Adding patio furniture to your outdoor area is the perfect way to extend your livable space. With warm weather upon us, we put together a breakdown of the most popular outdoor furniture materials and the benefits of each.
Wicker: You might think of wicker as a material, but the term wicker actually refers to the weaving method used to make this furniture. Wicker can be made from a few different materials such as bamboo, straw, or rattan, but it is common to see wicker furniture made from synthetic plastic as well.
Organic materials like rattan are susceptible to breaking down and unraveling if exposed to harsh elements, and as a result, natural wicker furniture is not the best choice for outdoor furniture. On the other hand, synthetic wicker furniture is typically made of PVC, nylon or polyethylene materials, creating a durable material that can handle all of the seasons and one that is lightweight and easy to clean.
Synthetic wicker is UV resistant which means that you will not have to worry about your patio furniture cracking or fading out in the sun. Polyethylene also has great heat resistance and is able to withstand 230 degrees Fahrenheit continuously.
Teak: Teak is a natural wood found in Asian countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Myanmar. What separates Teak from other types of wood are the natural oils that remain in the wood after it is cut down. These natural oils protect and strengthen the wood, and as a result, teak furniture can last for many years and require little to no maintenance. The natural durability of teak makes it a great choice for high quality outdoor furniture that will last through every season.
Yellow Pine: Southern Yellow Pine originates in the Southeastern portion of the United States. This wood has some of the highest density properties of any pines, making it a sturdy choice for outdoor benches and seats. The abundance of yellow pine throughout the Southeastern United States makes this a cost-effective choice for wood patio furniture.
Another benefit of yellow pine is its high weight density, making it a strong and impact resistant. With a density between 50-55 lbs. /cubic foot when treated, this wood will be able to hold up to any demanding activities on your patio.
Recycled Plastic: If environmental protection is a priority, then recycled plastic might be your top choice for patio furniture. Recycled plastic furniture options include tables, chairs and benches, and the recycled plastic “lumber” used to make this furniture is designed to have the look and feel of real wood. This furniture is versatile in design and can fit any aesthetic that you are looking for, whether you want a wood grain look or a bright pink chair.
One type of this recycled material is Marine Grade Polymer, or MGP. This polymer is a plastic that is manufactured to last on boats, docks, and other environments where direct sunlight is constantly a factor, and as a result it is designed to not warp, rot, swell, or splinter when exposed to sunlight, humidity, or water.
Cast Aluminum: The sturdiness and longevity of cast aluminum make it a great fit for outdoor patio furniture. Cast aluminum is not prone to rust so it can be a great option for those who live in areas with high humidity or exposure to salt water. The construction of cast aluminum makes the material solid to the core, resulting in an extremely durable and long lasting product.
Additionally, aluminum and cast aluminum furniture can often have a powder coated finish, which helps protect against corrosion and color fading in adverse climates.
Steel: Steel is the heaviest of all the metals, so if you are one to constantly rearrange your furniture, it may not be for you, though the weight of steel furniture makes it extremely durable. Steel and other metal furniture (besides aluminum) can be at risk for developing rust, so some annual maintenance may be necessary, but few can argue that a nice steel furniture set can really create a beautiful outdoor space.
Worth noting is that steel, aluminum, and other metals can become very hot when exposed to direct sunlight, so they may not be the best choice in very sunny environments.
It is important to choose the furniture material that best reflects your style and your environment. Different materials have different benefits, but ultimately choosing furniture with a higher quality construction will result in longer lasting enjoyment.
This information was provided by Chris Dietrich, a furniture specialist with Patio Living. For more information on outdoor furniture and patio designs, visit patioliving.com.