How to Decide When to Put Outdoor Furniture Outside (All Year Long?)

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Patio furniture is a key element in most backyard oases.  In some cases, the patio itself may actually be designed around certain furniture.  

Unlike indoor furniture, outdoor furniture is made using unique materials that can withstand weather conditions.  These materials will resist damage caused by extended exposure to air or sunlight. 

But can it be left outside in winter? Will it be able to withstand the rain and snow?

We’ll review best practices about when to put outdoor furniture outside and how to protect it from the weather.  As we’ll see, not all outdoor furniture is created equal!

When Can I Put My Outdoor Furniture Outside?

If you’ve been storing your outdoor furniture over the winter, it’s generally recommended that you place it outside after the threat of the frost has passed. However, this is by no means a hard and fast rule, it’s mostly just personal preference.  

For instance, envision whether you’ll get much usage from the patio furniture if cold weather is still lingering around.  While the furniture may be fine in the cold, is it worth hauling it outside and having to keep it cleaned off only to get minimal usage from it?

While many types of outdoor furniture can withstand all types of weather elements, some could be damaged by the cold and snow.  If you have harsh winters and your patio furniture is made of material that is sensitive to the elements –such as plastic– then waiting until spring rolls around may be best.  Let’s look at this further.

Can Patio Furniture Be Left Outside?

Patio furniture is made of different materials that provide the needed aesthetics and still blend beautifully with the outdoor environment. 

So, with your investment in high-quality furniture, you’re probably asking if you can leave your patio furniture outside. 

The short answer is: yes. The majority of outdoor and patio furniture types can be left outside. However, the durability of your furniture depends mainly on the materials it’s made of. 

This is why you must be careful about the material you pick for your patio furniture. This includes the frame, any cushions, and even the protective cover of your patio furniture. 

For example, you need to choose a durable frame for your outdoor furniture, and the material itself should be waterproof and UV proof. Some materials are also chemically treated to add more durability. 

Below are some types of patio furniture that can be left outside all year round.  Just know, that even the most robust outdoor furniture may experience some weathering or fading if constantly exposed to the outside elements.

Stone Furniture

Stone furniture is one of the most durable patio and outdoor furniture types. It doesn’t degrade when exposed to the sun or rain, so you can leave it out in winter. 

There are different types of stone that are used to make patio furniture. Most of these types don’t degrade when exposed to the harshest weather conditions. 

However, some types of stone furniture pieces will experience natural cracks. Regular maintenance can make stone furniture last longer. 

Teak Furniture

Teak furniture is hard and durable, and because of its natural oil content, it repels water. This feature protects your patio furniture from warping and getting damaged when exposed to rain. 

Other types of wooden furniture can’t withstand being exposed to winter and snow. However, if you have teak furniture, it can safely last on your patio all winter long. 

You should choose furniture made of high-quality teak that has a consistent golden-brown color with an oily surface. This wood is taken from the center of the log. 

When wood is taken from the outside of the log, it’s less oily. Low-quality teak has an uneven color and a soft surface, so it doesn’t work for outdoor furniture, or it should be brought inside. 

Chemically treated teak is usually darker in color, and the treatment might affect its durability. 

Treated Wood Furniture

Teak isn’t the only type of wood that can be used to make patio furniture. 

Different types of treated wood furniture can be used as outdoor furniture. The coating makes the furniture resistant to weather conditions, so it can be left outside. 

Different types of hardwood like oak, acacia, and mahogany are more popular than pinewood and spruce. However, adding a layer of protection or coating will make the furniture more durable. 

Artificial Wicker Furniture

Artificial wicker furniture is made of polyethylene or PVC. 

This unnatural rattan or wicker is resistant to water, snow, and UV rays. It can also be dyed to add more durability to your outdoor furniture pieces. 

Natural rattan can’t be left outside because it’s prone to water damage. 

However, this type of furniture doesn’t last long in cold conditions because it can easily chip and corrode. It’s also the hardest to recycle, so it might not be the best option if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Metal Furniture

Iron-based furniture doesn’t last for long when left outside, even when painted. The rain and snow quickly corrode the painting, and the wrought iron furniture might rust. 

Steel furniture isn’t a good choice if you want to leave your patio furniture outside because, with time, the furniture’s frame expands and weakens. However, it complements the look if you have a modern landscape design and is extremely sturdy. 

Nevertheless, if you prefer metal furniture for your patio or garden, you should choose an all-weather material like aluminum. Stainless steel and galvanized steel also work better because they’re rust-resistant. 

Stainless steel is resistant to rust because it contains chromium. As a result, it doesn’t rust or corrode and can last for a long time, even when left outside. 

Powder-coated steel furniture is another good choice. This is reinforced steel with a powder coating that forms a protective layer that sticks to the steel surface and improves its durability. 

Galvanized steel is made of steel dipped into a bath of zinc to coat the furniture with zinc and protect it from rust and corrosion. It also retains all the durability features of steel furniture. 

Aluminum doesn’t rust, but might oxidize when exposed to rain. The oxidized layer may give a chalky appearance, but doesn’t affect the durability of aluminum furniture. 

However, if you live in an area where it gets extremely windy in winter, you should avoid aluminum furniture. It’s lightweight, so it can easily get blown away. 

Plastic Furniture

Plastic is a synthetic material that doesn’t corrode when left outside. It’s also waterproof and won’t change color when exposed to rain. 

However, plastic furniture is less sturdy, so heavy snow can damage it. It can also fly away if it gets windy during winter. 

Moreover, in very low temperatures, plastic furniture can become brittle.  This may cause it to crack during use and shorten its lifespan. 

Tips to Pick the Best Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture can be challenging to pick. Here are a few things to take into consideration while choosing your patio furniture. 

  • Stay away from cheap furniture. It might be tempting in the short run, but it’s prone to fast damage. 

    Cheap furniture is also lightweight, so it can easily slide around or even break while you’re sitting. 
  • If you’re using your outdoor furniture on a wooden deck, make sure that the legs aren’t too skinny. When the legs are too skinny, they might quickly sink into the gaps between the wooden planks. 

    Also, make sure that the legs are sturdy enough to support your weight while sitting down. 
  • Pick outdoor furniture that suits your area. For example, stainless steel furniture is durable and low-maintenance, but if it gets too hot in the summer, it won’t be comfortable to use.

    Aluminum is sturdy, but it’s lightweight, so it can easily fly away if it gets too windy

    If the winter is rainy, you should think carefully before going for teak or any other hardwood furniture. It may require periodic sealing to provide a layer of protection. 
  • Look up before picking the right spot for your outdoor furniture. Place your furniture away from trees where it can be prone to birds’ droppings.

    Moreover, the old branches might fall on your furniture and damage it during a storm. 

How Can I Take Care of My Outdoor Furniture?

Outdoor furniture is an excellent addition to your house, but there are a few things that you need to do to keep it in the best shape. Here are some tips to follow. 

  • Pay attention to the changing weather conditions. If you know that a storm is coming, store or cover your furniture appropriately. 
  • Stack furniture to minimize the space used to store it. You can also invest in a storage unit if you have no space to keep your patio furniture. 
  • If possible, add furniture covers to protect the fabric of your patio furniture. Some covers are waterproof and UV-resistant, so they’ll protect your furniture’s frame and fabric from harsh weather. 

    Individual covers are excellent because they can also protect the pieces of furniture from scratching each other. You should examine the covers periodically to make sure that they fit snuggly and remove the snow, debris, and rain to keep the covers in excellent shape. 
  • If you can’t find suitable furniture covers to protect your outdoor furniture, use waterproof plastic tarps to cover your patio furniture. You can use bungee cords or ropes to keep the tarps in place.
  • Make sure that the covers allow some air to pass through. The lack of air and extra moisture may lead to the growth of mold and mildew. 
  • Pick the right spot for your patio or outdoor furniture. If possible, place your furniture away from direct sunlight as the extended exposure to sunlight can damage the furniture and the cushion fabric. 
  • Keep the fabric cushions inside or wash them regularly to get rid of dirt and dust. Let the cushions dry in the sun and apply a layer of protectant to ensure that the fabric is waterproof. 
  • If the cushions aren’t tied to the outdoor furniture, you can use Velcro straps to secure them. Secure half of the strap on the cushion and the other one on the furniture to keep the cushions in place. 
  • Clean your outdoor furniture regularly. Most types of patio furniture can be easily cleaned on a sunny day using a hose and dish soap. 

    However, if you have metal furniture, you may need to apply a special treatment for extra protection.  

    Plastic furniture isn’t that sturdy, so it can break if you’re using a pressure cleaner. 
  • Scrub your iron furniture to remove rust, and then apply an extra layer of protectant to protect it during winter. 
  • Use a brush to apply a coating to protect your outdoor furniture. Some types of coating will make your furniture UV-resistant.

Final Takeaway

Many types of outdoor furniture (but not all!) can be placed outside anytime.  However, those that experience cold winters may want to consider stowing it away until after the last frost has passed, so that they don’t need to worry about maintaining it while getting minimal use from it. 

Stone patio furniture provides excellent resistance to all weather extremes, but it may not fit everyone’s style.  

Teak furniture is another good choice if you prefer wood. Several types of metal furniture also designed to be rust-resistant. 

Artificial wicker furniture is also made to withstand most weather elements, but the sun’s rays could cause it to fade eventually.  

Ultimately, if you want to preserve the appearance and increase the longevity of your patio furniture, consider either covering it or storing it inside if it won’t be used over the winter.  As we all know, patio furniture isn’t cheap so any measures we can take to protect it will stretch its value out longer!

Happy Lounging!

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