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Patio Furniture Guide – Types of Materials

What better way to enjoy great weather than in your home’s outdoor space. Deciding what outdoor pieces are best for you is the first step.

 

Types of Patio Furniture Materials

Before making a purchase it’s a good idea to think about how a piece is constructed, as different materials have varying functional, comfort and maintenance considerations.

Wood

Woods such as teak, cedar and pine are patio favourites as they offer a natural, casual and contemporary look and feel. Woods are naturally weather-resistant, solid and sturdy and conduct temperature such that they won’t get too hot or cool. Use brightener and oil to maintain wood’s natural and original look, and if painting wood use paint with UV filters to prevent fading.

Teak: This naturally oily wood stands up well to rain. To maintain its rich colour sand it and apply teak oil twice (or at least once) a year.

Cedar: Often used for Adirondack-style outdoor furniture, this wood also holds up well to the elements and develops a weathered silver-gray colour over time. Cedar can be left unfinished, stained or painted. To maintain cedar furniture, apply a protective furniture oil once a year. As with other woods, wash cedar with warm soapy water and rinse.

Pine: Hearty and weather-resistant, pine is quite sturdy yet does not weather as attractively as teak or cedar. To maintain pine’s colour and increase its durability it should be treated with a protective finish.

Wrought Iron

A heavier material, wrought iron offers a sturdy place to sit, eat and relax and is available in a wide variety of styles and patterns. Wrought iron offers excellent resistance to mildew corrosion and is often powder-coated or painted for increased durability. Look for UV-resistant finishes.

To maintain wrought iron furniture, inspect it for any chips every now and then. Touch up any cracks or chips with a rust-proof paint of a similar colour. First, use sandpaper and a bristle brush over the chipped area, then apply the paint over the smoothed surface in one or two coats. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse.

Steel

Steel of course is very durable and sturdy. Steel welding and components won’t rust easily and therefore stand up well to the elements. Outdoor furniture made with steel often requires little to no assembly.

To maintain steel furniture, apply a protective finish to prevent rust (rust is often not covered under warranties so good maintenance is key). Wash with mild soap and rinse. If protected by a covering, remove the cover in good weather to avoid condensation, which can lead to rust.

Aluminum

Aluminum pieces require very little maintenance and are lighter and often less expensive than wood and other metal furnishings. Additionally, aluminum furniture does not rust or fade easily. Although durable, pieces crafted from aluminum can dent when force is applied to them so it’s important to take some care when moving and storing them. Also, their light construction means they are more easily blown by winds than wood, steel and wrought iron pieces.

To maintain aluminum furniture, try using a car wax or mineral oil. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse. Powder-coat finishes provide aluminum with increased capability to deal with wear and tear.

Wicker

Wicker refers to twigs and reeds woven together. A patio and deck favourite, wicker is stylish, durable and imparts a natural, casual look. Lightweight, wicker furniture can be easily moved and arranged. It is made from a variety of materials, including cane, rattan and willow. Wicker is typically treated with at least one clear coat of varnish or lacquer to bolster its durability.

To maintain plastic outdoor wicker hose down to remove airborne dust and dirt and supplement by washing with warm soapy water and a rinse every now and then. It is preferable to avoid using water when cleaning genuine wicker. Wicker should be touched up every season with either clear varnish or paint, depending on the finish.

Resin

Resin is a material used to create outdoor furniture, including pieces with a wicker look. Wicker style furniture crafted with resin is more durable and is fade, mildew and corrosion resistant. It is also easier to maintain than its natural wicker counterparts and can be left outdoors regardless of the season. Scuff marks can be removed with a gentle abrasive.

Plastic

Plastic patio decor is a light, often stackable, and relatively inexpensive option. For those who want to limit their impact on the environment, some outdoor furniture, like plastic lumber, is made of recycled plastic milk containers. This material is not only very durable, it’s easy to maintain and UV protected. The furniture itself is also recyclable. Plastic lumber is available in a variety of wood-look styles such as Adirondack-style chairs, wood benches and tables and comes in a rich assortment of colours. To maintain plastic outdoor furniture use cleaners that help prevent mildew and rinse down with water.