How To

Tips to Protect Your Outdoor Furniture from the Weather

In the warmer months, there’s nothing better than kicking back outside with your family or friends, reclining on a cosy daybed or chatting around a practical yet pretty outdoor dining set. But, when colder or wetter times roll around and conditions change, the regret can start to set in – that is, if you don’t have a solid plan for protecting, maintaining and cleaning your outdoor furniture.

The truth is, so much can be done prior to those wild weather events to ensure your outdoor furniture is perfectly safe. Whether you opt for outdoor furniture covers, tuck everything away in a safe place, or simply learn how to keep your pieces looking as good as new, it’s worth the time and effort – and the enjoyment you’ll get from having a beautiful, functional outdoor space.

If you’re pondering the best way to look after your outdoor furniture, and how to protect outdoor furniture from the weather, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to have all of your most pressing questions about outdoor furniture answered.

Can you leave outdoor furniture in the rain and wind?

Let’s start with the basics – is it ever okay to leave your furniture outside to brave the elements on its own? The answer is complicated, but with the right protections in place (or if you’re prepared to put in some cleanup effort afterwards), you can technically leave your furniture out in the rain, wind, hail, snow, or whatever weather event takes your fancy. But, that’s not to say it’s a good idea to throw caution to the literal wind – it’s more about mitigating damage to the furniture pieces you’ve likely spent a good chunk of change on by making small changes and actions in place.

How to protect outdoor furniture from weather

There are a few different approaches you might choose to take when protecting your outdoor furniture from the weather. For best results, implement a combination of them, and we guarantee your pieces’ll stay looking spic and span for as long as possible.

Use outdoor furniture covers

Perhaps our biggest tip, and one that often gets overlooked, is using outdoor furniture covers to create a barrier between your items and potential environmental stressors. They’re affordable, versatile and easy to use, making them an ideal purchase for absolutely every outdoor furniture owner. They come in a range of sizes to fit everything from two-person dining sets to a huge outdoor lounge set, and are also available in a range of fabrics with varying weather-resistant properties – some popular and effective options include canvas, acrylic, and polypropylene. When you’re selecting an outdoor furniture cover, be sure to research what that specific material protects against and weigh it up against your area’s most popular weather events – remember, harsh sun can be just as damaging as wind, hail or rain.

Select a designated spot

Another hot tip for protecting your outdoor sofa, dining set or coffee table is to carve out a specific area for them to live when the weather is on the crazy side. While this won’t be an option for everyone, some homes will have undercover outdoor sections like gazebos or covered decks that can be closed off to keep out intense weather. For you, protecting your outdoor furniture might just be as simple as dragging a few key pieces into a safe spot when it’s raining, hailing, or the UV index is off the charts.

So much versatility: Our Aldo range is designed for use indoors and outdoors.
So much versatility: Our Aldo range is designed for use indoors and outdoors.
So much versatility: Our Aldo range is designed for use indoors and outdoors.
So much versatility: Our Aldo range is designed for use indoors and outdoors.

Pick indoor/outdoor pieces

If you’re all about a super stylish outdoor space, or perhaps are dealing with a few smaller pieces, another option is to select furniture that can exist both indoors and outdoors. Indoor/outdoor furniture is very on trend right now, especially as it deals with cool, chic materials like concrete and resin that are striking wherever you put them. When the weather’s about to take a wild turn, simply relocate your furniture from the deck, backyard or courtyard to the living room or dining room – a quick, simple and stylish fix! We love indoor/outdoor pieces like the Syracuse Coffee Table, Salerno Side Table and Aldo Coffee Table.

Protecting and cleaning your outdoor furniture by material

With a few housekeeping tips out of the way, we’re ready to dive into caring for, maintaining and cleaning your outdoor furniture. The best tack to take will depend on the material your pieces are made from – find yours from the below to learn more about protecting it from weather damage, as well as to unearth some salient cleaning advice.

Wooden furniture

Wooden outdoor furniture made of timbers including teak, acacia, oak and cedar tends to be very durable – making it the perfect pick if you want your outdoor pieces to really last. Wood does require a little upkeep, but in the grand scheme of things, you’ll spend, at most, a few hours a year putting in the work to reap the rewards in a decade’s time.

Maintain your timber outdoor furniture by keeping it out of super harsh sunlight, and by waxing the wood once every six months or so. There are a bunch of wax products out there on the market, but something like SunShield is usually a great investment, as this also softens the effect UV rays can have on your piece’s life and durability, meaning you’ll get more use and enjoyment out of your wooden outdoor furniture on the whole! When it comes to cleaning, simply use a clean, dry cloth to wipe down liquid or buff out any marks. For a stronger solution, mix dish soap with water, apply and scrub with a bristle brush.

Wicker outdoor furniture

Unlike synthetic alternatives or traditional wood, wicker outdoor furniture is quite high-maintenance and sensitive to the weather. In fact, real wicker – depending on the material the wicker has been woven from – isn’t meant to be stored outside all the time, but is rather a decorative material that fares much better inside. If you’re set on using wicker furniture outdoors, though, here’s what you need to know. To protect and maintain your pieces, always be sure to use covers, and to avoid all harsh elements, especially direct sunlight. There’s not much you can do in the way of applying treatments or products, reiterating the fact that wicker is an indoor pick above all. Clean your wicker furniture with dish soap, warm water and a cloth or small, gentle scrubbing brush.

Looks and feels exactly like the real thing, but without the upkeep!
Looks and feels exactly like the real thing, but without the upkeep!
Looks and feels exactly like the real thing, but without the upkeep!
Looks and feels exactly like the real thing, but without the upkeep!

Synthetic rattan or cane furniture

A better alternative to real wicker furniture is synthetic cane or rattan outdoor furniture. It’s designed to look and feel exactly like the real thing, but is also made from a much less delicate material that’s been specifically designed to withstand the realities of the outdoors. You’ll find there’s very little, if any, maintenance associated with synthetic rattan and cane, and they look absolutely stunning, creating that coastal feel without any of the upkeep. To clean your synthetic rattan pieces, use the same old dish soap and water trick for best results.

Steel or wrought iron furniture

Another beautiful choice, but not one that’s without upkeep, is wrought iron furniture, or similarly, steel outdoor furniture. Before you start Googling ‘how to prevent rust on outdoor metal furniture’, here’s the rundown on keeping these bad boys looking good for longer. These materials have their pros and cons, one of the upsides being how easily they endure the weather day-to-day. Because of their heavy, sturdy frames, you won’t need to move your items around to prevent them from being blown over or damaged by wind, hail and snow.

However, you’ll find that every few months they need a little more love than usual. As we’ve already mentioned, the most common problem with steel and wrought iron is rust. There are a few ways to combat this, including purchasing specialist treatments and protective coatings, and doing regular maintenance with baking soda, vinegar, or a designated rust cleaner (you’ll find a whole host of options at your local hardware shop). Depending on the colour and finish, your iron outdoor furniture may also need to be painted every now and then so it stays looking fresh – harsh weather elements can occasionally cause the paint to chip or flake.

Other metal outdoor furniture

As well as iron and steel, there are a few other popular metal options for outdoor furniture - and perhaps the most common is aluminium. Aluminium outdoor furniture is super light and durable, making it a perfect alternative to heavy steel. Oh, and did we mention it’s rust-proof? As a result, your cleaning and maintenance efforts can be quite minimal when dealing with aluminium – simply wipe your furniture down with a soft cloth and a non-abrasive cleaner (once again, soap and water is your best bet) to remove marks or spills. Another tip is to keep this kind of furniture away from strong winds to avoid pieces flying away and incurring damage from colliding with other objects.

Plastic outdoor furniture

Waterproof, stain-proof, and all in all, pretty much life-proof, plastic is a very well-loved outdoor furniture material. However, unlike rustic wood and classic wrought iron, plastic isn’t as aesthetically pleasing – it’s more so chosen for its durability, low price point and the wide range of styles and options on offer. To keep your plastic outdoor furniture looking as good as it can, all you need to do is wipe down occasionally, and spot clean any marks with a wet cloth and a gentle soap. One watch-out with plastic is the potential for sun damage – depending on the colour and finish of your plastic, strong UV rays could cause discoloration, warping or dullness, so be sure to tuck your items away in the heat of the day where possible.

You get tonnes of additional comfort when you choose upholstery, with just a little maintenance.
You get tonnes of additional comfort when you choose upholstery, with just a little maintenance.
You get tonnes of additional comfort when you choose upholstery, with just a little maintenance.
You get tonnes of additional comfort when you choose upholstery, with just a little maintenance.

Outdoor upholstery

If your outdoor dining furniture, lounge set or daybed features upholstered cushioning, you might be wondering the best way to care for and protect the fabric – well, you’ve come to the perfect place! The right maintenance routine will ultimately come down to the type of fabric you’re dealing with, which can vary, but is likely to be a derivative of polyester or something equally as synthetic. Man-made fabrics are great outdoors, as they’re inherently more durable and resistant to the elements. Polyester can be hand-washed, chucked in the machine on a gentle, cold wash, or dry cleaned by a professional, so the choice is entirely yours. Spot clean with dish soap and water, adding a small amount of cleaning vinegar to cut through stubborn stains. It’s a simple process for tonnes of additional comfort when you’re relaxing outdoors – a win-win in our book!

Final tips for protecting your outdoor furniture

Now that you’ve got detailed instructions for cleaning and protecting your outdoor furniture pieces up your sleeve, all there’s left to do is put them into practice! While you may not be able to unfailingly weather proof outdoor furniture, there are so many good practises that can be implemented to make the maintenance process ten times easier. Before you get out there, though, here are a few last quick hints from our expert team of Brosa stylists.

  • Use coasters and placemats to protect from heat or condensation damage, especially on wooden surfaces.
  • Invest in stylish, durable storage bins or chests for the outdoors – these are ideal for quickly throwing cushions or outdoor decor into when the weather is about to take a turn for the worse.
  • Keep a fully-stocked cleaning and furniture care kit somewhere in your home to further simplify your outdoor furniture maintenance process.
  • If you’re unsure of how to care for your new outdoor furniture pieces, ask the pros! We offer a range of virtual services to help you with your decision, including live chat – or, if you’re in Sydney or Melbourne, pop into our Studio spaces to speak to someone face-to-face.

Ready to turn your outdoor area into your own little slice of paradise with beautiful outdoor furniture? Shop our range of expertly crafted pieces today, including outdoor lounges, armchairs,dining sets and more. Once you’ve found your favourites, you’ll be ready to tackle the cleaning and maintenance process like a total pro.