Whether you’re envisioning a cozy porch, expansive patio, or bustling backyard, outdoor furniture is an essential part of any exterior space. In addition to functionality, the right outdoor furniture beautifies your environment while making it a more inviting and welcoming place.
However, daily exposure to the elements takes a toll on your outdoor furniture, which can detract from its look, feel, and overall performance. The good news? There are some simple things you can do to keep your outdoor furniture in optimal condition through years of wear and tear.
In this article, we will explore several strategies and tips for extending the life of your outdoor furniture, including:
- How to choose the right outdoor furniture
- Proactive care and maintenance tips
- Seasonal maintenance strategies
How to Choose Outdoor Furniture
Selecting the right outdoor furniture is the first and foremost step in ensuring its longevity. Factors like material type, fabric type, and construction techniques directly impact how your furniture will hold up over time.
When it comes to outdoor furniture, not all materials are created equal. Here’s a breakdown of several popular outdoor furniture materials:
- Teak. A popular choice for outdoor furniture due to its longevity, teak can last for decades thanks to its remarkable natural resistance to moisture, pests, and decay. However, teak furniture can be expensive.
- Aluminum. An excellent choice for outdoor furniture, aluminum is lightweight with minimal maintenance requirements. It’s also available in a variety of styles and colors. However, it may not be as sturdy as other materials making it a tricky choice for homeowners in regions prone to high winds.
- Wicker. Made from durable and weather-resistant materials like resin or polyethylene, synthetic wicker is engineered to endure even the most challenging weather conditions. While beloved for its attractiveness, natural wicker is not as weather-resistant. Therefore, it’s considered best for use in covered areas.
- Steel. While extremely heavy and sturdy, steel furniture may require regular maintenance for rust prevention. Or, opt for steel furniture with a rust-resistant coating.
- Plastic/Resin. Affordable, lightweight, and low-maintenance, plastic or resin furniture may not be as durable as other materials. It’s also prone to fading and breaking down over time from exposure to the sun’s powerful UV rays.
- Concrete. Durable and able to withstand various weather conditions, concrete is also very heavy and hard to move. This makes it an excellent choice for permanent outdoor setups.
- Cedar. Naturally resistant to decay and insects, cedar is a budget-friendly option—especially when preserved with regular sealing or staining.
Fabrics and Cushions
If your outdoor furniture includes cushions, choosing the right fabric is vital. Seek out outdoor options that are water-resistant, fade-resistant, and easy to clean.
If your outdoor furniture will be continually exposed to the elements with no cover or other protection, waterproof fabrics may be a wiser choice.
Thanks to technological advancements as well as growing consumer interest in chic and high-performance outdoor furniture, many brands offer a wide range of durable outdoor fabrics known for their strength, comfort, and style.
Additionally, outdoor solutions like porch and patio screens over valuable protection.
Proactive Care and Maintenance
Selecting the right outdoor furniture is just the first part of the equation. Depending on the type of furniture you choose, it’s also essential to perform regular care and maintenance.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your outdoor furniture:
- Schedule routine cleanings
Regular cleaning is critical for preventing dirt, debris, and moisture damage. Use a mild soap (or a mixture of water and vinegar) and a soft cloth or brush to clean the surfaces of your furniture, and be sure to rinse thoroughly. (Always defer to your manufacturer’s recommendations regarding specific instructions on how to clean your outdoor furniture.)
- Conduct regular inspections
While cleaning, inspect your furniture for signs of wear and tear. By catching and addressing issues early, you can prevent them from becoming bigger problems later.
- Consider sealing and staining
Teak, cedar, and some other types of wood furniture may require sealing or staining to protect against everything from moisture to UV rays. Again, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for applying and reapplying as needed.
- Prioritize rust prevention
If you spot any rust on steel or iron furniture, sand it away before applying a rust-resistant primer and paint to prevent further corrosion.
- Attend to upholstery
Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for regular cushion cleanings. To further prevent mold and mildew growth, store cushions in a dry, cool place during the offseason.
Seasonal Maintenance for Outdoor Furniture
Out of sight, out of mind is a poor strategy if your goal is to minimize damage while your outdoor furniture is out of commission for the winter. Given the harshness of cold temps, snow, wind, hail, and other wintry conditions, it’s advisable to store your outdoor furniture inside in a covered area, such as a garage, pool area, or shed.
If this isn’t possible, invest in high-quality, weather-resistant furniture covers to shield furniture from rain, snow, UV rays, and dirt. Covers should also be breathable for mold and mildew prevention.
If you’re unable to neither store nor cover your outdoor furniture in inclement weather and/or the off season, tilt your furniture to allow precipitation to drain off instead of accumulation on surfaces.
Or, skip straight to the best-of-both-worlds solution: a porch and patio enclosure system.
Innovative and customizable porch screens and patio screens allow you to enjoy the great outdoors while protecting you—and your furniture—from the elements. You’ll gain other benefits too, such as extended usability, privacy, reduced care and maintenance requirements, increased property value, and improved energy efficiency.
While outdoor furniture offers functional and aesthetic advantages to exterior spaces, it requires proper care and maintenance to maximize its longevity. The best part? A little time and effort goes a long way in toward preserving the life of your outdoor furniture.