Patio Furniture 101
Wrought iron is a very pure iron containing 99% iron alloy, eliminating the chance of impurities that can weaken the frames as with cast iron or steel.
In addition to its decorative qualities, wrought iron is a very strong metal that has been used to make tools, railways, horseshoes, and other products. If you’re looking for patio furniture that will last the longest, wrought iron has withstood the test of time with a level of durability that’s been proven through the ages.
As far as durability, all metals can and will rust over time if exposed to inclement weather. However, wrought iron does much better than other types of steel furniture, especially high quality wrought iron that has a baked on powder coat finish. One of the best makers of wrought iron outdoor furniture in the world is Woodard. They have been doing it for over 100 years.
With so many varieties of wood on the market, it is easy to be confused as to which is best for outdoor use. Although Cedar, Cypress and Redwood are common woods for making outdoor furniture, it is widely acknowledged that the very best woods for outdoor use are grade A teak and Ipe wood. These woods need no finishing or protective coatings, will last years in the outdoors while requiring the least amount of maintenance. The best Teak supplier in the industry is Kingsley Bate. The best Ipe wood supplier is Jensen Leisure. These woods both have an outdoor lifespan of over 75 years.
Aluminum is the most popular metal for outdoor furniture. Despite its light weight, it is strong, durable and can easily be worked into a variety of intricate shapes. Aluminum is relatively inexpensive, low maintenance and never rusts.
High quality aluminum furniture has a baked on powder coat finish that can be applied in hundreds of different finishes. Powder coating ensures that the metal is sealed from the elements and will last in the harshest outdoor environments.
There are two types of aluminum outdoor furniture: Extruded and cast. Extruded furniture incorporates a tubular frame design (often times reinforced on the inside for strength) and is light weight. Cast aluminum is solid aluminum. It is made by melting pure aluminum ingot and pouring it into sand molds. This outdoor furniture is very heavy like wrought iron but has the low maintenance properties of aluminum.
Unlike other plastic materials, Recycled plastic composite furniture doesn’t peel, crack, chip or fade. It is eco-friendly, extraordinarily strong and resistant to moisture, mildew, insects and saltwater. It is usually very heavy, requires very little maintenance and offers limitless design options and colors. The leader in the field of recycled composite outdoor furniture is Seaside Casual. They’ve been making outdoor furniture for over 100 years in Rhode Island.
Synthetic or Natural Wicker
Virtually all outdoor wicker furniture is made from synthetic resin. Natural wicker is made from a variety of organic sources such as rattan, sea grass, bamboo, and even willow. While strong and aesthetically pleasing, plant-based wicker is susceptible to damage from rainy weather, moisture and humidity. Synthetic all-weather wicker is strong, light weight, fade resistant and easy to clean. There are lower quality synthetic wickers made from non-virgin vinyl which tend to become brittle, fade and crack over time. High quality outdoor wicker will be made with virgin vinyl (utilizing fungicides and UV inhibitors to prevent mildew growth and fading) along with aluminum powder coated sub frames that will never rust.
Some of the best outdoor wicker in the industry is made by Lane Venture, Woodard and Abraham George.