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How to store & protect wooden garden furniture for winter

14 November 2012 ( 07 January 2015 )

Read these top tips from Simon Burvill of Gaze Burvill, makers of outdoor furniture, on how to prepare and protect your garden furniture for winter.

Garden furniture covered in snow
Make sure your garden furniture is protected from the elements

Preparing your wooden garden furniture for winter

Give your wooden garden furniture a good wash or scrub once a year to get rid of lichens and bird droppings - this is especially beneficial if the furniture has been sitting beneath a tree. Although it's tempting to leave cleaning your garden furniture until the spring, when you want to use it, it is much better for the timber to do this in the autumn.

Dirt holds moisture far longer than something that is clean (and it's the moisture that brings on the decay) - by cleaning it you will also be getting it in a state where it can dry out from time to time on a sunny day, even in winter.

If you are putting it under cover then removing the dirt will also mean that it does not dry hard onto the furniture.

Oak garden furniture is the most resilient to the winter weather and requires the least maintenance. It does not need any oiling or chemical treatments.

Read our guide to cleaning wooden garden furniture

Visit our Home and Garden section for gardening guides, home improvement tips and much more.

Preparing plastic, metal and rattan furniture for winter

Plastic garden furniture must be completely dry and covered – even faint winter sunlight will deteriorate the compounds in plastic materials.

Painted metal garden furniture may need crumbly rusted bits re-painted before the wet weather sets in.

Rattan furniture is lovely in the summer, there really is no better way to protect it in the winter than to bring it inside and store it in a garage, shed, summerhouse or spare room. 

Read our guide to improving your garden shed security

Tips for protecting garden furniture stored outside over winter

Don't allow wooden furniture to sit in a puddle, or very wet grass, all the time. It's best to place a flat stone or pebble under the legs so that it can drain and dry out from time to time.

If  the furniture is habitually standing on grass (sometimes unavoidable) rather than on a hard standing or gravel, which drains, I would recommend using a preservative.

If you can, after cleaning it, stand the furniture for a few weeks with its feet in some washed-out 'bean tins' filled with a preservative, such as those made by Cuprinol. The preservative will soak up into the feet giving this vulnerable area added protection (note: when doing this the wood around the feet may change colour, so please do your own tests to see what suits the wood you are using first).

If you are leaving your furniture outside but covering it over, either with purpose-made covers or wrapping it up in a tarpaulin, make sure it is clean and bone dry before you cover it up and there is ventilation for air to circulate so that if moisture gets in it can also more easily get out on a dry day.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.