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Best Outdoor Furniture Material And Care On The Map
Infographic by Aaron Stubbe

Aluminum is by far the most popular contemporary patio furniture material (even resin wicker is typically woven over an aluminum frame). The reason for aluminum's acclaim? It's strong yet relatively lightweight, and unlike other metals, it won't rust.

  • Lightweight construction makes it easy to rearrange and store
  • Resists rust and moisture damage better than other metals
  • Powder coating offers added protection against the elements
  • Tubular aluminum, made with cylindrical aluminum tubes, is the most lightweight option
  • Cast and wrought aluminum are heavy enough to withstand wind and weather conditions but still manageable to rearrange and store
Care: Minimal
  • Spray with clear water or a mild soapy mixture to remove dust and dirt
  • Maintain the finish by touching up chips in the paint to avoid oxidation

While plant material such as cane and rattan are the traditional materials used to make wicker furniture, the term "wicker" actually refers to the woven style in which the furniture is made, not the material used. Resin wicker is a longer-lasting, weather-resistant synthetic fiber weave wrapped over a metal frame.

  • Lends a traditional, homey feel to your outdoor area
  • Much more durable than traditional wicker material
  • Made with thin strands of PVC, nylon, polyethylene, or high-density polyethylene
  • Most high-end resin wicker is UV-resistant, so it won't fade or crack
Care: Minimal
  • Remove pollen and dirt by spraying with water
  • Let air dry
  • If unsure about your furniture's resistance to sunlight, keep in shaded area when not in use

Not all woods are created equal, but if there's one common benefit to all wood patio furniture, it's the ageless appeal of its natural beauty. Pine, cedar, or fir are softer woods with some degree of natural weather resistance; hardwoods such as shorea and teak boast exceptional durability and performance.

  • Lends a warm, casual feel to any outdoor space
  • Acacia and cedar offer some natural weather resistance at a great value
  • Teak provides incomparable durability that will last a lifetime if cared for properly
Care: Medium
  • Always use coasters, pads or felt to avoid the appearance of moisture rings and heat marks
  • Sealing with varnishes or stains can help prevent warping in humid climates
  • If sealed wood, clean with a mild soapy water mixture to remove dirt, dust and pollen
  • If painted wood, avoid exposure to moisture, clean with a damp cloth
  • For untreated wood, keep out of rain and direct sunlight to preserve quality – clean with lightly damp cloth

In both style and performance, recycled plastic patio furniture ranks at or near the top. Recycled plastic is extraordinarily strong and durable. It's resistant to moisture, rotting, and cracking and is impervious to salt water and stains. It also resists fading, because its color is intrinsic to the material. And best of all, most recycled plastic is made to resemble wood but requires none of the care wood does.

  • Stands up to outdoor elements with no need for sealants and varnish
  • Resistant to moisture – won't produce mildew or rot
  • Eco-friendly – many types made from plastic milk jugs and similar containers
Care: Minimal
  • Spray with clear water or a mild soapy mixture to remove dust, dirt and pollen

Wrought iron is prized for its distinctive appearance and wind-resistant sturdiness and strength. It's heavier than aluminum, and in its natural state is more vulnerable to the elements. However, the best contemporary wrought iron furniture is specially treated with weather-resistant finishes that help seal out moisture and prevent rust.

Outdoor Wrought Iron Furniture

  • Heavy weight keeps it firmly in place with no threat of being blown over
  • Provides long-lasting stability
  • Now being powder coated to further protect from moisture
Care: Medium
  • Clean with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust
  • If you spot rust, clean with mild soapy water, sand the area, then seal with similarly colored paint



Steel

Lighter than wrought iron but heavier than aluminum, steel provides strength, stability, and endurance in extreme temperatures. Powder-coated finishes aid in rust resistance. Typically used for framing high-end modern chairs and bistro-style seats, steel is also often used for retro designs and zero-gravity loungers.

Outdoor Steel Furniture

  • Its hefty weight gives it a sturdy, long-lasting construction
  • Will not dent as quickly as a lightweight aluminum
  • Powder coating helps protect from moisture to prevent rust
  • Classic look lends a clean, sophisticated look to your space
Care: Medium
  • Spray down frame with clear or soapy water to wash away dust and pollen
  • Immediately treat chips in the finish to limit exposure to the elements
  • Apply a clear coat of liquid car wax at least once a year to protect finish
Mosaic

Mosaic patio dining sets feature decorative tabletop patterns created using hand-laid tiles of slate, terra cotta, marble, or other natural materials. Incredibly heavy yet beautifully delicate, mosaics bring rich color and versatile functionality to outdoor living and dining.

Outdoor Mosaic Furniture

  • Beautiful colors and intricate designs lend an eye-catching accent to your space
  • Provides not only function, but also a lovely piece of art to your space
  • Choose from slate, marble, or terra cotta tiles
  • Frames can be constructed of aluminum, steel or iron
  • High-quality sets will be coated in a sealant to protect from the elements
Care: High, variable
  • Clean with a damp cloth to remove dust and pollen
  • If mosaic is not sealed, keep out of extreme temperatures and rain to prevent cracks in the grout
  • Use a table cover when not in use to lengthen lifespan
  • Treat chips in frame finish to avoid rusting