Deck Furniture

As we transition into September and life begins to move back indoors, we need to start thinking about packing up and storing our deck and patio furniture for next year. Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage will add years to the life of outdoor furnishings - see A little maintenance now will save both money and time down the road.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Wrought iron: While many newer outdoor living room furnishings are rust-proof, most vintage patio sets are made from wrought iron and other rust-prone metals that require regular work to reduce the onslaught of rust. Each year at the end of the summer, clean the furnishings like teak furniture with a mild detergent and water and let dry. Small rust patches can be sanded, primed and repainted with matching paints. If there are larger rusted areas, it will be necessary to fully strip and re-paint your pieces. It’s important to handle this task at the end of the summer as storage in damp places such as basements or garden sheds will only result in more rust over the winter.

Rust-proof materials

Powder-coated, rust-proof furnishings should be washed with a mild detergent and allowed to fully dry. Use a small, soft brush to clean out corners of residual pollen, dirt, and dead insects. Inspect for nicks or deep scratches in the metal parts and touch up as needed.

Plastic and resin outdoor furniture

Plastic, resin and other outdoor materials require simply a mild detergent wash and brushing before storage.

Glass tabletops: Glass tops of tables should be cleaned and stored upright in a safe location, preferably in a large flat box.

Wicker and rattan

Wicker, rattan and other natural materials need a constant inspection for wrapped bands that may be coming loose and other breaks in the material. Some damage may need professional repair, but regular maintenance will keep this to a minimum. Clean each piece with a brush to remove dirt and other debris and clean stains and other food spill with a damp cloth. Avoid over-soaking and allow to dry fully out in the sunlight.

Teak furniture

Teak furniture requires a mild detergent and water cleansing on a sunny day so that the water will dry completely. Do not treat with teak oil as it will attract dust.

Outdoor fabrics and upholstery

There are amazing indoor/outdoor fabrics these days, but while they hold up well to many weather conditions, they do still require some care.

1. Brush out any debris, particularly food crumbs, from corners and zipper closures. Mice and other pests will be attracted to any foodstuffs leftover and can eat their way through the fabric looking for it.

2. Use a damp cloth and light detergent to clean the upholstery of spills or stains and allow them to dry out in the sun. If there are stubborn stains, try to remove the cushion cover from the inside pillow before immersing in water. Always make sure the inside is dry before storing it.

3. If you have any minor spots of mildew, spray the upholstery with vinegar and let dry in the sun. Bigger mildew problems can be handled by soaking the fabric (without cushion inserts) in bleach and mild detergent solution, rinsing well and leaving outside to air dry.

Storing Outdoor Furnishings for the Winter

A clean, dry basement or storage shed is the best way to store furniture over the winter. If your basement or shed is prone to be dusty, throw some old sheeting over your furniture loosely to keep it clean. Whenever possible, do not tightly wrap up furnishings in airtight containers as this can trap moisture in and promote mildew.

If it is not possible to store all your furniture indoors, invest in good quality, outdoor heavy-duty storage bins that are waterproof yet still allow a certain amount of airflow. Similarly, heavy plastic furniture covers are available but are more prone to mildew growth and puddle accumulation in rainstorms. Make sure furniture is tightly secured together and stored in a low-wind spot near the home. Take advantage of warmer winter days to unwrap and inspect furnishing to make sure there is no unwanted water or pests collecting under the plastic.

Taking care of these small things will pay off big when it comes to the longevity of your outdoor furnishings.

Linda Merrill is a Hometalk - - writer. Read more articles like this one - - or get help with your home projects on


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