WE TALKED TO THE EXPERTS: OUR GUIDE FOR PATIO FURNITURE THAT CAN BE LEFT OUTSIDE DURING THE WINTER

THE DRIFT

While form and function are major selling points for patio furniture during the warmer months, once the temperatures start dropping, homeowners begin to ask: Do I have patio furniture that can be left outside in the winter? The answer can mean the difference between enjoying your furniture for another year or facing a big expense come spring. We talked to the experts to get the lowdown on the best patio material for cold climates and tips on how to ensure your patio furniture makes it through the winter. Here’s the drift:

  • • Both the body material and frame can make or break your outdoor furniture during the winter. While the materials that cover a chaise chair may be waterproof, for example, the frame may not.
  • • When it comes to wicker furniture, the best patio material for cold climates is wicker made from polyethylene that has a weather-resistant frame.
  • • Ensure your frame is made from all-weather hardware, such as aluminum, stainless steel, or galvanized steel.
  • • Of all the hardwoods, teak is the hardest and most durable, and most teak furniture can absolutely be left outside during the winter.
  • • Aluminum and some steel pieces are surprisingly durable options for patio furniture.
  • • It doesn’t hurt to double down during the colder months with a furniture cover.

Can I Leave My Patio Furniture Outside?

First the good news: The overwhelming majority of patio furniture can be left outside in most parts of the country. But you’ll need to know exactly what type of furniture you’re working with, says Megan Pierce-Dozier, with outdoor furniture leader Kingsley Bate.

It depends on the material,” says to Pierce-Dozier, one of the experts who agrees both the body material and frame can make or break your outdoor furniture during the winter. While the materials that cover a chaise chair may be waterproof, for example, the frame may not.

Can you leave wicker furniture outdoors?

When it comes to all-weather wicker furniture, the best patio material for cold climates is wicker made from polyethylene that has a weather-resistant frame. The majority of wicker outdoor furniture is constructed from two kinds of synthetic plastics: polyethylene and PVC. Polyethylene resin wicker is resistant to the effects of UV rays, water, and snow, making it a great example of patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter.

For added durability, look for polyethylene resin wicker that has been dyed all the way through rather than painted, as this material is more durable and will retain its color in harsh climates. Conversely, PVC resin wicker is not one of the best patio materials for cold climates, as it’s prone to corroding and chipping when exposed to weather, and it’s toxic to the environment.

Pay attention to frame material

Whether or not your furniture can be left outside will also depend on the frame’s material. Iron-based frames will rust when exposed to precipitation and should be avoided. In order to leave wicker furniture outside, you’ll want to ensure your frame is made from all-weather hardware, such as aluminum, stainless steel, or galvanized steel. Since aluminum is a lightweight material, people living in windy climates should make sure any aluminum frames are reinforced with all-weather steel, so that it doesn’t get blown around.

What About Teak Patio Furniture?

Of all the hardwoods, teak is the hardest and most durable. It is one of the only woods in the world that has a natural oil content, which acts as a water repellent and keeps it from cracking and warping. That means that with few exceptions, a backyard that is outfitted in teak is full of patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter.

“Go right ahead and leave it out; it looks great with a few inches of snow,” says Charles Hessler, Executive Vice President of Barlow Tyrie. With a home base in New Jersey, the veteran patio furniture brand knows a thing or two about what will outlast cold temperatures.“Teak is an all-weather material and is used extensively in marine applications. As long as the product is made using first-grade teak and uses all-weather hardware, there shouldn’t be an issue leaving it out,” Hessler says. “It can be an expensive material to use – but there is just nothing better.”

So, how do you determine if your patio furniture is made from first-grade teak? Grade A teak is timber taken from the center of the log and is the highest quality teak wood. Look for a uniform, golden brown color along with a close grain structure and oily surface.

One caveat: While teak your teak pieces fall into the category of patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter, they typically weather out to a soft, silver-gray color. “A yearly scrub up with our teak cleaner and a soft scrub brush in the spring will bring the teak —almost— back to looking new and clean,” says Hessler. In short, if you want patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter, first-grade teak is the way to go. Beware of chemically treated teak, easily identified by its slightly darker color than the trademark golden brown color of the real stuff.

Is Metal Furniture Safe Outside During the Winter?

While precipitation and metal don’t sound like the best mix, our experts say aluminum and some steel pieces are surprisingly durable options for patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter. Aluminum is a great material choice for outdoor furniture because it doesn’t rust. While aluminum technically does oxidize when exposed to the elements, this oxidation process does not cause the material to expand and weaken like steel. If you are looking for patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter, aluminum is one of the best patio materials for cold climates.

Outdoor furniture brands have also figured out ways of reinforcing steel to make it a durable, high-quality material choice for outdoor furniture. Steel is also environmentally friendly, has a strong bearing capacity, and provides a modern aesthetic. Stainless steel, powder-coated reinforced steel, and hot-dip galvanized steel are great options when it comes to patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter.

A Note on Furniture Covers

While outdoor furniture is designed to withstand the elements, it doesn’t hurt to double down during the colder months with a furniture cover.

“You just want to make sure your furniture is thoroughly cleaned and dried before putting the cover on,” says Megan Pierce-Dozier, with Kingsley Bate.

Don’t want the headache of moving all your outdoor furniture inside for the winter? With the right furniture, you don’t have to. Ultimately, choosing high-quality materials is the best strategy for buying patio furniture that can be left outside during the winter. Keep it in mind as invest in patio furniture.