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Outdoor furniture material guide

As we promised when we did our blog eight things to consider when picking outdoor furniture, here is our outdoor furniture materials’ guide. 

Picking the right material for your outdoor furniture takes thought to balance different considerations. These might include: maintenance, longevity, style, and comfort.


Plastic outdoor furniture has the benefit of being inexpensive and easy to care for. You can even get furniture made from recycled plastic. The downside to plastic furniture is that it is less durable than other materials and may be more likely to break. However it is easy to clean, low maintenance, and handles weather well. 


Wood outdoor furniture is durable, but requires some maintenance. Wood makes for a great classic appearance and a natural vibe that other materials lack. The different types of wood have different properties (and costs), and should be considered independently.


Teak is one of the most durable choices in outdoor furniture. It can withstand harsh outdoor elements, is naturally impervious to insects, and can last seventy-five years. Teak requires very little maintenance, just an annual cleaning, however it will patina. If you do not want it to patina (this does not affect the integrity of the furniture), a teak sealant should be applied annually. Teak however is rather more costly than other materials, but this may average out over the lifespan of the piece.


Eucalyptus outdoor furniture is not as durable as teak, but can still last twenty-five years. Like teak it has natural insect resistance.  It requires regular sealing to prevent moisture getting in, though.


Acacia is ideal for outdoor furniture in humid climates. In addition Acacia is considered a renewable resource because of how fast the trees grow, making it more environmentally friendly than other options. Acacia furniture can last around thirty years, however it may need more maintenance than other woods.


Cedar outdoor furniture can last up to thirty years or longer. Cedar is insect resistant and a good alternative to teak.


There are a variety of metals used in making outdoor furniture, below are a quick summary of a few of the most common.


Aluminum is a lightweight material for outdoor furniture, which makes the furniture easy to move around–whether by you or the wind. Aluminum is rust resistant and can even be used around salt water. 


Steel furniture should either be stainless or galvanized steel to assist in resisting rust. It is more resistant to being carried about by the wind than aluminum, and also resists dents.

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron furniture is beautiful, but can rust easily. Many newer wrought iron pieces are powder coated against rust, but this is not 100% protection, and maintenance is still needed. In addition wrought iron gets very hot very easily, so you may wish to have something like a cushion between you and the chair.


Ratten may not be ideal for outdoor furniture in Maryland, as it is not moisture resistant. It is recommended that you cover rattan furniture before it rains, but this seems impractical in Maryland or D.C. However synthetic wickers will let you get the classic look of rattan without the risk of damage by rain.


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