Can our outdoor furniture be left outside?

We assume that because it’s outdoor furniture it’s safe to leave on the patio in all weather, but not all materials perform the same, there are a number of caveats and compromises.

Maybe second only to “Do you offer a discount?”, “Can our outdoor furniture be left outside?”, is probably the question we get asked most. 

We produced the short outdoor furniture maintenance video below as part of a recent marketing promo and it got us thinking about how our furniture has been designed to not only stand up to mother nature but require very little in the way of maintenance to keep on doing that for many years to come: 

The statement “designed to live in the heart of your garden, no rust, no rot, whatever the weather” sounds like something many in our industry would say. 

I suppose weatherproof is a pretty critical feature of outdoor furniture, and whilst any item sold as such should be able to sit outside in all weather, there are numerous caveats and compromises to that. 

For a starter it depends on the material the furniture is made from, how it is constructed, the condition it is in, how well it has been maintained, what extra protection you’ve given it, and even the microclimate in your garden. 

And that is exactly what we want to discuss in a little more detail in this article. Answer the question can our outdoor furniture be left outside?

We want to take a closer look at why we believe cast aluminium is one of the best materials for the UK climate and also share a few tips for keeping our outdoor furniture range looking its best. 

Why is cast aluminium the best outdoor furniture material for the UK climate?

In reality, much of the outdoor furniture sold in the UK is weather-resistant but not fully weatherproof, which basically means that you can leave it outside but it will start to show natural signs of ageing even if you never use it.

For example, timber furniture if left uncovered will (even when treated) start to absorb moisture, plastic pieces on the other hand, whilst waterproof, will often fade and could crack/split when left exposed to the sun.

Why is cast aluminium the best outdoor furniture material for the UK climate?

Each material has its pros and cons, of course. When we started Lazy Susan we selected cast aluminium as our core material because it ticked the least cons and the most pros when it came to sitting in our gardens all year round.

Rigorous testing showed that it was not only the most durable outdoor furniture material but it was also the easiest to maintain and, if you keep it well-maintained (thanks to our protective painted finish) fully weatherproof. And that’s important for a number of different reasons...

The material you decide to buy, be it metal, wood or plastic, will determine not only how long it will last, but how much you need to do to keep it looking like new and, if you need to store/cover it when the weather takes a turn for the worse? 

It is easy to walk into a home improvement store and be wowed by the latest summer trends. I myself have purchased a plastic rattan sofa set on a whim in the past but rarely do those sets stay on your patio for more than a few years. It is another form of fast fashion. 

If you want furniture that lasts, you need it to be constructed from a material that is designed to stand up to mother nature. But more than that, you want it to be low maintenance too. We lead busy lives, so anything that saves time and effort surely has to be a bonus?

In the UK, even in the summer, we can see plenty of wind and rain, and our outdoor furniture is designed to stand up to both, with no need to paint or protect it. 

Our Amelia Set with Outdoor Cushions and Parasol 

If there is one con, then it can get hot in direct sunlight. However, you can easily counter that with our seat cushions and a tilt parasol (which are also all-weather resistant we may add). When our furniture gets caught in a downpour though, it is quick to dry, so ready to use when the sun comes back out. 

Does outdoor furniture need to be weatherproof or weather resistant?

I suppose you could argue that outdoor furniture does not need to be fully waterproof like say a shed roof that needs to protect the timber structure (and what's inside it of course) beneath. However, it does need to be durable so that it can withstand the elements for many a summer to come with minimum maintenance/protection. 

Most in our industry will recommend you store or cover your furniture during the worst of the winter (back in that shed with its waterproof roof). Our outdoor furniture collection is designed to sit on your patio all year round, and that protective painted finish will even stand up to heavy snow.

Does outdoor furniture need to be weatherproof or weather resistant? 

Whilst the paintwork looks good, it is also designed to further protect the high-grade cast aluminium underneath. Aluminium by its nature  (and in its unfinished/painted state) is capable of being left outside unprotected as it will oxidise to protect itself from the elements. 

However, that white chalky barrier is not a form of corrosion such as when cast iron oxidises from exposure to moisture. Rather than flaking away, aluminium oxide forms a protective ‘skin’ and that is what actually stops the oxidation process and makes it corrosion-resistant.

It just doesn’t look very nice though, so our painted coated finish is there to prevent it from happening and keep your furniture looking great.

Another advantage of cast aluminium is that it is robust but relatively lightweight compared to other metals and wood but not as blow away light as plastics. If you do want to pick it up and move it around the garden, then even our largest outdoor tables can be easily picked by two people. 

Of course, weatherproof outdoor furniture comes at a cost, and to be honest, the only other material that we’ve found that performs as well is teak. However, that is often very expensive and out of the budget of most.  

Whilst our cast aluminium pieces will cost you more in terms of an initial outlay than a cheaper DIY/Home store set, the fact it will last much longer and will provide significantly better value for money in the long run.

Why is the microclimate of your garden an important factor?

Another caveat worth considering is the microclimate in your own garden. 

Whilst, the weather in the UK is typically a mixed bag, there are also regional variations and environmental factors we need to take into consideration before deciding which outdoor furniture material is best left outside.

For example, if we’re talking generally, rainfall is much higher in the north west than it is on the south coast, while the flip side of that is you’re likely to see more (and hotter) sun down south than up north. 

However, we can look at it even closer, and bring in factors such as the direction your garden faces, is it sheltered/enclosed from the wind, surrounded by trees for shade, and so on. 

All these things need to be considered. 

Why is the microclimate of your garden an important factor?

Probably one of the biggest environmental considerations is if you live on the coast. 

Salt air is notorious for causing greater damage to outdoor furniture, and it can significantly speed up the deterioration of any material susceptible to water and fading from the sun, not to mention how quickly it will corrode those prone to rust.

Most outdoor furniture materials will fair well in a sudden summer downpour or an average sunny day in July. The real test comes when the weather turns and the temperature drops to single figures. In many ways, the cold can do as much damage as rain. The problem in the UK is we have a lot of both.

Wood and plastic/resin pieces fall down here as moisture can get into any gaps and as it freezes it expands causing it to split. This is what happened with my old rattan sofa set I mentioned in the intro. The woven poly strands split at the tightest points (top of backrest and armrests) on the frame. 

The opposite to that is extreme heat, and we touched on this earlier too. 

Cast aluminium has a higher thermal conductivity than wood for example so it can get hot to the touch. Our painted finish mitigates this (even more so on our white pieces) a little, however, cushions are advised. 

That said, for us the fact it is better suited to moisture and colder temperatures still make it the more sensible choice as it won’t fade, rust, warp and crack. 

Ergo it will always last much longer when left outside, which in our opinion is a compromise worth making.

How can you maintain and further protect our outdoor furniture from the elements?

For a starter, as the old saying goes, prevention is better than the cure.

Keep it clean and you’ll keep it looking new for longer. If you get any dirt such as bird droppings or tree sap, carefully wipe it off. 

That’s why, when not in use, I still cover my Lazy Susan outdoor set. It doesn’t need it in terms of the weather but it just helps to keep it clean and ready to use. 

Whilst our cast aluminium is inherently waterproof, you can further improve it with the application of a light coat of car wax. 

Just give it a wash with warm soapy water and a sponge. Rinse with cold water and leave it to dry in the sun. 

Then with a microfibre cloth, apply a light coat of carnauba car wax. It not only gives our furniture a lovely lustre, but it will also help water bead up/run off, protect it from the sun and help keep it cleaner for longer.

Of course, we've made many references throughout this article to our painted finish.  

To maintain the integrity of your Lazy Susan outdoor furniture, you must ensure that any chips or scratches through to bare metal are touched up. 

Lazy Susan Touch-Up Kits

If moisture is allowed to penetrate and get under the paint, then integrity is compromised, and it could start to blister. However, any chips or scratches are easily repaired with our Touch-Up Kits (pictured above). 

One area you need to keep a close eye on is the bottom of all chair and table legs, especially if your set is on a stone patio. Just lift them up and have a quick look every now and again.

The video below shows you how to apply our touch-up paint to a chip: 

The 2 stage application process for our Antique Bronze finish is as follows. Our Slate, White and Sandstone finishes do not need step 3.

Step 1 - Carefully apply the black paint.
Step 2 - Dab with kitchen roll to remove excess paint and leave to dry.
Step 3 - Carefully dab on bronze paint.
Step 4 - Remove excess paint with a sheet of kitchen roll and leave to dry.
Step 5 - Repeat if necessary until the desired finish is achieved.

So in answer to the original question; can our outdoor furniture be left outside? Yes, it can, with minimal maintenance, and hopefully, this article has convinced you that cast aluminium outdoor furniture is the right material for your patio!

If you’d like to know more about how our outdoor furniture is made, please visit our how we make our furniture page or take a look at our full outdoor furniture collection.

If you’ve got any photos of our outdoor furniture in situ then we’d love to see them for our Do Some Good charity campaign. 

You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].

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