While natural wicker furniture has always been most popular as outdoor furniture, it’s still important to understand whether you can leave it outside all year round and what precautions you need to take.
When you consider how much you possibly invested in your outdoor wicker furniture, it becomes even more important not to make some common mistakes that can lead to costly disasters.
And when you factor in that there are different patio furniture types and materials, it can become even more confusing about what you can and shouldn’t do.
Here’s what’s important.
Yes, it is OK to leave wicker furniture outside, but there are times of the year and certain weather conditions where you might want to take some protective steps.
I don’t just mean bringing it into your garage when there is a major storm or hurricane coming your way. There are many not so severe weather situations that can still have a negative impact on your patio furniture.
Some wicker materials will be perfectly fine in wet and humid conditions throughout the year but then start to show signs of aging from direct UV exposure.
Other outdoor wicker furniture materials will require the exact opposite approach.
Let’s take a closer look at what that means for your furniture.
People often get caught out in the mistake that they think outdoor furniture can stay outdoors as long as it doesn’t blow away.
The problem is that different materials will react differently to sun, rain, wind, and freezing or hot temperatures.
And it all comes down to the materials.
Natural wicker patio furniture is most commonly made with rattan. Bamboo has also become a popular option, but no matter what type of natural material you have, there are certain conditions that will make it age and deteriorate.
The main reason you’ll get a problem when you leave natural wicker furniture outdoors is if you don’t protect it enough from a lot of rain.
Lots of water exposure will eventually deteriorate the protective coating on the patio furniture, and once that breaks down, the natural wood will become exposed.
As a result, it can absorb moisture, become soft and start to break down and rot.
It doesn’t mean you have to protect your rattan patio furniture from every small rain shower. But if you’re heading into a few weeks or months of regular rain, then make sure you cover it.
More tips coming shortly.
Synthetic wicker furniture is another common material that people buy. But they often fall for the marketing claims that you can leave it outside no matter what the weather is like.
While synthetic resin wicker furniture is very water-resistant, you have to be aware of the impact of UV rays. If you’ve ever left dark-colored resin wicker chairs outside unprotected for an entire summer, then you’ve probably noticed some color fading.
It’s less obvious with lighter colors, but eventually, you can end up with very patchy-looking patio furniture that doesn’t look great.
It’s one area where natural materials tend to do a lot better with the right amount of regular care.
I mentioned above that synthetic wicker is very water-resistant. Both plastic and resin materials won’t absorb any moisture, and it’s easy to shake and wipe rainwater off a wicker chair and table.
But with natural materials like rattan, bamboo, and teak furniture, you have to be a lot more careful that they don’t get exposed to too much moisture. The more that you allow water to constantly soak the furniture, the more likely it is that the protective coating will wear down.
Rattan, just like any other wood, is a porous material. And while the wood was still alive and attached to the main plant, it was designed to allow water to flow through it and feed the plant.
That same natural effect can happen again when you leave rattan completely unprotected from moisture.
Over time, it will absorb more and more water. That will lead to swelling, and ultimately it will cause the fibers to break down and rot.
The result is not just an ugly-looking piece of patio furniture but one that can break and collapse, making it unsuitable for outdoor use.
However, there are ways to avoid this, and I’ll give you some great tips shortly.
The sun impacts natural wicker furniture very differently than synthetic wicker. Natural materials like rattan and bamboo are designed to withstand constant exposure to sunshine. But that doesn’t mean that this won’t eventually cause damage.
Firstly, if your outdoor furniture has a painted finish, then you will find that it gradually fades when you leave it uncovered all summer long. This is significantly less noticeable if you have patio furniture with a natural protective finish.
In that case, it won’t fade anywhere near as much.
What you do have to look out for, though, is whether the protective finish starts to break down or not. The very hot sun can cause that to happen, and if you live in a hot and sunny climate, then you need to consider applying a protective coating once a year.
More on that shortly.
What you’d have to be more worried about is leaving synthetic patio furniture outside if it’s constantly in direct sunshine.
Here’s the problem. In most cases, you’re dealing with resin or plastic wicker, and when you leave this exposed to lots of direct sunshine, then the color in it will start to fade.
The worst thing is that this fading will happen in patches giving you a very uneven finish. And most synthetic wicker are not suitable for painting, so you end up left with ugly furniture from preventable exposure to extreme weather elements for extended periods.
Once the warmer months are over and you head into the off-season, you’ll likely not use your wicker furniture as much.
In many cases, the weather will make it pretty uncomfortable to sit outside.
Between rain, hail, and snow, the winter months can cause a lot of serious damage to natural wicker. And when you add in fluctuations in temperature, things can get even worse.
First of all, consider a few very wet days followed by the season’s first freeze. You could now have saturated rattan furniture that also freezes. And because water expands when frozen, this can crack the rattan wood.
Synthetic resin wicker does a lot better in colder months because the material will only have water on the surface. It doesn’t absorb moisture, and that means it’s not going to crack or damage in freezing conditions.
What you have to be careful about, though, is the wrought iron or aluminum frames. Aluminum will withstand wet and cold weather much better than iron and steel. So always check the frame material before you consider leaving your furniture outside all winter.
Now let’s take a look at how to protect wicker furniture.
With natural wood and outdoor rattan furniture, you have to invest in good quality waterproof covers. This is the best way to avoid long-term water damage as well as mold and mildew.
The other important thing you have to plan for is to bring this furniture into a dry place like a shed or garage during the winter. Extreme temperatures, snow, and ice can all cause lasting damage that’s expensive to repair.
And you also want to invest time once a year to thoroughly clean the furniture and add a protective coating. That will help it stand up to rain and sunshine, and you’ll still be enjoying your furniture in years to come.
With resin wicker, you also have to invest in furniture covers or plan to place it somewhere that it gets enough shade during the day.
If there’s a small chance of outdoor use in winter, then you can leave it outside. But way up the effects of extreme weather with how often you’re really likely going to use it.
Basically, be careful with excessive sun exposure and take some precautions in winter by placing it indoors.
With both synthetic and natural patio furniture, you have to understand the limitations when it comes to weather and temperature.
It’s not a good idea to leave wicker furniture outdoors all year round, and even when you plan to take it indoors in winter, you want to consider the right protection for the rest of the year as well.
Buy a good cover and make sure that you regularly add a protective shield to natural wicker rattan furniture, and you’ll be able to enjoy it for many years to come.
And if you need some inspiration to upgrade your outdoor furniture sets, then check out our online store for some amazing offers.