It’s not uncommon for patio furniture to rust when left outdoors for long periods of time. Whether it’s a chair, table, bench, etc., any furniture that’s made of metal may rust when certain safeguards aren’t taken. And once a piece of furniture begins to rust, it can quickly eat through the metal, causing permanent damage that’s difficult or impossible to repair. So, how can you protect your patio furniture from rusting?
Why Patio Furniture Rusts
Rust is the result of the oxidation from oxygen and moisture exposure. Of course, not all objects are susceptible to this phenomenon. Rather, rust only occurs in objects and materials that contain iron. Unfortunately, iron is all around us; it’s even steel. If you have patio furniture that’s made of iron, steel or other iron-containing metals, it may rust when exposed to moisture.
Choose Non-Metal Furniture
Because rust involves the oxidation of iron, you can protect your patio furniture from this phenomenon by choosing non-metal furniture. As long as your furniture isn’t made of metal, it won’t rust. The downside to choosing an alternative material, however, is that it may lack the strength and durability of metal.
Some alternative, non-metal materials for patio furniture include the following:
Cover Your Furniture
Try to keep your patio furniture covered so that it isn’t exposed to the rain and elements. When you’re finished using your patio for the evening and ready to go inside, store your furniture under a covered area. Leaving it exposed to the rain and elements will only increase the risk of it rusting. After just a few days of exposure, patio furniture can develop rust.
If your patio doesn’t have a covered area under which you can store furniture, consider investing in furniture covers. Most home improvement stores sell covers for as little as $15 a piece, which is a small price to pay considering the protection they offer from rusting. The covers are usually made of a heavy-duty, waterproof material that keeps your furniture dry even when it rains. Just toss a cover over each piece of metal patio furniture to protect it from rusting.
Dry Your Furniture
Even if you cover your patio furniture, it may still rust. This is particularly true if you live in a region with a humid climate, such as the Southeast. Humidity is essentially nothing more than moisture vapor in the air. When there’s a high level of airborne moisture vapor, the air is humid. When there’s little or no airborne moisture vapor, the air is dry. Humidity can saturate the exterior of metal patio furniture with water droplets. And when left unchecked, these water droplets will serve as a catalyst for rust, causing your furniture to rust and corrode over time. This is why it’s important to hand-dry your furniture on a regular basis. If you discover your furniture is wet — regardless of whether it’s stored under a roof or furniture cover — wipe it dry with a clean towel.
Apply Rust-Protective Coating
There are dozens of anti-rust products that you can use on patio furniture. Most paints, for example, will create a waterproof barrier over your furniture’s metal exterior, preventing the intrusion of moisture and, subsequently, protecting it from rusting. There are also transparent products that, when applied to furniture, protect it from rusting. Rust-Oleum makes an entire line of rust-protective coatings, which are available for as little as $4 a bottle. Assuming you have just a half-dozen pieces of patio furniture, you should be able to cover them with two or three bottles.
Wash Your Furniture
Washing your patio furniture on a regular basis will help protect it from rusting. Using a small amount of mild dish soap with water, scrub down your furniture to remove any lingering mildew or grime. While mildew and grime may seem harmless enough, it holds a significant amount of moisture — and this moisture can lead to rusting. You can easily clean your patio furniture, however, using mild soap and water.
Following these tips should protect your patio furniture from rusting. But what if your furniture has already rusted? Don’t haul it off to the local dump just yet. With a little work, you can often restore rusted patio furniture back to its original condition (or close to, at least).
To clean and remove rust from your patio furniture, scrub the affected area with a piece of steel wool or wire grill brush. The abrasive properties of steel wool and a grill brush will remove the rusted metal, thus exposing the underlying layers of the furniture’s metal, which aren’t rusted. After you’ve cleaned the rust from your furniture, add a fresh coat of paint for increased protection.
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