Choosing Materials for Outdoor Furniture

The material is crucial when selecting the right furniture for your outdoor space. Whether it’s a patio, garden, or any outdoor seating area, the choice of material can make or break the experience. The importance of material selection lies in its ability to withstand various weather conditions while maintaining its appearance and durability.

Outdoor furniture is typically made of weather-resistant materials like aluminum, which is rust-proof. The most commonly sold patio sets are made of plastic, wood, aluminum, wicker, and wrought iron. Each material has its unique characteristics and suitability for different outdoor conditions. Let’s dive into the world of outdoor furniture materials and explore what makes some options stand out.

Wooden Outdoor Furniture

Wooden furniture has a timeless appeal and a natural elegance that many homeowners adore. But not all woods are created equal. Let’s explore some popular wooden materials and their pros and cons.


Teak is a commonly used material for outdoor furniture. Its natural silica content makes it resistant to fungal decay, water effects (such as rot, swelling, and warping), and chemicals. It’s even resistant to fire, acid, and alkalis. It loses its original look when teak weathers but gains a majestic, almost silver glow. Many owners prefer this aged look, and thanks to its resistance to rotting and infestation, teak can be appreciated without much upkeep.


Acacia is another popular choice for wooden outdoor furniture. While the information provided doesn’t specifically detail acacia, it’s known for its durability and attractive appearance. Like teak, it requires some maintenance to keep its look but offers a robust option for outdoor use.

Aluminum and Metal Furniture

Aluminum has become a popular choice for outdoor furniture, and it’s not hard to see why. This lightweight material is known for its rust resistance and ability to withstand various weather conditions. Whether looking for a modern look or classic designs, aluminum offers versatility and elegance.

Cast Aluminum Patio Furniture

Cast aluminum, in particular, has become a favorite for patio furniture. It combines the lightweight nature of aluminum with the ability to mold into intricate and beautiful designs. The result is furniture that’s eye-catching but also robust and long-lasting.

Steel: The Strong Contender

Steel-based garden furniture brings a different kind of charm and strength to the outdoor space. Known for its durability and sleek appearance, steel furniture can add a contemporary touch to your garden or patio.

Wrought Iron Patio Furniture

Wrought iron is another metal that has found its place in outdoor furniture. With its classic designs and sturdy build, wrought iron patio furniture offers a timeless appeal. It’s perfect for those who want to add a touch of tradition and elegance to their outdoor area.

Comparing Aluminum, Steel, and Iron

Each of these metals has its unique characteristics:

  • Aluminum: Lightweight, rust-resistant, versatile in design, and often more affordable. It’s perfect for those who want modern aesthetics without compromising on durability.
  • Steel: Known for its strength and sleek appearance, steel furniture can be a bit heavier but offers a contemporary touch and long-lasting build.
  • Wrought Iron: Wrought iron is the way to go if you’re looking for classic designs with a sturdy build. It may require more maintenance to prevent rusting but it offers an ageless beauty.

Fabric and Textile Options

Regarding outdoor furniture, the fabric choice is more than just a matter of color and style. It’s about finding the right balance between aesthetics, durability, and practicality. From waterproof materials to fabrics for cushions, the options are vast, and each has unique characteristics.

Durability: The Fabric of Longevity

The importance of fabric durability cannot be overstated, especially for outdoor furniture that faces the wrath of weather conditions. Here’s what to consider:

  • Woven Patterns: They hold up longer than printed ones. Higher thread counts and tight weaves mean denser fabric that lasts longer.
  • Microfiber or Leather: These materials can withstand extra wear and tear if your pets share your outdoor space.
  • Fade Resistance: If the furniture is in a sunny spot, look for fabric that resists fading.
  • Mildew Resistance: In humid climates, mildew-resistant fabric is a wise choice.

Style: Fabric That Speaks Your Language

Choosing a fabric that complements both the furniture and the outdoor decor is crucial. The fabric should harmonize with the surroundings, whether for a traditional look or an adventurous blend of styles.

  • Casual or Formal: Some fabrics appear casual, while others look more formal. Choose according to the mood of your outdoor space.
  • Pattern Scale: Consider the size of the furniture and the room. A large bold pattern might work better in a larger space, while a more muted or smaller one might suit a smaller area.

Color: The Hue of Comfort

Color is often the first choice when buying furniture fabric. It significantly impacts the decor, especially if the furniture piece is large.

  • Neutrals are generally the safest route since they tend to satisfy over time.
  • Avoid Delicate Colors: If you have children or pets, go for something that won’t show stains easily.
  • Trendy Colors: Be cautious with trendy colors as they can look dated long before the furniture needs to recover.

Special Considerations

  • Allergies: Consider lint-free fabric like microfiber if allergies are a concern.
  • Pets: Avoid delicate fabric like silk or anything with lots of texture if you have pets. Select pet-friendly upholstery instead.

Synthetic and Plastic Furniture

In outdoor furniture, synthetic resin has emerged as a star player. It’s a material that looks like natural wicker but offers the durability required for outdoor use.

Synthetic Resin Wicker

Also known as All-Weather Wicker, synthetic resin wicker is made from resins extracted from plant matter. These resins undergo a polymerization process, creating an epoxy-like material, typically built on aluminum frames. This combination makes the furniture lightweight and resistant to weather conditions.

Types of Resin Wicker

  • PVC Wicker: A common type, but not as durable as others.
  • Nylon: Offers flexibility and strength.
  • Polyethylene: A versatile option.
  • High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Wicker: The highest quality resin material, extremely durable, and 100% recyclable.

Why Choose HDPE Wicker?

HDPE wicker stands out for its quality. It’s dense, durable, stain-resistant, and won’t stick to your skin like low-grade resin wicker. It also has a matte finish that isn’t shiny, a sign of cheap vinyl material. Being 100% recyclable, it’s an eco-friendly option as well.

Recycled Plastic Outdoor Furniture

In an age where environmental impact is a significant concern, recycled plastic outdoor furniture offers a responsible choice. It’s made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a hard, strong, and UV-protected plastic resin.

Comparing Synthetic Resin and Plastic Furniture

  • Appearance: Synthetic resin wicker can mimic the look of natural wicker, while plastic furniture offers a more straightforward appearance.
  • Durability: Both materials are suitable for outdoor use, with HDPE standing out for its exceptional durability.
  • Maintenance: Synthetic wicker is easy to wash, and plastic furniture requires minimal upkeep.
  • Environmental Impact: HDPE is 100% recyclable, making it an eco-friendly option.

Wicker and Rattan Furniture

Wicker isn’t just a material; it’s an art form. It refers to the type of weave used to create furniture, baskets, and other items. Wicker furniture has a timeless appeal, offering a natural look that can fit various outdoor settings.

The Beauty of Wicker

Wicker furniture is known for its intricate weaving techniques that create unique patterns and designs. Whether made from natural materials like rattan or synthetic resin, wicker furniture offers a blend of style and functionality.

  • Natural Look: Wicker’s woven pattern gives it a natural and organic appearance.
  • Versatility: It can create furniture, from chairs and tables to daybeds and sectionals.
  • Durability: Synthetic wicker, made from resins, offers durability suitable for outdoor conditions.

Natural Wicker vs. Synthetic Resin Wicker

Natural wicker is made from plant materials and has been used since ancient times. However, it’s susceptible to weather conditions and is best suited for indoor use. On the other hand, synthetic resin wicker looks and feels like natural wicker but is suitable for outdoor use. It’s more durable and less expensive than natural wicker.

Rattan: The Natural Choice

Rattan is a natural material fiber used to make wicker sets. It’s a specific type of palm native to tropical regions, known for its flexibility and strength.

  • Natural Appeal: Rattan offers a rustic and earthy look that adds warmth to outdoor spaces.
  • Strength: It’s strong yet flexible, allowing various designs and shapes.
  • Sustainability: Rattan is a renewable resource, making it an eco-friendly choice.

Special Considerations for Outdoor Furniture

Choosing outdoor furniture isn’t just about style and comfort; it’s about understanding the specific needs and environments where it will be placed. Different weather conditions and regional considerations are vital in material selection, from high humidity to heavy rainfall.

High Humidity: Embrace the Moisture

If you live in an area with high humidity, selecting the right material for your outdoor furniture becomes crucial. Here’s what to consider:

  • Teak: Known for its resistance to moisture and rot, teak is a popular choice for humid climates.
  • Aluminum: Rust-resistant and lightweight, aluminum can withstand humidity without losing its charm.
  • Synthetic Resin Wicker: Offers the beauty of wicker without the susceptibility to moisture.

Rainy Regions: Weathering the Storm

The material selection must focus on water resistance in regions prone to heavy rainfall.

  • Plastic and PVC: Naturally waterproof, these materials can be left out year-round.
  • Wicker with Aluminum Frames: Combines wicker’s elegance with aluminum’s water resistance.
  • Waterproof Fabrics: Consider using waterproof or water-resistant fabrics for cushions and upholstery.

Sunny Climates: Basking in the Sun

UV resistance becomes a priority if your outdoor space is exposed to prolonged sun.

  • UV-Resistant Fabrics: For cushions and upholstery, UV-resistant fabrics can prevent fading.
  • Metal Furniture: Aluminum and steel offer durability under the sun, with powder-coated finishes adding extra protection.

Windy Areas: Standing Strong

In windy regions, stability, and weight become essential considerations.

  • Wrought Iron: Heavy and sturdy, wrought iron furniture can withstand strong winds.
  • Concrete Furniture: Offers stability and a modern aesthetic.

Climate Adaptation: A Tailored Approach

Understanding your region’s climate and weather conditions is key to selecting the right material for your garden or patio furniture. It’s about balancing aesthetics, functionality, and adaptation to the local environment.

Contemporary Outdoor Furniture Trends

The world of outdoor furniture is ever-evolving, and contemporary trends are redefining how we decorate our gardens, patios, and outdoor lounges. From bringing outdoor furniture indoors to embracing innovative aesthetics, modern and contemporary designs are all about blending style, functionality, and innovation.

Outdoor Furniture Indoors: Blurring the Lines

One of the exciting trends is the use of outdoor furniture indoors. It’s about blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living, creating a seamless transition that extends the comfort of your home to the outdoors.

  • Materials: Use wicker, teak, or aluminum materials suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Designs: Choosing designs that complement both interior and exterior decor.

Outdoor Lounge Furniture: Relax in Style

Outdoor lounge furniture is all the rage, offering a luxurious, comfortable space to relax and entertain.

  • Sectionals and Daybeds: Creating cozy seating areas with sectionals, daybeds, and chaise lounges.
  • Fire Pits and Tables: Adding warmth and ambiance with fire pits and tables that serve as focal points.

Fall Patio Furniture: Embracing the Seasons

Seasonal trends like fall patio furniture are gaining popularity, allowing homeowners to enjoy their outdoor spaces throughout the year.

  • Colors and Textures: Using autumn-inspired colors and textures to create a seasonal ambiance.
  • Weather-Resistant Materials: Selecting materials that can withstand the changing weather conditions of fall.

Sustainability: Eco-Friendly Choices

Contemporary outdoor furniture also embraces sustainability, with eco-friendly materials and practices becoming a significant consideration.

  • Recycled Materials: Using recycled plastics and metals to create stylish and responsible furniture.
  • Sustainable Woods: Opt for woods like teak or bamboo that are sourced responsibly.

Cushions and Covers

Regarding outdoor furniture, cushions, and covers play a vital role in enhancing comfort and providing protection. From selecting the best material for outdoor furniture covers to choosing the right fabric for cushions, these elements add functionality and aesthetics to your outdoor space.

Cushions: The Heart of Comfort

Outdoor cushions are more than just decorative accessories; they are the heart of comfort for outdoor seating.

  • Weather-Resistant Fabrics: Look for fabrics that withstand sun, rain, and humidity. Materials like Sunbrella are known for their UV resistance and water repellency.
  • Comfort and Support: Consider the thickness and density of the cushion. High-density foam offers better support and durability.
  • Style and Color: Choose colors and patterns that complement your outdoor decor. Neutral tones can be timeless, while bold patterns add a touch of personality.

Covers: The Shield of Protection

Outdoor furniture covers provide essential protection against weather conditions, prolonging the life of your furniture.

  • Waterproof Material: Selecting waterproof material for outdoor furniture covers is crucial to protect against rain and moisture. Look for fabrics like polyester with PVC backing.
  • UV Protection: UV-resistant covers prevent fading and degradation due to sun exposure.
  • Breathability: Consider covers with ventilation to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Fit and Functionality: Choose covers that fit your furniture well and offer features like drawstrings or Velcro closures for secure fitting.

Outdoor Table Tops: A Surface of Style

The material for outdoor table tops needs to balance style and functionality.

  • Glass: Tempered glass offers a sleek and modern look but requires careful handling.
  • Metal: Aluminum or steel table tops provide durability and a contemporary appearance.
  • Wood: Natural woods like teak add warmth and elegance but may require regular maintenance.

Comparison Table

Here’s a comparison table summarizing the material options for outdoor furniture, providing a quick selection guide to help you make an informed decision:

WoodNatural look, various types like teak, acaciaDurable, elegant, requires maintenance
AluminumLightweight, rust-resistantModern look, versatile, affordable
FabricWeatherproofing, UV-resistant optionsComfortable, stylish, various color options
SyntheticResin wicker, HDPE, recycled plasticDurable, modern, eco-friendly options
Wicker/RattanNatural and synthetic options, weaving techniquesClassic charm, versatile, synthetic options for outdoors
Special ConsiderationsClimate adaptation, weather protectionTailored to specific needs and environments


Outdoor furniture offers diverse materials, styles, and considerations to enhance outdoor space. Choose from timeless elegance, modern charm, comfort, and sustainability, ensuring your outdoor space is a haven for memories and joy. Embrace the materials, explore trends, and consider your special needs to create a canvas painted with love, comfort, and style. Enjoy your outdoor space with open arms, embracing the world of outdoor furniture and living, loving and enjoying the great outdoors.