Q: My brother purchased new outdoor furniture for his deck this summer, some nice cedar chairs and end tables. But I’m astounded that he hasn’t yet taken in or covered his new furniture yet. Even though we haven’t had snow yet, the temperature change alone must be taking its toll. Should I warn him about leaving his expensive furniture outside in winter? – Carey in Chicopee, Mass.
A: I think warning him is a bit strong, particularly in this case. Cedar furniture designed for outdoor use can be very resilient in most weather, something the dealer may have told your brother when he purchased the set.
You can bring it up as part of a conversation about the furniture by asking if it’s all-weather, and letting your brother tell you all about it. Considering how much quality cedar furniture costs, he’s likely pretty proud of his purchase.
Cedar outdoor furniture is desirable to many people. It’s a durable wood, doesn’t easily warp or rot, and resists insects. Unfinished cedar furniture starts out as a natural reddish color, which over time fades to gray as wind and weather season the wood. Owners who prefer the warmer reddish color can apply a wood sealer, or enhance the color using a wood stain. Paint or finishing oils aren’t typically used with cedar furniture, since they can trap moisture, encouraging rot.
Your brother can clean his furniture a few times a year with soap and water, and should avoid using a pressure washer or harsh solvents. If he’s concerned about temperature extremes or ice and snow building up on the furniture, he can cover it or store it during the winter.
Otherwise, don’t worry about warning him about his outdoor furniture care choices. It’s his property, after all, and he can leave the cedar furniture out if he wishes.
HOME TIP: Clean mildew from unfinished wood furniture using a very mild bleach and water solution; rinse well, and make sure the wood dries completely.
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