It’s that time of year again…the leaves are drifting from the trees and the sun has started to lose its daytime warmth. Snow has even started falling in some areas. Winter is on the way.
It’s a job nobody wants to do, but every fall the time comes to clean up the patio and sort out the patio furniture to then store it for winter.
Quality patio furniture will last for many years if kept in good condition, so a little bit of time spent now will mean that you will be able to unpack it next year at the first hint of good weather, without finding yourself in the middle of a large maintenance job just to enjoy it again.
Making Sure Your Patio Survives The Winter In Good Shape
Now that the colder weather is here, you want to make sure your outdoor living space makes it through the winter in the best shape possible.
It’s a good idea to use a patio cleaning substance (which will vary depending on the material your outdoor space is made from) to give the area a thorough cleaning first of all. This will help remove stains and debris so that they don’t become ingrained through the winter. It will also allow you to wash away any weak areas of stone or mix between the stones. A good patio cleaning substance will also kill mildew and moss.
Once the patio is clean and dry, you should then inspect it for areas of weakness. Especially between the stones or slabs, if that is how your patio is constructed, look for areas where the joints have washed away or weakened, exposing the surface beneath.
If there are weak areas, it’s a good idea to get them sorted out now, rather than letting moisture and temperature damage things further as the winter progresses.
Repairing weak areas between the stone slabs, or cracks in the surface, or around the edges of your patio, will also make things easier for you in the spring. As the weather improves, you will quickly find weeds springing up like there’s no tomorrow. Not only can this be annoying to deal with, but the weeds can further weaken the integrity of your patio.
So repair the weak spots, and even consider putting down a season long weedkiller, to ensure that spring gets off to a good start in your garden.
How To Clean Patio Furniture For Winter Storage
For wooden patio furniture, clean with mild soap and warm water with a soft cloth. Address really stained areas with a mildly abrasive cloth.
If the furniture is made from wood with a natural finish, then it is definitely worth treating the wood with a furniture oil. This will stop it from splitting as easily through the winter as temperature changes cause the wood to expand and contract, which could occur depending on the storage location.
Wicker furniture is usually sealed to protect the rattan, or synthetic rattan from damage. So in order to minimize the damage to that surface layer, only use a mild soap and warm water to clean it with.
Use a sponge for the general cleaning of the surface, and a mildly abrasive cloth for stubborn areas of staining. It’s then best to let wicker dry naturally, ensuring it is completely dry before storing.
Metal garden furniture sets are mostly sealed with a powder coat finish. Address cleaning metal patio furniture in exactly the same way as wicker furniture. However, after air-drying, closely check the surface of the metal for any areas which are bare or starting to rust. At the very least, use a rust eating primer on these areas before storage to prevent deterioration over the winter.
Cushions, umbrellas and other material surfaces should also be cleaned in detail. Use a brush to sweep them clean of debris and bang pillows to get rid of dust. If the covers are removable then it’s also best to run them through the wash.
You can then clean material surfaces using soapy water and a sponge, or using a specific material cleaner. If you are concerned about moisture during winter storage, you might also want to look into treating materials with a waterproofing product.
Preparing Your Patio Furniture For Winter Storage
Once the patio furniture is clean and treated, it’s time to get it ready to put into storage.
The first thing to do is to collapse as much of the furniture as possible, or disassemble pieces of it so that it can be stored as flatly as possible. Stacking items at an angle against the wall, or leaving items assembled so that weight can be pushed onto a certain part of the structure, can damage them through the winter.
Once you have collapsed the furniture as much as possible, then you should cover it to protect it from the invasion of moisture or insects.
An excellent way to do this that is also cost-effective is to use domestic plastic wrap. Simply wrap it tightly around each folded piece of furniture until it is fully sealed.
When all your furniture is wrapped and ready, it’s time to store it as securely as possible for the winter. You should look to store the furniture either completely flat on the floor, or completely flat against the wall. It’s not recommended to store your furniture at an angle.
It’s also not recommended to stack many items on top of each other, or to stack different shapes of items against each other. It may seem insignificant at the time, but over several months the total weight or the weight distribution at certain points can warp, weaken or even break your stored garden patio furniture.
And finally, make sure you store the furniture in a place where it will not be under direct sunlight. Even in winter, the temperature changes and ultraviolet light can cause problems.