Should you invest in outdoor furniture covers? Garden furniture experts explain

Wondering whether outdoor furniture covers are worth it? We weigh up the pros and cons

A contemporary garden corner sofa with wood frame with grey cushions
(Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies)

The debate around whether outdoor furniture covers are worth investing in has a lot of people divided; some say they're essential, others don't think they're necessary. So you're probably not alone if you're asking are garden furniture covers any good?

We rely on our best garden furniture a lot during the spring and summer months, so anything that helps protect them and ensure they last longer is surely a good thing. But, this type of furniture was designed to be outside, so the question around do I need to cover outdoor furniture can be a confusing one.

One thing's for sure - the British weather is unpredictable, so it's important to know once and for all whether we actually need an outdoor furniture cover. To settle this debate and to help you make an informed decision, we've asked the experts to share their thoughts on the question, are garden furniture covers any good?

Are garden furniture covers any good?

To decide on an answer to are garden furniture covers any good, we've asked the experts to weigh in and share their opinions. Our guide will help you decide whether to invest in a cover for your outdoor furniture by looking at the pros and cons, plus what type of cover to opt for if you are buying one. Here's everything you need to know.

Garden furniture covered on patio

(Image credit: Atkin and Thyme)

The pros of outdoor furniture covers

There are a few clear reasons why outdoor furniture covers might be worth investing in - here are the main ones that might make you say yes to do I need to cover outdoor furniture.

1. They protect your furniture

Grey cover protecting wooden furniture on patio

(Image credit: Vonhaus)

If you're wondering how to weatherproof garden furniture and protect it from the elements, investing in a cover is one of the best things you can do. The adverse affects of weather - rain or shine - on your outdoor furniture will mean they deteriorate much quicker than they would if they were covered up every night. 

If your garden has metal furniture for example, it will soon start to rust if its left out in the rain without a cover. And if you have wooden garden furniture, sun bleaching becomes an issue and you're going to have to repaint it to get it looking fresh again. Furniture covers will prevent all of that and allow you to enjoy your garden sets hassle-free.  

2. Cleaning is easier

'Covering outdoor chairs, sofas and tables ensures much easier maintenance in the long run – and saves you having to spend a sunny day deep cleaning, when you could be catching rays!' says Kay Wallet, Head of Fabric Sales, Terrys.

A big bonus of investing in an outdoor furniture cover is that it will make maintenance and cleaning a lot easier. As the cover acts as a barrier between your furniture and the elements, it is less likely to be affected by mould, mildew, or rusting, so the time spent learning how to clean garden furniture is cut in half.

Plus, garden furniture covers will catch falling leaves and other debris so that you don't have to go and physically brush these off every day. If your garden does receive a high amount of leaf fall, an outdoor furniture cover will save you a lot of hassle and keep your patio furniture ideas looking fresh.

3. They're cheaper than replacing furniture

Wooden patio behind white house with garden furniture covered up

(Image credit: Bridgman)

'Outdoor furniture covers are, generally, less expensive than buying new furniture or repairing damage caused by the elements,' says Zara O'Hare, Interior Design Consultant, Land of Rugs.

Outdoor furniture covers are going to make your garden furniture sets last a lifetime. You don't need to worry about your garden bench getting wet and growing mould, or your wooden table and chairs fading in the sun. This will save you a lot of money compared to if you needed to replace your furniture after a couple of years. 

Where to buy outdoor furniture covers

View outdoor furniture covers at Amazon
View outdoor furniture covers at Argos
View outdoor furniture covers at B&Q
View outdoor furniture covers at John Lewis
View outdoor furniture covers at VonHaus
View outdoor furniture covers at Wayfair

The cons of outdoor furniture covers

If you're still wondering are garden furniture covers any good, it might be helpful to know the potential drawbacks before you jump to any conclusions. 

1. Your furniture should be able to survive without one

The biggest problem with outdoor furniture covers is that technically, they shouldn't be needed. Garden furniture is supposed to be weatherproof, so that you can keep it outside and not have to worry about it getting damaged by the elements.

'You generally don't need to invest in outdoor furniture covers, as high quality outdoor furniture should be suitable for outdoor conditions and able to withstand tough weather spells,' says Rian Habergham, Outdoor Furniture Expert, Leisure Bench. 'The majority of outdoor furniture is designed so that this is the case, utilising everything from durable materials to weatherproof varnishes and finishes to ensure that the furniture is as outdoor-proof as possible.'

So if you invested in good-quality outdoor furniture, it should be able to survive in your garden without a cover, and purchasing one could be a bit pointless.

2. It's an added expense

Patio with rattan chairs and table half covered

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Following on from the last point, if outdoor furniture covers aren't necessary, they might just be a waste of money. Outdoor furniture covers range in price, but the more furniture you want to cover, the more you'll be paying. You're looking at an average of £50 for a decent cover that will protect a standard-sized table and chairs. 

Some brands, like Maze, include a cover for free when you purchase an outdoor living set, so it's always worth checking this when shopping for new furniture.

3. The covers themselves need to be cleaned

Whilst covering your garden table and chairs makes cleaning them a lot easier, the caveat to this is that the cover itself needs to be cleaned. The furniture may be free from mould and mildew, but the cover won't be unless it's washed regularly - remember, it's taking all the rain, snow and creepy crawlies your furniture would otherwise be getting. 

A bucket of soapy water and a brush or sponge will be enough to keep your furniture cover clean, but you need to do this every few weeks or so to prevent any mould building up.

What type of cover is best for outdoor furniture?

'When it comes to choosing the right material, there are a few things to consider', says Zara O'Hare. 'Look for covers made from materials that are waterproof, UV-resistant and breathable. Some good examples are polyester, vinyl and canvas.'

'We recommend covering furniture in a heavy-duty, waterproof fabric to get the best from your outdoor furniture,' says Kay from Terrys. 'There are plenty of colours to choose from, so you can inject a little personality into an otherwise purely practical solution.'

Most water-resistant materials will create a sturdy outdoor furniture cover. Plastic or synthetic types will do the job fine, and they'll be cheaper than canvas covers. If you have wooden furniture though, it's worth paying a little extra for a UV-resistant material, as the cover needs to be able to protect the furniture from sun bleaching. 

'The best cover for outdoor furniture is a cover that is made from a strong, waterproof/weatherproof material such as a plastic or synthetic type,' says garden furniture expert Rian. 'The cover should completely cover the piece of furniture, ensuring that no water can trickle in. As well as this, the cover should be safely tied to the ground, so not to blow away in any strong spells of wind.'

Can you DIY outdoor furniture covers?

If you don't want to splash out on an outdoor furniture cover but want the benefits of having one, you can try the DIY route. You'll be able to make it to the exact size needed to protect your furniture, which is a big plus.

You'll need a few large sheets of your chosen fabric - make sure you choose one that is breathable and durable, like canvas, polyester, or vinyl. You'll need to measure your furniture, trim the pieces of fabric to fit, then sew them together. 

It's a time-consuming job and the results may not be perfect, but as long as it covers your furniture and you've chosen a sturdy, waterproof material, it will work the same as any store-bought cover. Bear in mind you won't be able to protect wooden furniture from sun bleaching with a DIY cover.

'If you're feeling crafty, it's possible to make your own outdoor furniture cover, but keep in mind that it may be difficult to find the materials needed,' says Zara. 'Additionally, making your own cover may not be as cost-effective as purchasing a ready-made piece. Especially if you only need covers for a few pieces of furniture.'

Final verdict: are outdoor furniture covers any good?

Even the experts are divided over the question of whether garden furniture covers any good. On the one hand, they will protect your furniture from the adverse effects of the weather and stop moisture from building up, which is the cause of mould. And though you can learn how to get rid of mould and mildew from outdoor cushions, you'll save yourself a job if you protect your furniture with a cover. 

'It really isn't necessary to cover the majority of outdoor furniture, as popular materials such as rattan are designed to withstand tough weather conditions, as well as be easy to clean,' says outdoor furniture expert Rian.

That being said, outdoor furniture covers are worth it if you're unlikely to spend a lot of time cleaning your garden furniture every couple of weeks. Without a cover, garden sofas, chairs, and tables will need to be cleaned more often, and more thoroughly too, so they don't become a breeding ground for mould.

Swinging day bed on patio with black cover on

(Image credit: Sitting Spiritually of Lyme Regis)

'Many people that opt for covers are those that have tree-covered gardens, as leaves from the trees continually fall and land on the furniture, making cleaning it a harder task than usual,' says Rian. 'In this instance, furniture covers are definitely worth it as they will create a barrier between the leaves/branches and the furniture.'

'If you have outdoor furniture with soft furnishings that aren't necessarily designed to be kept outside, then having a cover could be beneficial,' he adds.

If your garden furniture sits on grass, investing in a cover is also more important. Grass will stay wet for longer than hard ground, creating a moist environment that mould and mildew love. In this scenario, it's worth getting a cover that protects your furniture right down to the base.

Overall, if you've invested a lot of money into your garden furniture and you don't want to risk it being damaged, a cover is worth it. They won't do any harm and will help to protect your furniture so that it lasts a lot longer.

Where to buy outdoor furniture covers

View outdoor furniture covers at Amazon
View outdoor furniture covers at Argos
View outdoor furniture covers at B&Q
View outdoor furniture covers at John Lewis
View outdoor furniture covers at VonHaus
View outdoor furniture covers at Wayfair

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.