Outdoor Furniture articles outdoor furniture Materials Guide

While it is long-lasting, outdoor iron frames and tabletops can require a lot of care to clean, maintain and protect against rusting. Fortunately, the best contemporary wrought iron is treated with weather-resistant finishes to seal out damaging moisture. Additionally, the metal tends to match the prevailing temperature – it gets very hot in summer and freezing cold if left out in the winter. Wrought iron outdoor furniture is hard and can be uncomfortable without upholstery to cushion seat and backrests.
Dacron® is a leading brand of hypo-allergenic PET foam and it is often wrapped around other foams to provide an additional layer of protection.
Constant exposure to the sun can cause many materials to fade and lose their luster over time. The aesthetic change can be appealing or simply a decreased vibrancy of color or uneven spotting.
I Live in Denver where it is hot, dry and windy in the summer and cooler in the winter. I have had Tropitone furniture with cream upholstery for 3 years. The squirrels have eaten one cushion and we have discoloration from pollen/dust and/or sun and heat. We are going to replace the cushions. Would a darker color hide the possible yellow dust from pollen? Any squirrel ideas? Thanks.
This abundant wood is stronger and harder than most and lasts for decades. It has long been used to build boats, due to its structural ability to repel water, which also helps it resist rot. However, it doesn’t possess much natural oil and needs paint or a sealant to retain its durability. Over time, untreated white oak develops an attractive gray patina.
The heat can also lead to other logistical problems. Patio furniture that is left out in the sun can heat up, making it uncomfortable to touch. Nobody wants to burn their skin when they sit down in or attempt to reposition a poolside lounge chair.
Traditional natural wicker made from rattan, bamboo or seagrass is strong but does not fare well outdoors. It’s susceptible to warping, mold and mildew from rain and humidity. In drier climates, it may become brittle and crack. Almost all wicker used for patio furniture is now woven from polyethylene resin. This synthetic wicker is extremely dense, strong and weather-resistant. Additionally, it does not fade quickly so your outdoor seating and tables will last a long time. High-density polyethylene is the most durable resin wicker, while lower quality PVC wicker will degrade over a shorter period of time. The one thing to be careful about with synthetic wicker is that it is lightweight and may be damaged in windy conditions depending on the woven design.
Last updated Wednesday, July 14, 2021 What is the best material for outdoor furniture? When evaluating outdoor furniture, you’re probably going to look for many of the same characteristics that you value in indoor tables, chairs and sofas – durability, comfort and style . The primary difference, however, is that patio furniture has to endure exposure to the weather outside. While there is virtually no 100% weatherproof patio furniture, there are big differences based on the materials used.
Central and South American ipe , unlike many of its hardwood counterparts, has a deep rich colored grain which fades slower when exposed to weathering . It has a high natural oil content, which helps it resist insects, decomposition and various forms of fungi. Its hard, dense structure fortifies it against physical damage such a denting, warping and cracking. Though it can last up to forty years, ipe requires much preparation when cut and glued together.
Olefin is another solution-dyed synthetic fabric that is durable, quick-drying and fade-resistant. It stands up to mold, moisture and heat and is less expensive than acrylics. Olefin is lightweight and smooth, but it can lack the softness of some other textiles. It resists stains and abrasions and is easy to clean. It’s a great choice when acrylics are outside of your budget.
Written by Bill Ferris | Updated July 14, 2021
Throughout history, iron has been used for tools, buildings and furnishings because of its strength and durability – it can last a hundred years if properly cared for. It’s among the heaviest of metals, which makes it difficult to move wrought or cast iron furniture. However, it certainly won’t blow over in the wind. It is extremely malleable when heated and hammered into shape. This allows wrought iron to form ornate hand-crafted designs with an upscale artisan feel. Cast iron, on the other hand, is melted and poured into molds, but it’s heavier and harder to manage than wrought iron.
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High-quality resin is very dense, resistant to weather damage and eco-friendly. High-density polyethylene does not emit any chemicals, is highly puncture resistant and can be exposed to UV rays for decades without experiencing any degradation . Synthetic all-weather wicker is also strong, lightweight, fade-resistant and easy to clean. There are lower quality synthetic wickers made from polyvinyl chloride , which tends to become brittle and crack over time. Most outdoor wicker patio furniture is constructed over an aluminum frame, which increases the weight it can support. Synthetic wicker can be colored an organic shade, making it virtually indistinguishable from natural wicker. It can also be given a vibrant tone that adds a pop of color to your lanai or hardwood deck.
is the premium brand of open-cell foam. It is an advanced, high-performance foam that is specifically engineered for outdoor upholstery. QuickDry® is produced using a sophisticated process known as Hydro-Blast Reticulation, which makes the foam durable, strong and extremely comfortable. It also incorporates Uregard anti-microbial technology to keep it free from biological problems. QuickDry® is used by luxury outdoor furniture brands like Mamagreen and Cane-line.
The usable life of your outdoor furniture can be extended by keeping it clean and well-cared for during and after the Summer months. Each material has specific instructions for cleaning various types of spills, repairing damage and protecting it from the ravages of the wind, rain and sun. Read our Patio Furniture Cleaning & Care Guide for a detailed look at a variety of materials and tips for maintaining them.
Some materials noticeably expand and contract when they are heated or cooled. They can crack, split, warp or become brittle when exposed to extreme temperatures or drastic fluctuations. Dry air can also cause furniture to bend and crack.
Compressed polyester is an inexpensive alternative to traditional foam. It dries relatively quickly and is easy to wash. It works best in low to moderate use outdoor environments, since it compresses over time and frequent use will cause it to lose shape quicker. Polyester fiberfill is another low-cost option that is machine washable and resistant to mildew. It is usually stuffed into an inner pre-sewn cover that is then covered in outdoor fabric. One drawback is that the loose fibers tend to bunch up during laundering and may need reshaping after heavy use.
This article is very useful and essential since I’m in the furniture industry and looking for ideas. Great job!
Metals that contain iron or steel are vulnerable to corrosion when they are continually exposed to water and oxygen. The corrosive oxidation process slowly weakens these metals, resulting in visible rust and other discoloration. Salt in the air and water accelerates the chemical process, so rusting is often more prevalent in coastal regions.
Wood has been a popular raw material for furniture for millennia. It has a natural beauty, is generally easy to work with and provides a sturdy framework for tables, chairs, benches and other furnishings. However, not all woods are created equal when it comes to outdoor usage. Many softwoods, such as pressure-treated pine, cedar and fir are inexpensive and widely used for indoor furnishings, but do not stand up well to the elements and need constant protection when not in use. Hardwoods , on the other hand, are much heartier, resist weather damage and can last decades if treated properly. On the downside, they are often more difficult to shape and are typically more expensive than softwoods. But, there are major differences between hardwoods too.
Eco-friendly recycled plastic is a great option for stylish outdoor patio furniture. It’s extraordinarily strong, durable and resistant to moisture, mildew, insects and saltwater. It can be heavier than other plastic materials but is still susceptible to high winds. Recycled plastic doesn’t peel, crack or require much maintenance. It is stain-resistant and cleans easily with soap and water.

Before you decide, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various material options. Determine how well each aligns with the requirements of your residential or commercial environment, as well as your personal preferences and priorities. Choosing the “best” material for outdoor patio furniture is dependent on matching your specific needs with the inherent qualities of each substance since each situation is unique.
Garden and patio furniture made from stainless steel is heavy and will not tip over or blow away under windy conditions. It’s a great material choice for high end modern outdoor furniture since its sleek silvery metallic finish has a chic contemporary look. Though it’s expensive, stainless steel is worth every penny. Not only is it relatively easy to clean, but it’s often made using recycled metals, making it an environmentally responsible choice.
When you stated that durability matters more to patio furniture that will be used more often, I thought of how most of my family always wanted to try outdoor barbecue parties. Staying inside can get a little boring at times, especially during the winter season, so I thought of making an area in our yard devoted to barbecue parties and hangouts. Since we’ll be using it very often, I’ll definitely consider durability while shopping for things like patio covers and furniture.
Materials that allow water penetration can dry unevenly, resulting in warping of the original shape. Initially, it may be imperceptible, but over time it can noticeably distort the material, misalign seams and loosen screws and other fasteners used to hold the furniture together. articles outdoor furniture
Closed-cell foam repels water and is buoyant, making it a good choice for boat seating and life vests. It can be made from a variety of plastics including neoprene, polypropylene, polyethylene and polystyrene. Each version has its own unique characteristics and applications. Spongy neoprene, for example, is flexible and provides thermal and moisture insulation for wet suits.
Outdoor Furniture articles outdoor furniture Materials Guide
Outdoor Furniture articles outdoor furniture Materials Guide
Outdoor fabrics made from acrylic fibers are strong and resistant to both weather and use damage. It’s mold and mildew resistant and can hold up against rubbing and tearing. This is especially important for outdoor upholstery in active residential and commercial applications. Acrylic fabrics are solution-dyed, which means that the threads are dyed before they are woven. This allows the textile to retain its color longer, even when exposed to direct sunlight. While it is water-resistant, acrylic fabric is more breathable than other options, allowing it to stay cooler in hot weather. It’s also easy to clean with mild soap and water. All things considered, acrylic fabric is best all-purpose textile for outdoor furniture cushions, throw pillows and patio umbrellas .
Sunbrella® is generally recognized as the “gold standard” of acrylic outdoor textiles. The company has products that range from soft and suitable for urban home use up to marine grade materials that can survive the rigors of saltwater, wind and sun on yachts and catamarans. You get what you pay for, and premium acrylic fabrics have a much higher price tag than other materials.
Etisilk’s Texsilk® is one of the better-known brands of olefin outdoor garden and pool furniture fabric. It’s stain-resistant and strong enough to be cleaned by bleach or chlorine. Texsilk® is environmentally responsible and certified as a safe textile by OEKO-TEX .
Polyethylene is the most common form of plastic used to make deck furniture. It’s cost-effective, but the high-density version is required for outdoor applications since it is far more durable and weather resistant. Polypropylene is lighter weight and highly resistant to chemical degradation and heat. Polycarbonate is a very tough material that is impact-resistant, although it is susceptible to scratching. It’s the preferred choice of plastic when transparency is desired. Acrylic – Polymethyl Methacrylate is similar to polycarbonate in that it is clear. However, this less expensive alternative is not as strong and is vulnerable to cracking.
This synthetic material is typically coated with either an acrylic or vinyl to protect it from the elements. Polyester is strong, flexible and resists water damage and staining. It’s tear-resistant and dries quickly, but most outdoor polyester fabrics fade faster than other synthetic textiles. Unlike, solution-dyed alternatives, polyester hybrids are dipped in color or have the color painted on after the threads are woven. You can achieve brighter colors and more intricate patterns, but it won’t last as long when exposed to UV rays. Consequently, they do much better in shaded environments, when there is less direct sunlight.
This reddish-gold Southeast Asian material is one of the few hardwoods that is stronger and heavier than teak. Exposure to heat actually improves its strength and flexibility . Harvesting shorea is highly regulated to ensure that it is sustainable, like many of the other hardwoods used for outdoor furniture. It also has a high oil content that protects it against insects, minimizes rotting and resists weather damage. Like teak, shorea becomes a silver-gray patina if it is not oiled regularly and lasts up to fifty years. However, it has a much lower price. The only major drawback for shorea is that, due in part to public unfamiliarity, few retailers sell it.
Acrylic coated polyester works well for accents and pillows, while vinyl-coated polyester has a plastic-like feel that is better suited for self-supporting seat and back slings, screens, umbrellas and backing, where there is less skin contact. Two of the most renowned manufacturers of high-end PVC-coated polyester textiles are Ferrari and Twitchell.
The best material for patio furniture depends on the climate in which you live. 1) Aluminum – Powder-coated versions will do well in all environments, but may be a bit lightweight for extremely windy conditions 2) Teak & Other Hardwoods – If properly sealed and periodically treated, these sturdy woods will last a long time and develop a nice patina but some hardwoods may warp or crack if not protected 3) Resin Wicker – HDPE wicker is extremely strong and will resist damage from moisture, high temperature and UV rays, although it may blow away if not weighted down in high wind locations 4) Stainless Steel – Its high-density, weight and strength make this metal great for outdoor tables in most climates and it resists corrosion the higher the chromium content or if powder-coated, although it does get hot in the sun 5) Wrought Iron – This extremely heavy material can last a century if properly cared for, but it does require a lot of TLC to clean and protect from rusting
This strong Australian hardwood is fast-growing, lasts a long time and offers significant cost savings versus teak. Its natural washed appearance has a rustic appeal, which will develop into a silver patina unless oiled regularly. It is weather and rot resistant and its oil acts as a natural insecticide. But, a sealant is recommended to improve the resistance of eucalyptus to pests and minimize the negative impact of uneven moisture retention.
While some minimalist modern environments may incorporate solid concrete outdoor furniture into their permanent design, this composite is more frequently employed in conjunction with other materials. It can serve as a sturdy base for glass top dining and lounge tables, or as an imposing tabletop sitting upon a substantial metal frame. Concrete is strong, timeless and can withstand the harshest elements for years. It can be poured into a variety of shapes and, when reinforced with fiber, molded into thinner constructions. Fibers may be comprised of glass, steel, synthetic or organic material and they increase the structural integrity of the concrete. It also helps the material withstand water and frost better.
There are a number of other hardwoods that share some of the positive qualities of teak at a much lower price point. However, they also have drawbacks relative to the hardwoods mentioned above. Reddish-brown acacia is readily available but is more likely to warp or crack than shorea or eucalyptus. Roble is scarce, lightweight and lasts half as long as teak, while African iroko is very hard to work with, easily splinters and blunts woodworking tools. Mahogany has a beautiful reddish tint, but is coarse, requires a lot of maintenance and doesn’t handle rot as well as teak.
Tempered glass is often used for outdoor tabletops, because of its resistance to temperature changes. Lacquering glass increases its protection against the effects of the elements, while acid washing inures it to smudges and fingerprints. Its smooth surface provides an elegant touch, while the clarity creates an open and airy feel. Glass is a great choice for sunroom or screened-in porch dining and coffee tables, where there is some shade to prevent the sun from reflecting off it and blinding guests. Depending on the thickness, glass can be very heavy and hard to move.
Sunbrella® acrylic outdoor textiles are considered the premium for patio umbrellas, upholstery, awnings and other shade structures. The solution-dyed fabric is strong and resists both weather damage and fading for years. It’s also easy to wash and is resistant to mold and mildew. Sunbrella® is expensive, but because it’s longlasting you don’t have to continually replace canopies and cushion covers – saving you money in the long run. Sunbrella® produces a wide range of textile grades for general residential to high-use commercial and even marine applications. If you have a large invest in patio furniture and value UV protection, it makes sense to go with the best.
Humid or moist conditions create an environment where various fungi thrive. Organic materials that retain water are susceptible to mold and mildew, which can cause respiratory problems, irritation and other health issues. However, they typically don’t damage the material and can be cleaned off. Rot, on the other hand, leads to biodegradation and decomposition of the material.
This common affordable seating foam has a medium firmness and will soak up water if it gets wet. Most polyurethane foam is treated with a biocide that prevents fungus, mold and mildew from growing as the wet foam dries out. It’s often wrapped in plastic for extra protection before being inserted into an outdoor cover.
Textilene® mesh is similar to Batyline® in its applications. It’s used by many luxury outdoor furniture brands like Sifas for the seat and back slings of high-end lounge chairs and sofas. Twitchell also manufactures a variety of mesh grades that are appropriate for sun screens, awnings, tarps and fencing.
Outdoor furniture frames, tabletops and upholstery need to retain structural integrity and their appearance over many seasons, and through a variety of weather conditions. Additionally, the time and effort needed to maintain materials throughout the year, as well as their “green-ness” and costs are important aspects to examine.
To view a printable cheatsheet summary of many of the materials above, click here .
Batyline® mesh is a premium synthetic outdoor fabric that is extremely strong and tear-resistant. Its open design allows airflow that helps the material stay cool and dry quickly. It is an ideal choice for self-supporting sling seating like poolside sunloungers, patio dining chairs and bar stools.
PET foam inserts are durable, recyclable and provide optimum support for outdoor upholstery. They are firm and do not flatten out or lose their shape like some materials. PET dries quickly, preventing moisture build up that can lead to mildew and mold.
Bill Ferris is the president of Decor Interiors and founded the company in 2007. He’s been quoted on patio furniture by Living Cozy and on home improvement by Realtor.com . When not writing posts for the website, he’s a frequent guest contributor on the subject of online marketing and an interior design enthusiast.
Aluminum is the most popular metal for outdoor furniture. Despite its lightweight, it is strong, durable and can easily be worked into a variety of intricate shapes. Aluminum is relatively inexpensive, low maintenance and never rusts. Although it is highly weather-resistant on its own, a polyester powder coating is recommended. This electrostatic process not only increases protection against the elements and scratching, but it also allows you to added color to the mix. While you can buy painted aluminum, powder coating adheres better to the metal and is much more resistant to fading. This is also helpful if your deck or poolside is exposed to salt air, which tends to eat away at paint and untreated metal. Like other metals, aluminum heats up, outdoor living articles