Skip to Content

Should You Cover Outdoor Furniture? [Breakdown By Season]

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

In an ideal world, we would be able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine all year long. But unfortunately, it isn't always sunny, causing our outdoor furniture to be exposed to different weather conditions depending on where you live. Many people wonder if they should cover their outdoor furniture when not in use. We've researched this question so that we can bring you the answer.

It is generally a good idea to cover your outdoor furniture in the wintertime when you aren't using it as much. You may wish to cover less durable outdoor furniture during any season if you know inclement weather is forecasted.

Covering your furniture is the best way to protect it so that it lasts a long time. But do all types of furniture need to be covered, and at what point during the year should you cover it? Keep reading to learn more.

A rain wet wooden deck with a covered lawn chair and the drenched red canopy of a beautiful Japanese maple tree, Should You Cover Outdoor Furniture? [Breakdown By Season]

The Purpose Of An Outdoor Furniture Cover

A furniture cover is designed to protect your outdoor furniture from damage caused by rain, snow, hail, and even sunshine. Outdoor furniture comes in a wide range of materials, and some materials can be more easily damaged than others. 

If you have cushions on your furniture, they can get ruined even more easily than the furniture. Cushions are made of an outer layer of fabric and an inner layer of foam, cotton, or another filling material. The fabric can fade if it is left exposed to the hot sun for long periods of time. If the filler material gets wet, it can cause mold and mildew to grow.

Outdoor furniture and cushions are often pricey for high-quality pieces, so you want them to last a long time. Covering your furniture is the best way to ensure that you get the most use out of it and don't have to replace it every few years.

You may also like "5 Types Of Cushion Stuffing And Filling."

Does Outdoor Furniture Need To Be Covered?

Everyone has different preferences regarding the style of outdoor furniture they like the best. Some people who don't necessarily prefer a certain style go for more affordable options like plastic. Other people choose to spend more money on wicker furniture because they love the look of it. And then, some people choose aluminum furniture because of its durability.

No matter which type you prefer, you want to get a lot of use out of it. Prolonging your outdoor furniture's life means that you need to know the best way to protect and care for it. We will look at some common outdoor furniture materials and discuss how they could potentially get damaged so you can better understand why you should cover them.

Aluminum

A rain wet wooden deck with a covered lawn chair and the drenched red canopy of a beautiful Japanese maple tree hanging and dripping over the railing in autumn

Aluminum is one of the most durable materials to use for outdoor furniture. With aluminum furniture, the risk of it getting damaged by rain is significantly lower. This is because aluminum doesn't rust very much. The issue with aluminum furniture is that sometimes it has holes in it for drainage or adjusting the furniture's height. Water can get trapped in these holes, especially during the rainy seasons.

While it is unnecessary to cover aluminum during spring, summer, and fall,  any water remaining inside the furniture can freeze during the winter if you live somewhere that experiences freezing temperatures. If the water freezes inside the furniture, it can damage the furniture from the inside.

If the furniture already has water inside it, a cover won't do much to protect it, but it can prevent more water from getting inside it. To be on the safe side, you should turn the furniture on its side or upside down for a few days before covering it. This will allow any water trapped inside to drain out.

Plastic

Falling snow on chairs and table on wooden deck

Both extreme heat and extreme cold can cause plastic furniture to crack and break. If you like to sit outside every day in the summer, obviously, you don't want to cover and uncover plastic furniture every time you use it. But if you only sit out there once or twice a week during the summer, you may want to consider covering plastic furniture when not in use.

You should cover your plastic furniture during the winter months so that it isn't exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures. Rain doesn't affect plastic furniture, so it should be fine to leave it uncovered during spring and fall. But since plastic furniture is more lightweight, it can get blown around easily in strong winds. A heavy cover is the best choice for plastic.

Wicker

A square table with four wicker rattan chairs strewn with snow stands on a snow-covered tile

There are two types of wicker furniture: natural and synthetic. The type that you have depends on the durability of it. Natural wicker is more susceptible to damage from rain, moisture, and the sun. Synthetic wicker usually has a coating on it that protects it from weather and UV radiation.

Natural wicker furniture is often expensive, and since it is easily damaged, it is a good idea to cover it when not used for a long time. This is true no matter what season it is. Synthetic wicker is more durable, and since it has a UV-protective coating, it usually isn't necessary to cover it during the summer. Even though it has a coating on it, you should still cover it in the winter so that any snow or ice doesn't weigh the furniture down and cause the wicker to splinter.

Try this loveseat cover. Click here to see it on Amazon.

Wood

Back garden viewed through a patio door on a rainy day

Like wicker furniture, if wood furniture is left uncovered and frequently exposed to rain during spring and fall, the moisture can cause the wood to weaken and rot. Water can also freeze inside the wood during the winter, causing it to crack. Applying a wood sealant and covering the furniture during heavy rains and in the winter is the best way to prevent this from happening.

See also "3 Ways To Waterproof Wood Furniture For Outdoors."

Wrought Iron

A snow covered deck and furniture

Wrought iron rusts very easily, so it is very important to cover it in the winter if you live in an area that gets lots of snow and rain. During the spring and summer, you can just wipe it dry after it rains to prevent rusting. Sometimes the sun can cause wrought iron furniture to fade, but you can spray it with a UV protection spray during the summer if you don't want to cover it.

This outdoor sectional cover comes in different sizes. Click here to see it on Amazon.

How to Prepare Outdoor Furniture Before Covering It

Before covering your furniture for the season, it is a good idea to clean it first. If you clean it, any dirt, residue, and water that could otherwise stain the furniture while it is covered will be removed. You can wipe off most outdoor furniture with mild soap and water.

As far as the cushions go, you can leave them with the furniture if you choose. But, it is a good idea to bring them inside for storage. For larger things like umbrellas that are hard to store inside, there are umbrella covers available for purchase.

This umbrella cover works for both round and square umbrellas. Click here to see it on Amazon.

What Is The Best Material For Outdoor Furniture Covers?

Patio furniture cover protecting outdoor furniture from snow

The best outdoor furniture covers are made of waterproof or breathable materials. It is almost impossible to keep moisture completely out of your furniture. Waterproof materials do a great job of significantly reducing the amount of moisture that gets on your furniture. But if the material is breathable, as well, then any moisture that does get through the cover will evaporate easily.

Polyester is the most commonly used fabric for furniture covers because it is water-resistant and breathable. It is also extremely durable and doesn't fade from the sun as much as other materials.

Check out these patio chair covers on Amazon.

Can You Use A Tarp To Cover Patio Furniture?

You can use a tarp in a pinch or for affordability, but it is not a good idea to use one as a long-term furniture cover. This is because tarps are made of a material that isn't breathable. If water or moisture gets through the tarp, then it won't evaporate very well.

You will need to find a way to secure a tarp. Most tarps will be larger than the furniture you're trying to cover. If you don't secure them, they can blow in the wind. The furniture won't be protected if the tarp blows up during a storm because rain or snow can come in from the sides. 

Should You Clean Patio Furniture Covers?

We've already mentioned that it's important to clean your patio furniture. It is also a good idea to keep the covers as clean as possible. If dirt and debris are allowed to build-up, it can eventually cause the covers to tear, and they won't be effective at protecting your furniture.

You can clean the covers by using mild soap and water and a soft brush to gently scrub them. After cleaning, hang them up to air dry. If you don't want to clean them regularly, you can spray a fabric guard on the covers. That way, you won't have to clean them as frequently.

Click here to see this outdoor fabric guard spray on Amazon.

In Closing

We hope you found this article helpful in deciding whether or not you should cover your outdoor furniture. Covering your patio furniture is extremely important for prolonging its life. Look for covers that are breathable and waterproof, as they will provide the most protection. Thanks for reading!