From Adirondack chairs to patio dining sets, outdoor furniture is designed to withstand the elements. However, some outdoor furniture materials may hold up better in warm, dry climates rather than cold, wet climates. Read on to consider the full range of patio furniture’s most popular materials – and each one’s style, durability, strength, maintenance level, and performance in particular climates – so you can choose the best outdoor furniture material for your outdoor space.
Aluminum is by far the most popular contemporary patio furniture material (even resin wicker is typically woven over an aluminum frame). It resists rust and moisture damage better than other metals and a powder coated finish will offer added protection against the elements. Aluminum is strong yet relatively lightweight, making it easy to rearrange and store. Tubular aluminum, made with cylindrical aluminum tubes, is the most lightweight option. Wrought and cast aluminum are heavy enough to withstand wind and weather conditions but still manageable to rearrange and store.
- Lightweight construction makes it easy to move
- Resists rust and moisture damage better than other metals
- Powder coating offers added protection against the elements
- Requires little care and is easy to clean
- Withstands: Rain, sunlight, and extreme temperatures
- 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
Overall Care Level: Minimal
Also known as all-weather wicker, resin wicker is a longer-lasting, weather-resistant synthetic fiber weave wrapped over a metal frame. 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 typically made with thin strands of PVC, nylon, polyethylene, or high-density polyethylene.
- Lends a traditional, homey feel to your outdoor area
- More durable than traditional wicker material
- Most high-end resin wicker is UV-resistant, so it won’t fade or crack
- Withstands: Rain, sunlight, and humidity
- 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
Care Level: Minimal
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
- Withstands: Rain (if sealed properly), sunlight, humidity, wind, and extreme temperatures
- 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
Care Level: Medium
In both style and performance, recycled plastic patio furniture ranks at or near the top. Recycled plastic is extraordinarily strong and extremely 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.
- Require little to no maintenance and is easy to clean
- Naturally resistant to fading and moisture – won’t produce mildew, rot, or rust
- Eco-friendly – many types made from plastic milk jugs and similar containers
- Withstands: Rain, humidity, wind, and extreme temperatures
- Easy to clean – simply 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 patio furniture is specially treated with weather-resistant finishes that help seal out moisture and prevent rust.
- Heavy weight keeps it stable and firmly in place with no threat of being blown over
- Now being powder coated to further protect from moisture
- Withstands: Sunlight and wind
- 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
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.
- Its hefty weight provides a sturdy, long-lasting construction
- Will not dent as easily as a lightweight aluminum
- Powder coating helps protect from moisture to prevent rust
- Classic look lends a clean, sophisticated look to your space
- Withstands: Rain, humidity, and extreme temperatures
- 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
Care Level: Medium
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 intricate designs to outdoor living and dining.
- Provides not only function, but also a lovely piece of art to your space
- Furniture frames can be constructed of aluminum, steel or iron
- High-quality sets will be coated in a sealant to protect from the elements
- Withstands: Rain (if sealed properly) and humidity
- 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