When selecting outdoor furniture, also known as garden furniture; there are things to consider besides just what style and color you prefer. It’s important to look at your local climate, as well as seasonal weather patterns.
Selecting the wrong material could lead to costs beyond the initial purchase. Since there are many options available to today’s consumers, there is no clear-cut best choice.
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That being the case, let’s first look into the factors one should consider. After that, we will discuss the materials themselves.
Sun and Temperature
Harsh UV rays can affect outdoor furniture in a variety of ways. Constant sun exposure can cause the material to fade and lose its color or create uneven spotting.
Most materials will expand when heated and contract when cooled, this can lead to cracking, splitting, and warping.
Another thing to consider is heat retention, some materials will become uncomfortable or even dangerous to handle when left in the sun for prolonged periods.
Wind can lead to damage from furniture being tipped over. It’s better to go heavy in outdoor environments.
Otherwise, you’ll need to constantly pack up and store or secure your furniture.
Rain and Humidity
Frequent rain storms and high humidity can cause damage to some many types of materials. Wet furniture can pose a health risk.
Mold and mildew caused by standing water or material that retains moisture can lead to respiratory problems and other health issues. Although, the mold or mildew can usually be cleaned off without causing permanent damage.
Rot caused by constant humidity and water exposure will lead to biodegradation and decomposition of some materials.
Rust occurs in metal materials that are constantly exposed to oxygen and water. The presence of salt in the air and water will accelerate this damage.
Materials that are penetrated by water can dry unevenly leaving the material warped (twisted, bowed out). This may not be noticed right away. But, over time it will misalign seams and loosen screws and fasteners.
Consider the intended use, some materials need to be replaced every couple of seasons. Especially, if you intend to use it frequently.
Wrought iron is known for being extremely durable and very heavy. Wood, wicker, and aluminum are also said to be very strong types of outdoor furniture.
Some materials require intensive cleaning regiments and special products. Others are considered low-maintenance and can easily and quickly be cleaned with soap and water.
Material renewability is usually certified by specific councils such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Most outdoor brands have elected to use such material and this information is made readily available on packaging and labels.
Types of Materials
Considering all those factors, some material may be more appropriate for use than others.
Luckily, a multitude of materials are designed to withstand all kinds of weather, environmental, and usage factors.
It’s important to consider the environment and usage frequency, along with the aesthetic you’d like to create with your furniture.
Below, I’ve listed the materials in order of their durability.
Aluminum is lightweight, rust-proof, and very versatile. You won’t struggle to find a wide variety of styles of furniture in this material.
Consider selecting aluminum furniture that has powder coating if you’re using this material in coastal settings. Doing so will add an extra level of protection against the salt in the air and water.
This material is lightweight, compared to other metals. It is still lightweight enough that it can be easily moved around or repositioned.
The only con of this material it is metallic and will retain heat. This problem can be solved by using seat cushions and table umbrellas.
While aluminum is a great choice, a more warm and welcoming atmosphere might be created with wood furniture.
Redwood, cedar and ipe woods are all commonly used when constructing outdoor furniture.
Wood has been the base material for furniture and furniture frameworks since we began crafting such items. Wood offers both versatility, and beauty. Not to mention it is crafted to present varying styles.
Selecting the proper type of wood is important. Softwoods such as pine and cedar are more appropriate for indoor furniture.
For patio furniture, you’ll want to select a type of wood whose properties will withstand the elements in outdoor settings.
All-Weather Wicker (Synthetic Resin)
Synthetic resin is made from high-quality, high-density polyethylene resin. It is exceptionally dense and does not emit any chemicals.
This option offers the natural beauty and lightweight characteristics of natural wood, as well as the price and dependability of aluminum options.
The synthetic resin creates an extremely strong, lightweight, UV-resistant option. It can withstand heavy use and it will resist fading and other degrading caused by prolonged sun exposure.
Not to mention, that wicker is made of material that is 100% recyclable. It can also be custom colored to add vibrance to whatever setting you intend on using it in.
One downfall is that wicker may be more prone to crack and become brittle over time and exposure.
The first thing to consider about wrought iron is that it does retain both heat and cold. Therefore, it will need to be covered in order to use.
Plus, it would be pretty uncomfortable to sit upon without some upholstery. Comfort should always be thought about when purchasing furniture.
Wrought iron is one of the heaviest materials for furniture. Which means you will not have to secure it before storms.
This material is prone to rust, which makes it a better choice for covered patios. It is resistant to wind and if cared for properly, it can last a very long time.
There are some drawbacks with this material, one being its weight. Another being the high-level of care required to maintain it.
Nonetheless, the stylish and durable qualities of wrought iron can set your patio apart.
Stainless steel is a metal alloy that is known for its durability and weight-bearing capacities. It offers an affordable alternative to expensive iron or lightweight aluminum.
Similar to aluminum, it’s nearly immune from corrosion and rust. When coated with a powder coating, it can almost completely resist corrosion in coastal environments.
Stainless steel will also offer the wind resistance, but what make it stand out is the modern options that will easily adapt to your current aesthetic.
A con of stainless steel is that it must be cleaned regularly to keep up its shiny appearance.
Often overlooked, this material can provide seating and accessory components for a patio that will last for the lifetime. This is a perfect option to offer and create a dynamic and timeless setting.
Concrete options will present long-lasting pieces that will withstand any weather and climate conditions. Because of its simple construction and presentation, this material can be used to perfect a minimalist style, if you so wish to pursue that look.
Recycled plastic offers an economical, environmental, and classic setting. it is durable, sturdy, and stylish.
Not to mention its created sustainably from older plastic items, including milk cartons and shampoo bottles.
For those of us who wish to construct a patio and maintain a certain level of ecological responsibility, recycled plastic is a great option.
Although not as durable and sturdy as previous materials, recycled plastic furniture is usually stackable. Which means that preparing for a storm and having to pack up and store your furniture will be quick and efficient.
The wind may have it in for these pieces, but they do resist moisture, mold, mildew, salt air corrosion, and rust. Newer models may even incorporate aluminum elements that help boost weight and resist wind effects.
High-Pressure Laminate (HPL)
HPL is an alternative, relatively new material on the outdoor furniture scene. It is often crafted from kraft paper, resin, and aluminum, heated up and then pressurized to bond. This gives the material a tough, scratch and stain-resistant, modern, and unique look.
This material is resistant to moisture and water absorption can be crafted to be flame-retardant, and antibacterial. It is becoming more common in commercial and residential applications.
Much like recycled plastic, this material is lightweight and versatile but offers a more modern, sleek design.
From bean bags to table cloths to seat covers, the polyester fabric offers the most appropriate material to use on your outdoor patio. Polyester fabric is extremely versatile and affordable. It will last many seasons.
The level of care is as simple as soap and water. This material comes in a variety of patterns and can be found to accommodate and accentuate a wide variety of styles.
Consider using polyester bean bags as furniture for your patio to present a youthful, modern look. The care level is minimal and the cost is economical.
When selecting outdoor patio furniture, it’s best to approach your decision-making with an open mind. New materials such as HPL and polyester fabric can offer choices that were previously unavailable.
Classic options like wood and wrought iron furniture present a well-established aesthetic. There are a lot of options available, and these options range vary in price and lifespan.
Consider installing a covered patio enforced with Timber Technology to offer your new patio furniture protection from the elements.
The important thing to remember is what your environment may throw at you and the level of care you are willing to commit to.
The decision is ultimately yours. Take you time and invest in furniture that you really love.