How To Keep Outdoor Furniture Dry? (And What About Cushions?)

When another season of patio and garden parties or other fun outdoor activities is upon us, that means it’s time for a refresher course on keeping outdoor furniture and cushions clean and dry so they look good for the whole season! Outdoor furniture gets a workout from weather, and rain especially can lead to staining, wood rot, or worse. So, it’s critical to keep your outdoor furniture dry. 

Moisture deteriorates outdoor furniture quickly, but there are waterproofing sprays you can treat outdoor furniture with to help keep them dry. Your first line of defense should be a waterproof cover (for furniture and cushions), or at least a waterproof storage container for the cushions.

Outdoor furniture is expensive, and cushions are even more so! Not to mention how awful it would be if your guests arrived and all your lovely outdoor furniture and cushions were damp and smelly. So, let’s look at some quick and easy ways you can keep your outdoor furniture dry, preserving it’s value and allowing you to be confident your outdoor furniture is ready to go whenever you are.

Does Rain Ruin Outdoor Furniture?

Wood deck with furniture and grey house

Outdoor furniture is intended for the outdoors, so most of it is designed to withstand the occasional showers and storms. However, over time UV from the sun and exposure to elements can damage the integrity of the waterproof coating, leaving the furniture vulnerable to rust and rot.

This is especially true for wood and rattan furniture that can get mold and mildew if it remains damp for too long. Other types of outdoor furniture such as metal and resin wicker are also susceptible to weathering due to over-exposure to the elements.

If they aren’t properly dried, the metal will rust, and the resin wicker will crack. Luckily, you can avoid this by reapplying the protective layer of water-repelling treatments which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

So yes, the rain can ruin your outdoor furniture if it remains unprotected for too long. But the good news is it’s possible to save your investment and keep your outdoor furniture looking beautiful and inviting all season long. While outdoor covers like the Ultcover Tough Canvas Rectangular Patio Cover (on Amazon) go a long way, waterproof containers for cushions like the BLUU 100 Gal Outdoor Deck Box (also on Amazon) are going to be a great approach too.

But if covering and keeping them dry from the start isn’t the direction you want to start in, let’s first dive into some treatments that are designed to protect different types of furniture.

How to Waterproof Your Outdoor Furniture

Polyutherane treatment, oil primers, and silicon sprays are all popular options to reinforce the water-resistance of your outdoor furniture. How you should treat your furniture entirely depends on what type of material your furniture is made from.

Below we’ve summarized some general guidelines to help you choose the best option for your outdoor furniture.

Wood Furniture

Wood is a versatile and beautiful choice for any outdoor furniture. Most lumber like teak and mahogany are naturally resistant to water and withstand the elements very well. However, continuous exposure to rain can weaken and rot the wood.

Waterproofing your wood furniture can save it from wear and tear and damage from sun exposure. Water sealants absorb into the surface of the wood and repel water from penetrating it, making cleaning up the spills pretty easy.

Every year or two, a new coat of wood sealant like Thompsons Waterseal Wood Protector (on Amazon) will protect your furniture from water damage. To apply the sealant, first sand off any existing finish or paint since it will not let the wood absorb the treatment. Then apply two to three generous coats of sealer with a paintbrush and allow the furniture to dry for a few hours.

Wicker Furniture

Outdoor wicker furniture is usually made up of plastic or resin fibers woven together, so it is pretty resistant to water damage. To improve the durability and further protect it from the elements, wicker furniture is sealed with clear varnish, synthetic paint, or polymer spray.

Star Brite Furniture Protectant (on Amazon) will protect your wicker from fading and cracking due to UV rays. As a bonus, this product also repels dust and dirt so your furniture will stay clean longer.

Helmsman Spar Urethane (on Amazon) is another great option for protecting wicker. A coat of this marine-grade varnish will waterproof your wicker and give it a protective layer against the elements. It also comes in different matte, satin, or glossy finish.

If you have organic wicker furniture, it’ll be made up of rattan or bamboo. Organic wicker is susceptible to water damage and mold growth, so it’s better to keep it inside and away from wet or humid conditions.

Metal Furniture

As you might already know, outdoor metal furniture is highly durable and withstands the elements very well. In fact, aluminum furniture is even rust-resistant.

However, iron or even steel can oxidize in humid conditions, making them vulnerable to rust and corrosion unless they’re coated with a rustproof primer or paint. A few layers of clear varnish will further protect the metal from damage and UV exposure.

If you already have rusty hinges or bolts or the paint coating is chipped, a high-quality oil-based primer like Rust-Oleum Metal Primer (on Amazon) will remove rust and leave a protectant barrier against future rust formation.

How to Keep Your Outdoor Cushions Dry

Outdoor patio closed due to heavy rain

Outdoor furniture is incomplete without colorful cushions and pillows. To maintain the beauty and comfort of fluffy cushions, you should make a habit of bringing them inside once you’re done using them, especially in unpredictable weather conditions.

Fortunately, water-resistant cushions are widely available in various fabrics and styles. Choose durable vinyl or polyacrylic covers and opt for urethane foam filling – it’s totally resistant to water, mold, and mildew.

Line the covers with iron-on waterproof vinyl for extra water protection. Always place the cushions with the zipper side down to minimize the risk of water entering the cushion.

In addition to water-resistant material, water repellent spray will help keep your outdoor cushions dry. A quick coat of water-based silicone spray like Scotchgard (on Amazon) or TriNova stain guard (on Amazon) will form a protective barrier that repels water and stains.

These are washable treatments, so you’ll be able to clean your cushions with mild detergents if they get too dirty.


Most outdoor furniture is made to withstand water exposure. However, it will be more durable and serve you longer if you maintain its protection with the regular application of water-resistant treatments.

Water repellent sprays and sealants can help you with that task. For wood furniture, use an oil-based treatment for sealing against water and protection from UV rays. Wicker furniture can be treated with polyurethane varnish, and metal furniture will benefit from paint coats and rustproofing primer.

Buy waterproof cushions or add a water-resistant material to the lining. Use water-repellent silicone sprays to minimize the risk of water damage and make a habit of bringing the cushions inside when you’re done using them.

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