. Restore finish or repaint if needed. For natural finishes, apply clear water repellant and a protective coat of wax.
We’re Not the Only Ones Who Need a Coat
Give your patio furniture a protective coating to preserve its quality and appearance. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance for specific details.
- Oil or varnish for wood;
- Car wax for plastic and aluminum;
- Paste wax for wicker;
- Silicone sealant or a coat of car wax for metal—after treating rust with a rust-neutralizing primer;
- Brush or spray outdoor paint touch ups on metal frames, especially wrought iron—after smoothing with steel wool;
- Spray paint wicker furniture to refresh finish;
- Apply moisture repellant to end grain on the feet and legs of wicker furniture.
Stack it Right
To save space, you can stack your patio furniture. This is especially useful when storing your furniture in a small area, like a shed or a garage.
Also loosely stack cushions in a dry area off the floor for the winter. And if storing in a shed outdoors, consider covering your cushions with a cloth tarp.
Wicker furniture should also be stored off the floor, ideally on blocks to keep the feet off the ground or floor.
When not using patio furniture, store cushions in a dry area, such as a storage box or shed. And if the cushions happen to get wet, allow to dry well in the sun before storing to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Store inside if possible, either in a shed or a garage. At the very least, use fitted outdoor furniture covers to protect your patio furniture from the elements.
Take care of your patio furniture this winter. With proper care, storage, and outdoor patio covers, your patio furniture will stay in good condition for longer and be ready to use come the first warm days of spring.