How to look after patio furniture in winter

November 3, 2015

Even if your patio furniture was meant to survive winters outdoors, things like moisture, snow and ice can easily shorten its lifespan or ruin it. That’s why, to get the most for your money, you’ll want to protect your furniture in fall before the harshest weather sets in. Here’s how.

How to look after patio furniture in winter

Before you store patio furniture

One of the best approaches to looking after patio furniture in winter is to put it into storage. Before stowing away chairs and tables, however, it's a good idea to wipe them down to remove any unwanted dirt which may have built up and that could potentially cause problems.

  • For plastic and metal patio furniture, a damp cloth will usually suffice.
  • If you have a wooden furniture set, a fine-bristled brush in soapy water is the best option.
  • Wicker furniture is usually okay to clean with just a garden hose set to a fine spray.

Before you clean
Be sure you remove any cushions and soft fabrics.

  • If covered in vinyl, cushions can simply be wiped down with a sponge in warm, soapy water.
  • Allow wet cushions a chance to dry completely before putting them in storage.
  • Fabric used on outdoor furniture is usually quite durable as well as machine washable. Check the tags or refer to the manufacturer's cleaning instructions for best results.

After the furniture is clean
Stack the chairs and fold up the table, if practical.

  • Patio furniture will survive perfectly well in a garden shed or a garage without heating over the winter.
  • If you don't have a shed rent a self-storage unit.
  • Another option is to purchase a plastic or tarpaulin cover and throw it over the top of the set and leave it outside.
  • Remember to fix or tie down the cover so that the winter wind does not blow it away, exposing the furniture underneath.

Weatherproofing patio furniture

Although some patio furniture can survive being outside without needing to go into storage, it's best to provide a bit of protection by placing it next to a wall or under an overhang.

  • Similarly, despite the claim that some types of wooden furniture can cope with being kept outside, it's highly advisable to weatherproof it first so that moisture doesn't damage the wood.

To weatherproof wood patio furniture
Pick a dry, sunny day to scrub the furniture down with a soapy scouring sponge.

  • Once it's dry, use a regular paintbrush to coat the wooden elements of the furniture with a varnish or dedicated wood protector product.
  • The varnish or wood sealant will help protect the furniture from water damage in the winter by creating an impermeable water barrier.
  • These products often have the advantage of filtering out UV light, thus protecting the patio furniture from overexposure to sunlight.
  • You should apply varnish to wooden patio furniture every year or two. Even the best finishes will break down when continuously exposed to the elements.

Patio furniture is not only a great way to extend your living space, but can also help make your summers even more enjoyable. Best of all, when properly cared for, your patio furniture can be as comfortable and look as good as the first time you sat in it.

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