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What patio furniture can I leave outside in the winter? | Neighbor

Dec. 06, 2023
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When choosing outside furniture that can be left outside all year, finding long lasting, durable materials is key. Even if your outdoor living space doesn’t get as much use in the winter months, you still want the option to enjoy your outdoor space through the seasons without needing to replace your furniture each year. If you live in an area with extreme weather, cold temperatures, snow and ice, investing in quality furniture now will save you money, time and energy in the long run.

Here’s your guide to durable outdoor patio furniture that you can leave outside in the winter, including the longest lasting furniture materials, and extra steps to prolong your furniture lifespan.

Why invest in outdoor furniture

When you invest in quality outdoor furniture, you can extend your indoor living space to create an additional, livable space outdoors too. Purchasing quality furniture with durable materials means you can relax comfortably year-round without having to worry about your furniture being damaged in the winter, or dedicating too much time to maintaining or restoring your pieces. Whether you have a patio, balcony or backyard, your outdoor living room setup has the potential to last 5 to 10 years down the road with high quality furniture made for all-weather resistance.

The best outdoor furniture materials to survive harsh winters

Some of the best outdoor furniture materials known for their all-season durability include aluminum, recycled plastic, concrete and teak.

Aluminum furniture

Aluminum is a staple material in outdoor winter furniture and is ideal for colder climates with rain, snow and ice. This contemporary metal is strong, resistant to rusting, and easily customizable with a wide range of paint coat colors or rich-colored outdoor cushions. With natural rust resistant properties, aluminum furniture can be left outside during storms, without risk of degradation, like other metal materials such as iron and steel. However, aluminum is relatively lightweight and can blow away in strong winds, which is something to consider if you live in a windy or coastal area.

Plastic furniture

Quality plastic furniture, particularly recycled plastic furniture, can withstand rainy, wet conditions without rusting, corroding, rotting or growing mold. Plastic furniture is low maintenance and can be cleaned with a simple wipe down or spray down from a hose, making it ideal for parties, gatherings and other events where spills and messes may happen. Lightweight, lower quality plastics are prone to weakening, cracking and breaking as the temperatures drop and water freezes. Freezing weather conditions can also cause plastic furniture to fade in color over time.

At Neighbor, we use high quality HDPE plastic for our Adirondack Low Chair. This plastic is recycled from ocean and landfill-bound consumer plastics that are then transformed into a strong, durable plastic lumber. This makes Neighbor’s Low Chair waterproof, fade-proof and maintenance-free. If you choose plastic furniture for your outdoor patio, it’s a good idea to invest in high quality recycled plastic furniture that can be left outside all year without cracking or losing its luster.

Concrete furniture

Concrete is one of the strongest materials used in outdoor furniture and can therefore be left outside in the winter season without risking damage. Concrete is resistant to scratching and generally resistant to chipping or cracking. Quality concrete furniture pieces made for all-weather resistance, like our concrete tables, have a smooth, sealed finish that reinforces its strength, prevents marks and stains, and creates a soft texture.

Sealed concrete furniture can last through decades of winters with minimal maintenance. Simply apply a natural wax twice a year to retain our concrete tables’ original quality. During wetter months, it’s best to cover concrete furniture with a protective cover, because concrete is still porous in nature, even when sealed. Covering your outdoor furniture will extend its lifespan and minimize maintenance.

Teak wood furniture

Teak wood is known as the best wood material for outdoor furniture, especially in areas that experience hot summer days and cold, wet winter months. With powerful natural oils that make teak wood resistant to water damage, warping, rotting, cracking or weakening, teak furniture will stand strong through severe winter storms, heavy winds, and freezing temperatures. One of the unique strengths of teak wood is that it doesn’t have to be treated to maintain its original strength or durability.

Neighbor furniture features untreated teak wood that can endure everything from food and drink stains to mold, mildew and torrential rain. We recommend leaving teak untreated and allowing the wood to adjust to the climate of your area for long lasting beauty. When shopping for quality teak furniture, it’s important to know how to identify real teak. Fake teak wood doesn’t hold the same properties that real teak does, which means it’s not guaranteed to stand strong through cold or wet weather conditions. Want to know more about why you should choose teak wooden furniture? Check out our guide.

 

Outdoor furniture that shouldn’t be left outside in the winter

While aluminum, plastic, concrete and teak materials are ideal for outdoor furniture year-round, materials like iron, steel and wicker can be damaged by wet and cold weather conditions and should not be left outside in the winter.

Iron or steel furniture

Both iron and steel are susceptible to corroding and rusting under wet conditions. As iron and steel begin to rust, they weaken and degrade and are at risk of breaking or splitting. If you live in an area with rain or freezing temperatures, outdoor furniture made of steel or iron will require storing indoors for the winter. Coastal regions are also not ideal for steel or iron furniture, because the salt and moisture in the air will speed up the oxidation process and cause furniture to rust very quickly. When it comes to metal furniture in your outdoor space throughout the winter, aluminum is the safest bet.

Wicker furniture

Wicker furniture has a woven design, made of natural rattan wood or synthetic fiber materials. This design style is particularly porous and highly susceptible to damage by water. Rain can cause rattan furniture to rot and warp, and as water freezes within the weaving, wicker furniture is likely to expand, crack and break. If the climate in your area includes rain, humidity, snow or moisture of any kind, wicker furniture should be stored indoors or covered during rainy days and throughout the winter months.

Outdoor cushions

Purchasing quality outdoor cushions for your patio furniture is a must. Fabrics that aren’t engineered to withstand the seasons can be ruined by rain and freezing temperatures, harbor mold and mildew, and develop water stains from rain or spills. At Neighbor, we use Sunbrella fabric for all of our outdoor cushion covers. Sunbrella fabric is known as the highest quality of outdoor fabric and uses a resilient solution-dyed acrylic that is resistant to color fading, staining after spills or rains, and mold or mildew growth. These comfortable, highly-durable cushions are designed to weather the storms, but we advise storing your Sunbrella cushions indoors during winter weather or covering them with a furniture cover to prolong their lifespan and minimize maintenance.

Take extra steps to protect your furniture during winter

The best way to ensure long-lasting furniture for your outdoor space is by protecting your pieces with waterproof covers, like Neighbor’s furniture covers. You could also consider storing furniture indoors or in a storage unit to take extra precaution during harsh weather conditions or months with unpredictable weather. Choose types of furniture that won’t fly away when the wind picks up and be cautious of lightweight furniture in general if you live in a windy climate. While it’s best to bring cushions and cushion covers indoors during freezing temperatures, you can also use the waterproof covers to secure your furniture for winter.

It’s also important to know how to care for your teak furniture, concrete furniture or Sunbrella cushion covers to get the most out of your outdoor furniture and enjoy your pieces to their fullest potential. No matter where you’re located, it’s important to get furniture that will stand strong through winter without fading, degrading, rotting or losing comfort. Investing in quality furniture is a worthwhile investment.

Shop Neighbor’s outdoor furniture collection

Neighbor furniture is built to last. You won’t have to move your patio set indoors for the winter or fear replacing your patio set when you buy furniture specially-designed to resist the weather and elements. Our pieces feature marine grade hardware with premium stainless steel for corrosion resistance. All of our hardware is made to withstand exposure to the open ocean. Don’t sacrifice beauty and feel for durability. Shop our outdoor collection and get to know more about us.

When the weather is fine, a backyard patio becomes an outdoor living room for many homeowners. But when the weather is not fine, the poor furniture bears the brunt of it.

“But wait!” you say. “It’s patio furniture. Isn’t it designed for outdoor use?”

We talked to Lindsay Schleis, VP of Business Development at POLYWOOD, to get her expert opinion on whether or not you can leave patio furniture out in the rain. Read on to learn more.

Meet the Expert

Lindsay Schleis is the vice president of business development at POLYWOOD, the Green Award-winning Indiana-based outdoor furniture company.

Is It Okay to Leave Patio Furniture Out in the Rain?

Provided you did not plop an indoor couch or dining room set on your patio, you are correct to assume that most outdoor furniture can stand up to summer rain—though be sure to store or otherwise secure them should that rain turn into a tropical storm or hurricane. 

That said, not all outdoor furniture is equally suited to rain.

“Outdoor furniture is constructed to be weather-resistant but that does not always mean it is weatherproof,” says Schleis.

As the name suggests, weather-resistant furniture can resist some of the effects of rain, wind, and strong sun, but it might not make it out completely unscathed in the wake of prolonged rain or extremely inclement weather. Furniture that’s marked weatherproof, on the other hand, would indicate it has a complete barrier against the elements.

To ensure you’re not the victim of a clever marketing ploy, be sure to read the instructions on any new set of furniture you purchase to learn its proper use outdoors. 

What Types of Outdoor Furniture Are Better for Water Resistance?

In general, here are some of the most popular and sturdy types of patio furniture, known for both their durability and ease of maintenance.

Plastic lumber is the easiest to maintain. It's a material that makes furniture look like it's made from wood, even though it's not. "It is built to withstand harsh climates, not just rain,” Schleis says. “It can be left outside year-round and maintained with a little soap and water and a soft bristle brush.”

Aluminum offers a classy look that’s durable yet lightweight. Wash it down from time to time with some soap and water—mild dish soap will do—or a spray cleaner formulated for outdoor furniture.

Sling fabric dries fast, so it can resist mildew and keep clean. It also stands up to fading in the strong sun and UV rays.

Wood is probably the most common patio furniture material, because like a wood deck, it's built to last. Of course, not all wood is made the same, nor is it maintained the same way. Here’s what you need to know about the most popular types of wood for patio furniture:

  • Teak: It’s an expensive option that’s worth the splurge because it can last long for years with little maintenance. 
  • Eucalyptus: A less expensive alternative than teak, it can also last and last—provided you treat it in the off-season with a sealant.
  • Cedar: While it won’t endure as long as eucalyptus or teak, it can still last for around 20 years if you give it some TLC.
  • Ipe: Pronounced “ee-pay,” this wood is found in the Brazilian rainforest—which should give you an idea of how well it can stand up to wet weather. It’s a more wallet-friendly alternative.
  • Acacia: Acacia one of the pricier options for patio furniture, but it’s naturally water-resistant. It’s not waterproof, though, so you will have to clean it as well as apply oil to protect it.
  • Redwood: Keep this type of wood furniture clean and add a coat of sealant each year, and it'll last for years.

Signs You’ve Left Patio Furniture Out for Too Long

While most outdoor furniture is indeed built for the outdoors, there are signs that perhaps your patio furniture needs some protection if you want it to stick around for next season.

  • Waterlogged cushions: This is when your cushions look dry, then you sit down and they're actually sopping wet.
  • Rust: Rust is another tell-tale sign that your patio furniture is struggling. While steel furniture is powder coated like it is on a car, rust can form as the paint breaks down—also like a car. 
  • Dirty furniture: Dirt and debris can contribute to the faster deterioration of just about any type of patio furniture. Be sure to figure out the best way to clean yours, then do it regularly. 

Can You Save Furniture That Was Left Out Too Long?

Even if your patio furniture is a bit weather-beaten, it isn’t always destined for the garbage. You could revive it with some TLC—and a close reading of the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines, says Schleis. 

For example, for steel furniture that’s started to rust, Schleis recommends a coat of Rust-Oleum paint. Just be sure to avoid abrasive cleansers.

Prevention Is the Best Policy

As with most things in home maintenance, prevention is better than cure. There are a few ways you can protect your patio furniture when you leave it outside.

“Furniture covers are always a good idea but remember, the lifetime of patio furniture is dependent upon the quality of the material,” says Schleis. In other words, don’t automatically look for the cheapest covers if you want your furniture to be protected. And be sure to brush the excess water and debris off the covers after a storm.

Follow the care and maintenance instructions carefully. Some furniture might simply benefit from a hosing down every so often followed by drying off in the sun, while others will require periodic resealing or recoating, much like a deck.

And while everyone loves a steal, it might be worth spending a little more.

“Purchasing patio furniture is an investment,” says Schleis. “Rather than buying fast furniture that will only last a few seasons, consider buying timeless designs that are consciously crafted and that are built to last forever.”

What patio furniture can I leave outside in the winter? | Neighbor

Is It Okay to Leave Patio Furniture Out in the Rain?

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