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How to make sure your outdoor furniture survives the winter.

Furniture Protection Winter Article
Wood, metal, or plastic: outdoor furniture is manufactured from all sorts of materials. When it comes to winter storage, each material has its own particular needs.

Every year, restaurant owners see themselves confronted with the problems of ‘perfect’ winter storage of their outdoor furniture. The particular difficulties here lie not only in knowing how to prepare your seating and tables for winter storage but also in the choice of a suitable storage location. 

Addressing these problems in the right way will bring you a number of benefits. You will not only be able to welcome your guests with a premium ambience at the start of each new season, you will also be able to reduce budget pressures.

The advantages of well-maintained premium furniture 

Outdoor furniture made from premium materials offer benefits for both you and your guests.

Experienced restaurateurs know that attractive looks and high quality play equally important roles. Anyone prepared to invest in the furnishing of their outdoor area benefits from:

  • An increase in customer satisfaction and corresponding revenue growth.
  • An attractive overall appearance of the location. 
  • Guests who stay longer.
  • Options for the expansion of the gastronomic concept, for example with outdoor barbecue events.

Experience shows that high quality furniture tends to require relatively little care and maintenance over the year. Still, it is advisable to give your outdoor seating and tables a bit of TLC before putting them away for the winter. Don’t make the mistake of closing your garden or patio to the public too early in the year! The loss of revenue could be considerable. Particularly, the golden days of autumn tempt many guests to spend the evening dining outdoors. The best advice here is to keep an eye on the weather rather than on the calendar.

The best way to store your furniture in winter

In the best-case scenario, you thought about a winter storage location for your outdoor furniture when you purchased it. Chaotically stacked piles of furniture are not only a mess to see, this kind of storage also quickly causes avoidable damage. You should therefore always make sure that your tables and chairs are:

  • Stored in a dry place.
  • Protected from frost and not exposed to excessive hot air from heaters.
  • Not subjected to UV radiation (e.g. direct sunlight) to avoid possible fading or bleaching.
  • The storage area must be well-ventilated to prevent the development of mould. 

Please note! ‘Perfect’ storage conditions also depend on the materials from which the furniture is made. Many outdoor furniture pieces are made of combinations of metals and plastics. As a general rule, it is best to comply with all the recommendations listed above. Additionally, furniture made from aluminium or steel is more likely to forgive any small errors you make when storing it. The synthetic fibres of woven polyrattan also tolerate such a wide range of temperatures that they can be safely stored outside during the winter months. This is an alternative well worth thinking about.

Metal garden furniture: robust, practical, and durable

The most robust option is garden furniture made of metal. The key advantage of aluminium and stainless steel furniture is that you don’t necessarily need to store the furniture indoors during the winter. Still, the situation changes when the furniture is painted or coated. The following environmental influences can have negative effects on paints or coatings:

  • Temperature fluctuations.
  • Direct sunlight.
  • Below zero temperatures.

If you wish to offer your guests an opportunity to sit in the open air in winter, you should invest in steel furniture with high quality, powder coated finishes and regularly check that the coating is neither scratched nor chipped. 

Few materials are as uncomplicated as metal or stainless steel. The advantages include:

  • Easy cleaning.
  • Minimum of care and maintenance.
  • Pieces can be easily folded away and stored with a minimum of space.
  • Outstanding resistance to low temperatures.

Wooden garden furniture: advice on care and storage

Wooden furniture demands a particularly high degree of care and attention to ensure optimal winter storage. Regardless of whether your wooden furniture is made from beech, pine, or larch, it must be stored indoors during winter. If left outside, it could be damaged by splitting, woodworm, burrowing beetles, or fungus. 

The best storage location for wooden furniture is a cool or medium warm cellar. Higher storage temperatures could cause the wood to dry out and crack. If you prefer woods that have simple storage solutions, the following woods should be your first choice:

  • Teak.
  • Acacia.
  • Eucalyptus.
  • Larch.

These woods all have very dense grains and contain large amounts of natural oils. These properties provide natural protection against moisture. Even though the storage demands are greater for wood than for other materials, you and your guests will be amply rewarded with: 

  • A traditional and comfortable look.
  • A wide range of different styles and creative options.
  • Long service life (assuming appropriate care and maintenance).

Plastic garden furniture: attractive prices and easy storage

Plastic outdoor furniture is typically much less expensive than its counterparts made from wood and metal. This is a reasonable alternative if you wish to furnish a large outdoor area and simultaneously want to go easy on your budget.

A further positive aspect of plastic furniture is that it requires very little storage space. It can be folded up in seconds and stacked or, in some cases, even hung. Oftentimes, plastic tables can be dismantled simply by removing a few screws and packed flat for storage. 

To ensure long service life, plastic chairs and tables should be covered with plastic sheeting when being stored. Covers reduce exposure to UV radiation (sunlight), the chief cause of colour fading for plastic furniture.

Take particular care with fabric-covered seat cushions

Fabric-covered seat cushions must be protected against water and moisture all year round. Anyone who doesn’t take this seriously enough runs the risk of them going mouldy or becoming smelly or stiff. 

Always store cushions in a dry place. As a rule, cushions should already be stored inside (at least overnight) several weeks before garden furniture is put into storage.

Cleaning, care, and maintenance: step-by-step instructions for storing your furniture in winter 

No matter what your garden furniture is made of, it should always be thoroughly cleaned and maintained before storage.

The following applies:

  • First remove all accumulated dirt.
  • Treat wooden furniture with appropriate care products.
  • Always make sure that furniture is dry before placing it in storage.

To provide further protection against dirt, cover chairs and tables with protective plastic sheeting. Here too, it is important to ensure sufficient ventilation to prevent the build-up of excessive moisture and the formation of rust or mould. Numerous manufacturers offer special covers with appropriate features for this purpose.

Alternatives to typical winter storage

As usual, the decisive factor for ‘perfect storage’ is the amount of storage space at your disposal. Particularly, if you furnish your outdoor area with wooden or rattan furniture, it might be a good idea to simply move it inside your restaurant and use it there during the winter months. 

This allows you to move the number of places you had in your outdoor area into an indoor setting and offers your guests a welcome change. To maintain a consistent image, it helps if your indoor and outdoor furniture share the same style.

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