Last updated on September 14th, 2023
The main purpose for purchasing outdoor furniture is so you can use it outside. So, it’s only natural to expect all patio furniture to remain intact when left outdoors throughout the year. But in reality, this is hardly the case. And that is because most of the materials used for these furnishings are not fully durable and cannot weather the harsh conditions in winter. So, like most homeowners, you might be wondering what outdoor furniture you can leave outside in colder climates.
There are very few outdoor furniture that can be left outside to survive the harsh conditions during winter and rainy autumns. From experience, these are usually furniture made from treated wood, plastic, or aluminum. Other materials like iron, steel, fabric and natural wicker are better stored indoors.
Even with those pieces, you can leave outside, some maintenance might still be necessary to ensure they live through the season.
In this write-up, we will look at the best types of furniture for cold seasons and what makes them so adaptable to such weather conditions. We will also review the other materials that should be stored indoors and the type of preparations you need to make before putting them away.
Table of Contents
Can I leave my patio furniture outside in the winter?
So, can patio furniture cushions be left outside in winter? Well, yes, it can. But to be sure, you need to know the exact type of furniture you are working with, the material, and the frame. Even though most patio furniture is made for your outdoor space, not all of them can brave the dampness the season brings.
This is because, during winter, the nights are usually longer. And due to the freezing temperatures, it takes a longer time for the furniture to dry after it snows or rains.
Even for those items, you decide to leave outside, proper precautions should be taken to protect them. For wood (especially teak wood), one of such precautions is to seal it before leaving it out in the cold for months. This is non-negotiable if you want the furniture to last.
Besides the freezing temperatures, another thing to worry about is the weight of the snow. Some patio furniture, even though they are made of durable materials, might not be strong enough to withstand the heavy snowfalls or rainstorms for long. Of course, this only applies to you if you stay in a place that receives heavy loads of snow. In this case, it’s probably better to store the furniture indoors to avoid any damages.
How to know the type of outdoor furniture to leave outside in winter?
Not all patio furniture needs to be winterized. There are some you can leave outside all year round! But the question is, how can you identify such furnishings?
Type of material
Outdoor furniture are made from different materials. Being able to identify these materials will help you determine which furniture to leave outside. Some materials will need to be stored indoors, while a few others are more resilient and may be able to brave the harsher season. For the latter, you may need to devise a plan to preserve it during this period. Synthetic wicker and treated lumber are two good examples of materials that can survive the colder months.
Weight of the furniture
Lightweight items such as aluminum furniture are easily moved by the wind. This can cause damage to the piece or other items that might get in the way. It’s best not to leave such items outdoors in cold weather, especially if you experience a lot of wind or hail in your area.
If you decide to leave any lightweight furniture outdoors, make sure it’s secured to the group or some heavier object. The process might involve driving stakes into the ground which might require professional help from a company.
Any patio furniture that can be left out in the colder months shouldn’t be resistant to moisture. It should not be affected by snow, rain, frost, and every other thing in-between. And even when exposed to moisture for long, it shouldn’t rot or grow mold and mildew due to wetness. The furniture should also be pest-resistant.
What patio furniture can be left outside during winter?
Not many patio furniture is made to be exposed to cold weather. Let’s look at the few options you have.
Different types of furniture made from wood can be exposed to harsh weather all year round, depending on their properties. A good example is teak wood.
Teak wood is very durable and hard and offers the most resistance when it comes to outdoor wood furniture. This is why it’s a popular choice for shipbuilding. So, it is safe to leave it outside during the winter months. However, it needs to be sealed to prevent moisture from access into the wood and causing damage. This applies to other types of wooden furniture that are left in the cold.
In addition to pre-winter treatment and maintenance, we also recommend covering your wood furniture for further protection. Use a breathable cover to prevent mold growth.
Plastic is another material that can be subjected to the freezing temperatures of winter without falling apart. This is mainly because it’s completely water-resistant and doesn’t rust or rot. In fact, some plastic patio furniture can be left outdoors all year round with very little maintenance. This makes it one of the best choices when looking for weatherproof patio furnishings.
Recycled plastic and resin are easily the best type of plastic for patio furniture. Besides being extremely weather-resistant, they are thick and durable and thus will hold up well in all seasons. So, there should be almost no issue leaving it outside in cold weather. You can cover it to make it completely weatherproof!
On the other hand, most cheap plastic patio chairs are usually too light and can crack or break with a single blow from the wind or snow. So before you decide to station any plastic furniture outside, make sure it’s not too light.
Anything made of premium synthetic rattan can be left out in a cold climate. Synthetic rattan is made from resin and plastic, which makes it weatherproof (waterproof and UV-resistant), and thus a great choice for outdoor use. It is highly resistant to moisture, which makes it safe to keep outside in winter.
Natural rattan, on the other hand, will soak up water and crack when exposed to snow or rain. So, it should be taken to the garage or any other safe place but not left outdoors.
With synthetic rattan, you must pay close attention to the frame material. Ideally, it should be made of aluminum, which can survive snow and rain. Don’t leave rattan furniture with a steel frame outside since steel can rust.
Aluminum furniture is a great choice for winter because it won’t rust or deteriorate like other metals. So, you don’t have to worry about snow or rain doing damage to your furniture.
However, the weight of aluminum furniture can be a problem. Most aluminum pieces are lightweight, so they can be blown away by strong winds. Thus, if you’re storing aluminum furniture outdoors, try to secure it so it can withstand wind gusts.
Can Teak Furniture be left Outside in Winter?
Yes, you can leave teak furniture outside all year round as long as you treat it with teak oil. We also recommend covering it with a breathable material.
There are different grades of teak depending on which part of the log they are taken from. For instance, grade A (or first-grade) teak is extracted from the center of the log and depicts the highest quality of teak. Patio furniture made of this teak typically offers the most resistance to extreme weather but are usually more expensive than the other grades. They usually have an oily surface and golden brown color.
Grade B teak is taken from the outer heartwood, while grade C is obtained from the outer sections. Grade B teak has a lighter gold color, while grade C is mostly soft with an uneven color. Both have an even grain, unlike grade-A teak.
Thus grade A teak is the best choice if you want patio furniture that can survive in winter.
Can Wicker Furniture be left outside in winter?
Synthetic wicker furniture can be left outside throughout the colder months, but natural wicker must be taken inside the house or kept in a dry place.
Natural wicker tends to expand and contract with high humidity levels, such as during a snowfall. This often leads to cracks and breakage of the wicker furniture. The best plan is to cover the furniture and store it away in a dry place such as a shed, garage, attic, or basement.
Can plastic furniture be left outside in winter?
Yes, plastic furniture can be left outside in winter weather. Unlike most materials, plastic won’t rot or crack in wintry conditions. So, it’s fine to leave it out in the cold.
However, due to the lightness of most plastic furniture, they are susceptible to strong wind gusts. This can damage the plastic piece or other items it may come in contact with.
Thus, if you plan to leave plastic outside, look for a way to secure it against the wind.
Can metal furniture be left outside in winter?
Not really. The type of metal is what determines whether you can leave it in your backyard. With the exception of aluminum, metals generally don’t go well with precipitation or moisture. So outdoor furniture made of materials like steel, iron, and other metals are best stored indoors. On the other hand, aluminum doesn’t rust or corrode with precipitation. So, it can be left outside during the winter months.
Can wrought-iron furniture be left outside in winter?
No, wrought iron shouldn’t be kept in your backyard during winter.
While it may be durable, wrought iron is susceptible to corrosion. So, leaving it out will cause it to rust.
Most outdoor furniture made of iron are usually coated to prevent rust. But spills and bird droppings can render the coating ineffective. That’s why it’s important to wash these off as soon as you notice them.
Wrought iron furniture is usually costly. Bringing it indoors during winter will ensure it last for many years.
Can natural stone garden furniture be left outside in winter?
No, natural stone furniture should not be kept outside in winter.
Natural stones usually have cracks that allow water and air to pass through. Leaving it exposed to damp conditions for long can cause it to expand and contract. Over time, this makes the stone brittle until it eventually breaks.
So, your best plan for working with stone furniture is to store it indoors.
Can wooden furniture be left outside in winter?
Some wooden patio sets can be left out in the cold as long as they are properly treated and looked after. Untreated lumber, on the other hand, will rot quickly if left in such conditions.
Even with treated wood furniture, you need to retreat it regularly to minimize wear. For further protection, we recommend covering the furniture. Make sure the cover is breathable, as anything less will encourage mold growth.
What types of wooden furniture can be left outside in winter?
Generally, any wooden garden furniture can be left in your backyard during winter if it’s treated. However, the type does matter.
There are two broad categories of wood – hardwood, and softwood. Hardwood is generally preferred over softwood for outdoor furniture, and that is because they are more resistant to harsh weather and tend to rot more slowly than softwoods.
Some of the best hardwoods for the winter season include teak, oak, cedar, and eucalyptus. While they all have different properties, they will survive winter if properly treated with the right oils or sealants.
What type of patio furniture should you store during winter?
Here are the types of furniture to store inside during winter till the sun comes out again.
Iron and steel are popular choices for outdoor furniture because of their low cost. Although they are durable, they are not resistant to rust like aluminum. Thus, exposing them to damp conditions will encourage corrosion, and in turn, reduce their lifespan.
Some people often opt for wrought iron, which is more expensive but offers more durability than simple iron. But, even wrought iron is not suitable for inclement weather, not even when it’s coated. It will still rust under all that snowfall and rain. So it’s not suitable for outdoor use during the colder months.
So, the best plan is to move the furniture indoors for storage until the sun comes out again.
Natural stone furniture should also be stored indoors during winter. Stones usually have natural cracks in them that allow air and water to flow through. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause these cracks to expand and contact. This ultimately leads to breakage and total ruin. So, keep your stone furniture indoors until the warmer months.
Wicker is highly susceptible to damp conditions. When left in the rain or snow, it tends to crack and rot from all the freezing water.
Thus, except you’re using wicker furniture that’s treated or made from synthetic material like resin, you’re better off storing it.
Outdoor upholstery and fabrics are also part of some outdoor furniture. So, it’s also vital that you know what to do with them during the cold seasons.
Like the other materials above, don’t leave your furniture fabrics outside in inclement weather. Most of the time, this would be the cushions.
Wintry conditions can cause mold and mildew to grow on the cushions, which can severely damage the fabric and foam. Thus, your best plan is to clean them; air dry them, then put them away for storage.
It doesn’t matter what material the fabrics are made from; store it indoors.
All metals will eventually rust if subjected to wintry conditions for a long time unless they are treated. But some tend to perform better than the others. Metal outdoor furniture are typically made of one of these types of metals – aluminum, steel, and iron.
Aluminum is normally water-resistant but can be treated to make it more suitable for winter. The other metals like iron (or wrought iron) and steel, though durable, will see rust very quickly if they are left in the rain or snow.
How do I prepare outdoor furniture for winter storage?
Follow the steps below to prepare your outdoor furniture for winter storage.
Clean them up
Cleaning is necessary whether you want to store outdoor furniture inside or leave it out in the cold. This helps to get rid of dust and debris and prevent mold growth. Make sure each furniture piece is properly dry before proceeding to storage.
The way you clean each piece will depend on the material it’s made from. For instance, plastic can be cleaned by spraying with disinfectant and wiping it off clean. For wood, you will need to mix water and vinegar and maybe baking soda depending on how dirty the furniture is. Then scrub the wood and air dry. The fabric should be washed following the laundry tag given by the manufacturer.
Some furnishings need to be coated with a protective finish before storing them away for the winter season. This is commonly the case with metal and wooden furniture. Coating metal helps to prevent rust while wood is protected from rot and breakage.
The best coat to use will depend on the type of metal or wood the furniture is made of. But from our experience, teak oil is often the best choice for most outdoor wood furniture, while a quality rust-resistant finish will work for metals.
Allow the coating to dry, then proceed to the next step.
Cover them up
The next thing to do is cover up the furniture using a breathable cover. This is important to keep the outside and inside protected from moisture. Also, you want the cover to be water-resistant even though you’re using it inside the house.
How to store patio furniture for the winter
The best way to store patio furniture for winter is to move it indoors. Of course, this depends on whether you have enough storage space or not.
This solution will mostly favor lightweight furniture without cushions and are easy to move indoors. But don’t neglect the heavier pieces; do whatever you can to bring them indoors too. Normally, you would want to use a shed, basement, garage, or storage unit, but generally, any warehouse space is enough as long as the furnishings are not exposed to the elements.
If you don’t have where to store the furniture inside, you can use outdoor furniture covers. But first, make sure the covers are heavy-duty and properly sized. You can order these covers online, but most will have the standard sizing, which might not fit well with your furniture. In this case, you will need custom-made covers. If you decide to go this route, then ensure the cover material is breathable and strong.
A cheaper alternative to using covers is to invest in tarps. Like covers, tarps help to protect patio furniture from water and snow. Just wrap the tarp around the piece and tie it down, so it doesn’t blow away. It will help to leave a bit of space around the bottom so air can properly flow.
While the whole idea of putting your outdoor furniture away in winter might sound somewhat counter-intuitive but doing so will add more years to the furniture and keep them in pristine condition for a longer period.
Can patio furniture cushions be left outside in winter?
No, patio cushions should not be left outside during the winter months. Instead, store them indoors.
When cushions are wet for extended periods, they become soggy and smelly. And in most cases will attract mold and mildew. To stop this from happening, it’s better to just put them away.
Storing patio cushions indoors shouldn’t be something you do only when preparing for winter. It should be more of a general practice applicable during harsh weather changes or when you don’t intend to use them for a while.
Doing this helps to increase their lifespan, so they can live through more warmer seasons.
Where Can You Store Outdoor Furniture Cushions in Winter?
You can store your outdoor cushions in any dry place safe from rain and high humidity levels. However, there are two main options we recommend depending on what you have in your home. These include storage bags and bins. These are more specific storage for outdoor cushions since they are designed for small items.
Other storage options are shed, garage, and storage units. Although these are commonly used to store larger items like your furniture, you can still store your cushions along with the furniture. If you decide to go this route, we highly recommend covering both the furniture and cushions with a breathable material.
FAQS – Outdoor furniture that can be left outside
Can you leave patio furniture in rain?
In theory, you can, but in reality, it’s best not to do so. If you know there will be a heavy downpour, then take the following furniture indoors or at least cover them. Leaving outside furniture in the rain increases the risk of rust (for metal furniture) or rot (for wood and rattan). No furniture is indestructible, even if it’s made from the best materials. Keeping them protected from the rain will help extend their lifespan.
What does winter-proof outdoor furniture mean?
Winter-proof outdoor furniture is a term used to refer to outdoor furniture that can be left outside in winter. Such furnishings can be subjected to wintry conditions (snow, rain, frost, and the rest) without getting damaged. A good example is treated wood.
Should I cover my patio furniture in winter?
Yes, you should, especially if you don’t plan to move them indoors. Covering your patio furniture in winter will not only help to protect them from the weather (snow, frost, sleet, etc.), it will also ensure they are clean when you’re ready to use them again.
Is it okay for outdoor furniture to get wet?
Yes, it’s okay for outdoor furniture to get wet if it’s for a brief period. Prolonged exposure to damp conditions can cause damage and wear, especially if the furniture is left uncovered or neglected.
Can wicker outdoor furniture get wet?
Yes. Wicker furniture can get wet. This is usually the case if the furniture is made of organic or untreated wicker. Organic wicker tends to soak up moisture when left in the rain. This creates odors and causes mold and mildew to grow. However, synthetic plastic wicker is waterproof and can be left outside.
Can rattan chairs get wet?
Yes, rattan chairs can get wet when you leave them outside. This can be a problem depending on whether the chair is made from natural rattan or synthetic rattan. If it’s made from natural rattan, then it will likely hold the water inside, which can bring about rot and decay. On the other hand, if the chair is made of high-quality rattan (treated), then it can withstand the heaviest showers.
Conclusion: Outdoor furniture that can be left outside in the winter
We will draw the curtains here!
By now, you should know what furniture to leave outside in the winter as well as how to store patio furniture in winter. Learning how to protect your patio furniture during winter will help extend the lifespan and ensure they look vibrant when you’re ready to use them again.
Follow the steps above to safeguard your furniture from harsh weather so you can enjoy it when it matters the most.
Let us know if you have any more questions about how to store outdoor furniture in winter. Until then, enjoy the winter chills!