Outdoor Furniture Materials List
9 Best Materials for Outdoor Furniture
Aluminum patio furniture is a popular choice when designing outdoor spaces. It’s affordable, doesn’t rust or fade, and is lightweight. Additionally, aluminum can stand up to harsh weather conditions. Look for powder coating, which provides a protective layer for when furniture gets hot in the summer sun. For the best quality, look for rustproof hardware, seamless welds, and UV-resistant finishes. Cast aluminum is made using molds and is lightweight, while wrought aluminum is heavier and more durable. Aluminum requires very little maintenance. Simply wash with mild soap and water, avoiding abrasive cleaners or power washers. You can use mineral oil or car wax to add extra protection, but it’s not necessary.
Looking for a sophisticated, modern design for your outdoor space? Steel may be the perfect choice. It’s heavier than aluminum but lighter than iron. Like most metals, it can become hot in direct sunlight, so cushions are a must. Stainless steel is rustproof, so upkeep is minimal. Occasionally wash with mild soap and rinse with water.
Wrought-iron patio furniture ranges from traditional scrollwork to more contemporary designs and finishes. Since it’s the heaviest of all metal furniture, wrought iron is ideal for windy climates, but it can be difficult to move. Pair wrought-iron pieces with cushions that tie to the seat for comfort. Wash this furniture occasionally with mild soap and rinse with water. Wrought iron is rust resistant but not rust free, so it may require occasional paint touch-ups. To minimize rust, store the furniture inside during winter.
Teak furniture is king of the patio furniture jungle. One of the hardest woods available, teak resists warping and is naturally impervious to water, rot, and insect damage. Protected by natural oils, this wood does not require staining or painting, making it a low-maintenance option. With a 100-year durability rating, teak wood could be your best option for long-lasting patio furniture. Cleaning teak regularly will minimize discoloration and prevent mildew. An effective and easy solution is 2/3 cup of dish detergent and 1/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of warm water. Scrub the wood gently with soft bristle brush, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry. Tough stains may require a store-bought teak cleaner. Tung oil is generally recommended, but linseed oil will also do the trick. Some oils that are specialized for teak contain useful additives such as UV and mildew blockers. Oil your furniture every two to three months, making sure the wood is clean and dry before application.
As a soft wood, cedar shows wear from the elements more easily and requires more upkeep than hardwood options. Cedar furniture will age to a grey finish unless sealed or painted, but its natural oils repel insects, bacteria, and fungi, making cedar patio furniture resistant to decay.
A versatile hardwood, eucalyptus is resistant to rot and moisture damage and can last almost as long as teak if treated with a water-based acrylic sealant. Eucalyptus is a renewable resource that is sustainably harvested and in plentiful supply, offering an earth-friendly and budget-friendly alternative to teak.
Due to its durability, smooth finish, and rich shades, acacia is a highly desirable wood for outdoor furniture. A fast-growing hardwood, acacia holds up well against the elements and provides a less expensive option for the savings-savvy shopper.
Rattan and Wicker
The terms rattan and wicker are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually describe different things. Rattan is the natural vine often used to make the furniture, and wicker is the weaving technique used for centuries. The weave makes for lightweight, comfortable furniture that can be used outdoors or indoors for a country or coastal look. While some natural wicker furniture has been treated with UV inhibitors, natural wicker is susceptible to the elements and can fade in the sun. All-weather wicker looks similar to natural wicker, but its use and care are vastly different. All-weather wicker is made by wrapping an aluminum frame with a weave of synthetic fibers coated with a weather-resistant finish. It can be exposed to rain and harsh elements with no ill effects and is resistant to fading. Basically, it’s the ultimate in outdoor style and durability. Remove dirt regularly with the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner and wipe away spills immediately. Wash with mild detergent and rinse with water, allowing to dry completely before using or storing. Natural wicker may require additional weatherproofing every few years. Shield wicker from direct sunlight whenever possible, and store it in a protected area during inclement weather. For all-weather wicker furniture, simply clean with mild detergent and rinse with a hose.
Plastic patio furniture is inexpensive, durable, and lightweight, making it a snap to stack or move. Plastic can be molded into a variety of shapes for unique furniture and is available in an array of colors, which will never need repainting. For an eco-friendly option, choose furniture specifically made from recycled plastic. To clean this furniture, use a mild cleaner that prevents mildew and rinse with water. Dry thoroughly before storing.
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