All summer long you've enjoyed outdoor living. But now it's time to close the umbrella, put away the cushions and move the furniture indoors. Before you pack up your patio for the season, make sure it's ready for storage and in good shape for next year.
"One of the biggest mistakes people make with outdoor furniture is thinking they can withstand anything," says decorator and interior planner Hope Morris, who's sales manager at PatioLiving, an online patio furniture retailer. "Each season, patio furniture stands up against UV rays and extreme temperatures, not to mention bad weather and often pets."
Read on for expert tips on protecting your patio furniture:
*Keep It Clean
Experts from the home improvement store Lowe's advise monthly cleaning and maintenance for patio furniture to help it look great and last a long time. They say soap and water work for most patio pieces and suggest a low-setting pressure washer for deep cleaning. It's important to keep the cushions tidy and dry to prevent must and mold.
While outdoor furniture can be made from a variety of materials including wrought iron, wood, wicker, aluminum, steel, fabric or resin, the Lowe's experts say resin is the hassle-free option that requires little maintenance. Serious mildew can be removed with one cup of bleach, two cups of detergent and a gallon of water. Use gloves and eye protection while cleaning.
Keep it clean throughout the season and especially before putting it in storage.
"Dusting the dirt off and cleaning your furniture with a mild dish soap and warm water is something you should get in the habit of doing to keep the grime off your furnishings," says Morris.
Protect the furniture from the elements to keep it in good shape.
"Add a few cushions to your furniture," suggests Nathan Ripley, director of Maid Just Right, a house cleaning and maid service. "This simple measure will make your chairs and seating furniture more comfortable but will also protect them from the sun. This will prevent the paint from drying and cracking, as well as the material being damaged or sun bleached."
For more protection, install a sunscreen to block out the sun and rain.
Morris recommends using covers to protect your furniture when it's not in use. "There are a variety of covers out there that are UV-resistant and waterproof that will help protect your lovely seating or table from the elements," she says.
Lowe's experts recommend consumers invest in a water-resistant cover that has UV protection. The goal is to shield the chairs, table, umbrella and other patio gear from dust, dirt, pollen, sap and water, in a variety of temperatures.
Add a coating of protective finish, if needed.
"Regularly applying weatherproofing products is one of the best ways to protect patio furniture. You'll want to double check the manufacturer's instructions to make sure the product works well with your furniture before using," says Morris.
Still she warns: "Don't apply just any UV protection or water-proofing product to your furniture," advising consumers to research weatherproofing products to see which ones work for your furniture.
Alternatively, you can touch up paint the furniture at the start of the next season.
Store the furniture in your garage, shed or basement, during the off-season and even, in season, when it's not in use. By keeping the patio furniture indoors, you'll extend the set's color and shine, as well as prevent rust or rot.
Note that wood sets are especially important to keep inside. That's because the wood can warp or rot when it gets damp or wet. Met sets are prone to rust if conditions are too damp. Consider running a dehumidifier to keep extra moisture out of your storage area.
With a little prep in the fall, enjoying those beautiful summer days outside will be a breeze!