If this is your first time shopping for patio furniture, you may have noticed that it can cost as much if not more than indoor leather furniture. There is a simple and logical explanation for this. The difference in price depends heavily on two important factors: the type and quality of materials used, and the type and quality of the construction methods. Let’s take a moment now to explore this in more detail.
Patio Furniture Material
The materials chosen to make patio furniture are important because they need to endure the elements, such as direct sunlight, high humidity, and rain. They also need to look good year after year. For these reasons quality patio furniture is made with a synthetic resin called high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
HDPE requires little maintenance and is resistant to:
- Fading in the sun.
- Becoming brittle and cracking in the cold.
- Blemishes from food and drink stains.
The long life of HDPE is its most attractive feature. HDPE can resist fading and cracking for decades. When used together with other highly durable products, such as Sunbrella fabrics, patio furniture can look as good as new for many years.
Rattan is a natural material fiber also used to create wicker furniture. But it is not an ideal choice for outdoor use because it is not weather and damage resistant. Learn more about the difference between natural and synthetic wicker.
Thick weave furniture sets tend to cost 15% more than standard weave sets because they use more material (HDPE) and feature a cord like construction.
Learn how to determine the quality of synthetic wicker.
The fabric used for cushions needs to be weather resistant too. For this reason most patio furniture uses Sunbrella fabrics, which are known for their high quality and durability. Sunbrella fabrics are engineered to be UV resistant and utilizes Tenara sewing thread which extends the life of outdoor cushions.
Patio Furniture Construction Methods
Quality outdoor furniture is designed to look good. Lower quality furniture made from low grade plastics looks like what it is: Cheap. Good design is also important to producing furniture that is comfortable and functional while still being aesthetically pleasing.
The quality of the weave is very important to ensure a weave pattern that is tight and symmetrical. High-quality resin wicker is hand woven, using a process that is more tedious and time consuming but achieves superior results.
Woven Support System
In low quality outdoor furniture, the weave does not extend to support the seat and cushions. This makes the seat and cushion sink over time.
Patio furniture needs to be moved around often, therefore it needs to be light-weight. But it also needs to be strong enough to support the weight of a person. Aluminum is a great material for patio furniture frames because it is lightweight and strong. Aluminum is resistant to rust and corrosion, and still maintains its structural integrity even if it were to rust.
Leather Furniture Quality
Not all leather is the same. There are separate grades of leather based on quality. Quality is determined by which layer of the cow-hide the leather was taken from. The higher the layer, the higher the quality, and vice-versa. The lowest quality of leather uses pieces of lower layers ground up and blended back together using chemicals and adhesives. Then it is embossed to give it the proper look and texture of leather.
Lots of leather manufacturers use low grade leather that comes from the lower layer of the hide. This is probably the type of leather you’re trying to compare with patio furniture. Since it doesn’t have a grain, it has to be chemically treated and embossed to give it the proper texture.
Leather Furniture Construction Methods
Low quality leather furniture also tends to use inexpensive wood to construct the frame. These woods don’t hold up well over long periods of time and can start to crack or rot depending on the humidity.
Compared to low quality leather furniture, high quality patio furniture uses top-shelf materials designed to withstand the elements and built to look beautiful for years to come. This is the difference that makes HDPE patio furniture cost more. But high-quality leather furniture should be just as expensive, if not more so.
As a sidenote, you can save on outdoor patio furniture by shopping during the off season.
Patio furniture covers are a great way of protecting your investment and helps ensure the maximum lifespan.
About The Author
Cheryl Khan brings her years of experience in the furniture and design industry to the Patio Productions Blog.