“There are few greater pleasures than eating alfresco, especially in the warmer months,” says Kristina Phillips, founder of Kristina Phillips Interior Design in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Cleaning the furniture that makes that alfresco magic happen? Not so much of a pleasure.
“Just like we keep our cars in a garage to protect them, outdoor furniture must also be protected to maintain its value and longevity,” says Lindsay Schleis, VP business development of Polywood, an outdoor furniture company that recently launched the minimalist Elevate collection. “The maintenance required to keep your furniture protected should be given equal consideration to its aesthetic appeal to ensure you’re delighted for years to come.” Since outdoor furniture can cost as much as indoor furniture, “it’s important to consider the materials and the maintenance required to maximize your investment,” Schleis adds.
As Sarah Jameson, marketing director of Green Building Elements based in Manchester, Connecticut, puts it, outdoor furniture pieces have long been known to be a good investment because of how long they last, especially the high-quality ones. “Most outdoor furniture is able to withstand the harsh weather, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suffer a beating,” she says. “To be durable and long-lasting, proper care and maintenance are still the best way to make the most out of your investment.”
Note that not all outdoor furniture is created equal since each material—wood, plastic, metal, and nylon—has different needs and upkeep. Be sure to consult the owners’ manual for specific care instructions and best practices for the outdoor furniture you’ve purchased. Here, pros share five tokens of advice to weatherproof outdoor furniture.
How to weatherproof outdoor furniture from the elements
Spring for high-quality outdoor fabric
Don’t be too stingy when selecting outdoor furniture fabric. “Investing in a high-quality fabric is crucial for outdoor use,” says Adriene Ged, lead interior designer for Edge in Naples, Florida. She likes Sunbrella, Perennials, and Revolution fabrics. This will ensure your furniture doesn’t get completely bleached or deteriorated from the sun in a season or two.
Buy a canopy or pergola
To ward off material discoloration and warping, consider a cover—like a canopy or a pergola—as a way to weatherproof outdoor furniture. “Even though outdoor furniture is treated and designed to withstand this as well as possible, it can only do so much when the sun impacts directly for extended periods of time,” says Alex Varela—architect, cleaning expert, and general manager of Dallas Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas. “There’s nothing as damaging as direct sun contact.” If investing in a shady structure is out of budget, think creatively about landscaping and the architecture of your house. Varela suggests placing outdoor furniture under a large tree or any other area that is protected from direct sunlight.
Shield furniture from rain
Even the priciest outdoor furniture can start decaying because of rain. When a storm approaches, stack your chairs in a corner and place a sturdy cover over them, Varela says. For a really big storm, Ged suggests moving outdoor furniture inside or at least to a covered area, like a screened-in porch.