Of all the woods used in furniture making, teak has perhaps the richest and longest history. Since ancient times, furniture makers have recognized the distinct benefits of teak such as its natural resistance to decay, its strong structural properties, its exotic aroma, and it ability to prevent rust and corrosion in the metals in which it contacts. This property in particular made teak invaluable to ship builders.
Today, teak is considered a luxury wood due to its cost over other hardwoods. However, for many people the expense is worth it as teak will seemingly last forever. In fact, some park benches in England made of teak are upwards of one-hundred years old and still as strong as ever!
Teak is also a great wood to use with metallic elements to produce distinctive and attractive patio furniture. Many fine furniture makers combine teak furniture with steel or aluminum accents to give the pieces an eye-catching flair. If you are interested in only the very best for your outdoor furniture, teak is definitely the right choice.
Because of its combination of density, strength and durability, Brazilian Cherry can be used in direct, all season, outdoor use. It weathers naturally to a beautiful silver-grey. The species Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba) is now the most popular hardwood flooring imported from Brazil into the USA. Brazilian Cherry, known for its hardness and durability, is a great choice in both indoor and outdoor residential and commercial applications. Long prized for its beauty, it is used in fine furniture and cabinetry, flooring, stair treads, parquet, outdoor decking, marine docks as well as architectural details, highly decorative veneers, joinery and turnery. Brazilian Cherry is used for wheel rims, railroad ties, canoes, gear cogs, and other specialty items.
Shorea is a heavy tropical hard wood comparable to teak. Because of its high oil content, shorea easily sheds water making it highly resistant to rotting. Also highly resistant to bug infestation, this dense wood makes excellent outdoor furniture. Moderate checking in the grain is normal with weathering and many prefer the beautiful weathered silver gray color, which happens naturally.
Pine is the most plentiful and least expensive of all. Pine is the most popular wood for construction and is probably the wood that is holding your house together! When treated can stand up to years of exposure to the elements without rotting, twisting, and warping. Additionally, it is the most environmentally sound wood as much of it comes from tree plantations instead of old growth forests.
For those who desire a classic wooden furniture ensemble without the high cost of cedar or teak, pine is a great choice. If you are using the furniture on an outdoor deck, there is a good chance that the deck itself is made from pine too. The only real drawback to using pine is its vulnerability to rot. However, by applying a liberal weatherproofing coat to the exterior, you should be able to enjoy your pin furniture for years to come.
Cedar is perhaps the most distinctive of American hardwoods due to its deep red color (in western red cedar) and its appealing fragrance. While these two qualities make cedar aesthetically appealing, it is cedar’s natural resistance to rot and insects that make it such a popular choice for furniture. In fact, many dressers and linen closets are lined with cedar for the very purpose of keeping bugs away.
Outdoor furniture makers have long exploited the qualities of cedar to make fine furniture that can stand up to the elements and last for generations. Unlike pine, you will never need to chemically treat cedar to weatherproof it as its natural oils work well on their own. However, the color will change over time into a pleasing silvery gray. For those that love the distinct fragrance of cedar and appreciate its other qualities, cedar may be the right wood for your outdoor furniture ensemble.
All-weather wicker is manufactured predominantly for use in outdoor furniture. It is meant to look like natural wicker, but is made of a synthetic resin material that only requires minimal maintenance and is extremely durable.
All-weather wicker is a very similar looking material. However, it is not subject to the impact of the elements. Synthetic polyethylene resin wicker is durable, resistant against the sun’s UV radiation as well as against humidity and water. The color is added in the production process and forms part of the fiber, thereby maintaining visual appeal. It is also very elastic and sturdy, providing for great stability and seating comfort. This wicker requires much less maintenance. It is very easy to clean; it can simply be hosed down. It also does not require to be re-painted, as its colors barely fade over time. Due to these features, resin wicker has become extremely popular for outdoor products such as patio furniture.
Aluminum is a popular for patio furniture because of the resistance to corrosion and lighter weight. The property of aluminum that makes it so valuable for outdoor uses is its resistant to rust due to the thin layer of oxidation that forms when exposed to air. Most aluminum furniture is painted with a final finish using a powder coating process that essentially bakes the finish onto the aluminum.
Many furniture makers make furniture using “cast aluminum.” Like the name implies, this type of aluminum furniture is made by pouring molten aluminum into a cast which is made by pressing a wooden mold into sand. Once the wooden mold is removed from the sand, the impression left is where the aluminum is poured. Once the aluminum hardens, the sand is simply knocked away leaving a beautiful aluminum cast. This technique also allows fine detailing.
Manufacturers use two grades of stainless steel for outdoor furniture; 316 Grade, commonly known as ‘marine grade’ and 304 Grade, more commonly used for garden furniture. Both 316 and 304 are hardwearing and suitable for use in inland locations while 316 is ideal for use in coastal areas and marine environments, where oxidation could be a problem.
Please note: In coastal areas where extreme humidity is present, 316 Grade stainless steel products and hardware may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance. Stainless steel products should not be used in an indoor chlorine environment. All outdoor furniture, including stainless steel, requires some maintenance to keep it looking its best.
Wrought iron is a weighty material that is great for sustaining high winds. Most wrought iron is powder coated and electro-statically painted. A chip in the paint and a little water can bring about rust, so keep some touch up paint handy. Don’t wash with any harsh chemicals, soap and water will do.
Recycled polymer furniture is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), UV-inhibited pigment systems, foaming compounds, and selected process additives. The HDPE primary raw material is derived from post-consumer bottle waste, such as milk and detergent bottles or other HDPE post industrial material. This material is cleaned by a decontamination process to a high purity level, which removes contaminants such as food residue, paper, and adhesives. It is then compounded into a rigid board stock material; with the resulting finished product containing over 90% recycled plastic by weight.
Because HDPE products are made with a single, purified polymer, they are manufactured to exacting, reproducible specifications. They have exceptional resistance to corrosive substances, oil and fuels, insects, fungi, salt spray, and other environmental stresses. They do not absorb moisture; therefore, they will not rot, splinter, or crack. HDPE products have excellent weathering resistance; however, as with other polyolefins, it is possible that the material will fade slightly over the service life of the product. These products require no water proofing, painting, staining, or similar maintenance when used in many exterior applications.