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In this article I will go over my thoughts and experiences on the best material for outdoor seating. I have used most of the types in this article and can speak from my experience although your outdoor space and weather may be different from mine.

The look that you are looking for in your outdoor furniture or the space that you have may narrow the choices that you use in patio furniture.

The plain metal or wooden frames will take up less space and will not look crowded in a small space. If you have a larger space, a frame covered with a rattan material and big cushions will look fuller.

Hope you find this information helpful, I will update if I find any more useful information or if somebody finds my information wrong.

The best material for outdoor seating depends on your specific needs and preferences. Common options include:

Resin or Plastic

This is the cheapest material for outdoor furniture. Most will be simple with no cushions or fancy designs. A lot of the resin chairs are made to stack for storage when not needed.

Although the resin furniture will hold an average adult in weight, moving around in the chair may cause some flexing of the material and lead to failure to hold the weight off the ground.

Most can be molded with the color injected into the liquid plastic. This makes the color last very well unless it is left in bright sunshine for extended periods of time-like a few years. The sun in the desert areas will kill this material very quickly and you should choose a more durable material.


Mainstays Dashwood Metal Conversation set in grey

When talking about metal here we will talk of steel or cast materials. The pricing of the steel may be less than cast because of the details of most cast furniture.

The metal material will cost more than the plastic, but less than most of the other materials in this article. The material is very strong and can hold weight very well in most outdoor conditions.

The big drawback to metal patio furniture is the tendency to rust if the paint is scratched. I have found if you keep up with the bad spots with sanding off the rust and painting with a quality spray paint will keep your furniture usable for many years. Just watch where it contacts the floor surface, concrete and pavers will damage your paint quickly if you move your chairs a lot.

Most will have a very durable powder-coated finish that can be had in many color choices. Most will only be available in black though.

The metal furniture will almost always have cushions to make long term seating comfortable. Sling fabric will be an alternative to the cushions for seating material. The cast metal seating almost never comes with cushions.


Park Grove Cast Aluminum Outdoor

Much like the metal material the aluminum is a very strong material for outdoor seating. The big advantage over the metal is the lack of rust in most cases. Some aluminum may still rust in the welded areas.

Most aluminum furniture frames are made of round or square tubing and have little or no fine designs. Some will look very boxy.

Like the metal material most aluminum seating will come with either cushions or a sling material for seating comfort. I have several sets of seating with the sling material, I think it last better in outdoor conditions than fabric cushions with great long term seating comfort.


Cedar wood porch swing

If you are looking for a wooden type of outdoor seating, the cedar material will be a good choice if you don't have the money to move up to teak or one of the other hardwoods.

Cedar material will almost always be in a straight line as this wood does not lend itself to many curves without giving off splinters or cracking over time. You must clean and give it a protective coat of paint once a year to keep it in good shape.

Cushions may or may not come with your cedar furniture, comfort will be better with some kind of butt protection if you are sitting for long periods of time.

Cedar will do well against outdoor pest like bugs or rodents that like to chew on wood to make a nest. Most do not like the taste or material and move on to other stuff to chew on.

Teak or Acacia wood

Teak 4 piece conversation set

If your wallet is big, I would use one of the better hardwoods for outdoor furniture. Either the teak or acacia wood will last for years with a little upkeep. Some of this type of furniture has been used for hundreds of years and is just worn where your but sits or someone picks at the finish.

The hardwoods will take to some styling of the arms and backs as it does not splinter or separate like the cedar. Surfaces of the hardwoods are naturally smooth so unless you damage it if will remain smooth all of its life.

Taking care of the wood will take a good cleaning at least once a year and an application of the correct type of oil. Each manufacturer will let you know what kind of oil you should coat your wood with.

The hard woods will be very good for outdoor furniture as they will resist any insects or rodent damage. Wet situations will not damage this material unless it sits in water for long periods of time. After a while it will absorb the water and start to swell.

Although most will come with cushions, you can use this type of material without, the seats will be too low for comfort in my opinion.

Seating cushions or sling material

2 sling swivel rockers with plant table
These are my chairs on the front porch

This is a choice that you should give some thought to before you purchase your patio furniture. The 2 types of seating comfort are very different.

The sling material will require the least work to keep looking fresh. This is a vinyl type material that is attached to the frame of you chair or sofa. It will be difficult to replace if damaged. I have 2 sets of furniture with this type of seating and have had no failures in the 10 plus years that it has been used outside.

Fabric material can have the best comfort for long term sitting. It does not last well in wet or very sunny environments. My solution is to store these types of cushions out of any extreme weather conditions when not in use for any length of time. I have several solutions to storage of cushions on this website.

Some fabric may be better than others, look at the type of fabric to get an idea of how it will do in the sun and rain. The polyester will be the entry level material here. Olefin will last a little better with the Sunbrella being one of the best for outdoor conditions. This is one thing to look at after the frame material.

FAQ's on patio furniture materials

Will some materials rust when they get wet?

Most steel and wrought iron patio furniture will have rust potential. Many of the manufacturers will coat these materials with a powder coated finish. This finish will last very well in outdoor conditions with out much work. A scratch or any damage to the finish will start the rust process.

Several times a year I look at my painted surfaces to make sure that I do not have to touch up the paint to keep the rust away.

Some aluminum frames will rust in the welds as the welding material will have some other metals in them. Keep an eye on the welds to keep this under control.

What material works better for patio furniture?

Teak or other hardwoods are the best material for long lasting patio furniture frames. Some teak or acacia wood furniture is still around from Egypt and Roman days. It dose cost more and has to be taken care of properly to last a long time. This is the type of material that you would hand down to your kids.

Aluminum will not rust in most conditions, it is a lighter weight material and may not be able to hold heavier weights. Steel will hold heavier weights, just have to watch the painted finish.

Plastic or resin will have a hard time in heavy sun conditions. The finish and material will start to decompose after just a year or 2 in hot and dry environments.

Resin rattan or original rattan material for a finish on your frames?

Both styles of rattan can be woven around most metal frames. On some furniture you cannot tell if it is regular rattan or resin rattan without a closer look.

The big advantages to resin rattan is that it will come in may colors, normally made from recycled materials, can be repaired if damaged, and is less expensive than regular rattan. It is used more than other materials for a good looking set of patio furniture at a low price.

The regular rattan has been around for years. It last very well in outdoor conditions. It will cost more than the resin rattan and will come in only a few shades of wood.

My final thoughts on patio furniture materials

Hanover Orleans Swivel chairs with fire pit

Do your homework on material and your patio seating needs before heading to the store or looking online for you patio furniture. Not all types will work for your seating needs or pocket book.

The best will cost a lot more than just the lower priced sets, in this case the higher priced sets will normally last a lot longer that the lesser priced sets if taken care of properly.

I have metal and aluminum sets in 2 of my outdoor spaces with the sling material for seating and have not trouble with seating comfort after more than 10 years, your results may be different than mine.

I hope that you have found some useful information in this article, if you still have questions leave me a note with the forms below and I will get back to you shortly.