Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Protect Outdoor Furniture

When you invest in quality patio furniture, it makes sense to protect that investment so that it can be enjoyed for many seasons. Dirt and residues can “set” on frames, wood may crack, metals corrode or become pitted, and fabrics can fade and lose vibrancy. It is important to keep patio furniture clean and protected in order to avoid these pitfalls.

Keeping patio furniture clean is an important but occasionally overlooked aspect of protecting your pieces. When you keep furniture free of debris and protect it from the elements, you ensure that patio furniture will remain beautiful and functional for many years to come. Before you wash the frame, remove cushions and upholstery prior to wiping the frames down. (How you clean cushions and upholstery will depend on the fabric. Good quality outdoor furniture will come with explicit instructions – just be sure to allow cushions and fabric to completely dry before using and/or storing in order to prevent mildew.)

Wash furniture approximately once a season. Most outdoor furniture frames are easily cleaned with a sponge and mild soap. In some cases, you can simply spray down pieces with your hose, but every so often it is important to give it a thorough wipe down, scrubbing on especially dirty areas. You can allow the furniture to either air dry or gently dry by hand if you are expecting to use the furniture later that day.

If you own wood furniture, it is highly recommended that you regularly treat it with a sealant. Only apply sealant to dry, clean furniture, paying special attention to areas with crevices or cracks. Only apply sealant whilst in an open, ventilated area. There are a number of sealants available, including oil base, oil-modified urethane, water based urethane, and oil/wax-based varieties. Choose a sealant that delivers beauty and durability, but is also easy to apply. A sealant should repel water, shield furniture from sun and the elements (which will help prevent cracking), and keep furniture beautiful for a long period of time.

If you own metal furniture, you should avoid oil-based treatments and opt for silicone lubricants for hinges and wheels. Use a water resistant metal primer on raw exposed metal (i.e. no finish.) Be sure to check all nuts, bolts and screws. Tighten lose ones and substitute any missing pieces with rustproof replacements. With metal pieces, your biggest foe will be rust. Treat rust prone areas with a paste wax. If it’s too late and rust has formed, rub that area briskly with a steel wool pad to strip off flaking bits and the rust coloration. You can soak the wool in paint thinner if the rust proves especially troublesome. Once smooth, wash the area down with mild soap and rinse. Once completely dry, apply paste wax to the area and buff. Car wax will work well.

Wicker furniture is fairly weather resistant but it can be more vulnerable to the sun, which may make it brittle. In addition to cleaning wicker furniture with a mild soap once each season, make sure it is situated in a shaded area. Refinish wicker with lemon oil every few years to help keep fibers healthy. If you notice any mildew, treat the area with a light chlorine bleach mix (approximately ¾ cup bleach per one quart water.)

Plastic and resin furniture is amazingly durable and requires less attention. Simply use an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner or even dish soap to clean, then rinse thoroughly and dry.

When you aren’t enjoying your patio furniture, cover them with a fitted, waterproof outdoor patio furniture cover. These covers come in every shape and size, from large patio umbrella covers to BB Grill Covers. Look for rugged fabrics that that are crack resistant, that feature interlocking seams for additional strength and durability. Look for convenient features like drawstrings and snaps that will help keep covers snug even in extreme wind. The covers should feature vents that are engineered to allow for evaporation, but do not allow water to slip in. Garden furniture covers should also be easy to fold up and store, because you will be taking them off and on frequently. Lastly, look for a warranty. Most high quality covers will be guaranteed for several years.

If you anticipate a long snow season, it is best to store furniture for the winter in a basement, garage, shed or similar space. Prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures and moisture can really take a toll on furniture, so avoid it if you can.


  1. I've found plastic to work quite well whenever I am trying to protect my patio furniture. It really does keep it from getting wet. I think that we can all agree that rain and sun are the biggest threats to our patio furniture. I'll be sure to try and keep them shaded as you suggested. That should protect them from the sun.

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  3. It is important to keep patio furniture clean and protected in order to avoid these pitfalls.windproof umbrella

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