Yes, outdoor furniture is made for the outdoors. But that doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Learn how to buy and care for it so that you won’t be embarrassed the next time you invite friends over for an alfresco shindig.
What to look for before you buy:
Make sure all your outdoor furniture is made to weather the natural elements. Canvas, wicker, rattan, and bamboo will eventually go kaput in direct sunlight and rain. (Canvas will rot. Ick!) So you’ll have to keep these materials under cover.
Make sure your seat cushions are made for the outdoors too. If they’re just regular cushions, you won’t be able to leave them outside (or they’ll collect mildew).
A few care tips:
Clean your furniture at the end of summer, dry it out completely, and store it somewhere dry with good air circulation.
After a rainstorm, remove seat cushions and prop them on their sides to speed drying.
Try not to get sunscreen on your cushions. If you do, scrub it up quick. (It can stain if left in the sun.)
If you notice aluminum furniture starting to discolor or corrode, scrub it with a mix of dish soap, water, and vinegar.
Apply two thin coats of car wax to protect aluminum or painted metal furniture.
If you have painted metal, take it easy. Dragging on concrete and stacking for storage can leave chips and scrapes that will rust in the rain.
If your painted metal furniture is chipped or scratched, scrub off the rust and paint chips with steel wool, and then touch up with a metal primer and a coat of matching paint (outdoor enamel). Let it dry for a couple of days and apply a protective finish to the whole chair or table.
Wipe down plastic chairs and tables after a rainstorm to prevent water spots.
Close umbrellas in heavy rain and high winds, but open afterwards to prevent dirt from hiding in the folds.
Make sure any wood furniture is properly sealed.
Note: For case-by-case care tips, read your furniture manufacturer’s instructions. If you threw them away long ago, check out their website for instructions or find a number you can call to request a new copy.
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