Around the House — December 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

8 tips for Winterizing your Patio Furniture

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You invested in some awesome outdoor furniture. Now don’t just ignore it in the off-season. If you haven’t already put it away, get on this quickly. Either bring it inside and use it or store it somewhere where the climate won’t beat it up.

And for the future. here’s how to give your patio furniture a longer lease on life:

While furniture made with a high percentage of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resists chipping, corroding and fading, and is impervious to insects, mold, moisture, seawater and chlorine, extreme weather exposure can still take it’s toll. Repurposed plastic requires just basic care: At seasons end, clean each piece with soap and warm water. If any of it has stained, mix a ratio of  1/3 bleach and 2/3 water with liquid soap. Use a soft bristle brush to get into the creases. You can also use a high-pressure power washer—but no more than 1,500 psi, which is the equivalent of a car wash. Always store this type of patio furniture in a dry, protected area such as under a deck or carport or in a garage.

Rattan and wicker furniture needs special care. Dust it regularly with a soft cloth, and avoid using abrasive cleaners or creams or furniture polish on it. If you see signs of mildew or mold, clean with a strong solution of bleach in soapy water. Otherwise, before storage, clean with a damp not wet cloth. If any piece gets saturated, bring it inside to dry and be careful not to bend, fold or flex any part of it while its wet.

Never drag natural plant fiber furniture around or allow it to dry out or it could split. If you’re in a particularly dry area or will be away for awhile, store it off-season in a room with a humidifier. If it does dry out, treat each piece with a wipe of tung or boiled linseed oil and increase the humidity level of the storage space.

Aluminum patio furniture, especially, has the potential to rust, even if it’s painted. Use a rust cleaner and then lightly sand away any remaining stubborn corrosion. Apply touch-up paint (again appliance-type) and allow it to dry before putting the furniture away or covering it up for the season.

Check the pillows (bring them inside to dry if they’re at all damp) and leave on the chairs when you bring them in for storage, or pack in plastic bags and store inside if you plan to just leave furniture out under an awning.

Furniture made with untreated bamboo, redwood and cedar furniture can dry out and loses its natural beauty. Rubber wood, despite it’s name, doesn’t do well with any weather exposure. If you live in a climate that experiences long periods of rain or snow, always store this type of patio furniture in a dry, protected area such as the garage or basement.

If you don’t have a place to store outdoor furniture, cover it. The best covers are 100% water-repellant and UV-resistant with heavy-duty ties, cord locks and brass-coated grommets to keep the covers in place. Even better: mildew and stain-resistant covers with sewn edges for increased durability and longevity.

To prevent the wind from blowing furniture stored under an awning or deck, use rope to secure it in place or stake it, or weigh it down with some planters or heavy yard ornaments.

Recycle your furniture when it hits the end of its life with you. If you’re done with it, freecycle it at the curb, donate it to a thrift store, give it away to a friend, repurpose it or take it to your city or county recycling depot. Most HDPE furniture can literally be recycled into new furniture.

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