Editors Note: Updated August, 2018
Choosing the best material for outdoor furniture is a matter of research and education. You have to know how materials compare in terms of price, durability, and of course looks. Outdoor furniture is made from different materials, each one having its own pros and cons.
In order to decide which is the best patio furniture material for your home, you’ll need to consider a few key areas. You can also see which material checks all the boxes with the checklist below.
Outdoor Furnishing Material Checklist
Things to Consider When Purchasing Patio Furniture
- Weather Conditions
Types of Materials
The following will show you how to choose patio furniture. I’ll give you the main ideas and a quick run-down on each material. Also listed are additional links for more in-depth information on each of these materials. I highly suggest reading further into areas you’re interested in.
People always confuse synthetic resin wicker furniture with “rattan.” You can learn about the difference between wicker and rattan in my other post. Typically woven in a wicker weave, synthetic resin patio furniture is stylish, low-maintenance, lightweight, and highly durable.
Synthetic resin is one of the best materials for outside furniture. Always purchase High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Wicker and not cheap PVC wickers. PVC synthetics will unravel, become brittle, and crack. HDPE is a much higher grade of material. If you’ve heard of bad experiences with synthetic resins, it’s probably because the furniture was made from low-quality PVC plastic. Synthetic resin wicker is very light-weight and it’s easy to clean.
It must be noted, most synthetic resin furnishings are constructed on an aluminum frame. For this reason, the strength of synthetic resin outdoor furniture is very closely intertwined with aluminum outdoor furniture. Harmonia Living actually makes sectionals that feature thicker, commercial grade aluminum frames that use a larger gauge of aluminum.
Click here to find the lowest prices on synthetic resin patio furniture.
Teak is the best wood for patio furniture hands down. It’s often touted for its all-weather capabilities, strength, and beautiful grained finish. It produces its own oil so this is what makes it unique to other types of naturally occurring woods. It’s also a hardwood so it’s surface is very strong. You won’t get any dings or dents in it.
Teak lasts up to 50 years in comparison to other woods like pine or cedar that have to be stored in the winter season. Teak makes for a great outdoor dining tabletop or it can for armrests on outdoor chairs. It’s not quite as light as aluminum patio furniture but it’s still very mobile while offering a higher load capacity.
Make sure you learn how to take care of teak furniture before making a purchase. Some people do not like the intensive upkeep that is required (that is if you don’t want it to turn into a Silvery Patina). Wood can absorb moisture leading to rot, mildew, and mold so you have to take care of it.
Click here to browse teak patio furniture.
Cast aluminum patio furniture is a wonderful material because it lightweight and durable. Situations where you should avoid aluminum patio furniture is when you live in areas that experience high wind gusts. Not to worry if you do, there are ways to keep outdoor furniture from blowing away.
Cast aluminum is a lot stronger than you might think. Cast aluminum is the best outdoor material for chairs because dining chairs must be moved in and out during seating. In many cases, aluminum outdoor furniture offers more than enough support. Be wary, quality varies among manufacturers so make sure you purchase from a reputable brand. You can find out which ones are recommended by reading below. More on Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture.
Click Here to Browse Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture.
Wrought iron is a historical outdoor furnishing material. The term “wrought” actually means that it was “worked by hand.” This differs from “cast” iron which is made using molds. Wrought Iron is the best material for outdoor furniture if you desire uniqueness and handcrafted designs. One thing to consider, however, is that wrought iron is much heavier than aluminum. Read this to learn more about Wrought Iron Patio Furniture.
Click Here to Browse Wrought Iron Patio Furniture.
Steel is actually iron with carbon mixed in it to add strength and resistance to rust. Steel is the strongest material by far but it is also the heaviest and also more expensive. You don’t want to use steel materials for things like dining chairs or side tables that will be moved often. Also, steel can rust if not properly coated.
Although steel is very strong, there isn’t really a need for this much support. For all intents and purposes, aluminum will do just fine unless you plan on furnishing a home for an NFL team with 300 pound guys. The others above offer more than enough strength and support without going overboard and costing you more money. Here’s an example of a great steel option!
Who Makes the Best Patio Furniture
There are many different patio furniture brands to choose from but “Who makes the best patio furniture?” To get the best patio furniture for the money, you can stick with companies like Forever Patio, Alfresco Home, and Harmonia Living. Here’s a list of The Top Rated Patio Furniture Brands. You should read it once you’ve decided what type of materials you would like to use.
Best Fabric For Outdoor Furniture
This is a bit of a tangent from my main focus but I feel its pertinent to the process. I always, always recommend Sunbrella Fabrics. They are the best outdoor materials you can find and they use Tenara® Sewing Threads. Sunbrella originally made materials for marine boats and then applied this same technology to outdoor furniture. Watch what happens when this 3 year old dirt-caked sofa is cleaned with a pressure washer.
You can order Custom Sunbrella Cushions here.
I know you’re saying, “Get to the point, what’s the best material for outdoor furniture?” I hate to leave you on the fence but the final decision is ultimately up to you.
- If you want something lightweight, chic, modern, and low-maintenance, go with synthetic resin wicker furniture.
- Looking for wood furniture suitable for the outdoors, go with teak.
- Looking for metal furniture? Stick with aluminum unless you want an eclectic design. In that case, wrought iron will likely offer more ornate options.
Below is a list of materials that I would strongly suggest avoiding:
- Plastic Resin – Plastic resin is cheap, flimsy, unattractive, and fragile. Only good for temporary use.
- PVC Wicker – PVC wicker LOOKS like HDPE Wicker but when you find out what it’s really made of, you’ll see that it is not the best material to be used on outdoor furniture. Not only that, it is not recyclable like HDPE Wicker.
- Bare Metals – Bare metals will rust when exposed to rain and moisture. Make sure that any furniture you purchase is coated with a rust-proofing material.
Where to Buy Outdoor Patio Furniture
There are many companies claiming to have the “best prices” but you can rest assured that’s just what you’re getting. Patio Productions’ Lowest Price Guarantee means that they’ll match or beat any advertised price by up to 10%! You can browse online, place your order, and receive FREE SHIPPING to your home! Oh, and there’s No Sales Tax if you live outside of California!
More Tips to Buying Patio Furniture
- The Patio Furniture Buyers Guide
- Bar Stool Buyers Guide – Finding the Set that’s Just Right
- Cool in the Breeze – The Ultimate Patio Umbrella Buyers Guide
- 5 Eco Friendly Patio Furnishing Materials
About the Author
Cheryl Khan is able to lend insight on this topic after spending years in the design field. She has learned that all outdoor furniture is not the same and always advised clients to seek the very best patio furniture. She never gives advice she wouldn’t use herself.