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5 Tips for Protecting Outdoor Furniture

For most of the year, Dallas has a fairly dry and arid climate, but during the late spring and summer, residents will experience a good amount of rain. And even though rain is generally never a bad thing, when you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible, the rain simply gets in the way of your many homeowner’s plans.

The real problem, though, is when you leave your outdoor furniture out on the patio without any protection and the rain causes all sorts of damage. A frustrating thing about the damage that rain can cause is that it isn’t always noticeable right away. Sure, you’ll notice that the seat cushions are wet, but when the sun comes out the next day, mold and mildew can begin to grow, which may not become visible for a few weeks.

How can Dallas homeowners protect their outdoor furniture from the elements?

Keep it Clean

Whether you’re cleaning the furniture and accessories before storing them away for a few months, or if it’s just time to give the items a good thorough cleaning, this step will go a long way in protecting your outdoor furniture.

  • Wicker, Wrought Iron, or Plastic: These materials are easier to clean and are better at keeping away mold and mildew. Simply use a sponge or brush, a bucket of clean warm water, and a few drops of dish soap. Wipe away any dust, dirt, bird droppings, or other debris and rinse each item thoroughly. With wrought iron, spend some time drying the item right after cleaning it to prevent rust from developing.
  • Wood: Wood can be slightly more tricky because it’s a porous material. Any outdoor wood should definitely be treated with some type of sealant to minimize potential rain damage. Most outdoor furniture, though, will come prefinished. Wood that is already finished can be cleaned with a gentle soap and water solution. Painted wood needs additional care as the paint could chip when the wrong cleaning solution is used, or when the pressure from pressing washing is too high. Use a damp cloth to remove dirt and debris for painted wood.
  • Cushions and Textiles: Outdoor items made with fabric, like pillows, awnings, umbrellas, or rubs are generally made with incredibly durable, synthetic fabrics. These items also typically come with manufacturer’s care instructions. However, a good rinsing or power washing is a great way to remove dirt from these items. If you use soap, make sure to very thoroughly rinse the item. These items should also be thoroughly dry before storing as mold can grow from just a small amount of moisture.

Add a Sealer

As mentioned above, if you have outdoor furniture that is made of wood, it absolutely needs to be finished with a sealant of some type. Leaving unfinished wood outdoors will slowly cause the wood to warp and crack; this can occur when wood is exposed to rain as well as sun and UV rays. There are several ways to finish wood, the most common methods being oils, varnish or urethane, or an epoxy with exterior varnish. The time and effort it takes and how often the wood will need to be treated will depend on the type of finish you use. With wood oil, the furniture will need to be treated once every year. When using a varnish or urethane, depending on the number of coats applied, will last up to three years, but it does require more time. An epoxy is the most durable but is the most labor-intensive. If you purchase outdoor patio furniture that does not come pretreated, spending an afternoon or two applying a finish is definitely worth the time.

Use Storage and/or Covers

For most Dallas homeowners, patio furniture covers are enough to protect couches, chairs, cushions, and other items. Choosing the right cover is essential, however.
Find a furniture cover that is at least water-resistant if not waterproof.
Covers should be durable and strong, able to withstand hard rains and sleet.
If possible, look for covers that will fit your furniture snugly to prevent wind from pushing up the corners, allowing water to seep inside.
If you’re storing furniture in a garage or shed, you still may want to purchase a cover to keep rodents from making a home in your furniture.
Covers can also help prevent fading that can occur when the items are exposed to UV rays.

Consider Placement

If you have a type of outdoor furniture that will withstand damage from rain or even UV rays, you should at least consider where the furniture is placed in your backyard or on the patio/deck. When possible, place furniture below an awning or roof to keep them as dry as possible. This will also make sure they are in the shade as often as possible. And, depending on the direction that your home faces, try placing furniture in an area that has the least amount of sun exposure, like a north-facing wall.

Plan Ahead

Even though weather forecasters try their best, it can still be hard predicting when or how much it will rain, or for how long the sun will be out. However, make it a habit of checking the weather and looking for any potential rain showers. You’ll want to look at the weather to plan your outdoor activities anyway, right? When you know ahead of time that it’s going to rain, this will give you enough time to cover the furniture, move them below an awning, or put them away in the garage. At the very least, we all know when the start of spring and summer is, so try to schedule some time to clean your furniture and prepare the items before each season.

Outdoor patio furniture is often an investment, so protecting the items from the elements is a must in order to prevent damage like mold, mildew, and fading.

If you’re shopping for a new outdoor furniture set, visit Mitchell Outdoor Living in Gun Barrel City. Located just an hour southeast of Dallas, we offer a large selection of high-quality outdoor furniture so you can truly enjoy your outdoor space. Stop by today for all of your outdoor living needs, including patio covers and awnings, solar screens, and even custom outdoor kitchens. Contact Mitchell Outdoor Living today with any questions you may have about our services and products.