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Does Patio Furniture Fade? And How To Stop It?

I know patio furniture does fade, as ours is quite expensive and only a couple of years old – and it has started fading already. So what can we do about it?

All patio furniture fades over time, so protect it with an umbrella, shade or gazebo. You can also choose Sunbrella® fabrics which come primed with UV protection, or treat fabrics with Scotchgard Sun and Water Shield spray. Wood furniture can be protected with oil, stain, sealant or paint.

Let’s dive down into the subject of patio furniture fading in more detail, and discover why this happens and what we can do to both fix it or prevent it happening in the first place…

How Do You Keep Outdoor Furniture From Fading in the Sun?

H​ave you checked on the price of patio furniture and replacement cushions lately? Yikes! Supply chain issues and market demand have certainly run up the prices. Patio furniture today is a big investment. 

To protect your patio furniture investment from fading away, you can move it to shady spots and use furniture covers. Then, you’ll need to commit to protecting them with yearly “ray and rain” protective sprays.

H​ere’s Take A Yard’s take on the price of patio furniture today.

How Do You Keep Fabric From Fading in the Sun?

I​t’s a fact. Patio furniture fabric will fade, so plan ahead.

M​ost patio fabric comes to you from the factory with a protective coating. But after a year of rain, snow, sand, wind and blazing sunshine, you’ll need to give it another coat.

T​hen, get your furniture out of the sun as much as possible. If you don’t have any naturally shady spots on your patio, set up the furniture underneath a large patio umbrella. If you have gusty winds, sail shade sails won’t blow into the next county like an umbrella, or consider another type of patio cover, like an awning, solar screen, or canopy. 

Having a shady spot to lounge in can be good for humans, too, so you may want to consider DIYing a pergola with a tight wooden lattice roof or even a covered gazebo. Plant a shade tree. Purchase furniture covers and then use them as much as possible.

Does Scotchgard Prevent Fading?

Y​up. Even the experts agree that Scotchgard is one of the best fabric protectors. 

An article by Bob Vila, linked below, rates Scotchgard Sun and Water Shield spray as the best for the outdoors. You can find it on Amazon and in all big box hardware stores.

H​ere’s the fabric protector review by Bob Vila.

Do Sunbrella Fabrics Fade?

Y​up, Sunbrella® fabric fades too, just not as fast. Sunbrella® fabrics are dyed in a special way. They are designed to hold their original color for five – or even ten – years. 

Does Rattan Fade in the Sun?

T​here are two types of rattan furniture, a natural rattan and a rattan made from synthetic resins. In this section, we’ll be talking about synthetic wicker. Synthetic wickers does fade, but slowly.

How Do You Stop Rattan Fading?

Synthetic rattan is much harder to restore once it has faded than to stop the fading in the first place. Although the synthetic material is paintable, getting paint on all the woven strands is very difficult. To stop synthetic rattan from fading, use the ideas mentioned above.

Then, buy some protective spray. While spraying the woven strands won’t be easy, try to spray the outside ones at least. Look for the UV resistant spray marketed for garden decor or furniture. Then, spray the fabric of the cushions and pillows with fabric spray.

Does Wood Furniture Fade in Sunlight?

It does. Most wood furniture will eventually fade into a grey patina. If you love the look of weathered wood, then not much TLC is needed. But if you want your wooden furniture to look like new, then you may need to wash it, sand it and stain or seal it every few years.

How Do You Protect Outdoor Wood Furniture From Sun Damage?

First, try to locate your wooden furniture in the shade as much as possible. Second, purchase some furniture covers and use them. Finally, protect the wood with oil, stain, sealant or paint.

There are several methods to seal wood, with advantages and disadvantages for all. You can use an exterior wood oil, like teak oil. Or outdoor furniture waxes, stain repellents and sealants like lacquer, varnish and polyurethane. Before committing to a method, check out the video below.

Of course, you can always sand down your furniture and apply a cheerful coat of exterior paint.

We love this common sense video showing real results, over time, of several different outdoor finishes on outdoor wooden furniture, table pergola and a gate.

Does Metal Patio Furniture Fade in the Sun?

Even though metal patio furniture is strong and durable – even more than wood or resin wicker – it will still need some protection from UV rays.

How Do You Stop Metal Outdoor Furniture Getting Sun Damage?

Y​ou can stop metal outdoor furniture from fading by applying a new coat of paint or applying a metal protector spray. Or both.

Most big box hardware stores have a multitude of exterior metal spray paints. Many times, you can find the original color. 

Y​ou can protect your metal outdoor furniture with a protective spray. Buy the one for outdoor decor and furniture, which is good for resin, resin wicker, wood, metal, cement, plastic, stone, tile, natural wicker and fiberglass – reviewers love it.

Does patio furniture fabric fade?
Does patio furniture fabric fade?

Do Outdoor Cushions Fade?

Yup, c​ushions will fade in direct sunlight. Those made with Sunbrella® fabric will fare better, longer, but will still fade.

O​utdoor cushions need to be soft and cushy but tough too. Experts say that outdoor cushions should last up to 5 years, but many don’t. Some people claim that their outdoor cushions started fading in the first six months.

Here’s a nice resource on how to protect your patio furniture.

How Do I Protect My Patio Cushions From the Sun?

Brand new o​utdoor furniture cushions will have some UV protection applied when you buy them. But depending on your climate and the quality of the furniture, the UV protection may not last long. 

At the factory, the fabric will be treated with an all-in-one stain, water and UV protectant. After six month’s use, check whether your cushions are still protected by spilling some drops of water on the cushions. Watch carefully to see if the drops of water bead up and roll off or soak in. 

If they roll off, then you still have some water (stain and UV) protection. I​f the water soaks in, then purchase some protectant spray at a big box hardware store. Check out the link in the fabric section above to see which one is recommended by Bob Vila. 

Then, use furniture covers, bring your cushions inside or use a deck box to store the cushions out of the sun. 

Do Patio Umbrellas Fade?

Yup. With many big box store umbrellas, some folks notice fading after only a month. The ones with Sunbrella® fabric will last longer, but will eventually – in 5 to 10 years – will need TLC too.

F​or the most maintenance-free umbrellas, choose white or light fabrics. For those of us with turquoise umbrellas, commit to a yearly maintenance routine.

How Do I Keep My Patio Umbrella From Fading?

T​ry the water drop test on your umbrella fabric. If drops of water don’t bead up and roll off – but soak in – then you’ll need to apply some protective spray. Choose a “rain and ray” fabric spray (see the link in the fabric section above) that will make the umbrella fabric both water resistant and UV resistant.

Before you use the spray, clean the umbrella. Choose a sunny day and set the umbrella down on the ground. Brush off any bird poop, leaves or sticks. T​hen, gently wash the umbrella with a bucket of water that has a squirt of dishwashing soap. 

R​inse the fabric with clean water and let it dry. Carefully read the directions on the spray can. Spray the umbrella fabric. On a sunny day, it should be dry to the touch in four hours and ready to repel rain in 72 hours.

Final Words

Looks like building that gazebo over the patio is long overdue, as our patio furniture has been left in the sun for far too long.

The wood has been sealed so that’s ok, but the fabric on the cushions is looking seriously tired.

Perhaps replacement Sunbrella® cushions are in order – or maybe we could get away with treating the existing fabric with some of that Scotchgard Sun and Water Shield spray? Either way, it looks like I’ve got some work to do! 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >