So it’s March and you still see snow on the ground or rain drenched yards and pavement. You may possibly remember your neighbors complaining about ordering their outdoor furniture last June and waiting for a July or August delivery. Well hello, “the summer is almost over.”
There is quite a bit to consider when buying a new set of outdoor patio furniture. Early buying is important, but even more critical is deciding the type of product and lastly the cost factor.
Let’s take a look at the different basic furniture types mostly available at outdoor specialty stores. Below are some pros and cons associated with them.
WROUGHT IRON (WI) – WI has been around a very long time. This metal is still mostly made as the blacksmiths did centuries ago. The pieces are bent and forged with a hammer and anvil into precise shapes. Welding is now used to join the pieces together and to close tubing parts to prevent rusting.
Pros – Looks great when used in European architecture. Heavy and doesn’t blow away in the wind. VERY DURABLE.
Cons – Dining chairs are difficult to move in and out. Heavy maintenance and some rust issues from unqualified manufacturers. Metal conducts heat very quickly from the sun causing skin burns.
CAST ALUMINUM (CA) – Often this product looks close to WI and offers many designs and product offerings. Aluminum itself is an abundant natural resource.
Pros – Lots of design variations. Very lightweight, allowing ease of rearrangement. Competitive pricing when compared to WI and even other types of furniture. Good corrosion resistance properties.
Cons – Maintenance and some rust issues from unqualified manufacturers. Metal conducts heat very quickly from the sun causing skin burns. Think of how aluminum foil in the oven is hot, but once out it gets cool extremely quickly. So CA gets cool quickly and hot very quickly in a matter of seconds. Quality and prices vary greatly because there is an extreme difference between manufacturers. Paint finish failures are common. Even powder coating can fade and fail depending on who the manufacturer is. Incorrect fasteners are often used and rust out. ONLY BUY THIS PRODUCT FROM THE BEST MFR.
STAINLESS STEEL (SS) – This ultra clean look fits well in coastal area properties. SS furniture usually has a modern contemporary look. SS blends with other associated materials like HDPE wicker and especially teak wood.
Pros – SS is very resistant to marine salt corrosion. So no rust issues here. Long life expectancy. Good design style retention. Easy to maintain.
Cons – Like all metal, SS conducts heat very quickly and can cause skin burns. SS designs tend not to be very comfortable. SS can be heavy, so moving the pieces can be cumbersome. Not all SS is the same, so you need to be careful only to select the highest grade to prevent corrosion problems.
HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE WICKER (HDPE) – This product is basically woven strands of blended all-weather plastic strands wrapped over cast aluminum frames. Looks pretty cool in the beginning.
Pros – Offers many simplistic modern designs, especially in the deep seating category to choose from. Mostly low price points. Usually little if no assembly.
Cons – HDPE wicker is actually a plastic made from petroleum oil. So a bad carbon footprint on the eco-system. Harbors dust and is hard to keep clean. Rodents and pest find it a paradise for themselves. Once any wicker strands get severed and pops out “and it will”, the entire set begins to looks pretty grungy. Then it becomes a landfill issue fairly early on. SO NOT GOOD FOR LONG TERM USE.
RECYCLED PLASTIC WOOD (RPW) – Fairly recent concept in making outdoor furniture out of recycled milk cartons and adding various colors. Sometimes very bright funky colors, especially on adirondack chairs.
Pros – Fairly resistant to fade, insects, mold or fungi, marine salt spray and winter weather. Low maintenance. Many colors and designs to choose. Competitive pricing. Environmentally safe. VERY PRACTICAL.
Cons – Looks and feels PLASTIC and unnatural. Overall low budget, cheap and unappealing as to design and architecture.
TEAK WOOD (TW) – Well made teak garden furniture is typically classic in design with clean architectural lines and timeless style. This is an important attribute for something you could expect to have on your patio for several decades.
Pros – Architecturally appealing. You may notice that teak is the most photographed and commonly outdoor furniture used in TV and theater back drops because of its rich and cozy look. TW is usually fine sanded and smooth to the touch. It remains very neutral in temperature (no skin burns) compared to metal furniture and has a faint, pleasant aromatic smell, especially when wet. TW is very dense-grained and especially resistant to rot, warping, shrinkage and swelling. Its natural oil content acts as a natural preservative to the wood so it can be left outdoors for many years. Moderately priced considering how long it can be used. Natural wood is non-toxic and bio-degradable. It continually decomposes on its own and stays within the earth’s revolving cycle.
Cons – Some may be concerned about maintenance. Over time, as natural teak is exposed to the weather, it changes color from natural golden to a silver patina (a very popular look these days). To maintain the smooth finish and golden brown color, you will need to sand and apply either teak oil or teak sealer. There are usually handyman service people that can perform this for you. Or just turn on some music and do a little work in the springtime.
IN CONCLUSION – We have been around leisure outdoor furniture for quite a while and appreciate most all types of various products and styles depending on where it will be located architecturally and also who the manufacturer is. Remember not all Mfrs are equal. In fact they vary greatly.
Overall we tend to lean heavily towards teak wood outdoor furniture because of the pros listed above, but mostly because of the pure natural elegance of the material itself. Wow, it even smells good for years.