What Happens To Outdoor Furniture If You Leave It Outside for the Winter?

Make your investment in patio furniture where it counts: the material! Considering which material to put in your outdoor space can make all the difference when winter weather strikes, particularly if your goal is to leave your furniture outdoors all year round. A patio furniture’s material will determine whether it lasts one season or years to come. 

Materials that flourish in the summer may not also do so in the winter, wreaking havoc on patio furniture left outdoors. Let’s take a look at the most common outdoor materials and how they hold up in the winter elements. 

Plastic 

Simply stated, plastic outdoor furniture should not be left out in winter weather. The lightweight material will become brittle in freezing temperatures, leading to cracking or morphing. In rainy and sunny seasons, plastic is a solid, low cost option but if not stored in the winter months, you’ll likely be buying replacements pretty soon. If you end up purchasing plastic patio furniture, be sure to store it properly indoors to limit the exposure to the cold.  

Steel 

One of the heavier outdoor materials, steel should not be left out in the elements all winter long. As steel sits outside the material oxidizes, weakening the joints and creating cracks that can let water in. This is how rust happens and can also leave your furniture and patio with unsightly orange marks. If the furniture is labeled with “e-coated steel”, the metal has been electrocoated with a special finish that resists UV rays and some moisture to better protect the steel for outdoor use, but this will not have the same effect with snow sitting for long periods of time. Steel furniture should be covered and stored for the winter season to be kept in its best condition.  

Aluminum 

Leaving metal furniture outside in the cold to have snow sit on top of it may seem questionable, but aluminum is actually one of the more durable year-round materials. Unlike other metals, aluminum furniture will not rust outdoors. This exposure to the elements will oxidize but does not have the same expanding and weakening effect that other metals do. With aluminum patio furniture, the biggest weather-related takeaway is to make sure it is secured in windy environments because of how lightweight it is. 

Wrought Iron 

Wrought iron furniture should be covered and stored for the winter with the least amount of moisture getting to it as possible. While it’s heavy and durable for regular outdoor use, wrought iron can easily rust (even when anti-corrosion finishes are applied) when exposed to snow or freezing rain. Similar to cast iron pans, wrought iron furniture should not stay wet in any way, shape, or form.  

Wicker 

Like plastic, natural wicker can become brittle and break when exposed to the cold, making it not ideal to leave outdoors in the winter months. This material also has a tendency to mold when it stays wet for long periods of time. Natural wicker furniture should be stored in a dry environment to prevent any mold build-up. 

If you like the look of wicker but don’t want to worry about the material, consider synthetic wicker! This material combines the appearance of woven wicker with the durability of a plastic component, leaving it moisture and mold-resistant, which is key for leaving furniture out in winter weather.  

Teak 

Known as the outdoor wood, teak furniture has retained its popularity by being weather-resistant, so leaving it outdoors for winter is perfectly acceptable. Although durable, this material is not quite as easy to maintain as others and can be pricey, teak requires some TLC to keep it looking in peak condition. With extended exposure to the elements (it is outdoor furniture after all!), teak furniture will develop a grayish patina on it. If your heart is set on wood for all-weather furniture, teak could be the way to go for your patio! 

Poly Lumber 

Virtually maintenance-free, poly lumber is a frequent choice by patio owners that don’t want to worry about their furniture outdoors. Poly lumber is made from recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene) for all-weather use and will not bend or break in the cold. This material does not absorb moisture, so you will never have to worry about too much rain, snow, or those nasty wintry mixes. By choosing poly lumber patio furniture you won’t have to worry about storing your outdoor furniture unless you want to

Buying patio furniture can be a large investment for any homeowner! Be sure you’re getting the most out of your furniture by getting the right all-weather material (or not) for your outdoor space and climate. Buy smart for your patio and you can enjoy your furniture for years to come! 

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