Protect Your Patio For The Winter

patio furniture around fire pit

The bite of fall is here. Winter is soon to follow. It’s time to protect your patio surface and furniture from winter rain, cold and snow.

Protecting your patio involves the patio surface, your patio furniture and your grill, firepit or outdoor kitchen.

Patio Surface

Your patio is your outdoor gathering place when weather allows. It also was a substantial investment. If you want it to last for years and years and look as good as new, cleaning and occasional sealing, if recommended, are important.

  • General Cleaning  Sweep all the fall leaves and debris off. Use your hose with a strong spray and rinse it thoroughly. If there are grill stains, a degreaser may be used to remove them.
  • Stone or Pavers  If your patio is stone or pavers, you may be able to power wash it. We recommend more frequent “light pressure washing” vs a close, strong cleaning which may remove the joint sand from your paver patio. Check manufacturers recommendations to make sure.
  • Natural Stone  If you have natural stone, a mild, environmentally safe, detergent may be used. As with concrete pavers, frequent light cleaning will keep your natural stone looking natural. Frequent light pressure washing works wonders.
  • Composite Materials  Follow manufacturers directions. They may need special care.
  •   Porous Stone  Some types of natural stone like bluestone are porous and need special care to avoid damage. Check your local home improvement store for appropriate cleaning and sealing products.
  •   Concrete  A stiff bristle brush or outdoor broom (deck broom) will insure a deep clean.  Once you have completed your cleaning, give your patio a final rinse and you are done.

patio sweeping

patio spraying

Patio Furniture

  • Cushions and Fabric  As with your patio, your patio furniture cushions and fabric should be cleaned before storage or covering. How and what you use will depend on the material. This may entail brushing and vacuuming or scrubbing with a soft brush and mild soap and water. Rinse and let dry before storing or covering. Making sure your cushions are dry prevents mold and mildew. A heavy-duty cushion storage box or an outdoor shed may be a good investment.
  • Frames  There are four common materials used for patio furniture frames; wood, plastic, composite and metal.
    • Wood  Wood patio furniture is naturally beautiful. It is also the most delicate and easily damaged. Proper maintenance and care is a must. It begins with a protective sealant. There is no rule that says you have to seal your wood furniture. Some people like the natural look of the lichens and moss on their bench. However, applying wood oil or sealer will always make your furniture last longer and be more inviting to use. Wood sealants protect from moisture damage year round but in winter, moisture can freeze causing splits and cracks. A sliver can be a real pain in the, ahh, well you know what I mean. Covers are also a requirement for wood furniture. They keep snow and ice from seeping into the wood. Don’t rely on covers alone. Wood absorbs moisture from the air and covers may collect moisture. If you want to see that “like new” look, place it under cover during the winter
    • Plastic  Plastic furniture doesn’t have the problem with moisture that wood does. Temperature on the other hand, does. Frigid temperatures can make plastic brittle and easier to crack when used. Because of this it is recommended that plastic furniture be stored indoors during the winter, especially when it snows and temperatures dip close to freezing.
    • Composite  Patio furniture is now being made with composite materials similar to composite deck material. More expensive composite furniture is less likely to fail in extreme weather. In addition, composite furniture has a wood look but requires little maintenance and cleans easily with soap, water and a soft bristle brush. A $20 plastic chair from the drugstore will last a couple of seasons but a $200 composite chair from a garden store may last a decade.
    • We leave our composite Adirondack chairs we purchased at Costco outside year round. We just brush them down and hose them off in the spring and after six years they still look like new.
      Patty, Woodinville, Reynolds Landscape Client
    • Metal  Metal furniture can me manufactured from aluminum, iron or steel. If your metal furniture has a powder coating, clean using a cloth or soft brush with mild soap and water. Touch up with paint is recommended for powder coating. Check with the manufacturer or your home improvement store. Car wax may also be used to protect the finish. Iron furniture may need some special care. Sand rusty spots to remove the rust and spray with paint recommended by the manufacturer. It’s especially important to store wrought iron out of the weather. As noted above, placing any furniture under cover in the winter will give it longer life.

patio furniture cushions

wood patio furniture

plastic patio furniture

composit patio furniture

metal patio furniture


Grills should be cleaned and covered for the winter season. Again, follow the manufacturers recommendations.

  • General Cleaning  A stiff wire brush and degreaser may be use on all areas where scratching is not an issue. For stainless steel, a stainless steel cleaner and cloth is best. Take special care with the drip pan. It may need to be soaked overnight in hot water and grease-cutting detergent. Replacing the lava rock and some of the parts may be necessary on occasion to distribute the flame evenly.
  • Gas Grills  If you don’t use your gas grill in the winter, turn off the gas source and clean your grill for next spring. If connected to a propane tank, disconnect the gas line. If connected to a home gas line, turn off the valve at the grill and the home. Then clean the grill inside and out.
  • Cover It  Weather resistant covers specifically made for your grill can often be found. If not, you should be able to find a universal cover that will fit your grill. Good covers should resist cracking and fading and completely cover the grill including the legs. A snug fit is important. Many have adjustable closures so it won’t blow off.

Follow these recommendations and your patio, furniture and grill should last for years. To see photos of patios, click here. If you have a landscape project planned, you can request a free landscape consultation here.


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