Buyers of outdoor furniture today have lots of options when it comes to the choice of material they can purchase for their backyard or patio. Each offers its own benefits and drawbacks, so you should be aware of each option and choose the one that best fits your needs.
The classic choice for any furniture - outdoor or indoor - is good old, traditional wood.
Untreated lumber is not well suited for outdoor use, especially during the wintertime. Though it may look nice, it can easily rot from the moisture or tough climate and is also susceptible to termite damage. Stay away from untreated lumbers if you’re going to be using the finished product outside.
When it comes to outdoor patio sets and Adirondack chairs, most of the time what you’ll see is pressure treated lumber. During the pressure treating process, water and other compounds are forced into the lumber. These compounds stop wood from rotting and helps prevent termite and insect damage.
Though pressure treating does allow lumber to last longer in harsh climates, it doesn’t solve the issue of maintenance. Wood furniture will need to be cared for each year - you’ll want to check for splinters and other signs of structural damage each spring.
Separately, wood is great for painting. If you want to change the color of your chair or furniture, you have complete flexibility to do so. That said, painting, staining, and sealing will need to be done once every year or two in order to keep the furniture at its peak.
Wicker furniture is another classic choice for outdoor furniture. It’s more suited for covered porches and balconies than open spaces as it doesn’t hold up in the rain quite as well as some other options. If you have a pet dog, you may also want to consider that dogs like to chew on wicker, sometimes causing it to unravel.
There are a few different kinds of wicker, including plastic or plant based, straw-like material. In general, you can usually find wicker furniture in earth tone colors (brown, black) as well as in a traditional white.
Wicker furniture tends to be lighter than other outdoor furniture, making it easy to move around but susceptible too high winds.
You’ll need to make sure that your wicker furniture is comfortable enough that you’ll want to spend time in it. Some synthetic wicker furniture, because of its ridged texture, can dig into your skin and leave marks after awhile (though this can be solved by adding cushions).
If you do go with a wicker material, we recommend not skimping on price. Make sure you get something that will last! There is a huge difference in quality between cheap wicker that’s imported from overseas and high quality wicker that will last a long time.
Wrought Iron Furniture
Wrought iron is an iron alloy that’s typically colored black. It’s one of the heaviest and also most durable types of material used in outdoor furniture. It’s not susceptible to wind - it’s too heavy to be blown away!
Because it’s a hard, metal material, you will certainly want to invest in a good set of cushions to go with your furniture. One of the problems with cushions used for wrought iron furniture is that they can become waterlogged very easily and take several days to dry out completely.
Further, you’ll want to consider the comfort aspect of wrought iron. While it may be durable, it is a rigid material that may not always lend itself to long hours of use. And because it’s black colored and metal, it can become very hot in the summer months when exposed to sun.
Wrought iron is also fairly pricey, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when searching for your outdoor furniture.
Poly Lumber FurnitureA newer option - and one quickly rising in popularity - is poly lumber. Made of high density polyethylene (HDPE), poly lumber is made from recycled milk jugs. It has a smooth finish and comes in many different colors.
Poly lumber has several important advantages over traditional pressure treated wood. First, its colors are part of the material. No need for painting or sealing each year to maintain color. Most poly is UV resistant as well, meaning that it can stand up to the hot summer sun without fading.
Second, poly lumber won’t rot, splinter, or become food for termites. Because it’s made of plastic, it won’t absorb water or become waterlogged, and insects won’t have any interest in eating it. If you’ve ever owned a traditional wood Adirondack chair, you’ll know how annoying it is when it starts to break down and give you splinters - no need to worry about that with poly!
Depending on the color, poly can be cooler to the touch in the summer months than other options like wrought iron. Like traditional Adirondack chairs made from wood, poly chairs are shaped to allow the user to sit in them for hours on end.
One of the downsides to poly can be its heavy weight. Though it does make the furniture more structurally sound and less prone to strong winds and inclement weather, weight may be an important factor for some buyers. Generally speaking, though, a typical poly Adirondack chair will weigh about 50 pounds or less.