Is your patio looking a little bare — and your bank account is, too? Maybe you’re looking for a more sustainable way to decorate your home. Either way, consider repurposing your furniture into outdoor furniture! While there are some differences between indoor and outdoor furniture, it’s easy to upcycle your unused and unwanted furniture into a usable, sustainable alternative to dropping cash on a whole new piece. Keep reading for upcycled furniture ideas!
How Is Indoor Furniture Different From Outdoor Furniture?
Indoor furniture and outdoor furniture have a few key differences. For starters, indoor furniture is typically not treated in a way to ensure it’s weather-proof. The wood may be susceptible to mold and mildew, and paint is more likely to fade in the sun.
Regarding soft goods, outdoor fabrics are fade-resistant and waterproof, so they don’t fall apart when spending days in the sun. Additionally, outdoor fabrics usually have some sort of treatment that makes them stronger and more durable and often have a plastic blend like nylon or polyester. Plastic doesn’t break down as easily as organic materials, making outdoor furniture less sustainable.
Materials That Are Suitable for Indoor-Outdoor Use
While you can upcycle any piece of indoor furniture outdoors, its material can make a difference in how long it lasts.
Types of wood for upcycling furniture
When looking at wooden furniture, hardwood will be more resistant to the elements than softwood. Some examples of hardwoods include oak and teak. Common softwoods that are used for indoor furniture are cedar and pine. This isn’t to say that your pine dining table won’t last a season outside, but it’s less dense than that wooden table made of oak and more susceptible to rot. However, even the best hardwood furniture isn’t fully weather-resistant, and regular maintenance can help it go the distance.
Multi-purpose metal for furniture upcycling
When you think of metal patio furniture, you probably envision wrought or cast iron. That’s not an incorrect assumption, as those materials are notoriously sturdy and popular for outdoor use! However, your indoor metal table likely isn’t made from one of these sturdy materials. Aluminium is a common indoor metal, as is stainless steel. The great news is that both transfer to the outdoors quite well! Both are resistant to rust and look great inside or out when taken care of properly.
Unfortunately, fabric furniture will be the most difficult to move outdoors. Fabric is particularly susceptible to mold and mildew and more challenging to treat. Outdoor fabrics are usually plastic based, such as vinyl or polypropylene, to prevent disintegration in the elements. Organic materials like cotton or wool break down much faster in the sun, wind, and rain, even with spray-on treatments. If you want to use a fabric piece outside, it’s best to move it outdoors when you want to use it and store it indoors when not in use.
Best Indoor Furniture to Upcycle and Use Outdoors
Whether you’re looking to give new life to your old dining room table or just find a creative use for a simple end table, tables make an excellent choice for moving outdoors to upcycle furniture! Larger tables are often made of wood and can be sanded and refinished to create a plein-air dining experience. Small side- and coffee tables, whether metal or wood, present an opportunity for a colorful statement piece on your porch.
What’s a table without a chair? Wooden and metal chairs are especially good pieces to move outdoors. The uses are limitless: utilitarian seats to use while you repot plants, comfortable places to enjoy a family dinner, or even a spot to bask in the sunshine while you drink your morning coffee.
This one may surprise you, but an old dresser doesn’t have to go to the dump when you’re done with it. Consider repainting it with colorful outdoor paint and moving it to your porch. Better yet, let the kiddos take a turn playing artist and turn it into a piece of art! A dresser can be a cute and unique storage space for gardening gear or sports equipment.
You read that right! Much like your dresser makes an excellent spot for outdoor storage, a repurposed bookcase can offer creative storage for your outdoor goods. Small plants look great stored on a bookcase, or use small storage cubes to organize your tools and grilling equipment for easy outdoor access.
How To Make Indoor Furniture Outdoor
When converting indoor furniture to outdoor, the primary objective is to make it more resilient to the elements. No matter how durable your furniture is supposed to be indoors, moving it outdoors will subject it to a whole different set of stressors. Wind, water, changing temperatures, and intense UV rays can all ruin your furniture — and typically, indoor furniture is not made to withstand these conditions.
Ready for a upcycled furniture how-to? Here are a few simple steps you can take to help improve your furniture’s chance of surviving outdoors!
DIY upcyled furniture with a fresh coat of paint
Painting your outdoor furniture with outdoor-specific paint can not only transform its look but also give it an additional layer of protection. Outdoor paint typically has a higher UV rating and will help protect your furniture from the elements. Note that you may have to give it an extra coat of paint every season or every few seasons to keep your furniture looking fresh!
Seal your furniture
Outdoor-rated polyurethane sealant can help your wooden furniture be more resilient to outdoor climate and all of the shifting temperatures and humidity that come along with that. If you want to stick to a more “natural” wood look for your outdoor furniture, a polyurethane sealant or varnish can help.
How To Weatherproof Indoor Furniture for Outdoor Use
When weatherproofing indoor furniture for outdoor use, consider the elements you’ll be up against. Dust and dirt, fading, rust, and water damage are the primary things you will need to combat.
Upcycled furniture: how to prepare it to go outdoors
One way to do weatherproof your furniture is to prepare it as mentioned above. Polyurethane sealant, outdoor-specific paints, anti-rust treatment, and fabric waterproofing can all help with weatheproofing. You will likely need to reapply these treatments throughout the season or at the beginning of the season, so hold onto any leftover cans.
Protect your outdoor furniture
Another way to keep your patio furniture looking good season after season is to protect it. Keeping your furniture on a covered porch will help keep the elements away. Remember that anything stored outdoors, even if covered, is exposed to much more moisture and humidity than when stored inside a house.
With that in mind, bringing your patio furniture indoors during the winter months instead of leaving it out to the elements can drastically improve your chances of it lasting many years. Protection from the extreme temperature changes, increased moisture, and disuse that comes with winter will help your outdoor furniture last longer. Consider also bringing fabric items, such as throw pillows, indoors when not in use or when it’s going to rain.
Maintain your indoor outdoor upcycled furniture
Incorporate furniture maintenance into your spring cleaning schedule, and you may extend its life! For wood furniture, this may include sanding, repainting, and refinishing. Tighten up any screws and check for any damage that may compromise the safety of the piece. For metal furniture, examine carefully and look for rust. Sand away any surface rust to prevent it from affecting the piece.
Stay Stylish and Durable with CORT Furniture Outlet
Take your outdoor furniture from bland to bold with CORT Furniture Outlet. Whether you’re looking for a DIY or a versatile piece that can withstand the seasons, you will find stylish and durable options at a fraction of the original prices. Browse online or head to your local CORT Furniture Outlet — you never know what goods are in store!