Understand the pros and cons of each material and how they relate to important lifestyle factors.
When it comes to picking out your outdoor patio furniture, it’s important not to place all your emphasis on aesthetics. There are a variety of patio furniture materials out there each with it’s pros and cons. Make sure to do your homework ahead of time and make a purchase that best suits your lifestyle and needs to get the most value out of your investment.
Comfort, weather conditions, storage, durability/upkeep, and cost are all important factors to consider when selecting your outdoor patio furniture. Most outdoor patio furniture is made from metal, wood, plastic, synthetic resin, and natural wicker.
METAL PATIO FURNITURE
Metal patio furniture typically consists of wrought iron, aluminum, and steel. The cost of each metal type can vary significantly. Metal patio furniture is extremely durable and most are easy to clean and maintain. Wrought iron patio furniture is heavy and more susceptible to rust so it does requires the most maintenance of the three common metals, making aluminum and steel more popular choices. Aluminum is lightweight and durable, and less prone to rust. Steel is the strongest material of the three, but is also the heaviest and most expensive. Galvanized or stainless steel are the best options for outdoor furniture, as regular steel rusts and corrodes very easily when exposed to outside elements.
Weather: Steel or wrought iron are ideal for windy conditions due to their heavy weight. Aluminum is ideal for rainy conditions since it does not rust like wrought iron or steel. If you live somewhere hot and sunny, metal patio furniture in general can also get very hot in the sun so it’s recommended that you purchase cushions for your metal chairs if you anticipate frequent use.
Comfort: Metal patio furniture is not as comfortable as some of the more ‘flexible’ materials but a simple remedy to that is to purchase a nice set of cushions to line your chairs and benches.
Storage: Due to the high durability, metal patio furniture can be left out year round. Metal patio furniture is not a good option for stacking furniture to save space when not in use.
Durability/Upkeep: Metal patio furniture can last for a long time and require little upkeep. Metal patio furniture should be coated with a protective powder coat finish. If rust should occur, metal patio furniture can be sandblasted and repainted to look like new.
WOOD PATIO FURNITURE
Common wood patio furniture is typically made of teak, pine or cedar. Wood patio furniture doesn’t absorb heat and is very durable. Teak is the most common choice for wood patio furniture due to its ability to withstand harsh environments. The oil in Teak make it more resistant to insects and prevent the wood from dry rot compared to pine or cedar. Cedar and pine are light-color softwoods that age to silvery gray unless you paint or seal them. Both cedar and pressure-treated pine last for years outdoors. Cedar is typically more expensive than pressure-treated lumber.
Weather: Wood patio furniture is an excellent option for windy locations due to it’s weight, however it is a difficult option in humid and wet environments since it is vulnerable to mold, mildew and rot. If you live somewhere with lots of sunshine, wood might not be the best choice since it has a tendency to fade.
Comfort: Wood patio furniture is fairly comfortable with or without cushions
Storage: Cedar and pressure treated pine need to be stored indoors during the winter in order to withstand harsh conditions.
Durability/Upkeep: Teak can last for up to 50 years, but it does require some intensive upkeep. Cedar and pressure treated pine are also durable, but they need to be treated, painted, or sealed.
PLASTIC PATIO FURNITURE
Molded plastic is smooth and offers a variety of shape and color options and is very light weight. Plastic furniture has a reputation for being flimsy, but new technology uses high-density polyethylene making the plastic furniture much more durable.
Weather: Plastic patio furniture is not ideal for windy conditions due to the light weight. Plastic patio furniture is an excellent option for rainy conditions and can get get hot in direct sun.
Comfort: Plastic patio furniture is a great option when comfort is a deciding factor.
Storage: Typically a better choice since plastic chairs are lightweight, easy to move, and often stackable.
Durability/Upkeep: Plastic chairs tend to crack, fade, and weaken in spots quickly.
Cost: Inexpensive, however typically don’t last as long which should be taken into consideration.
SYNTHETIC RESIN PATIO FURNITURE
Synthetic resin is a great outdoor material due to its light weight, low maintenance, and durability. Traditional synthetic resin outdoor furniture is typically woven in a wicker style for the classic outdoor look. The synthetic materials most commonly used to make synthetic resin wicker are nylon, polyethylene, HDPE, (high density polyethylene) wicker, and PVC wicker. Most synthetic resin furniture is constructed on an aluminum frame.
Weather: Synthetic resin patio furniture can withstand harsh weather conditions.
Comfort: Synthetic resin patio furniture is a great option when comfort is a deciding factor.
Storage: Synthetic resin patio furniture is easily stored since it is lightweight and easy to move.
Durability/Upkeep: Plastic resin requires little to no upkeep and it durable against harsh weather conditions.
Cost: Expensive (slightly less expensive than natural wicker)
WICKER PATIO FURNITURE
Natural Wicker patio furniture is comfortable and lightweight, however does fade easily and isn’t as durable as other materials. Wicker is not an actual material but is a style of weaving, dating back thousands of years. Natural wicker furniture can be comprised of a few different types of natural fibers, including bamboo, cane, straw, reeds and branches, and grasses. These materials are woven together in the wicker pattern. Most wicker patio furniture is made of resin wicker, which is a long lasting synthetic material very similar to plastic.
Weather: Natural Wicker patio furniture is not a great option for high wind conditions, rain, or any other harsh weather.
Comfort: Natural wicker rates high on the comfort scale, with or without cushions.
Storage: It’s best to use and keep natural wicker items indoors or use a protective cover during inclement weather.
Durability/Upkeep: Wicker becomes dry and brittle over time, which can cause cracking and unraveling of the woven product. It is also susceptible to fading and cannot handle harsh weather or bug infestation.
NOW SIT BACK, RELAX AND ENJOY!
No outdoor patio furniture material is ‘better’ than another, but surely one is better suited for you and your lifestyle. Purchasing patio furniture should be looked at as an investment and you ultimately want to make sure you are getting the most value for your dollar. If you live in a small condo with lack of storage and an uncovered deck, you most likely want to stay away from materials that need to be stored during the winter months. If you are looking for a set it and forget patio set, you will most likely want to stay away from something that requires cleaning and maintenance. If you live in an area with high winds, you will want to keep your furniture grounded and opt for the heavier materials. Do your research so that you can make an informed decision that is not basely solely on aesthetics and then sit back, relax and enjoy!