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8 Most Durable Outdoor Patio Furniture Materials

Castlery   |   Dec 4, 2023

When buying outdoor furniture, you probably look for the same qualities as you would for inside pieces, namely comfort and style.

But, there is one factor that becomes far more important for outdoor patio furniture than it would for your living room - and that’s durability. Not only will your patio furniture have to deal with all the rigors of everyday life, such as kids, pets, spillages, and more, but it also needs to cope with the external elements.

While you can cover your furniture or store it, there are other things you have to keep in mind - such as mold, mildew, rust, and corrosion.

Of course, some materials are far better at coping with these outdoor conditions than others. That said, let’s take a look at the top 8 most durable materials for outdoor furniture!

What to consider when selecting outdoor materials

When choosing materials for outdoor furniture, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you select the best option for your needs. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting outdoor materials:

Durability

Outdoor furniture must be able to withstand exposure to the elements, including sun, wind, rain, and snow. Consider materials that are durable and resistant to rust, corrosion, and fading.

Also, consider how often you’ll be using these furniture. If you frequently host guests and lounge outdoors, choosing more durable materials like wood would be more suitable compared to plastic.

Maintenance

Consider how much time and effort you are willing to spend on maintaining your outdoor furniture. Some materials, such as teak or aluminum, require little maintenance, while others, such as wrought iron, may require regular staining.

Rain and humidity

Outdoor materials should be able to handle rain and humidity without deteriorating.

If you’re living in an areas with high moisture levels, be sure to opt for furniture that is water-resistant or has been treated to withstand moisture. Moisture can create the ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. This can cause a musty odor, unsightly stains, and can even impact the health of those who spend time in the outdoor space.

Furthermore, metal furniture that is exposed to moisture can be susceptible to rust and corrosion. This can lead to damage and even compromise the structural integrity of the furniture.

Sun exposure

Outdoor materials should be able to withstand prolonged exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause certain materials to fade, become brittle, or even crack.

In addition to fading, sun exposure can cause some materials to become discolored or yellowed. This can make furniture look old and unattractive.

Wind and storms

Outdoor materials should be able to withstand wind and storms without becoming damaged or blown away. Materials that are too lightweight or not secured properly can easily become damaged or dislodged during a storm.

Comfort

Outdoor furniture should be comfortable and functional. Consider materials that provide a comfortable seating surface, such as cushions or padded seats, and that are designed to withstand the weight of people using them.

The most durable outdoor furniture materials

Wood

Wood is often the go-to material for outdoor lounge furniture. It’s durable and beautiful – making it the natural choice.

However, it’s important to remember that not all wood is the same. There is a very big difference between hardwoods and softwoods. The way they respond to atmospheric conditions can make the difference between your outdoor lounge furniture lasting years or lasting decades.

A teak outdoor dining table with a vase, water kettle, and glasses atop. The Rio Teak Dining Table with 6 Chairs. Picture credits: @houseofhanes

Hardwoods such as teak will stand up very well to the elements. They are also generally strong and resistant to insects, cracking, and warping. Teak is a dense, oily hardwood that is naturally resistant to water, rot, and insects. It's a popular choice for outdoor furniture because of its durability and natural beauty. Unfortunately, teak does not come cheap and can be heavy and cumbersome.

Softerwoods like pine and cedar look beautiful but will be much more susceptible to weathering and will need a much higher degree of protection.

Whether you choose hardwood or softwood, all outdoor wooden furniture will need some degree of care in the form of oiling, painting, or varnishing to protect the natural resistance.

Aluminum

Aluminum is another popular material for outdoor patio furniture because of its durability, lightweight, and resistance to rust and corrosion.

An outdoor section sofa with a black aluminum frame sits atop a wooden deck. The Sorrento Sectional Sofa has a black aluminum frame that boasts a sleek design.

It's also easy to clean and maintain, making it an ideal choice for outdoor living spaces. Aluminum furniture is available in a variety of styles and designs, from modern to traditional, and can be powder-coated in any color to match your outdoor decor.

The downside to aluminum is that it can still be prone to scratches and dents, which can be unsightly and may require touch-ups or repairs over time.

Stainless steel

This metal alloy is extremely strong, which makes it a great choice for sofa frames or dining table supports. It’s also very high density which means it is quite hard to damage, and very durable over long periods of times.

But, its most appealing quality, and the reason it is a popular choice for outdoor furniture, is that it is more or less immune to rust and corrosion. This is especially beneficial in coastal areas where a high salt quantity in the air can be particularly bad for corrosion of other types of metal. It is also easy to clean, making it one of the most convenient durable outdoor patio furniture materials.

However, it’s not all good news. Stainless steel is good at dealing with hot temperatures from a physical point of view but it can get very hot to touch, which means it is not always suitable for furniture surfaces.

Rattan

Rattan is a type of vine that is woven into furniture, and it is a popular choice for outdoor furniture because it is lightweight, easy to move around, and resistant to weather and sun damage.

An outdoor sofa with a rattan sofa suspension and a black metal frame. The Sierra Sofa has a rattan weaving suspension.

One of the main advantages of rattan is its natural look, which can give your outdoor living space a cozy, relaxed feel. Rattan furniture is also versatile and can be used in a variety of styles, from traditional to modern. It's also relatively easy to clean and maintain, and can be treated with special coatings to help protect it from the elements.

However, there are a few downsides to rattan as well. Firstly, while rattan is generally weather-resistant, it can still be prone to fading or cracking over time, especially if it is exposed to a lot of sunlight. Rattan furniture can be difficult to repair if it becomes damaged, as it is woven together and may require professional restoration. Lastly, rattan seats are not as comfortable and have to be supplemented with a cushion or fabric.

Wrought iron

This kind of iron has been used for centuries to make outdoor furniture because it is incredibly strong and durable. In fact, if properly cared for, this is a material that can last for hundreds of years and maintain its condition. And thanks to the way it is made, being hammered into shape when hot and malleable, it can be formed into very ornate and intricate styles.

However, wrought iron can be susceptible to corrosion and rusting if not treated correctly. Most modern designs will be treated with a weather resistant finish but this may need to be reapplied every few years. Wrought iron can also be a little uncomfortable if not used with seat cushions or covers.

Plastic

Plastic outdoor lounge and dining furniture is a lightweight and affordable option, much more practical than wrought iron or stainless steel.

In the past, plastic outdoor furniture has been very susceptible to fading and cracking, but modern variants are generally treated to be much more resistant. The other major benefit of plastic furniture is that it does not need to be treated or maintained in the same way that wood or iron furniture does.

One of the main downsides is that plastic is not always best suited to exposure to UV, which means lengthy periods in the sun can cause the material to degrade slightly.

However, modern plastics are again much better at this than in the past. Synthetic polyethylene resin plastics are incredibly hard wearing and can be used to make rattan style furniture that has a more natural appearance.

Resin wicker

Resin wicker, is a synthetic material that is designed to mimic the look and feel of natural wicker, but with added durability and weather resistance.

Resin wicker chairs are placed in the garden along with a wooden dining table. The Como Dining Chairs has a Polyethylene (PE) wicker seat and backrest. Also pictured, the Sorrento Dining Table.

It is a common choice for outdoor furniture as it is highly resistant to the elements, including rain, sun, and humidity. It won't fade or discolor with prolonged exposure to sunlight, and it won't crack or break when exposed to extreme temperatures.

While resin wicker is generally more durable than natural wicker, it can still be prone to cracking or breaking over time, especially if exposed to extreme temperatures or heavy use.

Tempered glass

Tempered glass is very tough and an ideal material for outdoor dining table surfaces and coffee tables. It is very resistant to both UV and high temperatures, won’t fade or crack over time and is very easy to clean.

However, glass is not usually an ideal material for chairs and sofas as it can be slippery, especially when wet.

The above most durable outdoor furniture materials will all give you the best value for your investment. With the right treatment and care, these can all give you years of outdoor dining and entertaining pleasure. However, you should always remember to use outdoor furniture covers or store in a covered dry place when not in use. That way your furniture will look better for longer, need less cleaning and maintenance, and keep your outdoor areas looking their best.

FAQs

Can you leave patio furniture outside in winter?

It is not recommended to leave patio furniture outdoors in the winter as it can shorten the lifespan of the furniture. Some materials, like teak, aluminum, and certain types of synthetic wicker, are designed to withstand exposure to the elements, including winter weather. But, if you're leaving your patio furniture outside, we recommend using furniture covers to protect them from harsh weather.

What are the best types of outdoor furniture for different climates?

Choose materials like teak or aluminum for humid climates and consider weather-resistant options like synthetic rattan or wrought iron for rainy environments.

How do I properly care for outdoor furniture?

Regular cleaning, storing during harsh weather, and applying protective coatings are essential for maintaining outdoor furniture. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Patio Furniture for more tips on properly maintaining your outdoor furniture.

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