5 Things People With Perfect-Looking Outdoor Furniture Always Do

Want your outdoor furniture to look new for longer? This is what you need to do, say the experts...

5 things people with perfect-looking outdoor furniture always do; outdoor furniture by Crate & Barrel
(Image credit: Crate & Barrel)

If you've ever wondered how other people with perfect-looking outdoor furniture actually do it, you're not alone.

With changes in weather, garden parties, muddy dogs and messy children, there's a host of ways your modern outdoor furniture can fall prey to looking a little rough around the edges.

As outdoor living spaces become an extension of our homes, it’s important to choose quality furniture pieces that connect with your interior spaces as this will create a seamless look. While most outdoor designs are crafted to endure the elements all year round, taking extra measures and following maintenance tips will ensure your furniture remains in top-notch condition and create inviting environments.

It's not as hard as you might think to ensure your outdoor furniture stays in mint condition.

'Regular upkeep, such as applying protective coatings annually, cleaning off dirt and debris, and covering or storing the furniture during extreme weather, can significantly extend its lifespan,' advises Lauren Lerner, CEO and Founder of Scottsdale-based Living with Lolo.

Just as there are rules for buying outdoor furniture that designers always follow, so there are key ways to ensure its longevity.

See five things people with perfect-looking outdoor furniture do below...

1. Choose the right materials

wooden outdoor dining set by Lulu & Georgia

(Image credit: Lulu & Georgia)

It's imperative that you always choose outdoor furniture that is waterproof and weather resistant to ensure a long lifespan and easier maintenance.

'Certain woods, like teak, cedar, and redwood, are naturally resistant to moisture, insects, and decay, making them well-suited for outdoor use,' says Living with Lolo's Lauren Lerner.

Theresa Butler, Principal and Founder of Theresa Butler Interiors agrees that choice of material is the first step to keeping your outdoor furniture looking pristine.

She says: 'When using wood outdoor furniture, ensure it is made from wood that can withstand outdoor conditions, resist rot, and deter insects. Suitable options include hardwoods like teak and acacia, as well as softwoods like cedar and cypress.'

Adding outdoor protective products can also help with maintence.

Lauren adds: 'Treatments such as sealants, varnishes, and specialized outdoor finishes can enhance the weather resistance of wooden furniture.'

Victoria Fletcher, Senior Buyer at Garden Trading, confirms the importance of materials. She says: 'Selecting the right materials for your outdoor furniture is crucial. Acacia Wood, known for its durability, strength and weather resistance, ensures longevity for your dining set. 

'Another excellent choice is PE rattan, crafted from high-quality polyethene. It mimics natural rattan, offering durability, UV resistance, and waterproof properties. 

'Lastly, Teak, beloved by outdoor furniture enthusiasts, boasts exceptional durability, moisture resistance, and a luxurious golden hue. Its easy maintenance makes it a practical option for any outdoor sofa set.'

And, when it comes to your cushions and seating, they need to have fillings that are mold and mildrew resistant as well as boasting weather and UV-resistant covers; a material like Sunbrella is always a good investment.

2. Consider the environment

Outdoor furniture by Lulu & Georgia

(Image credit: Lulu & Georgia)

Whether you enjoy searing blasts of heat or biting frosts and heavy downfalls (or both), it's always an idea to think about your weather and how it will affect your outdoor furniture and its placement.

Having in mind the weather climate of your area when buying outdoor furniture plays a major role when it comes to the furniture’s longevity. See if the furniture you’re buying is weather-resistant. If you’re buying metal furniture, then you should be cautious about rust if you have frequent rains in summer. Or if you’re in a zone with high temperatures, consider that metal or aluminum chairs/tables can be too hot to touch or sit.

Of course, you can always add cushions to your metal furniture to mitigate this, but giving thought to your local weather system is key.

'Metals exposed to direct sunlight can become hot to the touch, so it’s best to keep metal furniture in shaded areas. While metal furniture is sturdy, adding cushions can enhance comfort,' Theresa Butler says.

'Although metal furniture can be lighter and easier to maintain, it’s important to consider your environment. In areas with heavy rainfall, metal can rust and erode. To extend the life of your metal furniture, use a furniture cover when not in use.'

3. Invest in covers for outdoor furniture 

ways to make your backyard more relaxing; patio with sofa and string lights by Kate Anne Designs

(Image credit: Kate Anne Designs)

Theresa hits on a good point - even if your outdoor furniture material is weather-resistant, to make sure it's perfect-looking every single summer it's crucial you invest in covers for protection during the colder months.

'Before making a cover purchase, consider fabric suitability,' advises Victoria Fletcher. 'Opt for covers made from weather-resistant and hardy materials as these will provide the best protection for your outdoor furniture. Choose covers from materials like polyester and vinyl, as these are UV-resistant and are known for their durability.'

4. Carry out regular cleaning

Outdoor furniture by Lulu & Georgia

(Image credit: Lulu & Georgia)

Want perfect-looking outdoor furniture? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can't skip the cleaning step - it's an easy way to revive outdoor furniture.

'To clean your wood furniture, use a mixture of dish soap or white vinegar and water, similar to wood floors,' advises Theresa Butler.

Many types of outdoor furniture, like PE rattan and metal, can also be jet washed. Even some outdoor sofa cushions can be jet washed, depending on the material. 

It's also a good idea to spot clean your sofa cushions anytime there's a spillage or muddy paws on the seats. A damp cloth and dish soap, or uphholstery cleaner, will often do the trick. For more robust outdoor materials, a bristle brush can be used for harder-to-remove stains.

5. Think about outdoor storage

outdoor storage box by IKEA

(Image credit: IKEA)

Storage solutions are a fantastic option for keeping your outdoor furniture looking tip-top. 

If you don't want to take up room inside, a storage box or chest is ideal for putting your cushions in when the rain descends.

'Adding outdoor storage to your garden or patio will allow you to easily store your cushions and seat pads,' says Victoria Fletcher. 'Selecting storage furniture crafted from heavy duty PE rattan will offer a high level of durability whilst also bringing a touch of elegance to your space.'

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.