One of the best ways to extend the life of your outdoor / patio furniture and other outdoor items is to cover them when you are not using them. Covers provide extra moisture, UV, dust, and dirt protection to your outdoor items. Even though your furniture may be made out of very durable and weather-resistant materials, situations may occur that could damage your furniture (e.g., heavy thunderstorms, heat waves, etc.). The extended life you get out of your furniture from using a cover will outweigh the small time investment to place a cover on your furniture and the cost to replace your furniture earlier than you expected.
However, not all covers are the same. This guide details the different options and types of covers you can choose from when shopping for outdoor furniture covers. So, scroll down to read more below!
Location: What outdoor furniture should I cover?
Ideally, you should consider covering all of your outdoor furniture when you are not using it for extended periods. A patio or porch may provide reasonable protection from day-to-day outdoor conditions. However, you may need to cover items in these areas if you plan to be away for extended periods to ensure that your furniture is protected when you can’t be there to ensure your furniture is safe from extreme conditions. For furniture and other items not under a covered location, it is best to keep these items covered when not in use.
Size: What cover size is right for my outdoor furniture?
There is no one-size-fits-all type cover, although there are universal types of covers (see below) designed to fit the general dimensions of outdoor items.
To know which size cover is suitable for your furniture, you must measure the furniture’s height, length, and width (or diameter if circular). When measuring, make sure you measure from the farthest point on one side to the farthest point on another. For example, when measuring the height of a table, make sure you measure from the bottom of the legs to the top of the highest point on the table.
Additionally, identify if you want multiple items covered under the same cover. For example, you may want your outdoor dining table chairs covered under the same cover as your table. When you measure, set up the chairs and the table together and measure the set as a complete unit for height, length, and width (or diameter if circular).
Types: Should I get a tailored / custom-made cover or universal cover for my outdoor furniture?
Outdoor covers will come with similar weather characteristics (more on this below). But one important characteristic is the fit of the cover to your furniture. How well the cover fits your furniture can enhance how well the cover protects your furniture. There are two general types of outdoor furniture covers that you can get: Tailored / Custom-made and Universal size.
- Tailored / Custom-Made: These covers have been designed to fit the exact shape and size of your outdoor furniture. The furniture manufacturer can provide custom-made covers, or you can find a third-party company that can produce the cover for you. Tailored covers offer a perfect fit for your furniture, which helps ensure that the cover appropriately protects your furniture.
- Universal Fit: Many covers are designed to fit a wide array of various shapes and sizes of furniture; thus the name of universal fit. While these covers offer protection from outdoor elements just like custom-made covers, a key drawback is that there may be some more maintenance involved with these covers due to excess cover material. The excess cover material may trap moisture and prevent appropriate ventilation. If you use a universal fit cover, you may need to check on your furniture more frequently to ensure your cover is working adequately.
Key Features: What features should I get for my outdoor cover?
- Moisture resistant: Whether it be rain, snow, sleet, morning dew, or humidity, all furniture covers should offer some form of water resistance. Materials listed as waterproof mean that no water should penetrate the cover, while water-resistant materials mean that water will not easily penetrate but could occur. We highly suggest you get a waterproof cover.
- Ventilation / Breathability: While it is vital that covers effectively repel water, you will also need these covers to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. If water does get trapped under the cover, you will need your cover to vent air through it to allow the water to dry out. Often you will find covers with ventilation flaps or breathable material, which will help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
- Tie-Downs / Fasteners: Your covers are likely to come off if the wind is blowing. So look for covers with some type of fastener or tie-down option to secure the cover in place. This is especially important for heavy windstorms – you don’t want a storm to blow off your cover and rain to soak your furniture.
- Soft inside: Depending on the type of furniture you are trying to protect, you may want to consider a cover with a soft lining on the inside so that if that cover rubs on your furniture, it won’t leave any wear marks.
- UV protection: Your cover will naturally help provide UV protection to your furniture. Still, you should also consider covers treated to be UV resistant to help the cover resist fading and degrading. This will keep your cover looking like new and allow it to perform well through many seasons.
Materials: What material should I look for in an outdoor cover?
Often you will find vinyl, acrylic, and polyester as the primary materials used to make outdoor furniture covers. You may also find products with polyester or cotton coated with vinyl or acrylic to enhance the weather resistance of the material. All of these options feature excellent water resistance and durability. However, if possible, opt for higher grade materials as higher grades will provide great longevity without succumbing to the outdoor elements. For more information on these materials and their characteristics, review our detailed complete outdoor materials guide.