By: Lisa Briggs | September 26th, 2019
Outdoor living is so popular now that everyone has a piece of furniture or two that would benefit from some extra attention. Even furniture that is weather-resistant, or spends the winter under a patio cover of some sort needs some maintenance. Spend a little time now, and your furniture will be in tip-top shape next spring, and for seasons to come.
The single most important thing that you can do to extend the life of your investment is to keep it clean. Moisture and dirt left on your furniture can grow mold and mildew during the cold, damp winter months. Mold spreads very quickly, becoming a big problem by April or May. Frames made of metal, wicker or plastics can be easily cleaned with warm soapy water. For wood furniture, use a manufacturer recommended cleaner.
Which materials can be left outside unprotected? Metal furniture made of aluminum or steel is usually powdered coated and is very durable. Wash away any dust or dirt and apply a coat of automotive wax. It can be left covered or uncovered. And it probably goes without saying, that pieces made of the marine-grade polymers and recycled plastics will thumb their noses at the worst that Mother Nature might throw at us. But despite its reputation, wrought iron furniture is susceptible to rust, so after cleaning, protect it with properly-sized covers or a sturdy tarp to keep the snow off.
Wood furniture pieces made of teak or ipe’ are the most durable. Once they’re clean, there is little else to do. Don’t cover your teak though, as trapped moisture can cause mold and mildew to develop. Natural wicker and rattan should be stored inside in a dry place. But synthetic wicker furniture can stay outdoors year-round.
And what about fabrics? It is paramount to clean any spills or stains on cushions, umbrellas, and hammocks before storing as spots allowed to sit through a winter season can be impossible to remove later. Most outdoor fabrics are synthetics that are designed to withstand most of what our weather throws at them. But any measures that you take to clean and dry them before winter will certainly extend their life. And don’t forget to inspect umbrella frames and canopies for cocoons and other evidence of insects. Once hatched, these critters can chew holes in the fabric.
If your fabrics are stained, use warm, soapy water to remove any stubborn spots, and be sure to let the cushions dry completely to prevent mildew. Setting cushions on their ends and fully opening umbrellas will help. Then you can let a sunny afternoon do the drying. Once dry, apply a fabric guard product. There are several options in our Furniture Department and staff would be delighted to help you make the best choice for your furniture. Once cushions are clean, you can keep them indoors in plastic bags or containers made especially for storage.
We’re all feeling a bit sad about moving indoors after spending so much time enjoying our outdoor living spaces. But winterizing is easy to do and will keep your patio furniture beautiful for the long term.