Ready or not, summer is over. Fall rains, frosty nights, and short days mean we won’t be spending as much time outdoors for a while. About the only contact you will have with your outdoor furniture will be looking at it through the windows. Modern outdoor furniture, specially that made of poly material, can withstand the elements much better than it could just a few years ago. However, it can take summer weather better than winter, even more so if you live where the winters are harsh. Believe it or not, UV light damage occurs in winter as well as summer, with the added damage from freezing temperatures.
Your first decision is whether or not to leave your patio furniture outside, or bring it inside. Of course, this depends on the amount of storage space you have, and the size of your furniture. Larger items like glider swings and firepits may not be easily moved.
The optimum time to think about inside storage is before buying your furniture. If you want to have inside storage for winter, make sure to measure and plan ahead how much furniture you can easily get inside. Remember though, that unless you have heated storage, freezing can still cause damage, unless you take some precautions.
If you can’t find space inside, there are other options. Some companies supply covers, which protect from UV light and keep at least some water out of furniture left outside. You can also buy shrink wraps, and there are companies that will do wrapping for you. Although convenient, this can get a bit expensive, and if you live in a windy area, wrapping can make your furniture into something that catches even more wind, making it prone to blowing over. Moving your wrapped pieces next to a building or other windbreak can keep them from being blown into the neighbor’s yard.
There are several steps to take when winterizing your outdoor furniture. The first is cleaning. Sure, it might be a bit annoying to do your cleaning in the cooler temperatures, but next year, all you must do is set everything up and enjoy!
Cleaning dirt off your furniture is different depending on the material you are dealing with. Check with the manufacturer for their cleaning suggestions. It is especially important to clean bird droppings off metal and wood, because the acidity can eat away at surfaces even over winter. If you have teak furniture, it needs to be cleaned well, and possibly resealed, because teak has oils that attract dirt and dust, and this can lead to mold and mildew if it gets damp during storage.
Now may be the time to repaint or seal any wood furniture that needs it, as long as it is warm enough. Metal pieces can often use a touch up as well. Checking mechanical parts to make sure everything is in good working order is a good idea. If you need to order new parts, it’s better to do it over the winter.
Cushions should be cleaned at this point, and you may want to consider inside storage away from mice and chewing critters looking for a winter nesting spot!
One of the last steps to take before storing outdoor furniture is making sure there is no water remaining inside any hollow areas such as metal tubing. If you washed your furniture just before storing, make sure it is dry before the first freeze. Even poly material has very tiny areas between the layers of plastic, and the force of freezing water can cause damage that will get worse over time.
Water also can cause mold and mildew on wood items, specially when they are covered, or wrapped in plastic. Cushions should be dried well after cleaning, because mold and mildew can grow inside the stuffing if they are stored damp. If you wrap your furniture, make sure it is dry, and leave a bit of open space at the bottom for air flow.
Plastic gets brittle when it is cold, so even a wrapped item can be easily damaged if it is hit with something or blows over during a windstorm. Make sure any items left outdoors are away from areas that will need snow cleared off in winter. You certainly don’t want to crash into furniture buried in a snow drift.
If you have any questions about cleaning, maintaining or storing your outdoor furniture, or would like to purchase cleaning supplies, don’t hesitate to call us at Raber Patio Enclosures and Furniture. We are ready to help you keep your furniture looking and working great. You can reach us at (260) 768-2100.