Best Garden Furniture to Leave Outside: A Comprehensive UK Guide
As you create the outdoor living space of your dreams, it’s extremely important to choose weather-resistant garden furniture that will stand the test of time. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor sofa, dining table, bar, or chairs, the furniture you select must endure the ever-changing weather conditions that the UK has to offer. In this guide, we’ll discuss the best garden furniture to leave outside, with a focus on materials, care, and maintenance tips. Whatever the weather may bring, you deserve durable outdoor furniture that will stay functional and beautiful for years to come.
So, keep reading for ideas to transform your sprawling garden, open patio, or cosy terrace into a sanctuary that defies the elements and embraces the beauty of every season.
Understanding the UK’s Weather and Its Impact on Garden Furniture
From our frosty winters to drizzly springs to the occasional heatwave, the UK climate poses a bit of a challenge when furnishing our outdoor spaces. With unpredictable rainfall, we require outdoor furniture that can stand up to a temperamental climate. Rain can occur at any time of the year which poses a problem for outdoor furniture that can easily succumb to moisture. Rusted metal chair legs and mildew in cushions are death sentences for furniture, with costs adding up when you constantly have to replace your outdoor equipment. It are factors like these which require an understanding when buying garden furniture. It may look good, but are you aware of the upkeep required to keep your investments in pristine condition?
Occasional heatwaves during the summer months also mean that you’ll need furniture that can endure the sun’s UV rays. No one wants their vibrantly coloured couch cushions or luxury parasol canopy to quickly fade and look weathered. We’re lucky to have relatively moderate weather here in the UK, so we can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in our gardens. However, garden furniture left outside must be able to withstand the often unpredictable and damp conditions.
In the next section, we’ll go through the best garden furniture materials and their resistance to various weather conditions, arming you with the knowledge to pick garden furniture that fits your needs.
Material Matters - A Deep Dive
Below, we’ll discuss some of the best materials for outdoor furniture to help you make informed buying choices.
Aluminium is by far one of the most durable garden furniture options. This long-lasting metal keeps out moisture and resists corrosion.
- Rust proof
- Modern and sleek-looking
Easy to clean
- Can get hot in direct sunlight
- Needs regular cleaning
To maintain aluminium outdoor furniture, regularly wipe it down with a mild, soapy solution to remove dirt and grime. Store the furniture, if possible, during extreme weather conditions, such as strong winds or heavy snowfall.
You can also protect aluminium furniture with a breathable furniture cover during the harsh cold of the winter months. However, we don’t recommend using a cover throughout the whole year. Overusing a cover can trap moisture and wear away at the finish, so it’s best to let aluminium furniture breathe for most of the seasons where possible.
Wood is a classic choice for outdoor furniture, but the question of durability depends on the type of wood you choose. Teak wood is a beloved choice because the oils in the wood make it both gorgeous and long lasting. Acacia wood is another good choice for its water resistance. Over time, wooden garden furniture will develop a soft grey patina and may also develop small fissures due to changes in humidity and temperature. These features are inherent in solid wood furniture and give it an aged yet still attractive appearance.
- Durable and sturdy
- Can be refinished or stained
- Requires regular maintenance, including sealing, staining, or oiling
- Vulnerable to rot and warping if not properly cared for
Wooden outdoor furniture requires regular maintenance to stay in great shape. For teak, we recommend using a teak cleaner & protector kit to maintain its colour for longer. Then, treat the wood with a teak & hardwood shield to prevent stains. Cover or store your wooden garden furniture during harsh weather conditions to ensure its longevity. In winter and during heavy rainfall, place furniture in a well-ventilated, dry location. Or use a furniture cover – just make sure it’s breathable and isn’t PVC-backed so it doesn’t trap moisture.
Rope is another excellent material for durable garden furniture. Trendy and unique in appearance, high-quality rope garden furniture is designed to be left outside for long periods and maintain its modern beauty.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Resistant to moisture and mildew
- UV resistant
- Regular cleaning required
- Slightly more work to clean due to woven texture
To maintain and prolong the life of rope garden furniture, regularly clean it with a fabric and upholstery cleaner. This will help prevent the build-up of dirt and stains. Store the furniture in a dry area or use a winter cover during extreme weather.
Rattan is a classic garden furniture choice for its durability and longevity. Synthetic rattan is specially designed to stave off moisture buildup and stains while standing up to the elements.
- Weather-resistant and durable
- Low maintenance
- Regular cleaning required
- Slightly more work to clean due to woven texture
To maintain your rattan furniture, regularly clean it with a mild soap and water mixture. Store or cover the furniture during harsh winter conditions to increase longevity.
We’ve already discussed the benefits of aluminium, but what about other types of metal? Durability depends on the type of metal. Wrought iron is a very hardy, weather-resistant option for chairs, benches, and tables. As for stainless steel, it’s quite prone to rust, so we recommend looking for powder-coated stainless steel that’s been treated to resist corrosion.
- Strong and durable
- Modern and sleek design options
- Low maintenance and easy to clean
- Quality varies depending on type of metal
- Can be prone to rust
- Can be heavy
Regularly clean metal garden furniture with mild soap and water. Store or cover during extreme weather conditions to keep your furniture in good shape for longer.
You may not immediately think of fabric when it comes to the best garden furniture materials to leave outside. However, high-quality outdoor fabric can be a powerful protector for your garden furniture. We’re big fans of all-weather Luna fabric furniture, which is specially designed to withstand harsh sun exposure, rain, wind, and mildew.
- Soft and comfortable
- Quick-drying foam and moisture resistance
- Easy to clean
- Quality varies depending on type of fabric
To maintain outdoor fabric, we recommend using a Golden Care Fabrics & Upholstery Care Kit. Clean fabric cushions and covers regularly to prevent dirt and stains. Store or cover cushions during the off season or bad weather. You can use a winter cover when temperatures drop, but we recommend removing the cover periodically to allow the furniture to breathe. This will prevent moisture build-up and keep your outdoor fabric looking and feeling pristine.
Care and Maintenance Tips
Now that we’ve discussed materials, let’s break down maintenance tips based on season. Here’s a quick checklist for each season to care for your garden furniture all year round.
Spring: Preparing and Cleaning
Initial Assessment: In the spring, check for and attend to any damages incurred over winter.
Deep Cleaning: Now is the time to give your garden furniture a good clean. For teak wood, use a teak cleaner and seal it with a hardwood protector. For metal or plastic, wipe down with a gentle soap and water solution. For fabric, use an upholstery care kit. Make sure you’re using high-quality care products for your furniture.
Repair and Restore: Address minor damages, paint jobs, and sealant applications.
- Setting Up: Arrange the furniture, assemble anything that needs reassembly, retrieve stored cushions, and ensure everything is secure and ready for use.
Summer: Protection and Usage
Sun Protection: When summer rolls around, set up parasols, a luxury pergola, or other outdoor shade ideas to protect furniture from direct sunlight and harsh UV rays. This will help prevent colour fading.
Usage Care: Ensure furniture is used, moved, and stored correctly to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
Light Cleaning: Regularly wipe down and clean furniture to avoid build-up of dirt and grime.
- Pest Control: Grow pest-resistant plants, keep furniture clean, and/or use a patio screen to keep pests away from the furniture.
Autumn: Preparing for the Cold
Weatherproofing: When the leaves start to change colour, apply protective coatings and treatments to safeguard against upcoming chilly weather.
Secure and Cover: If autumn winds and rain turn extreme, securely place furniture in a dry location or temporarily use a cover to protect it.
Cushion Care: Regularly clean cushions and fabric with an outdoor upholstery cleaner. Store cushions in a sheltered, dry location during rainfall or when the furniture is not in use.
- Garden Tidying: Keep the surrounding area clean to prevent additional dirt and debris from affecting the furniture.
Check out our list of autumn garden ideas for more ways to prep and decorate your garden in the cool months.
Winter: Storage and Protection
Storage Solutions: During extreme winter conditions, safely store furniture under a covered area that is dry and well-ventilated. If your seating areas are not in use, remove the cushions and store them for the season.
Snow Management: During heavy snow and rain, store furniture in a covered area or use a winter cover. Make sure the winter cover is breathable so as not to trap water and damage the furniture.
In-Winter Checks: Periodically check on stored or covered furniture to ensure it remains in good condition. Remove covers every once in a while to let the furniture breathe and prevent moisture buildup.
- Planning for Spring: Get ready to revive your garden furniture with a fresh cleaning once the winter ends.
Key Takeaways for Each Season
- Spring: Focus on reviving and repairing furniture for use
- Summer: Ensure ongoing care to prolong life and maintain appearance
- Autumn: Begin preparations to safeguard furniture through the harsher weather
- Winter: Store, protect, and plan for the upcoming active seasons
Create an outdoor space that withstands the test of time. The unpredictable nature of the elements, especially in the UK, makes it necessary to seek out furniture that can brave lots of rain, wind, intense sun, and frost.
Spare yourself the need for frequent replacements and invest in high-quality, durable garden furniture that can be left outside with peace of mind. Relish the beauty of your garden or patio, season after season, without concern for your furniture's well-being.
At Harbour Lifestyle, we use the highest quality materials for our modern and luxurious garden furniture. Our goal is to help you make the absolute most of your outdoor space in any and every season. Check out our selection of garden furniture to bring your long-lasting, stunning backyard oasis to life.
What is the most durable material for outdoor furniture?
Aluminium and teak wood are two of the most durable materials for outdoor furniture. Rope, synthetic rattan, and special outdoor fabrics are other durable options to consider.
Can I leave my garden furniture outside all year round?
This depends on the material. Outdoor furniture materials designed to be left outside year-round include teak, aluminium, and outdoor fabric. Covering or storing furniture during extreme weather can prolong its lifespan and appearance. It’s a good idea to store cushions during the winter if you’re not using your outdoor seating areas. However, unlike most fabric furniture, Luna fabric furniture is designed to be left outside year-round and doesn’t need to be stored.
How can I make my garden furniture last longer?
Regularly clean and maintain garden furniture and place it under cover during harsh weather conditions in the winter. If you use a winter cover, regularly remove the cover to give the furniture some air. If you have wooden furniture, use preventative maintenance by treating the wood with a waterproof hardwood shield.