Days are getting shorter and the kids are heading back to school. Summer is over and patio season is closing. It is time to winterize your patio furniture to protect it from the elements.
Factors to consider when preparing your furniture include the type of furniture and the severity of the winter in your area.
Patio furniture is available in many different materials and each has special needs in winter.
Plastic has the easiest care but can get brittle in cold weather. Metal is very durable but is prone to rust. Rattan and wicker can be natural or synthetic which have different needs. Stone is porous and can split if water freezes in a crack.
If you have mild winters, you may be able to protect your furniture with minimal work, but if you live with severe winters you may need to take extra steps. Either way, preparation for winterization should occur before the first frost.
How-to Guide to Prepare Patio furniture for Winter
Preparations for all furniture materials start the same. Thoroughly clean each piece. Remove all fabric and cushions.
Some have removable covers that can be machine washed, otherwise use a soft brush and recommended cleaning solution to remove debris, mildew, and stains. Dry in the sun completely. Cover and store indoors.
If your furniture has a decorative mosaic, clean, dry and store inside if at all possible. A deep freeze can loosen tiles.
Spray with a hose. Use a soft sponge and soap to remove any stains. Dry with a towel.
Metal furniture is usually made from powder-coated aluminum or wrought iron.
First, clean all nooks and crannies with a soft sponge and soapy water. Aluminum does not generally rust unless the paint chips. Wrought iron tends to rust where water can accumulate.
Use a wire brush or soft grit sandpaper to eliminate any signs of rust and chipping paint, rinse and dry completely. Use matching car paint to touch up as needed. A coat of car wax can be applied for additional protection
Natural rattan and wicker can be delicate and require extra care. Remove debris from the weave and spot clean with mild soap and water. Be careful not to bend or move the fibers while wet.
Synthetic or resin rattan can be handled less gingerly. Remove debris and hose it down. Spot clean as needed. It should be allowed to dry in the sun.
Wood furniture needs to be cleaned well. Inspect painted wood items for chipping, sand and paint as needed. Exotic woods should be carefully washed, and an attempt should be made to remove deep stains.
Rub with the appropriate oil and use sealant to prevent moisture from seeping in.
Clean with a sponge and soft brush. Apply sealant to prevent damage from moisture freezing in cracks.
- Cover and Store Plastic
Plastic is especially sensitive to freezing temperatures. It can become brittle and crack. It must be stored indoors. Cover to prevent dirt or dust from accumulating
Natural rattan and wicker will not withstand cold weather. It must be carefully stored indoors in a dry environment. Cover to prevent dirt or dust from accumulating. Synthetic rattan is very resilient and can be stored outdoors. Use a tarp or plastic sheet, or a furniture cover.
If possible stack chairs and condense furniture to a small area. Cover with a well-secured tarp or plastic sheeting or manufactured outdoor furniture covers.
Avoid placing the feet of the furniture in an area that could accumulate moisture to prevent rust.
Properly prepared, sealed wood does not have to be covered, but to prolong paint finish it is recommended. Plastic sheetings, tarps and furniture covers can be used. This is recommended in areas that have harsher winters.
If the stone is well sealed, it is not necessary to cover it, although in extreme conditions it is preferred.
Don’t forget the Grill and the AC unit
An essential item on any patio, the grill is sometimes neglected. To properly store it, first fire it up. The heat will loosen and cook off any food particles. Then use a wire grill brush and degreaser to clean the racks.
Hose or wipe the outside and allow it to dry. If the grill is small and mobile, it can be stored in a shed or garage, but do not attempt to use it indoors. Larger grills can be covered and left outside under a tarp or manufactured grill cover.
Although not technically furniture, a well maintained outdoor AC unit, will last much longer and avoid costly repairs or replacement. Remove any twigs, leaves or grass clippings and cover with a tarp or AC cover.