The age-old question — does outdoor furniture need to be covered? In short, absolutely! However, your furniture’s material plays a massive role in when to cover it.
Wood, wicker, plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, and wrought iron behave very differently in the same conditions. Some rust easily, while others can survive in the cold for a few days. As for patio furniture cushions, they come in various fabrics that also have different weather tolerances.
Luckily, we’ve been there, done that, and experimented with all kinds of outdoor furniture to bring you this comprehensive guide on how and when to cover your precious patio centrepieces.
In the following sections, you’ll discover:
- A guide to covering outdoor furniture as per its construction material
- How various cushions and fabrics react to different weather conditions
- How to choose the best furniture cover
So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Why should outdoor furniture be covered?
Depending on where you live, the environment may not seem like much of a concern. Not everyone has to deal with weather that is harmful to their furniture, like snow or harmful winds.
However, all types of furniture can sustain damage, even those settled in yards where the weather stays tropical. Let’s go over the types of bad weather that can harm your yard set, so that you have a definitive answer to the question: does outdoor furniture need to be covered?
The states that receive the most rain in the U.S. are Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, not to mention Hawaii! Whether you place furniture in a backyard residence of one of these or not, everywhere sees a little rain. This is important because all moisture can affect outdoor furniture.
Not only can rain damage lawn furnishings, but it can cause damage to the people that use them, too. Though the effects are more long-term, it is notable that anything which rain wets can hold mould and mildew.
Mould must be cleaned correctly, or else unsuspecting guests can get sick. Visitors to your lovely backyard sitting space could suffer from respiratory problems or even rashes if they are exposed to mould. Make sure to protect your outdoor furniture from the rain!
Humidity is the type of fun weather that can make us feel like we’re swimming rather than walking through the air. As uncomfortable as it is, humidity is just as potentially harmful to outdoor furniture.
This is because just as wetness from rain can affect lawn ornamentation, so can general humidity. Warping and rusting can creep up on items that remain unprotected from the subtler threat humidity poses.
Rain is something people can see, just as humidity is something we can feel. But unless the weather is downright tornadic, many people overlook the wind’s role in damaging outdoor furniture.
Patio furniture is sometimes sturdy, but not always. A gust of strong wind before a thunderstorm can snatch patio umbrellas away or knock over lightweight chairs, leading to injury or further damage.
It looks light, fluffy, and makes us feel like we’re in a movie with Bing Crosby. Actually, snow is not light or fluffy. The weight of a small snowbank on a chair or table can break it, and it has even been known to crack patios.
Don’t forget that snow is also water. Like rain and humidity, snow can seep into furniture as it melts and causes even more mutilation of your lovely backyard set. So be sure to get the right protection for your outdoor furniture during the winter!
Does Outdoor Furniture Need to be Covered? A Guide Per Construction Material
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the various materials. If you’re yet to buy a patio furniture set, consider which material works best for your budget and environment.
Aluminum is one of the most durable materials, thanks to its ability to withstand rain. It won’t rust much (if it all). However, some chairs, loungers, or tables have height-adjustable capabilities that can trap water inside.
You won’t need to cover it in spring, summer, or fall. Just remember to drain any trapped water before the winter comes. Otherwise, it’ll freeze and damage your furniture’s structural integrity.
Extreme cold and heat can make plastic furniture crack. Covering isn’t necessary if you’re using it every day in summer. But if you’re only sitting outside once a week, consider covering it after each use.
The good news? Rain won’t affect it!
Natural wicker is more susceptible to rain, sun, and moisture damage than synthetic winter. The latter tends to come with a special UV and weather protection coat.
Since natural wicker furniture is expensive and easily damaged, best practice states you should cover it when not in use, regardless of the season.
On the other hand, you don’t need to cover synthetic wicker in the summer. However, avoid winter splintering by covering before the snow or ice hits.
If wooden furniture is frequently exposed to rain, it can weaken and rot. It’s similar to natural wicker in this regard. Plus, water can freeze inside the wood, causing splinters and cracks in the winter.
We suggest applying a wood sealant and covering it during storms and the winter.
Wrought Iron Furniture
Covering wrought iron outdoor furniture is essential if you live in an area shrouded in snow and rain. Otherwise, it’ll rust.
That said, a quick wipe-down after a light shower is enough to prevent rust during spring and summer. Although be mindful about UV rays — too much and your furniture will fade.
Stainless Steel Furniture
Stainless steel is resistant to weather damage. Not to mention that it isn’t prone to denting, thanks to its dense build. And it’s more likely to stay put during high winds.
While covering isn’t essential here, we still recommend it.
How Weather Impacts Outdoor Furniture Cushions and Fabrics
Manufacturers usually make patio furniture fabrics porous to ensure maximum breathability and prevent mould or mildew. High-quality seat cushions protect your outdoor chairs’ frames, especially wooden or wicker builds.
Some common kinds of fabric and their properties are:
- Synthetic resin or resin wicker — It’s resident to rain, humidity, and ultra-violet rays. However, it can’t withstand intense heat.
- Polypropylene — It’s a nonwoven fabric made from plastic. It won’t absorb water. Instead, it allows it to pass through, preventing mildew and mould build-up. However, it’s susceptible to heat.
- Acrylic fabric — Depending on the type of acrylic fabric, it’s easy to keep clean, has a smooth texture, and is resistant to rain. Usually, it withstands heat well.
- Quick-dry foam — This is the standard filling found in most outdoor furniture cushions. Its quick-dry property prevents the build-up of mould and mildew.
- Polyester fabric — While the polyester fabric is coarser to sit on, it’s one of the most durable patio cushion materials. It even withstands heavy rain and storms!
How to Choose the Best Material for Outdoor Furniture Cover
So, you’ve established whether you need to cover your outdoor furniture (the answer is yes!). Now you must purchase the cover. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking the perfect one:
#1 Be Mindful of The Material
The best outdoor furniture protectors are made from breathable or waterproof materials. While nothing can keep every drop of moisture off your furniture, well-made covers can significantly reduce the amount.
Polyester is a popular choice because it’s both water-resistant and breathable. Plus, it’s ultra-durable and won’t fade after exposure to sunlight.
Some even come with vents that help prevent condensation and mould or mildew.
#2 Consider Your Budget
It’ll come as no surprise to you that some furniture covers are more expensive than others. Consider your budget before shopping. That way, you’ll find the best bang for your buck.
Top tip: Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s any good. Make sure you aren’t just buying a brand name.
#3 Measure Your Outdoor Furniture
To avoid furniture damage or wasted money, measure the table and chairs before purchasing a cover. Some manufacturers might have special protectors designed for your set!
#4 Ensure it Has a Cloth Backing
The best covers come with a soft cloth back to avoid scratching your furniture. It’s vital for wooden or natural wicker furniture.
#5 Look for Tie-Downs
These are drawstrings at the bottom of the cover. They secure it to your furniture in case of strong storms or high winds.
The Bottom Line: Does Outdoor Furniture Need to be Covered?
Generally, you should cover your outdoor furniture in the winter. But if you have plastic, wooden, or natural wicker furniture, covering after each use is typically advised, depending on your climate.