How to choose the right materials for outdoor furniture
Looking for furniture for your outdoor use? Wondering what materials best suit the purpose of your needs? Outdoor furnishings that can withstand the blazing sun all day; heavy hotel guest usage?
Outdoor spaces and patios beckon, especially when the sun is shining. Choosing outdoor furniture is pretty much the same process as choosing indoor furniture, except for one rather large consideration: the weather. Are you in a tropical environment? Or is your climate cold and/or hot? How do you balance the looks of your outdoor furniture with the amount of time and effort it will take you to keep it lasting and looking good for as long as possible — not to mention a seemingly endless number of options to choose from?
There are a few other things to consider before choosing as well:
- Firstly, how much maintenance can you handle? Is your patio or outdoor space exposed to the elements or do you have any overhead covering? Will your furniture rest on soft ground and grass or on a hard surface such as a wooden deck or a paved patio? This helps you choose materials that are a good match for your environment and surroundings.
- Secondly, how much space do you have? Do you have enough room for a dining and lounging space, or do you need to choose one or the other? Consider how much space you have, and how it is shaped. Is it a long and narrow balcony or a broad and wide deck? Use the area and shape of your balcony, patio or porch to determine the size of your outdoor furniture. Make sure to leave enough space around your furniture to be able to walk comfortably. Apply the same principles for traffic flow that you would use indoors. TIP: For a small space, a bar table set may work better than a regular dining set, because bar tables are narrower, and stools take up less room than chairs. You can also take a look at cafe or bistro tables and chairs as they have a smaller profile.
- Lastly, how will you use your outdoor space? Are you going to be dining, chilling by the pool, lounging? Knowing this can help you decide if you want that long dining table with chairs, that comfy sofa under the shade or a lounger. More than anything, the material used to construct your outdoor furniture is what will determine the level of care it will need year-round. So before you let the beauty of a piece of furniture completely sway you, take a moment to make sure that you are willing to do what it takes to keep it beautiful. TIP: Do not place softwoods such as pine on a grassy surface and in an exposed area. The moisture from the ground can cause the wood to rot. Moisture can also cause some metals to corrode.
Some materials to consider are:
- Dense hardwoods like teakwood and oak, are great options for outdoor furniture due to their resistance to rot. Why choose wood? This material has rustic beauty and texture that fits in perfectly with natural surroundings and brings a natural feel to more urban settings.
- Fabric, outside? That’s madness, you might say. Many people think there’s no way fabric can resist moisture, stains, fading and degradation from constant exposure to the elements. But indeed, it can! Fabrics can most certainly endure the outdoors these days, thanks in large part to plastics. Polypropylene, acrylic and the like can make up the threads that are woven into a finished fabric or may be applied as a protective coating. Upholstered outdoor furniture should still be protected from exposure to lots of rain and other inclement weather, but today’s outdoor upholstery can certainly have a happy life in the open air.
- Wicker is a traditional material that became a popular furniture option in Europe and North America during the Victorian era. All-weather wicker is made using plastics and other synthetic fibers, which are extruded in such a way to mimic the texture of natural rattan fibers. The furniture is then woven in the classic over-under manner to complete the time-tested look. It has a similar appearance to natural wicker, but with added qualities like easy maintenance and — just as its name implies — the ability to endure all weather conditions. Why choose all-weather wicker? It gives the look of natural wicker but is made out of materials that guarantee it will last years — if not decades — longer.
After you’ve considered your outdoor furniture’s function and scale, then you can have fun in deciding your favorite style, color and material. Your choice of furniture should visually complete the outdoor theme already established by the landscape and hardscapes. If you need any assistance, please CLICK HERE TO CONTACT US.
From the team at Oriental Living wishing you happy designing!