Here we look at the different types of materials that the outdoor furniture you can purchase today maybe constructed from and the pros and cons of each.
Outdoor furniture should be considered an investment and purchasing the best quality you can afford will work out cheaper in the long run as it will not need replaced so quickly. The length of life of outdoor furniture depends primarily on what material it is constructed from and then of course how you care for it during its lifetime.
Disclosure: This post may receive compensation from partners listed through affiliate partnerships, at no cost to you. This doesn’t influence our ratings and the opinions are our own.
Wood is the original raw material for furniture. However many of the softer woods used for furniture such as pressure treated pine will not stand up well to the outside elements.
Outdoor wooden furniture needs to be made from one of the hardwoods if it is to last well and endure the elements.
Teak – This is the most popular wood choice for outdoor furniture. Teak has many qualities that make it ideally suited for outdoor use. It is extremely strong and doesn’t crack or warp or become easily dry and brittle like most woods. The reason that teak furniture is so good is that it repels water and therefore unlike more absorbent woods it does not expand and contract when drying out. Teak is very strong and high in natural oils all of which keeps it safer from decay and insect damage. This enables teak to last a long time, 50 years is not a problem! You can oil it regularly to keep its darker tones or let it mature into a natural silver grey colour.
It’s relatively easy to care for and can be cleaned with mild soap and water. We also do recommend some oiling especially if the furniture is exposed to lots of sun.
Pros – Longevity, strength, weather and insect resistance, minimal cracking and warping and ease of care.
Cons – High price due to high demand and reducing supplies.
Metal is usually the strongest and most durable material for outdoor garden furniture. As it is strong, furniture frames can be thinner and can be shaped into more complex designs than wood. Metal can also be used more easily with other materials. However all types of metals are to some degree vulnerable to rust and corrosion and metal also heats up when exposed to the sun making it uncomfortable to touch. Also many metals are heavy making them difficult to move around.
Aluminium – is the most popular metal for outdoor furniture. Although lightweight, it is strong but can easily be worked into a variety of shapes. Aluminium is relatively inexpensive, low maintenance and never rusts.
Pros – It is strong, lightweight, weather-resistant, inexpensive and relatively low maintenance.
Cons – May blow over in high winds as usually hollow framed. Also as it is metal it retains heat from sun.
Wrought Iron – Iron is among the heaviest of metals, which makes it difficult to move wrought iron furniture. However, it will take a very strong wind to blow it over. Wrought iron is very malleable when heated and means that furniture can be crafted into ornate designs..
While it is long-lasting, outdoor iron frames and tabletops can require a lot of care to clean, maintain and protect against rusting. However most modern wrought iron is treated with weather-resistant finishes.
Pros – Durable, solid, stylish classic look and great for windy areas
Cons – Rusts more easily, requires more maintenance, can be uncomfortable, difficult to move and retains heat and cold.
Synthetic materials such as resins and plastics are increasingly being used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture. Modern manufacturing processes and compositions enable these polymers to take on new and exciting shapes. Synthetics are typically lightweight, inexpensive and importantly long lasting and easy to maintain.
Synthetic Wicker – All Weather Wicker– The majority of outdoor wicker furniture on the market is made from synthetic polyethylene resin. Unlike natural wicker which is made from a variety of organic sources such as rattan, seagrass, bamboo and banana leaf. As a natural product natural wicker is susceptible to damage from rainy and heat and resultant decay, making it a poor choice for outdoor furniture.
Synthetic all-weather wicker is strong, lightweight, fade-resistant and long lasting. Most outdoor wicker furniture is constructed over an aluminium frame, which increases the weight it can support. Synthetic wicker is also usually dyed in an organic looking shade which makes it virtually indistinguishable from natural wicker.
Pros – Extremely weather-resistant, easy to clean, looks like natural wicker.
Cons – May blow over in high winds.
Pros – Strong, weather and fade resistant, easy to clean with great “green” credentials.
Cons – May not withstand extremely windy conditions