As our New Zealand winter approaches, it’s time to give your aluminium outdoor lounge suite some end-of-season lovin’ and to work out your winter storage plan.
Here’s our recommended 2-pronged approach:
1. Preparation: You’ll be a step ahead if you’ve been cleaning and maintaining your furniture regularly anyway, but be sure to give your fabric and frame an end-of-season clean. Your regime will depend on the material of your furniture. If your set is powdercoated aluminium with quality fabric squabs, click here for a 5-step plan to cleaning and maintaining your lounge suite . Once your outdoor cushion fabric and frame is clean and fully dry, the next step is working out your storage plan.
2. Storage: In the winter months, the best scenario is to keep your cleaned/dry outdoor furniture suite in a dry covered environment, and out of our killer sun.
At a minimum, your removable squabs and cushions should be brought inside. Spuncrylic and Sunbrella are examples of the better outdoor fabrics available that are both fade and moisture resistant. Although neither are waterproof, they are both engineered to resist moisture, mold and mildew.
If you purchased a quality set, your squabs will be made with quick drying foam or open cell foam which has pores that allow water and air to easily flow through it. It is constructed with an antimicrobial agent that protects the foam from mold and mildew growth that can occur in the drying process. However over time, any material that is constantly wet, damp or unclean from dirt/droppings, pollen and plant material will deteriorate in appearance and integrity. In other words, leave them outdoors and exposed over winter at your peril.
If your cushions are not removable or you do not have the space inside, investing in well-fitted UV and water-resistant fabric covers to protect your furniture is essential. Avoid plastic covers, as moisture will build up and lead to mildew.
You don’t want this little fella (I found him under a damp plastic tarpaulin covering a timber pile) making himself at home on your furniture.
The two kiwi companies I trust to produce outdoor furniture covers are Stash-It (image below is their work) and also The Canvas Company. Both offer a great service, as well as a free quote to produce your covers. Simply visit their website and follow their easy instructions.
You’ll need to think about whether you want one cover per piece (easier for you but more costly) or if you are prepared to move your set together to have one cover for your whole set.
Preventing the degradation of your outdoor furniture is better and far less expensive than cure. There is a rule of thumb that all boat owners have heard of which is to expect to spend 10% of the purchase cost of your boat each year in its maintenance. It’s a great rule to apply to the one-time investment of outdoor furniture covers as well.
Finally, use your outdoor furniture over winter! Pick a nice day, pull out those squabs, and remove those covers. You and your family will be happy you did and you’ll be able to identify any ‘problem spots’ that need attention. It will make that scary moment of removing those covers in spring (after months of not thinking about it) a lot less terrifying. Just make sure it’s dry again before re-covering it.
In summary, your efforts in prepping your outdoor furniture for winter will be rewarded when you set up your outside living area again for another glorious summer.
Kerry is the owner of OutsideSpace NZ, selling contemporary outdoor furniture for coastal living kiwis seeking quality product and design, at an achievable price. She only buys ranges she loves yet also suit the NZ lifestyle.