For homeowners looking to furnish their outdoor spaces, wicker furniture is a popular choice that can provide comfort and style. But an important question arises: is wicker suitable for full-time outdoor use, or does it need to be brought inside?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide a definitive answer on whether wicker can withstand the elements.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: wicker can be left outside year-round provided it’s a high-quality resin wicker made for outdoor use. Look for all-weather wicker furniture with UV protection and rust-resistant frames.
Traditional natural wicker cannot withstand long-term outdoor exposure.
The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Wicker
When it comes to wicker furniture, there are two main types: natural and synthetic wicker. Understanding the difference between these two materials is crucial in determining whether or not they can be left outside.
Natural Wicker Qualities
Natural wicker is made from plant materials such as rattan, bamboo, or cane. It is known for its organic and rustic look, making it a popular choice for outdoor furniture. However, natural wicker has some qualities that may affect its durability when exposed to the elements.
- Natural wicker is susceptible to moisture and can easily absorb water. This can cause it to warp, rot, or develop mold and mildew if left outside without proper protection.
- Exposure to sunlight can also cause natural wicker to fade and become brittle over time.
- Despite these drawbacks, natural wicker can be left outside if it is treated with a protective sealant or covered with waterproof cushions and covers when not in use. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and resealing, is also recommended to prolong its lifespan.
Synthetic Wicker Advantages
Synthetic wicker, on the other hand, is made from materials like resin or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is designed to mimic the look and feel of natural wicker while offering several advantages that make it more suitable for outdoor use.
- Synthetic wicker is highly resistant to moisture, making it impervious to water damage, rot, and mold. This makes it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture that will be exposed to rain or humidity.
- It is also UV-resistant, meaning it won’t fade or become brittle when exposed to sunlight. This makes synthetic wicker a great option for those who live in sunny climates.
- Additionally, synthetic wicker is low-maintenance and easy to clean. It can be simply wiped down with a damp cloth or hosed off to remove dirt and debris.
- Given its durability and weather-resistant properties, synthetic wicker can be safely left outside without the need for extra protection or maintenance.
Factors That Damage Wicker Outdoors
One of the main factors that can damage wicker furniture when left outside is sun exposure. The UV rays from the sun can cause the wicker to fade and become brittle over time. The constant exposure to sunlight can also lead to the breakdown of the natural fibers, causing them to become weak and prone to breaking.
To protect your wicker furniture from sun damage, it is recommended to place it in a shaded area or use a protective cover when not in use.
Moisture and Humidity
Another factor that can negatively affect wicker furniture when left outside is moisture and humidity. Wicker is made from natural materials such as rattan or cane, which are susceptible to mold and mildew growth when exposed to moisture for prolonged periods.
This can cause discoloration and even structural damage to the furniture. To prevent moisture damage, it is important to keep wicker furniture dry and avoid leaving it out in the rain. Using a waterproof cover or storing it indoors during wet weather can help prolong its lifespan.
Extreme temperatures can also take a toll on wicker furniture. Excessive heat can cause the wicker to dry out and become brittle, while extreme cold can make it more susceptible to cracking or breaking.
It is advisable to avoid exposing wicker furniture to extreme temperature changes, such as placing it directly in sunlight on a hot day or leaving it outside during freezing winter conditions. Providing some form of insulation, like a cushion or blanket, can help protect the furniture from temperature extremes.
Wind and Dust
Wicker furniture left outside is also vulnerable to damage from wind and dust. Strong winds can cause the lightweight wicker to tip over or be blown around, potentially causing it to collide with other objects or get damaged.
Dust and dirt can accumulate on the furniture’s surface, making it look dirty and dull. Regular cleaning and maintenance, such as using a brush or vacuum to remove dust and debris, can help keep wicker furniture in good condition.
Additionally, securing the furniture or using weight on the base can prevent it from being blown away by strong gusts of wind.
Tips for Making Wicker Last Outside
Wicker furniture can add a touch of elegance and charm to any outdoor space. However, if not properly cared for, it can quickly deteriorate when left outside. To ensure your wicker furniture lasts for years to come, here are some valuable tips:
Choose All-Weather Synthetic Wicker
When selecting wicker furniture for outdoor use, opt for all-weather synthetic wicker. Unlike natural wicker, which is made from plant fibers and can be susceptible to moisture and sun damage, synthetic wicker is designed to withstand the elements.
It is resistant to rot, fading, and cracking, making it an ideal choice for outdoor furniture. Additionally, synthetic wicker is easy to clean and maintain, saving you time and effort.
Select Rust-Resistant Frames
In addition to choosing the right wicker material, it is crucial to select furniture with rust-resistant frames. Wicker furniture is often supported by metal frames, which can be prone to rust when exposed to moisture.
Look for frames made from materials such as aluminum or stainless steel, as they are less likely to corrode. Regularly inspect the frames for any signs of rust and address them promptly to prevent further damage.
Apply UV Protectant Regularly
The sun’s harmful UV rays can cause wicker furniture to fade and become brittle over time. To protect your wicker furniture from sun damage, apply a UV protectant regularly. These protectants create a barrier that shields the wicker from UV rays, helping to preserve its color and structural integrity.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the protectant to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Bring Cushions Indoors
While wicker furniture can withstand the elements, it’s best to bring the cushions indoors when not in use. Moisture can seep into the cushions, leading to mold and mildew growth. By storing the cushions indoors or in a covered area, you can extend their lifespan and keep them looking fresh and clean.
If you’re unable to bring the cushions indoors, consider purchasing covers that are specifically designed to protect them from moisture and UV damage.
Clean and Dry Regularly
To maintain the beauty and longevity of your wicker furniture, it’s essential to clean and dry it regularly. Use a mild detergent and warm water to gently scrub away any dirt or stains. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes, as they can damage the wicker.
After cleaning, allow the furniture to dry thoroughly before using or covering it. This will prevent moisture from getting trapped and causing mold or mildew to develop.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your wicker furniture remains in excellent condition, even when left outside. Remember, proper care and maintenance are key to preserving the beauty and functionality of your outdoor furniture.
Signs Your Outdoor Wicker is Failing
One of the first signs that your outdoor wicker furniture may be failing is the fading of its color. Over time, exposure to sunlight can cause the vibrant hues of your wicker furniture to fade and become dull.
If you notice that your once vibrant red or blue wicker chair has turned into a pale shade, it may be time to consider replacing or refinishing it.
Cracking or Peeling
Another clear indication that your outdoor wicker furniture is failing is when you start noticing cracks or peeling on the surface. This is often a result of prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, or extreme heat.
Cracks and peeling not only compromise the aesthetics of your furniture but also make it more susceptible to further damage.
Mold, Mildew, or Rust
When wicker furniture is left outside without proper protection, it can quickly become a breeding ground for mold, mildew, or rust. These issues not only make your furniture look unattractive but can also pose health risks.
If you notice any signs of mold, mildew, or rust on your wicker furniture, it is important to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage.
If your outdoor wicker furniture comes with cushions or fabric, sagging or drooping fabric can be a clear sign of its deterioration. Over time, the fabric can become stretched or worn out, leading to an unappealing appearance and reduced comfort.
Regular maintenance and replacing worn-out cushions can help prolong the lifespan of your wicker furniture.
Loose Fibers or Weave
Lastly, a failing wicker furniture piece may have loose fibers or a deteriorating weave. If you notice that the wicker strands are becoming loose, breaking, or unraveling, it is a sign that the furniture is reaching the end of its lifespan.
Addressing these issues early on can help prevent further damage and save you from having to replace your furniture sooner than expected.
Remember, taking proper care of your outdoor wicker furniture, such as regularly cleaning and applying protective coatings, can help extend its lifespan and delay these signs of failure. However, if you notice any of these signs, it may be time to consider investing in new wicker furniture or repairing the existing one to ensure a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing outdoor space.
While traditional wicker should not be left exposed to the elements, all-weather resin wicker can withstand full-time outdoor placement with proper maintenance. Choosing synthetic wicker made for patio and porch use will allow you to enjoy elegant, lightweight seating outside.
With routine cleaning and UV protection, high-quality wicker can serve you for many seasons of backyard leisure and relaxation.