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Outdoor furniture on porches, decks and patios can expand a home’s comfortable living space beyond its exterior. While there are many different materials used to manufacture outdoor furniture, wood is one of the most common because it is both beautiful and durable. Some wood species are especially suited for outdoor use due to their unique insect and rot-resistant properties. However, as a natural product, no wood is entirely immune to break down and decay over time.

In this article, we’ll share some tips for getting the maximum life out of your wooden patio furniture.

Be Selective

Not all outdoor furniture is equal. The materials used to build your furniture will often determine how long it can withstand the elements. When you are looking for wooden outdoor pieces, pay attention to the wood used in its construction. Naturally dense wood will not absorb water from rain and snow as easily. These woods also contract and expand less with weather changes. Some species such as teak, redwood, and cedar wood are also naturally termite and rot-resistant. Furniture made from these woods will inherently last longer, putting you ahead of the game from day one.

Arrange Pieces Deliberately

Creating entertaining spaces that work functionally is important. However, when deciding where to place your furniture, think about the weather as well. If your deck faces north, you may not need to worry much about sun exposure. On the other hand, a west-facing deck exposes your furniture to a lot of late-day summer sun. Consider arranging furniture where it will be in the shaded part of the afternoon. Pergolas, awnings, and trees can also be leveraged to protect wooden furniture from being dried in the sunshine. Likewise, think about the way that rainwater and snow collect in your yard to keep furniture from becoming water-logged.

Rearrange Regularly

Many pieces of outdoor furniture are reversible. Flipping these pieces every few months prevents them from wearing out and fading unevenly. Turning outdoor couch pillows has the added benefit of helping them to retain their shape and color. Moving outdoor tables and chairs can also be beneficial. For instance, if you regularly use only four of the six chairs on your porch, make sure to rotate them so that all six chairs get equal use. Likewise, if you always sit at one end of the table, turn it from time to time so that both sides wear at the same rate. Using all of the furniture instead of favoring one side over the other will enable you to take advantage of its entire lifespan.

Cover It

Like Colorado, much of the United States offers four-season living. While people use their outdoor furniture regularly during the summer months, they may not use it at all during the winter, but it still sits outside. Moving your furniture inside a garage or shed during the cold months of the year offers the best protection. However, due to size, weight, or storage constraints, that may not be possible.

Instead, you can protect your furniture from the freezing effects of the ice and snow by covering it up. Furniture covers made of vinyl, canvas, or polyester can protect wood and fabric from UV and water damage while not in use. Invest in covers that fit well and are easy to put on and remove. Covers can provide protection year-round.

Clean and Protect

No matter how hard you try, things that are outside will get dirty. Dirt buildup on outdoor furniture not only makes it uninviting to use, but it can also cause damage to the finish. Outdoor wooden furniture should be cleaned regularly with mild soapy water. An oil-based soap works well, and it won’t strip the wood of its natural protective oils. Be careful not to get the furniture too wet, though. Soaking the wood can cause water damage.

Once the wood is clean and dry, apply a product to protect the wood from sunlight and water. Many different products will do the job. Latex paint is a popular choice for some outdoor furniture because it allows you to add color, it blocks UV rays well, and seals the wood against moisture. Paint will need to be reapplied as it may crack or peel over time. If you want to maintain the wood’s natural beauty, a light stain or wood sealer is a better choice. While clear sealers are not as good at protecting against sunlight, they can keep out water while allowing the wood grain to be visible.

Wooden outdoor furniture can help you create a beautiful oasis in your yard. If it is made from the right materials is very durable and should last for many years. Like anything made of wood, it just requires a little time and attention to keep it looking its best.