THE MOST DURABLE PATIO FURNITURE
If you’re lucky to have an outdoor space, you probably want to get the most use out of it. Whether a small area or a sprawling space, this requires some decorating and other treatments to make it feel like a special place to unwind.
You’ll have many outdoor furniture options in terms of style, materials, and cost. It can be a little overwhelming to factor in all the materials and finishes. A good start is knowing which features to look for and how to find a balance between style and strength.
The Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Furniture
When it comes to selecting furniture, the main priority is function.
More often than not, indoor furniture is meant to beautify a space with obvious functionalities determined by the area it would occupy (e.g., your bedroom, kitchen, office, etc.). Hence, they strike a balance between comfort and aesthetics. On the other hand, patio furniture’s priority is durability, with versatility and style following suit.
Technically, you can use all kinds of furniture in both scenarios, but that will just subject them to unnecessary wear and tear. We believe one can avoid it by knowing the piece’s material and upkeep.
While indoor furniture is subject to daily use, it generally lasts longer because it’s not subject to extreme weather conditions and temperatures. Though more robust, outdoor furniture requires more maintenance to avoid fading, discoloration, or rust.
When you invest in furniture, you want it to be reliable depending on where or how you will use it. Apart from aesthetic appeal and price, finding the best and most appropriate materials will help make your furniture last longer.
What Makes Outdoor Furniture Durable
When shopping for outdoor furniture, you’re probably going to look for the same characteristics that you value in indoor furnishings: Durability, comfort, and style. The primary difference, however, is that outdoor furniture is made specifically to hold up to various weather elements: Sun, rain, humidity, or extreme temperatures. Unlike indoor furnishings, they’re created with highly durable and long-lasting materials.
Pros And Cons Of The Best Materials For Patio Furniture
Before you decide, it’s essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various material options. Depending on your space's requirements, personal preferences, and priorities, it’s crucial to know what to expect from the different options to ensure you choose the suitable material for your needs.
Perfect for outdoor lighting, wrought iron is one of the most long-lasting outdoor furniture materials and comes in several designs. Though durable, it needs protection from rust, and its weight makes it difficult to move, but it can withstand windier environments.
While natural rattan is often used for indoor furniture, PE rattan or synthetic wicker is far more durable and requires less maintenance. PE rattan is also UV- and frost-resistant, which means they can be left outside all year round. It’s ideal for outdoor dining furniture like stools and chairs.
Aluminum is the most prevalent metal for outdoor furniture. Despite being lightweight, which makes it susceptible to being blown over, it’s solid and durable and can easily be worked into various shapes and styles. It’s also relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance.
Teak is one of the most popular materials for outdoor furniture due to its durability. Without proper care, this hardwood may warp or crack, but if properly maintained, teak will last for years and even takes on a patina as it ages. Look for this material when investing in bigger patio furniture like outdoor dining tables, coffee and accent tables, and patio sectionals.
Powder Coated Steel
A powder-coated finish on steel furniture helps protect against rust and comes with numerous color choices. It’s easy to clean with water and can be left outside or stored indoors. To maintain it well, cracks in the coating will need to be fixed to keep the metal underneath from rusting. It’s a great material to use for firepits and patio heating.
Though on the pricier side, the water-resistant qualities of acacia make it one of the most durable materials for furnishings like outdoor dining benches. It also has an attractive grain that patinas over time but requires regular cleaning and oiling.
An eco-friendly option for outdoor furniture, recycled plastic is extraordinarily strong, durable, and resistant to moisture, mildew, insects, and saltwater. While it doesn’t require much maintenance, its lightweight nature makes it susceptible to high winds.
Though High-Pressure Laminate can be costly versus alternative materials, it has antibacterial properties and is extremely hard, helping it resist stains and scratches. Its sleek look makes it an excellent option for styled outdoor dining areas.
Tempered glass is often used for outdoor dining furniture because of its resistance to temperature changes. Its smooth surface provides an elegant appeal but can be pretty heavy depending on the thickness of the glass.
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. It’s most commonly used on outdoor rugs, cushions, and pillows.
Concrete is strong, timeless, and can withstand the harshest elements. It can also take on many shapes but may be too heavy to move easily and can easily absorb stains.
The Best Materials For Outdoor Dining Tables
An outdoor dining setup is a great way to make any space extra functional, whether for personal use or entertainment purposes. Apart from being able to withstand various weather conditions, they must be scratch- and stain-resistant.
Teak wood tables are a great option, thanks to their durability. The wood also has natural oils that prevent it from rotting, and stains can easily be sanded out. Its rustic and homey appeal makes it an ideal option for gatherings and a larger table capacity.
For a low-maintenance option, synthetic wicker or rattan works well to add a classic and luxurious style to any outdoor venue. Opting for a tempered glass top makes it easy to clean and scratch-resistant.
Patio Sectionals Upholstery Materials
Elements such as outdoor cushions, accent pillows, and slings help make outdoor furniture more comfortable to use. Similar to the materials used to make the furniture frames, outdoor upholstery needs to retain structural integrity and its appearance over many seasons and in various weather conditions.
Acrylic fabric is the best all-purpose textile for patio furniture cushions, outdoor pillows, and patio umbrellas. Its mold- and mildew-resistant and can hold up against rubbing and tearing. It holds its color longer and is easy to clean too.
Polyester resists tearing and water damage, is quick-drying, and comes in bold colors and patterns. Though its colors fade quicker, especially when exposed to sunlight, this material works best in shaded environments.
Fabrics made from synthetic thread infused with plastic are much better options for outdoor upholstery covers and outdoor rugs. They are more resistant to weather changes and hold their color longer.
Cotton blend fabrics work best if you’re looking for a material that’s softer to the touch. Although not naturally water or fade resistant, many cotton blend fabrics come with finishes that strengthen them against the sun's rays and water damage. The added protection makes them more resistant to mildew and color fading than their natural counterparts.
Vinyl is one of the more durable options for outdoor upholstery. It has a plastic-like feel that makes it more suitable for seats, back slings, screens, and umbrellas.
What Type Of Outdoor Furniture Is The Most Durable
While the furniture market has provided consumers with many options, the most durable outdoor furniture is made of aluminum.
It’s also a versatile material that can be molded in various shapes, offering a great variety of furniture styles on the market. You also have the option for powder coating, which makes it rust-proof and opens you up to a wide range of colors.
Aluminum is also great value for your money; it’s the least expensive of all options in the market. Outdoor furniture is made from metal and is generally more affordable than other materials.
Materials To Avoid When Choosing Patio Furniture
While all outdoor furniture materials tend to have weaknesses, some options, mainly natural materials, can’t withstand weather elements.
Though its attractive grain and color make it a popular choice among interior decorators, maple has no natural defense against moisture. So, it is vulnerable to wood rot, decay, bugs, and insects. Other popular softwoods to avoid would be pine and cedar.
One should not use natural rattan furniture outdoors because its wooden material becomes brittle and breaks when wet and cold, and the sun can damage these eco wicker sets. This material is intended for use in covered patio spaces; thus, opting for synthetic wicker furniture for exposed outdoor use is recommended.
Cotton fabric, which is mainly used in indoor furniture, is not preferred for outdoor upholstery. The most important reason is that natural cotton fibers are more absorbent than synthetics, making them susceptible to mildew, mold, and bacteria.
While metals are one of the most rigid materials for outdoor furniture, bare or metals that are not finished with rust-proofing material will rust when exposed to rain and moisture.
Choosing The Right Material For You
When selecting your outdoor furniture, it's essential to consider what you will be using it for, where you will store it, and how easy it is to maintain. There are several categories to choose from, and it’s all a matter of finding what best suits your requirements.
Hardwoods have a natural beauty and are generally easy to work with. They resist weather damage and can last decades if treated properly.
Metal is typically the strongest and most durable for outdoor furniture, as you can shape it into more complex designs than other options. It’s commonly seen on outdoor lighting and sculptures and decor. A downside, however, is that it is more prone to rust and corrosion if not cared for properly.
Synthetic materials such as resin and plastic are typically lightweight, inexpensive, and can be molded into any design. They’re fade-resistant, don’t require paints or sealants used by other materials, and are easy to clean and maintain.
Best for sleek and industrial aesthetics, concretes are becoming favorites due to their durability. The only downside is that concrete is heavy, can be challenging to move around, and is susceptible to stains.
Caring And Maintenance For Outdoor Furniture
After a few seasons, your furnishings may start to show their age with rust marks, mildew, or stains. Depending on the materials you use, specific treatments and sealants may be needed to keep your furniture for longer.
However, general care tips could help make a difference. These include:
- Reading your furniture’s care instructions
- Using gentle cleansers and soaps
- Avoiding harsh treatments such as chlorine, bleach, and abrasive cleaners
- Managing mold
- Properly store outdoor furniture when not in use
- Make use of outdoor furniture coverings
How Long Should Your Outdoor Furniture Last
Nothing lasts forever, and even the sturdiest of furnishings will need to be replaced eventually. But that being said, good and quality furnishings should generally last around 15 or more years.
- Wrought Iron: 25+ years
- Aluminum: 15+ years
- Wicker: 15+ years
- Teak: 25+ years
While there is no firm timeline as to how long outdoor furniture will last, a variety of factors also come into play:
- Frequency of Use
- Care and Maintenance
Trending Outdoor Furniture
While there is nothing wrong with shopping for outdoor furniture based on materials and longevity, it also doesn’t hurt to check in on the latest furniture trends to keep your outdoor space up to date.
Some trends that we see include:
- Rounded corners, whether gentle or exaggerated, and sculptural forms
- Natural nods that come in woven, wrapped, or strung designs
- An indoor-outdoor vibe that turns your patio into an extension of your living room
- Tropical pops of color on furniture and accent pieces
- Mixed material furniture for contrast
- Eco-friendly furniture made of recycled or reclaimed materials
- Flexible modular pieces
Outdoor furniture shopping shouldn’t be a chore, especially with the variety of options available. While style and aesthetics dictate how you shop for your furnishings, material selection is still vital when finding the best, most durable, and long-lasting pieces.
Though each material has pros and cons, doing your research is essential when investing in outdoor furniture. It’s always important to know what to expect from the materials you choose to determine if they will fit your priorities and preferences.