Should I cover wooden garden furniture?

We are considering whether you should cover wooden garden furniture in the winter and if the type of timber it is made from matters...

High-quality wooden garden furniture is a common sight in UK gardens. It’s natural, classic, and, when treated right — can last for years. 

But should you cover your wooden garden furniture? Or is it okay to leave it exposed to the elements throughout the year in the UK? 

Join Lazy Susan as we explore and provide the answers to these questions in depth. 

Does the type of wood matter? 

Does the type of wood matter?

In the UK, you can buy different types of wood furniture, including teak, cedar, pine, and eucalyptus.  

Whichever type of wood you buy, it will be either hardwood or softwood — depending on the type of tree they come from. Let’s take a look at their differences:

Hardwood Furniture 

Hardwood furniture isn’t always harder than softwood as the name suggests. However, it is widely known to be the most durable type of wooden furniture. Largely maintenance-free, it can last for over 25 years and typically takes longer to rot than most softwoods. 

And while hardwood is a strong, sturdy, and durable option, it’s also a more expensive option than softwood. Another fun fact about hardwood is that it comes from trees that produce seeds with a covering, like an apple.

Softwood Furniture

If you buy softwood furniture in the UK, you’ll probably buy pine. It’s affordable, lightweight enough to put together easily, move around your garden when needed, and is easier to paint than hardwood. 

Softwood furniture isn’t quite as durable and long-lasting as hardwood furniture (especially if exposed to the elements and not covered up). The quality of the wood and the way it’s treated and manufactured matters too — and the higher the quality, the longer it will last. 

Why cover wooden garden furniture?

Why cover wooden garden furniture?

There are many ways your outdoor garden furniture can become damaged if you don’t cover it. For example, it will be more susceptible to ageing faster and can change from its natural colour to a grey/silver patina. It might also develop moss and lichens over time, and more. 

Pros of covering your wooden garden furniture 

The best to protect your outdoor wooden garden furniture is to cover it whenever it’s not in use, especially during harsher weather like rain and sleet. Let’s take a look in detail at the reasons why.

1. Less risk of moisture

If wooden furniture gets rained on, it can create a moisture build-up that will damage the furniture and result in mould, cracking, decay, warping, swelling, and shrinkage. 

2. Prevents fading 

The main purpose of garden furniture may well be to sit outside on those warm, sunny days. But, unfortunately, the sun causes the colour of wooden garden furniture to fade. By covering your furniture when the sun is out, you’ll prevent it from losing its original colour.

3. Stops debris and pests

While the best hardwood furniture like teak is insect-resistant and rots slower than softwood furniture due to its natural oil content — it’s a smart idea to cover it up. This is because bugs can still attack wooden furniture over time and damage it — reducing its quality.  Debris like dirt, grass, and leaves can also be a problem and cause discolouration, not just on your furniture but also on your clothes when you sit down.

Cons of covering your wooden furniture 

Cons of covering wooden furniture

Some protective covers can cause moisture build-up

Some protective covers have a breathability issue, which causes mould and mildew to quickly build up. To avoid this, you can invest in protective covers that have air pockets to allow a good amount of air circulation. 

Final Thoughts 

While a good hardwood like teak can be left outside cover-free some of the time, you’ll still need to cover it at some points throughout the year to extend its lifespan for as long as possible. On the other hand, your softwood furniture will need to be covered more regularly and require more maintenance. 

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