A Material Guide to Outdoor Furniture

Having a space to relax outdoors has become increasingly important for homes and restaurants. However, there are many factors to consider before buying outdoor furniture. The material used in making the frame, choice of fabric, the available budget, and weather conditions are vital considerations before purchasing this furniture. The guide below explores each of these factors in great detail.

Material Used in Making the Frame

The material of any outdoor furniture determines the strength, durability, and price of each piece. Each framing material has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, some materials are the best for specific weather conditions compared to their counterparts. The prices of these materials also differ depending on where you live. The availability of the material and the final finishes consequently determine the cost. The list below contains commonly-used materials, their advantages, and disadvantages.

1. Wood

Wood is a natural material that has been used in elegant outdoor furniture for many years. It’s easy to shape, and outdoor furniture can get customized by carving unique patterns. Many woodworking tools do not need advanced training, so you can even make your outdoor furniture at home using elementary woodwork skills.

Wood makes excellent outdoor furniture for all climatic conditions because its natural grains do not absorb heat. Some varieties are moisture and insect repellent, and they generally only need maintenance once every year. Strong winds are less likely to blow away your wooden garden furniture as well due to their heavier weight.

 The most common types of wood used to make garden furniture are teak, cypress, eucalyptus, cedar, pine, and fir. While all are durable with proper care, the strongest woods are teak and eucalyptus.

Advantages

  • Wood is a natural material that can make almost all forms of outdoor furniture.
  • Timber is relatively heavy, and patio furniture made of it can withstand strong winds.
  • Natural wood can stand against extreme temperatures.
  • When taken care of, wood lasts a long time and gives outdoor furniture a timeless appeal.

Disadvantages

  • In harsh weather, wood can crack, rot, or decay very fast.
  • Quality timber can be expensive.
  • Maintenance is compulsory for wooden patio furniture to last longer.

Maintenance

Wood stains, paints, and polishes act as good weather-proofing materials; use these to seal outdoor furniture at least once every year. If you have space, bring outdoor wooden furniture to a store during winter. On rainy days, cover the furniture-set well.

1. Wicker and Rattan

Wicker and rattan are two other popular materials for outdoor furniture. Enhance your garden, patio, or deck with a classic country appeal by incorporating wicker and rattan pieces. Modern-day options include bamboo, some natural grasses, and synthetic options. There are many design options, and you can imitate traditional styles or make contemporary furniture using these materials.

Advantages

  • The outdoor furniture made of these materials is light, so you can move it around the garden, patio, or deck without much effort.
  • Synthetic wicker looks like its natural counterparts; however, it withstands all types of weather much better.
  • Aesthetically, these pieces fit with almost any design and often look nicer than other types of furniture.

Disadvantages

  • The natural materials do not perform well in extreme weather conditions and can topple over from wind.
  • They need a shade and cover to last long in the sun or wet conditions.
  • Wicker and rattan are not the best material for furniture used in high traffic areas because they wear out fast.
  • If you want natural wicker and rattan furniture for open places, you’ll need to seal the surfaces with wood sealant or marine varnish. Painting the pieces with UV-protective paint is also a good option.

Maintenance

Maintenance is minimal for wicker furniture pieces. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove debris regularly, wipe the dust from surfaces with a damp cloth, and periodically test how the furniture is holding up. Replenish the sealant and polish on natural wicker furniture annually. Cover the pieces when they are not in use, or store them indoors during the rain or winter.

1. Metal Frames

Metal garden furniture is a common feature in many modern homes and business establishments. Metal lasts a long time and is highly versatile for use in various finishes. These pieces can be ornate and customized for any individual home or business use.

There are three metals commonly used; steel, wrought/cast iron, and aluminum. Wrought and cast iron fixtures are heavy and remarkably solid. There are rust-resistant options, but it is advisable to paint them or add protective finishes. Stainless steel and galvanized steel are the middle ground between wrought iron and aluminum. There’s a wide range of styles you can craft from steel. Aluminum requires minimal maintenance and can be made into light pieces of furniture. It comes in hollow/tubular or cast forms, making it versatile for a range of designs. All three types of metal furniture can withstand all weather conditions when treated.

Advantages

  • Metallic outdoor furniture is sturdy and durable, and can add a classical touch to your outdoor space.
  • The material can withstand all climatic conditions.
  • They are highly versatile, and you can customize your outdoor furniture by choosing unique finishes.
  • These furniture pieces require minimal maintenance, making them generally less expensive in the long run.

Disadvantages

  • Metals are heavy, so moving them around the outdoors may be cumbersome.
  • Most metals will require treatment to prevent rusting.
  • Metals conduct heat, and they turn hot or cold to the touch in extreme weather.
  • Most metallic outdoor furniture is not comfortable and will need cushioning or upholstery to offset this.
  • Although the long-term cost is inexpensive, the initial investment is high.

Maintenance

Metals are relatively easy to maintain. Keep rust away by painting the surfaces with UV-resistant paint. Cleaning with a mild soap solution and water is enough to keep the outdoor furniture clean, but all moving parts or springs need to be oiled and greased often. Applying a wax finish to smooth surfaces can enhance outdoor furniture elegance.

1. Plastics and Other Synthetic Materials

Synthetic materials are coming up as an alternative material from the conventional frames. Plastics dominate this category. High-density polyethylene, fiberglass, and resin are also popular outdoor furniture materials. These materials are fit for almost any climatic condition and can be manufactured from recycled ingredients, making them rank high as eco-friendly options.

Most synthetic materials mimic their natural counterparts. Others are a work of creativity, and they do not intend to resemble any naturally-occurring material. Synthetics come in a wide variety of colors, and it is possible to mold any design from them. Outdoor furniture made of synthetics need UV protection if you want the color to stay and for them to last a long time.

Advantages

  • Synthetic materials are cheap and light, making them easy to acquire and move around.
  • There is an endless choice of styles from these durable materials.
  • They withstand almost any weather condition, and they do not rust.
  • You can customize your outdoor furniture with synthetic materials.

Disadvantages

  • The materials are light-weight, making them unsuitable for windy locations.
  • Low-end outdoor furniture fades in color after exposure.
  • Defects or errors in molding the plastic can lead to flimsy garden furniture that will not last long.

Maintenance

Synthetic materials are easy to maintain. Cleaning with mild soapy water is enough. Keep these pieces under a shade in sunny weather to avoid fading the brilliant colors. Check for cracks and other visible faults regularly. Waxing and buffing are best practices to keep the furniture looking new.

1. Plastics and Other Synthetic Materials

Synthetic materials are coming up as an alternative material from the conventional frames. Plastics dominate this category. High-density polyethylene, fiberglass, and resin are also popular outdoor furniture materials. These materials are fit for almost any climatic condition and can be manufactured from recycled ingredients, making them rank high as eco-friendly options.

Most synthetic materials mimic their natural counterparts. Others are a work of creativity, and they do not intend to resemble any naturally-occurring material. Synthetics come in a wide variety of colors, and it is possible to mold any design from them. Outdoor furniture made of synthetics need UV protection if you want the color to stay and for them to last a long time.

Advantages

  • Synthetic materials are cheap and light, making them easy to acquire and move around.
  • There is an endless choice of styles from these durable materials.
  • They withstand almost any weather condition, and they do not rust.
  • You can customize your outdoor furniture with synthetic materials.

Disadvantages

  • The materials are light-weight, making them unsuitable for windy locations.
  • Low-end outdoor furniture fades in color after exposure.
  • Defects or errors in molding the plastic can lead to flimsy garden furniture that will not last long.

Maintenance

Synthetic materials are easy to maintain. Cleaning with mild soapy water is enough. Keep these pieces under a shade in sunny weather to avoid fading the brilliant colors. Check for cracks and other visible faults regularly. Waxing and buffing are best practices to keep the furniture looking new.

Vinyl

This fabric is a product of recyclable ingredients. This cover material best suits cooler climates. It is uncomfortable in hot regions because it induces sweating. The fabric is a good fit for outdoor furniture that experiences regular use.

The stain-resistant fabric is waterproof, and it will not absorb any liquid that can leave a stain. A simple wipe with a mild soap solution is enough to clean your outdoor cushion or upholstery. You do not need to shade it in fair weather, but consider moving vinyl-covered outdoor furniture to a shade during rainy or hot weather.

Woven Polyester

Polyester woven with PVC is an ideal fabric for outdoor furniture. It is waterproof, making it most suitable for outdoor furniture in moist regions. The PVC coating does make it vulnerable to exposure to the sun and its unnatural texture renders it less comfortable compared to the natural fabric options.

Acrylic Fabrics

The range of synthetic fabrics under this category are easy to maintain. Acrylics have the potential to withstand heat, mold, and water. They are UV-protected, so they do not fade. They are durable and comfortably take high traffic use.

Compared to their natural cousins, acrylics are less comfortable to the user. They are breathable and come in a variety of colors. Acrylics bring the indoors to your garden or patio with their elegance and pomp.

Cotton Fabrics

Cotton offers a wide range of heavy-duty fabrics for outdoor use. Cushions and upholstery made of cotton canvas or duck cloth are natural and comfortable for the outdoor furniture user. The cotton fabrics are not water-resistant. They should, therefore, be stored indoors during rainy days and winter. Place a cover over garden furniture that has cotton fabrics when not in use.

General Maintenance and Care

Outdoor furniture is necessary when creating an enjoyable patio to relax on, and it is crucial to consider factors such as the weather conditions, available budget, comfort levels, and durability of materials before deciding on the material and fabric.

Outdoor furniture also needs more maintenance than their indoor siblings. Cover furniture pieces that are not weatherproof during conditions such as rain, snow, or extreme heat. Sometimes you may even need to store delicate cushions or whole furniture pieces indoors when it is not suitable to have them outside. Choosing the right material and properly maintaining your furniture will ensure you have an outdoor space you can enjoy for years to come.