What To Do With Outdoor Patio Furniture During Winter

Updated: Jul. 14, 2023

Harsh winter weather can wreak havoc on outdoor furniture. We asked an expert for tips on what to do with outdoor furniture in the winter.

So, you’ve invested in outdoor furniture. Great! But now winter is coming and you’re not sure what to do with it.

“I’ve seen the damaging effects harsh weather can have on outdoor furniture if not protected, especially through the winter months,” says Paul Knapp, a landscape designer in Davenport, Iowa. “Brand-new furniture can look 10 years old in just one winter season. It’s not unusual to see metals rust, wicker unravel, wood split and plastics crack because they were unprotected.”

Here are some options for what to do with deck, outdoor kitchen and patio furniture in the winter, so you can enjoy it for many years to come.

Move Outdoor Furniture to a Garage, Shed or Storage Unit

The best thing to do is bring it indoors, says Knapp. If storage space is limited, stack the furniture to best utilize the area. If you don’t have room to store it on site, Knapp recommends renting a storage unit. Yes, this is an added expense. But you’ve already spent money on the outdoor furniture, and you want to continue enjoying it next season.

Use Individual Covers to Protect Outdoor Furniture

If you can’t bring outdoor furniture inside, Knapp suggests investing in outdoor furniture covers. There are many great options in a variety of sizes. Covers are available at Amazon and Walmart; Knapp recommends Coverstore and Outer.

“Be sure to check covers periodically, to make sure they are still fitting snugly on your furniture throughout the winter,” Knapp says. “Brush off snow, ice, and debris when it builds up.” Oh, and get a water-repellent spray to keep your outdoor furniture in good shape for as long as possible.

Cover Outdoor Furniture with Tarps

Tarps are a less expensive option than covers for protecting outdoor furniture. Look for heavy-duty plastic tarps, like this waterproof tarp, online or at your local hardware store. They’re available in a range of sizes.

Many tarps have grommet holes that make it easy to tie them down over furniture. To fasten your tarp, Knapp recommends bungee cords, twine or rope to cinch the bottom around the furniture. “Place the tarp over the piece, wrap the sides and cinch the bottom so you keep moisture out as much as possible,” Knapp says. Leave some ventilation underneath the furniture to prevent mold and mildew.

Bring In the Cushions and Leave the Frame

“If you live in a climate where temperatures fall below freezing, it’s always best to bring the cushions indoors for the winter,” Knapp says. The frames can stay outside, covered.

Once inside, if the cushion covers are removable, clean them as recommended on the tag. If not, spot clean them. Here’s how to clean outdoor furniture and cushions. In any case, make sure the cushions are completely dry, then pack them in boxes or plastic bags.

What if You Leave Outdoor Furniture Outside All Winter?

If you plan to leave your furniture outside year-round, unprotected, you will likely spend some time cleaning, removing rust, resealing and/or repainting the following season. Better to take precautions now and save yourself time and effort in the spring.