June 15, 2011
Garden furniture covers have become a necessity for anyone who owns garden furniture. Sun and rain conspire to leave your garden furniture prematurely aged at best and completely unusable at worst. Many people store their garden furniture over the winter months, bringing it out in the spring when they’re ready to use it. This should not be the extent of you care, however, as the times when this furniture is in greatest use is also when they are at the greatest risk of damage.
Most of us will use this furniture most extensively in the summer, when it’s warm and outdoor grilling and gatherings are most comfortable. It may surprise you to know that this is one of the most damaging times of year to have your furniture exposed. The sun is the most powerful agent of destruction your furniture will face.
Most modern paints and varnishes are effectively impervious to moisture. Those of you with wicker furniture will need to take extra care against water damage, but the vast majority of furniture sustains the greatest amount of damage from UV radiation. UV radiation will break down paint at the molecular level, removing its protection from your furniture, and exposing the material, whether it’s iron, wood, or plastic, to the further depredations of UV and making it vulnerable to water damage.
UV will damage plastic furniture by making it brittle and easily broken. It will wash it out and turn it to a paler version of its original color. UV and water will affect wood similarly, though water will leach into the wood after the paint has been destroyed, expanding and contracting as the temperature changes leading to warping. Iron, of course, will rust if exposed to moisture after the paint has been breached. All of these processes are easily prevented with the use of a storage cover.
Garden furniture covers are made out of a number of different materials. Polypropylene is very common. It is cheap, somewhat durable depending on its thickness, and easy to maintain. Light and easy to maneuver, this would be the choice for someone looking for a dust cover where the furniture is already protected by a roof, gazebo or other structure.
Another common material is polyester. Treated polyesters range in thickness, measured in denier, from the most common 120 denier to the heavy-duty 600 denier. 600 denier polyester is used in a number of applications, including soft luggage, backpacks, gun cases, boat covers and other uses where durability is a concern. Polyester covers will typically be coated in an acrylic or PVC layer for additionally UV and water-resistance. Most covers made of 600 denier polyester will offer warranties of at least three years and can be expected to last 4-5 years. It is this author’s recommendation that should one purchase a polyester cover, 600 denier grade materials should be preferred.
Vinyl remains a popular choice as far as covers go, as it is cheap, more durable than polypropylene, and effectively water-proof. It does suffer some disadvantages. Vinyl will crack after a relatively short period of exposure to the sun, often in a few months. Being water-proof, vinyl does not allow much air to pass through, either, i.e. it does not ‘breathe’ and can trap moisture inside the cover leading to mold and mildew. Most garden furniture and grill manufacturers who include covers with their products will use vinyl as a material due to its low cost and impermeability. When these covers crack, many people will find that a high-denier polyester cover will provide superior protection and durability at a lower cost than going through the manufacturer for replacement.
Garden furniture covers are a must for anyone with outdoor furniture. Even if used only in the summer time, these covers provide protection from the sun and eliminate the need to put furniture under cover after each use. Remember that the biggest enemy of your furniture is the sun, and you can keep these pieces in excellent condition for many years.