Can You Prevent Rusty Metal Furniture Outdoors?

 Two pieces of rusty metal furniture.

You might not use your outdoor terrace or yard throughout the year, but it’s important to pay it a regular visit. Left unattended, your outdoor chairs, benches, tables, grill and gazebo can accumulate rust surprisingly fast. That can mean unsightly stains and even hazardous cracks when BBQ season resumes. Below, we break down how to prevent rusty metal on your outdoor furniture.  

What Causes Rusty Metal?

Rust has an insatiable appetite for any metal that contains iron, and it can start to develop in just a few hours if fed with sufficient oxygen (air) and water. In the presence of these two key ingredients, the iron begins to oxidize and form rust. Water is a catalyst for rust, as is salt. If you’re living in a coastal area, the higher salt levels in the air accelerate rust in any exposed metal containing iron. 

The easiest preventive measure is to choose metal that cannot rust when you’re buying furniture, such as:

  • Aluminum
  • Galvanized steel
  • Stainless steel

Be aware, however, that even if a metal cannot rust, it can still corrode. Copper, for example, will turn green over time (see the Statue of Liberty for proof). With that in mind, consider the following advice as applicable to any metal used in outdoor furniture. 

What Are the Signs of Rust?

Rust announces itself as spots that can be red, black or white, so they’re easy to mistake for surface salt or just general grime. Over time, these spots will form a patina that gradually develops the characteristic orange/brown color associated with rust. 

As the metal degrades and water and air are able to penetrate deeper, you might see rusty-colored flakes, cracks and bulges in the metal. Rusty iron expands, a sign that the strength and integrity of the metal is compromised. 

Metal furniture on a porch

Look for rust in these areas in particular:

  • Table and chair feet
  • The protective coating from the manufacturer can wear away from friction or from sitting in pools of water.
  • Screws, clips, latches and fastenings
  • Joints and corners beneath cushions or covers 
  • Rust accumulates where moisture accumulates.

How to Prevent Metal Furniture from Getting Rusty

Don’t let the threat of rust scare you. You can still get years of use out of your favorite outdoor furniture–even if you’re living on the coast–by following this simple rust-busting regime. 

1. Dry off after rain or dew 

Never let outdoor furniture sit wet (ie. overnight) for long periods. Clearly, it’s impractical to dash outside with a microfiber cloth after every rain shower, so save yourself some time with our next tip.

2. Cover furniture when not in use

Protect your outdoor metal furniture by making sure to keep it covered when not in use. Invest in weather-resistant furniture covers, tarpaulins or storage bags that will create a protective barrier against moisture, rain, snow, and UV rays. Be sure to completely cover tables, chairs, loungers and other pieces, including the undersides and legs. Use weights and ties to secure the covers if it’s windy. It can be helpful to wipe your furniture down before covering to remove any existing dirt or debris that could hold moisture. 

3. Store inside out of season

If you have a shed or storage area, consider packing away your umbrellas, garden furniture, grill and other summer essentials during the wetter winter months (but clean them down thoroughly first). 

4. Clean off dirt and debris regularly

If you’ve power-washed your yard or mowed the lawn, or if there’s just been a heavy downpour, clean your furniture around ground level to remove any salty earth deposits kicked up from the surrounding area. 

5. Act fast on rust spots

Inspect your furniture regularly and if you do see any rusty metal, remove it with a stiff wire brush or sander. 

6. Apply a protective coating

Following the above step, or just as part of your regular maintenance, apply paint or a protective coating to form a barrier between the metal and the elements. Paint might be the obvious choice, but it can chip and crack after a hot summer or icy winter. 

7. Use a reliable weather protector

A no-fuss alternative to painting your outdoor furniture is to reach for Guardsman® Weather Defense Metal Protector instead. This super-effective spray-on formula seals the metal and repels water, inhibiting corrosion without compromising the original appearance of the furniture. Because Weather Defense Metal Protector locks out moisture and oxygen, it also gives mold, mildew and fungi nowhere to hide. 

Metal furniture in blue and yellow.

To properly protect your furniture, follow the following steps:

  1. Clean all exposed metal with a damp cloth to remove dirt. 
  2. Allow the furniture to air dry. 
  3. Apply our Weather Defense Metal Protector liberally. It will dry in just a few minutes, providing a tough, no-nonsense barrier. 
  4. Cover or store your furniture if not in use for long periods. 

Protect Your Investment With Guardsman®

With minimum maintenance, you can keep your outdoor furniture looking brand new and rust-free for years simply by protecting it with Weather Defense Metal Protector. And because it’s a clear spray rather than paint, you don’t have to worry about stains or streaks on your clothing. 

Check out our full line of Guardsman® products today to find the best solutions for keeping your furniture looking new.

To find Guardsman® products near you, visit our Store Locator today.

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