Winter Can Be Harsh on Outdoor Furniture
Our first rains have already happened here in the Wine country, and if you haven’t already taken steps to prepare for some winter weather, I thought I would share some great tips for winter care that help ensure your outdoor furniture’s longevity. Keep in mind–while quality outdoor furniture can take being rained on, after all, it is outdoor furniture, covering it for the rainy season, aka winter, is a good idea! Why?
Well, if you compare a set that was just left out in all the elements for 5 years against the same set which was covered in the winter, you will see a measurable difference . It has to do with UV damage, mildew growth, and simple degradation of the molecules making up the metal, wood, and fibers. Depending on the materials used in construction, some will be more winter-resistant than others – and conversely will want more protection. .
Wood furniture? If it is teak, we recommend leaving it alone until spring, then decide if you want to treat it to bring back the luster of the wood, or just leave it gray. Other wood species normally need to be covered. Of course, see manufacturer’s instructions. The beauty of using plantation grown teak as an outdoor wood species is that the wood itself is rot and termite resistant–is not dependent on any finish for its durability.
Woven furniture is usually wicker or rattan. The weaves can be made of synthetic, typically vinyl or PVC, or natural material, called ‘loom wicker’. Synthetic wicker is extruded, and the color typically runs throughout the lace. Loom is actually painted. In both cases, all the nooks and crannies provide places for organic material to land and support mildew growth. We recommend spraying it with a light spray from a garden sprayer, NOT a pressure washer, and a little dish soap. Rinse well and let dry thoroughly–then cover for the rainy season.
With the shifts between rain and warm weather this season in the Sonoma and Napa areas, please come in and take a look at our breathable outdoor furniture covers. With the fluctuations in temperature, it makes for top conditions for mold growth and why we suggest breathable patio furniture covers as a solution.
If your furniture is metal and does not have upholstered fabric cushions, inspect it for any paint or powder coat which might be chipped off. If the paint or powder coat is intact, it should be fine uncovered. Whether it is aluminum or steel outdoor furniture, missing paint should be touched up. We usually can provide you with matching paint to use for touching up or you can contact the manufacturer. The goal is to prevent rust from gaining a foothold. Not an issue with the most durable of metals–316 stainless steel–commonly used on the highest quality and most expensive furniture, as well as marine fittings in the boat industry. Occasionally, UV will cause a paint finishes color to change and grow duller. It can always be re-painted / re-powder coated if this occurs and it should not!
Protect Your Outdoor Cushions
If you have cushions on your furniture, you will find it helpful to try to control the dust. When that layer of dust on your cushions gets wet from rain and dew, that dust turns to clumping dirt which can get into the fabric’s fibers. Dirt and organic material provide a growth medium for mold and mildew, which can begin to deteriorate your fabric.
To combat this, give the cushions a good thumping once a week to get rid of the buildup. That’s why we recommend you cover it up in the winter. Its very important to pay attention to the type of covers. Look for water-resistant covers which have vents or can otherwise ‘breathe’. Note: NEVER cover up furniture that is wet with a non-breathable cover. moist environments combined with darkness provide an ideal medium for funky things to grow, such as mod and mildew!
We have heard of people uncovering their furniture in the spring, and seeing little holes gnawed in the corners of the fabric, and some fill removed… Mice have strong nesting tendencies, and they like a soft, cushy bed for the winter! They are opportunistic, and will take this fabric and fill material from wherever they find it. One thing we do in our own yard is pick up a little bit of Dacron wrap or fill from an old quilt or some other such material and put little clumps of it under shrubbery around the yard for our small furry friends to find. Give the ever-present rodents what they want, and they will leave your patio cushions alone!
To be very safe, removing your patio cushions for the Winter season will extend their natural lifetime and ensure years of cushions in great condition. Rafter hooks in your garage or storage shed can provide a great place to store cushions during the winter season and keep them out of rodents natural path of discovery for nesting materials. we hang our cushions in bags fro rafter hooks, it saves space and keeps our investment cushions in great shape.
Come visit us at Villa Terrazza this Winter season to protect your outdoor furniture investment and ensure years of enjoyment in your outdoor escape. While you are in our store,