While life is truly better in the backyard, there comes a time when being outside, lounging on your beautiful furniture pieces, is unrealistic. And when the calendar finally does show winter and you prepare to move the party inside, it may also be time to properly prepare your outdoor furniture for the off-season.

Outdoor furnishings are designed to live outdoors but winterizing them can extend their life and keep them looking new. As components can expand and split if not thoroughly cleaned and prepped for colder climates and harsher conditions, consider this winterization process a necessary part of protecting your investment.

Cleaning Outdoor Furniture

Before you can store or winterize your outdoor furniture, we recommend giving your patio pieces a thorough cleaning. Luckily, our experts have done the legwork for you and created this Patio Furniture Cleaning Guide, which covers furniture by material, cushions, umbrellas, and outdoor rugs. In addition to reviewing these guides, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning any furniture to avoid damaging your pieces with improper care.

Protecting Furniture Pieces

After cleaning your outdoor furniture, it’s time to treat it. Protective coatings are an excellent way to care for your furnishings but there are a few things to consider before applying.

Fabric Guard

When it comes to protecting fabrics such as outdoor cushions, sling chairs, and patio umbrella canopies, we recommend applying an outdoor fabric guard formulated for your specific type of materials (be sure to reference care labels). This will ensure fabrics are water repellent, stain resistant, and UV-protected.

Teak Cleaner

You invested in teak for a reason: its beautiful golden hue. Maintain that natural color on your outdoor teak furniture by applying a teak sealer, which is water-based, non-toxic, and non-corrosive, making it safe and easy to use. On the other hand, if you’re looking to restore weathered, gray teak, use a teak cleaner.

Oil & Lubricants

For those outdoor furniture pieces that contain any folding or moving parts, such as hinges, swivels, and rockers, be sure to oil or lubricate at least once or twice a year—one being before you store your furniture for the off-season. Doing so prevents the degradation of materials, squeaking when in use, and stiff or jammed mechanisms.

Buffing with Paste or Polish

Our experts agree that a light buffing of paste or metal polish will help protect your metal furniture frames by acting as a barrier against further oxidation and corrosion, ensuring its longevity. These compounds can also potentially smooth surface imperfections and remove any types of stains or discolorations, restoring furniture of their shine.

As a final note, avoid using any type of protective coating on resin wicker as this material is inherently weather-resistant and designed to withstand exposure to the elements. Any application of coating could result in surface buildup and negatively affect the aesthetic. Instead, simply buff the furniture with a soft cloth, bring inside, and cover.

Storing and Covering Furniture

Storing and covering outdoor furniture during the off-season is essential to extending the lifespan and maintaining the appearance of your pieces. That said, considerations must be made as to where to store these pieces to ensure they’re safe and not a risk of unexpected damage.

While areas like a basement, attic, or garage are often popular places to store outdoor furniture, be sure these spaces are dry and well-ventilated. In the case of storing cushions, we recommend airtight containers to ensure that your fabrics can breathe and there is no risk of pests damaging the material. If in an especially humid area, these containers can collect moisture (even in the winter), so instead opt for breathable fabric bags. It’s also helpful to regularly check them during the winter for signs of mold, mildew, or pests, and, when possible, air them out on a sunny day to keep them fresh.

Furniture pieces should be stored upright in these dry, ventilated areas to facilitate drainage. They can also be stacked, which is especially useful in small areas when you need to save floor space. Of course, when furniture is not in use, it’s best to cover the piece with a furniture cover—one that is breathable to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Covers, and proper storage in general, go a long way in protecting your furniture investment and allow you to continue enjoying these pieces next season.