How to Protect Outdoor Furniture

Deck at Sunset

Keeping your patio furniture in good condition is a priority for most people. After all, no matter what kind you bought or how much you spent, you want to keep the furniture looking good for as long as possible. Replacing the furniture, or doing serious restoration jobs, are both a hassle.

So, it’s wise to start out by protecting your outdoor furniture from as many of the elements as you can. Wooden furniture rots, plastic furniture fades, and metal furniture rusts. Each needs its own solution and preventative measures to stay functional. In this guide, we’ll tell you how to protect each type of patio furniture, clean it, and restore it.

How to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture

You can, and must, leave wooden furniture outside. Wood furniture should be pre-treated by the manufacturer to protect it from the elements. Still, if you want the wood to perform better and last longer, it is wise to add your own sealant, on a yearly or bi-annual basis.

Add a wood preserver, varnish, coat of paint, or wood oil, in order to protect the wood. Softwoods can benefit more from this as they are more susceptible to damage. Hardwoods, especially high-quality woods such as teak, benefit less, but it would not hurt.

There are other ways to protect your wood furniture from sun, rain, and other elements. You can cover them with patio furniture covers, or with any number of fabrics. You should also consider placement. If you move the furniture beneath a pergola or gazebo, it will be better sheltered from the elements.

Can You Leave Wooden Furniture Outside?

Yes, you can leave wood furniture outside. No one wants to bring it inside every time the weather threatens some rain!

How Do You Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture from Rain?

Yearly you should restore the protective coat on the wood furniture. This involves cleaning the furniture, sanding down the old sealer or varnish, and re-applying. Be sure you get into the nooks and crannies of the furniture, or those spots will lack protection.

How to Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture from Sun Damage?

Under the heat of the sun, wood furniture may dry out and crack. It may also lighten, over time. You can protect wood furniture from sun-damage the same way you protect it from rain. Renew its coating, try to keep it covered, and buy higher-quality wood that is less likely to fade over time.

Outdoor Metal furniture

How to Protect Metal Outdoor Furniture   

Metal furniture does not need much protection from the elements. It is naturally resistant to rain and ultraviolet rays. However, it can rust over time, especially if it is exposed to salt spray, as that wears off protective coatings faster. 

How to Protect Outdoor Furniture from Rust

As with wood furniture, you can add a cover or other fabrics to the metal furniture to protect it from rusting. The better it can be sheltered from rain, the slower the rusting process will be. So, tucking your metal patio furniture beneath a gazebo or other shelter is a wise idea.   

Most metal furniture will have a powder coating from the manufacturer that slows down rusting. Still, it is a good idea to apply your own coating to the furniture once a year, or once every other year. For metal, wax is a good option, as it will cause water to roll right off. You can use an automotive wax, or buy wax made specifically for outdoor furniture.    

What if your furniture has already rusted? It’s unsightly and will continue to degrade the metal, so it’s wise to tackle it right away. You can sand the rust off (you’ll need a power sander for a lot of rust, but a small spot can be tackled by hand sanders.) Be sure to apply a primer and a rust-protective coating once you’re done. 

Can You Leave Metal Patio Furniture Outside in Winter?

You can, but you’ll see a shortened lifespan from metal patio furniture that is left exposed to snow. Snow will quickly degrade your protective coatings and always keep the metal moist, which is a sure recipe for rust. It is much wiser to put your metal furniture away in the winter if you can. 

You may have permanent benches or other furniture installed in your yard, just like public benches at parks. If you can’t move them, then you can leave them out in the snow. Though, it is best to reapply their protective coating before winter starts. 

How to Protect Plastic Outdoor Furniture 

Protecting plastic furniture is more about protecting it from long-term staining than protecting it from the elements, as it does well in rain and snow. However, if you leave moss, algae, or dirt on the plastic it may stain permanently. 

How to Clean Oxidized Plastic Patio Chairs

When most plastics oxidize, they leave behind a grey or black stain, unlike the red of rusted metal. This staining makes the furniture unsightly and will get worse if it is left alone. So, you should remove the oxidization with a simple soap solution. One option is to take a bucket of water, add some dish soap, and then soap up the chair. If that doesn’t work, you can try a more aggressive cleaner. Be sure to rinse when you’re done. 

How to Restore Sun Faded Plastic

Is there an odd chalky residue on your plastic? This develops from sun exposure and leaves behind a dull plastic surface that looks nothing like the shiny chairs you purchased. In order to resolve this issue, you should clean the chairs just as described above, but then finish them off with a boat wax or another substance that restores gloss, such as automotive wax. 

How to Restore Algae-Covered Plastic

Green-stained chairs are typically covered in algae or some kind of staining from plants. In order to get rid of this problem for any significant amount of time, you need to use something to kill the algae. A vinegar solution is acidic enough to do the trick.  

If the solution didn’t do the trick, you may need to use a pressure washer to take it off. Start with a low-pressure setting and work your way up to a pressure that is effective, that way you reduce the odds you’ll harm the furniture with too strong a stream.

Once you’ve removed the algae stain, you’ll want to refinish the plastic so that the algae are less likely to grow back. 

How to Store Outdoor Furniture 

Generally, it’s best to store your outdoor furniture for the winter, or if you’ll be away from your home for a long time. Before you go and tuck the furniture away there are a few steps you should take: 

  • Step One: Remove any fabrics or cushions and wash them. Covers and sleeves can often go directly in the washing machine. Pillow and cushion covers should be removed, and if they can’t be, wipe them down with a clean cloth. 
  • Step Two: Before you store the rest of the furniture, you should clean it off. There’s no need to do something overly complex. Just wipe the furniture down with a clean damp cloth. Note any especially caked-on dirt and try to remove that, or it will be harder to clean off in the spring. 
  • Step Three: Adding a cover is a smart idea. It will protect your furniture from dust and from any leaks your garage or another storage area might have. Just stack the pieces first, and then lay your cover on top. You don’t need to buy a specific furniture cover; you can just use general-purpose tarps instead. 

How to Protect A Glass Patio Table in Winter

Those large glass patio tables may be elegant all summer, but they are still delicate and can be a hassle to store in winter. Before you put the table in the garage, you should clean it, just as you would clean window glass. Use a glass cleaner and a dry cloth to clean it off without streaks. Be sure to clean the bottom and top of the glass. A glass repair kit can help you fill any scratches or chips that the table has suffered during the year. Then, place a large cover over the glass to keep it protected for storage. 

How to Keep Outdoor Furniture Clean 

All this cleaning may have you wondering how you can reduce the amount of time you need to spend taking care of your outdoor furniture. Is there a way to just keep them cleaner in the first place? It’s all about placement. If you can keep patio furniture on hardscaping, out of the sun and rain, and potentially even under a cover, you’ll prevent a lot of the mess and wear-and-tear. Still, tidying off your furniture frequently is the best way to avoid long-term damage. 

Keeping your furniture clean and well maintained ensures its longevity. We have the furniture you need to fit your style. Contact us today.