Love Outdoor Living? Make the Right Choice!

By  0 Comments

With the right furniture, your home’s outdoor areas can become an extension of your living space. Choosing the best outdoor materials is about more than just comfort and appearance.

Depending on where you live, the material used in your outdoor furniture can make a difference in whether it withstands the elements or will need replacement far too soon. Whether you’re furnishing a porch, patio, deck or balcony, it pays to do some research before you shop. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of some of the most popular outdoor furniture choices.

Outdoor furniture made from plastic, resin, polymer and other synthetic materials can be less expensive than furniture made from other materials. It’s available in a wide range of colors and textures and often is made from recycled materials. Less expensive pieces made from plastic and other synthetic materials may be subject to weather damage and have a relatively short life, while more expensive pieces that are kept clean can be expected to be more durable.

If you like the natural look of wood for outdoor furniture, consider teak. This hardwood has long been used on boats due to its resiliency. It turns silvery gray when left outdoors but it can be treated with a protector to maintain a deeper brown color. Other hardy woods for outdoor furniture include cedar, eucalyptus and pine. Wooden outdoor furniture typically requires the most maintenance, with all types of wood requiring some type of oil or stain to maintain their original appearance when stored outdoors. Look for wooden furniture with quality construction methods, such as stainless-steel screws or dowels and pegs, rather than staples or glue.

Furniture made from woven wicker has become one of the most popular choices for outdoor living. Natural wicker made from plant materials may not last for more than a few seasons, but wicker made from resin and other synthetics can have a much longer life span. Unlike natural wicker that fades quickly in the sun, synthetic wicker maintains its color and appearance in many types of climates when kept clean. Look for tightly woven pieces with a metal frame for durability.

This lightweight metal is widely used for outdoor furniture. When powder coated, aluminum resists rust and sun damage. Aluminum outdoor furniture is often foldable for easy storage, making it ideal for smaller outdoor spaces. Unlike wooden furniture, aluminum pieces aren’t subject to damage from insects and splintering when aged or damaged.

Steel and Iron
More substantial metals such as steel and wrought iron are used for outdoor furniture that is super weather resistant. Heavier than aluminum, stainless steel resists rust while iron requires some type of protective finish. Both metals can be powder coated to add color. Steel and iron heat up in direct sunlight, so chair and couch cushions are a necessity in warmer climates. Although metal furniture is often used for modern designs, traditional styles are also widely available.

Outdoor tables, benches and chairs made from concrete will withstand the effects of wind, water, sun and time more than any other material. Concrete can be colored and shaped in a variety of ways to match a home’s style and it requires little or no maintenance. This furniture is often too heavy to move easily and can be left out in even the harshest weather conditions.

Upholstery and cushions add comfort to any outdoor space, but most fabrics can’t stand up to the sun for long. Sunbrella is one of the exceptions. This durable woven material comes in a wide range of colors and patterns dyed with UV-stable pigments that resist sun fading and damage. Umbrellas and shades made from Sunbrella protect those underneath from 98 percent of UV radiation. The fabric also resists mildew and mold.

Outdoor Foam
Outdoor pillows and cushions that are filled with polyurethane foam absorb less moisture than those made with polyester batting. A natural option is latex foam made from rubber, which is frequently used for boat cushions due to its resistance to water damage, mildew and mold.

Synthetic Rug Fibers
Although natural fibers such as jute and seagrass have long been used for outdoor rugs, synthetic fibers can give the same natural feel. Rugs made from olefin, polyester and nylon are more weather resistant and durable than natural fibers. Synthetic outdoor rugs are available in a wide range of colors and styles.

Once you’ve invested in outdoor furniture, you can extend its life by storing it indoors when the weather turns bad. Cushions and pillows, even those made from weather-resistant fabrics, will last longer if you protect them from heavy dew, rain and snow. If indoor space isn’t available for storage, you may want to invest in furniture covers or a storage box. ■

Sources:, and