How to Prepare Commercial Outdoor Furniture for the Winter


| Jan 26, 2021

On sunny days and warm summer nights, your guests enjoy the luxury of having their meals outside. But as temperatures drop and snow starts to flurry, no one wants to sit outside anymore. What do you do with your outdoor furniture? It’s crucial to take steps to preserve your outdoor dining pieces during the harsh winter months. Learn about maintaining commercial outdoor furniture in the winter. 

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Importance of Winterizing Commercial Outdoor Furniture

Guests love having the option of al fresco dining in pleasant weather. Offering outdoor seating can increase your restaurant’s revenue by 30%, so it’s always smart to invest in a few outdoor tables and chairs. However, your investment would go to waste if the winter destroyed your pieces. 

Winter is not a friend to outdoor furniture. The cold can cause plastic to crack and break or wood to expand and contract. Snow and ice can lead to cracks, fissures and water damage like rust and mold. Additionally, if snow piles on top of pieces, it can become too much weight to bear and result in snapped legs. To avoid winter damage, clean each outdoor piece, apply a protective coating and put it into storage. 

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Prepare Commercial Outdoor Furniture for the Winter

As fall turns to winter, you might be wondering how to protect the outdoor furniture guests won’t use for the next few months. Follow these steps for winterizing commercial outdoor furniture. 

1. Ensure It’s Clean 

The first thing you should do is thoroughly clean your furniture. Dirt, water or food crumbs can result in mold, mildew or rust. Various materials require different cleaning methods. Follow these tips for specific furniture materials. 

  • Plastic: Clean with water and dish soap, let it air-dry and bring it inside for the cold weather. Be sure to only use non-abrasive cleaning products, as harsher methods might cause damage. 
  • Wicker: Brush with bleach and water to kill mildew. Make sure to get in all the tiny nooks when cleaning. 
  • Metal: Use water and detergent to clean, and use a hose to rinse. Hand-dry any iron-based metal to avoid rusting. Learn more about how to clean different types of metals
  • Fabric: Be sure to check the tags for washing instructions specific to each item. Take off removable covers and wash them on a gentle cycle. For non-removable fabric, apply a mild detergent using a washcloth and brush. Let the fabric air-dry. 
  • Wood: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Using the wrong chemicals can ruin wood furniture. First, sweep dust and dirt off with a dry broom. Then, clean with safe chemicals for the wood species.

2. Make Some Room Inside 

Some outdoor furniture pieces need to spend the winter inside. Put these pieces in storage to preserve them during the cold, wet months. Any metal that contains iron can rust if wet, so layers of ice and snow can destroy metal furniture. Plastic may become brittle and snap in extreme cold. Fabric pieces should come inside as well to avoid mold and mildew. 

After you’ve washed the pieces, be sure they’re completely dry before you put them into storage. Otherwise, you may unpack your furniture in the spring to find mold or rust. You might be able to stack similar pieces on top of each other to save some space, but make sure they can bear weight without bending or snapping. 

Store these pieces in a garage, basement or storage shed. Cover with a tarp to protect against insects and dust. If you have a little extra floor space, you could continue using the pieces inside during the winter. If any furniture has to stay outside due to its size or a lack of storage space, be sure to apply protective coatings and secure them with a tarp or cover. Remove umbrellas from dining sets, so you can drape tarps over tables and chairs. 

3. Add Protective Coats 

Whether stacked inside or under a tarp outside, outdoor furniture needs a protective coat to survive the winter. Here’s how to protect each type of material. 

  • Plastic: After you’ve cleaned plastic with soapy water, you can apply automotive paste wax for a protective coating. 
  • Wicker: It’s crucial to protect against dampness, even in indoor storage. Damp wicker will soften and stretch, which may make it unsafe to sit on. You can use Chinese tung oil to promote damp resistance. 
  • Metal: To avoid rust, keep metal furniture dry. With a paintbrush, apply water-resistant paint wax to a clean metal surface. Ensure the wax is dry before you put the piece in storage. If you find rust already on the metal surface, lightly sand it away and reapply paint. 
  • Fabric: After you’ve washed cloth materials, you can apply a waterproofing fabric spray to resist water damage. 
  • Wood: Again, be sure to check manufacturer instructions before applying anything to a wood surface. On most wood surfaces, you’ll want to use a sealant to protect against cracking and warping. Make sure the surface is free of any debris or dirt before putting on sealant. 

Why Choose Wabash Valley Outdoor Furniture?

Invest in durable pieces from Wabash Valley Outdoor Furnishings to minimize possible winter damage. Wabash Valley Outdoor Furnishings makes all our products from long-lasting materials, and they come pre-covered in protective powder coatings. You can customize colors to match your brand and buy in bulk to save money. You can choose from table sets with attached chairs, or you can mix and match chairs and tables as you like. Attached chairs are more secure during inclement weather, while freestanding ones allow you to accommodate parties of different sizes. Make your outdoor bar a local favorite by adding round-seat bar stools. Or, encourage guests to stay and chat over a meal with comfortable, armed chairs. Choose from tables of various shapes and sizes to go with your seating options. Round out your outdoor dining area with stylish trash receptacles and other accessories, like hand sanitizer stations and colorful bike racks.With comfortable seating and amenities, your outdoor space will be both beautiful and practical. In the summer, your outdoor dining area will be a hub of activity. In the winter, you’ll have an easier time maintaining durable furniture pieces. Shop Wabash Valley Outdoor Site Furnishings for Easy-to-Maintain Options

Your outdoor furniture is an investment in your restaurant that pays for itself all summer long. However, in the winter, you must take steps to protect that investment and preserve your outdoor furniture for the next season. Some furniture can’t withstand the elements, causing a headache when winter comes along. Cheap, flimsy furniture pieces might become unusable within the first year after purchase. 

That’s why it’s a smart idea to choose Wabash Valley Outdoor Furnishings for your outdoor dining pieces. We offer durable furniture covered in protective coatings. Browse our options, customize to your taste and get your order shipped directly to your restaurant. Shop dining sets, benches, swings and accessories to create an inviting outdoor space.