Quality metal outdoor furniture can last decades, but which metal should you choose? Aluminum, wrought iron, and steel are the main contenders. What’s best for your patio depends on your climate, budget, use, and style preference. Let’s take a look and compare the options…
The most popular choice, aluminum garden furniture is available in a breathtaking array of styles from nouveaux to neo-classical, at every price range, and various levels of quality.
Benefits of Aluminum Furniture:
Aluminum doesn’t rust, making it a fantastic choice for outdoor living. It’s low-maintenance and easy to refurbish if needed. Heat retention is less of a concern than with steel or wrought iron, reducing the risk of sizzled skin. Aluminum patio furniture resists corrosion, so it can be used near a pool or ocean spray. Plus, lightweight aluminum furnishings are the easiest to rearrange and store.
With aluminum, there’s plenty of variation in price, quality, and durability. Tubular aluminum patio furniture, often found in folding chairs and tables, is lightweight, inexpensive, and should be stored when heavy weather hits. More substantial aluminum pieces can weather the storms. Cast-aluminum pieces are solidly built and offer the beauty of wrought iron without the weight.
Aluminum Furniture Precautions:
If high winds are a concern, you might find a heavier metal more practical, or plan to use anchors, weights, or tethers to keep metal outdoor chairs from blowing away.
How to Clean Aluminum Furniture:
- Spray with clean water or a mild soap solution to remove dust and dirt.
- Chipped paint? Touch it up ASAP to maintain protection against oxidation.
Steel is the stuff of beautiful bistro sets, luxurious zero-gravity loungers, and glamorous retro designs. Steel is known for its strength; just keep in mind that it’s heavier and more expensive than aluminum options.
Benefits of Steel Furniture:
Steel doesn’t dent or get bent out of shape as easily as some aluminum furnishings can. Lighter than wrought iron but heavier than aluminum, steel provides strength, stability, and endurance in extreme temperatures. Powder-coated finishes protect against rust and corrosion. Galvanized steel lasts longer and requires less maintenance than other forms of steel.
Steel Furniture Precautions:
Dining chairs, side tables, and other items that have to move frequently aren’t good candidates for heavy steel. Any kind of chip in the finish can allow rust to get going, too, so if you live in a humid or rainy area, steel won’t provide zero-maintenance ease.
How to Clean Steel Furniture:
- Wash dust and pollen from metal garden furniture using a periodic spray-down with clean water and mild suds.
- When you see a chip in the finish, act fast to touch it up. Wash the area, sand away any hint of rust, and apply a matching protective paint to the area.
- Apply clear liquid car wax at least once a year to protect the finish.
If you’re furnishing a formal garden or traditional terrace, wrought iron certainly looks the part. “Wrought” literally means worked by hand. Wrought iron furniture can be formed into graceful curves without cracking or losing strength. For centuries, wrought iron has been exposed to the weather in uses such as ironclad warships, railways, and horseshoes, so this outdoor furniture can last a lifetime.
Benefits of Wrought Iron Furniture:
Wrought-iron furniture can handle exposure and inclement weather better than other materials. It’s heavy, which prevents tipping and roaming in the wind. With a little care, wrought-iron patio furniture can live outdoors year-round. At more than 99% iron, wrought iron has very few impurities. That means strength you can depend on.
Wrought Iron Furniture Precautions:
Wrought iron is not for the faint of wallet. This metal furniture more expensive, but is an investment that many people are willing to make for the quality. Wrought iron furniture is heavy, and hence not ideal if you often move or rearrange your patio set. If you don’t want to deal with cushions, you may find iron uncomfortably hot in the sun and cold on cooler days.
How to Clean Wrought Iron Furniture :
- Wipe chairs and tables clean with a damp cloth.
- The finish may chip away over time and expose bare metal. If not protected, these spots will begin to rust. In case of a rust spot, clean with mild soapy water, sand the area, then seal with a matching finish.
Metal Outdoor Furniture Options
From a casual small-space bistro set to poolside lounge chairs, there are a wide variety of patio furniture designs from which to choose. Take a look at some of our most popular categories as you select the perfect set for your outdoor space.
Find More Outdoor Furniture Tips & Ideas:
- Keep your purchases protected. Learn the ins and outs with our Outdoor Furniture Cover Buying Guide.
- With so many options, check out The Best Outdoor Furniture Materials Based on Where You Live to get the right fit.
- Let your deck do double duty with these 12 Outdoor Dining Set Ideas for Your Deck & Patio.
- Create a cozy coffee spot or lounge area with tips in our Outdoor Conversation Set Buying Guide.