Tips For Storing Patio Furniture During The Winter

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Brett Holmes

Patio furniture is a great way to create additional usable space in your outdoor area. There are all sorts of patio sets to choose from, but they are often quite costly. The hefty price tag is one reason you must take great care of your patio furniture, so it lasts as long as possible. This means taking the right steps to properly store it in the winter.

Make sure you clean your patio furniture before storing it. Some materials can be left outside in the winter, while other materials cannot. Make sure you use durable covers and perform all repairs to your patio set before the winter. Find a suitable storage space before you get ready to move your furniture, and make sure you elevate it off the ground when storing it.

The first question you probably have when determining the right way to store patio furniture in the winter is whether or not it is OK to leave it outside. The question might be straightforward, but the answer is a bit more nuanced. In many cases, you can leave your furniture outside in the winter. If you have mild winters, and your patio furniture is made of resilient furniture like teak, then leaving it outside poses few risks. But before you leave your furniture outside and unprotected, there are several factors you need to consider.

Factors To Consider When Storing Patio Furniture In Winter

  • Climate: The biggest factor to consider when it comes to storing your patio furniture is the climate. Cold wet climates with extremely low temperatures require maximum protection in the winter months. If you live somewhere with mild and dry winters, then you likely don’t need to take extreme measures when storing patio furniture.
  • Is Your Patio Covered?: Another consideration is whether or not your patio is covered. If the area is protected from rain and snow throughout the year, then you can likely use different methods than if the patio furniture is constantly exposed to the elements in the winter.
  • The Material Of The Furniture: Another main factor that determines how to store patio furniture in the winter is the material. Some patio furniture materials are resilient and hardly affected by the cold and fierce weather that winter brings. Other materials can suffer tremendously when left outside in the winter months.

Materials You Should Not Leave Outside In The Winter

  • Wrought Iron: Wrought iron is prone to rust, and should be removed from the harsh winter elements to prolong its lifespan and make spring cleaning easier.
  • Plastic: While plastic is quite durable and not susceptible to rust, it should not be left out in the elements in the cold winter months. Temperature fluctuation, as well as extreme cold temperatures, make plastic more brittle and weaken it overall. This makes it prone to breakage and cracks.
  • Furniture With Fabric: If your furniture has fabric or other vulnerable materials attached, it should not be left outside in the winter. These materials are more fragile and prone to things like mold that can destroy the furniture.
  • Most Aluminum Furniture: Aluminum as a metal is very resilient and resistant to rust. However, most aluminum furniture is hollow, and there are usually small openings in this hollow material. If water gets into the furniture in the winter (which is quite common in wet winter climates), it can spell disaster for aluminum furniture.
  • Wicker: Wicker is generally less resilient, and naturally more fragile than other types of furniture. Wicker made of artificial materials might be hardier, but classic wicker should be well-protected in the winter.
  • Untreated Wood: Treated wood usually has a protective coating that can prevent the damage caused by wet, cold, and unpredictable winter weather. Untreated wood does not. It is prone to splintering and warping and should be brought out of the elements in the winter, or properly treated.

Top 9 Tips For Storing Patio Furniture In The Winter

1. Find A Suitable Storage Location

Many people opt to move patio furniture to a safer location out of the elements. This is the safest and securest method to ensure your patio furniture lasts through rough winters, and a great way to protect your expensive patio furniture.

Before you get ready to move and relocate your patio furniture for the winter, make sure you have a location with a mild-temperature that is protected from the elements. You want to avoid a place that is moist or prone to extremely fluctuating temperatures.

2. Apply Protective Sealants Before The First Frost

Many patio furniture materials require a bit of annual or seasonal upkeep. If you have wood patio furniture, or metal that requires sealant or lubricant, make sure you apply this protection before the first frost. Do not wait until the middle of winter to protect your furniture.

3. Clean The Furniture Before You Store It

In addition to storing your furniture somewhere safe, make sure it is clean. Give your patio furniture a thorough scrubbing from top to bottom with an appropriate cleaner. Ensure it is rinsed with fresh water and dried before you wrap or store it for the winter. This will help prevent any mold, unnecessary corrosion, or decay due to dirt and other particles. It will also help your patio furniture last longer.

4. Keep Furniture Elevated

When you store patio furniture during the winter, you need to think about what is happening on the ground as much as what comes from above. Flooding, freezing, and muddy conditions are common throughout the winter months. Keeping patio furniture elevated is a great way to help it from experiencing these messy and potentially harmful conditions. Use palettes, wood blocks, or other materials to keep your patio furniture above the grass or other natural surfaces.

5. Use Quality Coverings

Patio furniture should be covered when it is not in use for several months. You can opt for patio furniture covers, especially if they are sold as a kit with your patio set. Otherwise, you can choose quality tarps or even shrink wrap. Regardless of what method you use, make sure it's high quality materials that can endure the winter.

6. Secure Covers So They Stay Put

If you cover your patio furniture in the winter but leave it outside, you need to make sure it is secure. Winter winds can accompany storms, rendering low-quality covers useless. Use ropes, weights, and proper knots when you cover your patio furniture. This will hold the cover down securely so it won’t blow away and expose your patio set to dangerous winter weather.

7. Perform Maintenance And Repairs Before Storing

Just like all furniture and outdoor appliances, patio furniture requires repairs and maintenance from time to time. If you notice rust buildup or a crack in the wood, address it before the winter. Winter weather, as well as months of neglect, will likely only worsen the problem, and turn a small issue into a bigger one.

8. Make Proper Accommodations For Pillows And Umbrellas

Just because your furniture might be able to withstand some rough winter weather, the same can’t be said for fabrics. All cushions, umbrellas, and other materials made of fabric should be stored somewhere with no rain, direct sunlight, or too much moisture. Wrapping them or placing them under a waterproof cover is also helpful. Make sure you thoroughly clean and dry the fabric-covered items before storing it to prevent mold.

9. Cover Furniture Even When It’s Stored Indoors

If you store your furniture indoors, it still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also cover it. Covering furniture when it is in a shed or garage provides an additional layer of protection. It will also make cleaning the furniture in the spring will be a breeze.

Concluding Thoughts On Storing Patio Furniture In The Winter

Patio furniture can last for decades if it is properly cared for. Make sure that you take all the proper precautions if you live somewhere with a harsh winter. Remember that maintaining, preparing, and protecting your patio furniture for the winter is a time-sensitive project. You should not wait until snow is falling to start storing your patio furniture. Ideally, you already have a plan and have cleaned and prepared all the stored materials before the first frost hits your area.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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