A Guide to Protecting Resin Patio Furniture

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Deep Seating Resin Chair

Resin Wicker Chair

Introduction

This article is in response to inquiries recently received by this author by a customer that had interest in protecting resin patio furniture. Through some back and forth emails and a little research on my part, It was determined that attempting to condition resin wicker with sealants probably is not what you want to do.  Keeping them clean, covered or stored when not in use for long periods of time is the right thing to do.

Customer Inquiry

I have some Home Depot Martha Stewart All Weather Resin Wicker. It is 2 years old and is out on my deck all year round. I cover it in the winter. Is there any type of sealant that you need to spray on it after cleaning with a mild detergent to make it last longer?

Customer Follow-Up Questions After First Response

I really appreciate your passion for wicker furniture. That was an expected professional response. Well done. I believe if you answer and post it will be one of the only answered questions on if additional sealing is required. You may want to consider in your response that I did find on a Lowe’s site that they recommend a clear epoxy after cleaning after 2 years and I have seen other sites recommending car wax. If you could address those with regards to Resin Wicker protection I would think it would be the most solid answer I have ever seen. Thanks for your detailed analysis . Have a good weekend.

 

Response To Customer

Resin does not need any protective coating. Resin itself is the protection.  In fact, you should stay away from adding any chemicals to the resin with the understanding that certain types of chemicals may degrade resins by changing the surface chemical composition over time.  Simply washing with a mild detergent and protecting it as much as possible by covering and or storing it when not in use for long periods of time is sufficient.  Keep inside or cover with furniture covers or protective covering when not in use.  Sun can be the enemy to all resins and so can deep cold swings in temperatures be harmful.

Good resins have excellent flexibility properties without becoming hard and brittle.  Good resins have the largest amount of ultraviolet light inhibitors included mainly because certain resins can take on more inhibitor than other resins without breaking down the desirability of the resin itself.  The inhibitors keep the resin from breaking down from the ultraviolet light of the sun. But if you add to much, it breaks down the resin.  In as much as you can leave resin furniture out side subject to the sun and elements, it only makes sense to protect it when not in constant use such as over the winter to prolong its life.

One thing you should understand about resins is that there are all different types and grades.  Typically, the less you pay for the furniture, the less desirable the resin and craftsmanship.  Thats one of the cost factors in in manufacturing resin furniture that consumers don’t see or understand.  Some resins are much better than others.  You can usually tell after about 2 or 3 years.  If you start to notice cracking or serious fading, you did not get a quality resin.  If its still standing up after about 4 or 5 years with no or little fading and no cracking you did good and got quality resin.  

Unraveling of the resin cane do to poor weaving is another issue and not related to the sun but sometimes is related to the cold.  This is because some resins shrink more than others in the cold and can come unwoven at the ends of a cane due to the end of the cane not being left long enough where it is tucked in.  Depending on the conditions and the type of resin, a three foot long resin cane can shrink up to and inch or so.  Those of you with vinyl siding understand this issue because you can see and hear your siding move when the sun comes in and out. You can see the 2 inch slide marks at the seams.

Cold can also cause lesser desirable resins to crack where wrapped tightly and little room to expand and shrink.  This is usually do to shrinkage do to the cold and the resin not being able to move.  This is typical of lesser desirable resins.

Using wax on resin can make a real mess and take a long time to buff out with all the little nooks and crannies.  It may also make the furniture too slippery and cause someone to slip right out of a chair.  I would stay away from using wax.  Covering resin with resin epoxy just does not make any sense to me because your simply putting resin on resin resin.

The only thing you need to protect resin furniture from is long term exposure to ultraviolet light and handling during excessive cold conditions.  If you purchased your furniture from someone that knows the quality and origin of the resin, then you are all the better.

This is a gut response but, if someone is telling you that you need to spray something on your resin furniture after two years, then I would probably not trust that company because they are trying to sell you something you don’t need, or they know their product begins to deteriorate after two years and you need to do something about it.

I contacted a Major Paint Supplier and one of their industrial/chemical tech people confirmed and advised that you should not put anything on any all-weather resin wicker to try to protect it.  There is not need to.  Anything you put on would be over kill.

As I have stated before and fully support, storing resin inside is the best thing to do when not in use.  If you have to store it outside, it should be covered with ventilation and positioned as not to be subject to being struck by hard objects when in freezing cold conditions.  This is in total agreement with all wicker suppliers I deal with.

I looked up the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for epoxy paint.  Based on the chemicals I saw on the list, I would not put them on my resin furniture.  In my opinion, there can be chemical reactions that take place when the epoxy bonds with the resin that can off-set the benefits of the original resin.  

Recognizing this is a gray area for most of us and only an industrial chemist experienced in chemical transfer properties should make final determination on whether you need to apply anything to resin wicker to protect it, I would be inclined to go with the paint company’s recommendation not to spray or coat your resin furniture with anything.  Its ok the way it is.  

Summary

You purchased all weather wicker so that you could enjoy it without having to maintain it.  I think you should take advantage of that and just cover it or store it in a safe place when not in use for long periods of time.  If you are extremely concerned, you may want to consider the use of furniture covers year round rather than coating the furniture with something or covering them just for the winter. Furniture covers are easy to take on an off and will block the UV rays extending the life of your furniture and keep the furniture and cushions clean and dry in the event of rain and it also helps keep your cushions from fading.

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