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Why Your Outdoor Furniture Needs a Patio Cover

Why Your Outdoor Furniture Needs a Patio Cover
Summer is a time to enjoy your patio, deck, or sunroom. In the winter, however, these spaces become less accessible, and your patio furniture ends up sitting unused. However, bringing it inside typically isn’t feasible. Many people leave their furniture out during the winter. Unfortunately, this tends to shorten the life of your furniture. “All-weather” may mean that the furniture can stand up to most fluctuations in temperature, but it doesn’t mean that it can handle freeze-thaw cycles over a long time. Wood, even if properly treated, can be damaged with snow and rain, and can get mildew. Metal furniture can rust if the coating becomes damaged. Even plastic will be slowly degraded by snow, rain, wind, and freeze-thaw cycles. Additionally, ignored patio furniture may be more vulnerable to theft.
So, what should you do? Here are some options:
  1. If you do have room to bring your furniture into a shed or the back of a garage, do so. Some people actually move the outdoor furniture into the family room for extra seating. You should always bring in removable cushions and cushion covers and store them in the back of the linen closet or the basement. Make sure they are clean and dry. Bear in mind that temperature variance is the worst risk to plastic furniture, and give that priority in temperature-controlled storage. Wood or metal furniture can often handle freezing and thawing better.
  2. Get a temporary storage unit for the winter. Or, if you have a storage unit that you use to store things like snow blowers, winter sports gear, etc, you may be able to just switch in the furniture.
  3. Move the furniture into an outdoor entertainment enclosure, kitchen enclosure or similar. If you’re fortunate enough to have one of these setups, then the extra shelter may be enough to make a huge difference. In some climates, outdoor kitchens may remain usable through the winter, allowing the furniture to be used. Another alternative is to move the furniture into an enclosed sunroom.
  4. Redo any coating or sealant on the furniture before the cold hits. Cover aluminum or plastic furniture with a thin coating of car wax, and wicker furniture with paste wax. Take care of any rust with a wire brush. While this may not be enough on its own, it can go a long way towards keeping your furniture in good condition. Make sure the furniture is thoroughly cleaned first. Stains on upholstery or wood that sit all winter will be impossible to remove in the spring.
  5. Invest in good quality patio covers. Furniture covers are a good idea even if you are storing your furniture in the shed or garage, as it will also keep it clean. Avoid cheap covers, which can actually damage your furniture. Most covers are made of vinyl. Make sure your covers are:
    • Water resistant not waterproof. While waterproof might seem to be a better option, it does not allow your furniture to breathe. Water resistant is sufficient for snow and most rain.
    • UV protective. The sun can actually hit with more UV rays in the winter when there is snow on the ground. UV rays can cause cracking and fading.
    • Vented. A cover without vents will result in moisture and humidity building up underneath, which breeds mold and mildew.
Of these options, good quality covers are often the most affordable, especially if you are short of storage space. Even if you do bring furniture inside, it is still a good idea to cover it to keep off dust and grime. Taking proper care of your patio furniture will help ensure that you can enjoy it for many years to come.

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