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What’s the best outdoor patio furniture material?

What’s the best outdoor patio furniture material?

material world

By: Claire Ruhlin

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How to choose the best patio furniture material

When shopping for outdoor furniture, it’s just as important to choose the right furniture material as it is to choose the right style and size furniture for your space. When choosing your patio furniture, you’ll want to consider the look you’re going for, the durability you need, the weather conditions of your area, and how you need your furniture to function. 

Read on for our breakdown of the most common outdoor patio furniture materials and the unique qualities of each. 

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Teak patio furniture

Of all the hardwoods, teak is the hardest and most durable, making it the best wood for outdoor furniture. Not only is teak beautiful, but it’s also extremely hardwearing, easy to care for, and resistant to rot and mold, making it an ideal choice for even the harshest of weather conditions. If sourced properly, teak is also a sustainable furniture material

When properly constructed of grade-A teak, teak furniture will outperform most other materials in both cold and warm climates. (When exposed to direct UV rays, teak furniture will weather to a silvery-grey color on the top surface. This grey color is cosmetic only and does not impact durability. To learn more, view our tips for teak furniture care.) 

Grade-A teak is timber taken from the center of the log and is the highest-quality teak wood. Look for a uniform, golden brown color along with a close grain structure. Grade-B teak wood is suitable in many applications and has virtually the same longevity characteristics as grade-A teak; however, it cosmetically has more of a rustic look to the exposed surfaces. Always avoid grade-C teak, as this cut of wood is from the softer exterior of the tree and does not have the same weathering characteristics. Grade C is frequently noticeable when you see long streaks of lighter color wood along the edges of a piece of furniture.

When choosing teak outdoor furniture, it’s also important to source from reputable, industry-trusted brands that specialize in premium-quality teak furniture, such as Kingsley BatePOVL OutdoorBarlow TyrieCane-line, and Gloster (to name a few).

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Metal patio furniture

Metals such as aluminum or stainless steel are often used in the frames of outdoor furniture. Aluminum outdoor furniture is typically made from either cast aluminum or extruded (tubular) aluminum. While these two types of aluminum are the same material, their manufacturing processes are different. Cast aluminum is constructed by pouring hot liquid aluminum into a mold or a cast, allowing for more detailed designs. Extruded aluminum is made of a hollow tube that is bent and cut into its final shape. This allows for a lightweight material that’s still able to withstand a variety of climates. (If you live in a windy climate, make sure your aluminum frames are reinforced with all-weather steel to ensure they remain in place.)

Stainless steel outdoor furniture—which is commonly made from 304-grade stainless steel—is even stronger than aluminum. This material is suitable for all climates but may oxidize in salt-air environments. To avoid oxidation, look for stainless steel furniture that’s made from 316 marine-grade stainless or electropolish stainless steel, both of which are highly resistive to the effects of salt air.  Powder-coated stainless steel is also a great option for salt-air environments, as the powdered finish serves as a protective barrier against the elements. 

The key to choosing long-lasting metal outdoor furniture is to make sure that it’s crafted from  100% aluminum or 100% stainless steel (some metal furniture is made with 80% of the main metal and 20% of a lower quality, less durable metal). Make sure you source your furniture from established brands with reputations for producing outstanding metal furniture, such as Barlow TyrieCane-line, GlosterSunset West, and Kingsley Bate (just to name a few), all of which are carried by AuthenTEAK. 

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Recycled plastic patio furniture

When it comes to patio furniture materials, recycled plastics are a great durable, low-maintenance, and eco-friendly option. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a durable plastic often used to make plastic containers. HDPE patio furniture keeps these plastics out of landfills and is also one of the most durable and low-maintenance materials in the outdoor furniture industry. Not only is HDPE furniture built to withstand all four seasons, but it also doesn’t absorb much heat in the sun, and excessive moisture doesn’t cause rot or warping. 

A brand that has become synonymous with beautiful, high-quality HDPE furniture is POLYWOOD, whose USA-made furniture collections are backed by a 20-year warranty. “HDPE furniture is amazingly low-maintenance and virtually indestructible—but better yet, this furniture has a great sustainability story,” says AuthenTEAK CEO Eric Brenner. “Not only does the POLYWOOD brand of furniture put ocean-bound plastics to good use, but because their furniture is so well made, it does not have to be replaced very often.”

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All-weather wicker patio furniture

All-weather wicker is made from durable, synthetic resin wicker, is one of the best materials for patio furniture, as it’s low maintenance, lightweight, and durable. 

High-quality all-weather wicker is 100% solution-dyed—which means the color penetrates through the fiber and rather than just on the top layer. This allows the furniture to resist cracking or peeling. Good outdoor wicker furniture will also have been treated with a UV stabilizer, which further prevents the fiber strands from fading, cracking, or peeling. For cold climates, look for all-weather wicker furniture that has a sub-frame made of powder-coated and fully welded aluminum. Your best bet for sourcing high-quality all-weather wicker furniture is by shopping from reputable brands such as Cane-line, Gloster, Sunset West, and Kingsley Bate (to name a few). 

The performance fabrics used in patio upholstery are made for living, designed with long-lasting strength that stands up to wear, tear, mold, and mildew. We source outdoor furniture with premium performance fabrics, that are easy to clean and UV-resistant, so you can keep your upholstered patio furniture looking good and feeling comfortable for seasons to come.

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Upholstered patio furniture

Upholstered outdoor furniture typically features quick-dry cushions upholstered in high-performing solution-dyed acrylic fabrics (often from reputable brands such as SunbrellaOutdura, and Silver State. These fabrics are resistant to fading, mold, mildew, and water—plus they’re spill-proof and stain-resistant. 

To keep outdoor upholstery looking fresh, treat it with a stain protector, which repels water and moisture and helps prevent food and drink stains. You can also periodically clean outdoor cushions and pillows with an outdoor upholstery cleaner to remove dirt or mildew. To ensure the best quality, make sure you’re sourcing upholstered patio furniture from brands such as POVL OutdoorBarlow TyrieCane-line, GlosterLane VentureLee Industries, or Talenti, which prioritize quality and longevity.

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Protecting patio furniture materials

With proper care and protection, outdoor furniture can last (and look beautiful) for years to come. Investing in protective covers for patio furniture and accessories prevents damage from the sun and the elements. (Only use covers on completely dry furniture to avoid trapping in moisture, and avoid placing objects on top of furniture covers, which can cause mold or mildew.) Although outdoor furniture is low-maintenance, it’s a good idea to give it a bit of TLC every now and then. For materials like teak, all-weather wicker, or stainless steel, invest in a good protectant that slows the weathering process and apply about 1-2 times a year. You’ll also want to clean your furniture with a good-quality cleaner made specifically for outdoor furniture. 

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