Most patio furniture is made from one of 4 materials. From most to least expensive we have wood, wicker, metal, or plastic.
Wooden Patio Furniture
Wood compliments a variety of garden and patio styles. It comes in two types: tropical woods like teak or mahogany, and North American woods such as cedar, redwood, or pine.
New wood looks nice and over time as it weathers and picks up the natural tones of its environment, it looks even better.
Wood doesn’t get hot in the summer or cold in the winter. It is sturdy and solid so should last a long time, from 15 years for North American woods to over 50 years for tropical woods.
The biggest problem with wood is that it is heavy and bulky. If you plan to move or store your furniture often this might not be the best choice. The other problem is that if you paint it to match your patio decor, you will be repainting often. Some woods require regular application of preservative while others need no care at all.
Technically “wicker” is a process, not a material. Wicker patio furniture has been made from woven lengths of material including rattan or cane.
It suits a casual garden decor and lasts for about 20 years. It is weather resistant so doesn’t need staining and is perfect for open, unprotected patios. The woven materials come in many colors to match any decor and they are very comfortable to sit in.
There aren’t many downsides to wicker furniture. The woven material itself requires basically no maintenance. Most wicker furniture uses seat cushions and those should be taken inside when it is sunny or humid to extend their life.
Metal can be shaped into any style desired and is sturdy and durable. Metal furniture is generally either wrought iron or aluminum.
Iron is nice and heavy so the furniture won’t blow around. However, it gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Since it rusts, it is important to touch up any cracks in the finish to extend its life.
Aluminum isn’t as heavy so is subject to windy rearrangements. However, it doesn’t get hot or cold and doesn’t rust.
Although some plastic furniture can look cheap and flimsy, you can find some very attractive pieces. Plastic can be made in any shape or color so the style choices are endless. It is often designed to be stackable for easy storage.
Plastic furniture is very light so will scatter in the wind. However, it is inexpensive, easy to care for, and lasts forever. For those who are concerned about the environmental impact, some plastic furniture is made from recycled bottles.