How to Choose the Best Material for Outdoor Furniture

Despite outdoor furniture is made to withstand the elements, some outdoor furniture materials can last longer in warm, humid climates than others. Read on to consider the pros and cons of popular materials of patio furniture, then you could choose the outdoor furniture material suits your outdoor environment most.

1. Plastic

Plastic is lightweight and fairly strong at the same time, on top of that, the design and color variation are almost unlimited (only material that can be transparent!) Thanks to the inherent specific of low water absorption and chemical resistance, plastic furniture remain in good shape even in places with excess moisture, salt water and stains. Also, the color would not wear out as usage increases, because its color is intrinsic to the material. And best of all, no maintenance is required.

Pros:

a. Minimum maintenance is needed.

b. Easy to clean and could be washed by hose and dish soap.

c. Easy to move and store due to its inherent light weight.

d. No mildew, mold, rot, or rust will grow up even in very moisture environment.

e. Withstands rain, humidity, salt water, and extreme temperatures.

f. Scratch or cut will only make plastic become brighter instead of exposing primer, since color is inherent in the make-up, thus paint or sealants are not needed.

Cons:

a. Lighter ones might be flipped over by high wind.

Tahiti Chaise Lounge
Tahiti Chaise Lounge

2. Resin Wicker

Though it looks like natural plant material, but it is made of resin instead. The resin wicker lasts longer and stronger than natural ones, especially when used outdoors. It is also known as all-weather/synthetic wicker.

The outer wicker is woven over the inner metal frame(usually aluminum), therefore requires workers to hand made one by one, inevitably slightly different piece by piece.

Last but not least, try to choose wicker that made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) wicker, for HDPE has higher strength, durability and heat endurance than PVC.

Pros:

a. Minimum maintenance is needed.

b. Provides softer surface feeling and style the same as genuine wicker.

c. Easy to move and store thanks to its lightweight

d. Lots of design options thanks to the mainly hand-made manufacture method.

e. Withstands rain, humidity, salt water, and extreme temperatures.

 

Cons:

a. Wicker might loosen or break off after heavy or long-time use, once broken it is very hard to fix it back to the original status.

b. Uneven surface might require more effort to clean up.

c. Lighter ones might be flipped over by high wind.



Resin Wicker chair
Resin Wicker sofa.

3. Aluminum

Genuinely speaking aluminum doesn’t rust like iron or steel– but it is prone to corrosion. However, aluminum corrosion is aluminum oxide, a hard material that protects the aluminum from further corrosion. Therefore aluminum resists rust, moisture and elements better than other metals. Aluminum is strong and light at same time, so it is easy to rearrange and store.

 

Pros:

a. Minimum maintenance is needed

b. Easy to move and store thanks to its lightweight

c. Resists rust and moisture damage better than other metals

d. No mildew, mold, rot will grow up even in very moisture environment.

e. Withstands rain, sunlight, humidity, salt water, and extreme temperatures.

 

Cons:

a. Aluminum is softer than iron and steel, thus strong impact might dent it.

b. Might be flipped over by high wind.

c. Heats up in the sun thus uncomfortable to touch.

Table with aluminum legs
Table with aluminum legs

4. Wood

The natural grain beauty of wood furniture is as it naturally ages, it has more flavor. Softwoods like Pine and cedar are with certain degree of weather resistance; on the other hand, hardwoods like white oak, teak, shorea resistant to the elements, rotting and insects much better.

 

Pros:

a. Provides a warmer, casual feeling with its natural tone that aging as time goes by.

b. Withstands: sunlight and wind.

 

Cons:

a. Take some effort to move and store due to its weight

b. Regular maintenance with varnishes or coatings is recommended to keep it from worm, weathering, crack, split, warp or turning gray.

c. Mildew, mold, rot might grow up in moisture environment.

Wooden chair
Wooden dining set.

5. Iron

Iron has a unique appearance along with significant sturdiness, strength and heavy weigh. Although it is heavier, stronger and cheaper than aluminum, it is very easy to rust by moisture and elements if paint or coatings is not applied or worn out, therefore it is no longer popular recently.

 

Pros:

a. Extremely stable and firm due to its heavy weight, no need to worry about strong wind.

b. Withstands: sunlight, wind and extreme temperatures

 

Cons:

a. Heavier than aluminum, takes effort to move and store due to its heavy weight.

b. Regular maintenance is needed to keep it from rusting.

c. Heats up in the sun thus uncomfortable to touch.

Iron chair
Iron chair. Image by Eveline de Bruin from Pixabay.

6. Steel

Since stiffness of steel is higher than iron, structure made of steel can be thinner than iron but equals on strength, overall, steel furniture can be made lighter than iron ones. That being said, steel is heavier but stronger than aluminum. Steel is usually used at the frame of high-end tables and chairs, and other large size outdoor furniture where more strength is required.

 

Pros:

a. Steel has a good balance between weight and sturdiness compares to iron.

b. Steel is less prone to rust than iron.

c. Withstands: sunlight, rain, humidity, wind and extreme temperatures

 

Cons:

a. Heavier than aluminum, takes some effort to move and store.

b. Check once in a while to avoid rust is recommended.

c. Heats up in the sun thus uncomfortable to touch.

Steel chair
Steel chair.