From summer rainstorms to sweltering heat and scorching sun, good outdoor furniture has to battle the elements. Plus, if you plan to leave your outdoor furniture outside year-round (and live in an area with winter weather), it will also have to withstand below-freezing temperatures and ice. To give your outdoor furniture the best shot at survival, start by choosing materials that can handle harsh weather and temperature fluctuations. Then, invest in covers and storage units to protect pillows and cushions.
To learn how to help our outdoor furniture last for many years, we reached out to the furniture pros at Article for their best advice. Here, Nicole Hunt, the product development manager at Article, shares her top tips for choosing a patio set that will stand the test of time.
"Article headquarters are based in Vancouver, Canada, so we’re definitely familiar with rainy weather and keep it in mind when designing our outdoor products," says Hunt. One important factor is opting for materials that are proven to withstand rain and humidity. "These include weatherproof galvanized steel and concrete composite, water resistant synthetic wicker, and teak, which is naturally weather-resistant and resistant to fungus," explains Hunt. "When exposed to the elements, woods like teak will develop a silvery gray patina over time."
"Acacia wood is another great material for outdoor use, but it requires a bit more maintenance than its metal-based counterparts. While naturally weather-resistant, acacia can still be sensitive to moisture and humidity." To keep acacia wood furniture looking brand-new, Hunt recommends covering it to keep excess moisture away. And the same goes for other pieces of outdoor furniture, too.
"Although our products can be left outdoors, we always recommended using a water-resistant or waterproof cover when it's raining or if you’re planning to let them sit outside for a long period of time," says Hunt. If you really want your outdoor furniture to last forever, covers are a must.
Article sells covers for many of their most popular outdoor sectionals and chairs. There are also several companies, such as Covers and All, that will create custom covers for your outdoor pieces.
"Pieces with a galvanized steel frame or aluminum will stand up to temperature fluctuations," says Hunt. "Another great option is synthetic rattan and pieces made with polypropylene. They’re designed to withstand temperature fluctuations and can be easily incorporated into any outdoor space." No matter if you prefer the modern look of galvanized steel or the boho aesthetic of synthetic rattan, these pieces will survive drastic temperature changes.
No matter what type of outdoor furniture you end up buying, cleaning it regularly is the secret to helping it look great for years. "Wipe the furniture frame with a damp cloth to remove dirt and debris and periodically wash the cushions with gentle detergent and a soft bristle brush," recommends Hunt.
And those with a pool, take note: "If your outdoor furniture is near a pool or a hot tub, I’d also suggest hosing it down once every week or two to remove any chlorine that comes from treated pool water."
When shopping for outdoor pillows, opt for fabrics like durable Sunbrella, which are designed for outdoor use and will resist fading. Make sure all the cushions you use outdoors are intended for outdoor use—they contain fillers that resist mold and mildew.
Once you've purchased the most weather-resistant pillows around, maintenance is key. "Outdoor pillows can be easily cleaned by wiping them down with a wet cloth. For those who like to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio or have energetic kids who like to play outdoors, spot clean any spills or stains with a mixture of water and gentle detergent. Brush gently with a soft bristle brush and rinse generously with clean water before allowing to air dry," says Hunt.
If possible, bring outdoor pillows inside when it rains, or invest in a weatherproof outdoor storage unit.