What’s the Best Material for Outdoor Furniture?

colorful outdoor furniture

There are as many options for outdoor furniture as for furniture in your home. Choosing the best material for outdoor furniture depends on your style, how long you want it to last, and your budget. Here’s a quick guide to finding the right material for your outdoor furniture.

What’s the Best Material for Outdoor Furniture?

Plastic

Plastic furniture is typically less expensive and can be attractive, but tends not to be as strong as other materials. It is washable and is light and easy to move around your yard or deck. Usually it only lasts for a year or two before it becomes brittle and cracks or breaks. You can often find a plastic bench or picnic table for around a $100; some plastic chairs are even available for $10 or $15.

Wicker

Wicker is a classic look for outdoor furniture. It’s attractive and lightweight. It comes in traditional wicker, which is a natural wooden material, and wicker-look, which uses plastic strands to achieve the same effect. The wicker-look is often formed around a steel frame It has a wide price range, but is likely to cost about $400-$800 for a conversational set.

Metal

The most common metals for outdoor furniture are aluminum, steel, and cast iron.

Cast iron is heavy and sturdy. You need to treat it regularly to keep it from oxidizing. Its weight makes it difficult to move around, but it is also unlikely to blow around in a high wind or storm. Try to get cast iron that is powder coated or treated against rust. You can find cast iron fairly inexpensively, at about a hundred dollars a bench, but the inexpensive is often not treated against rust and has poor welds.

Aluminum is lightweight and less expensive than cast iron, though still on the expensive side. It’s not as strong, but doesn’t rust. It is often covered in plastic or powder coating, or is used as a support for fabric or plastic. It has a wide price range, from about $100 for a side table and two dining chairs, to $800-$1200 for a conversational set.

Steel is less expensive than cast iron and aluminum, heavier and sturdier than aluminum, and is often used as a base or core in fabric, rope, or wicker-look furniture. It’s affordable $500 to $1000 for a conversational or dining set.

Wood

Wood is highly adaptable and renewable. You want to look for denser woods that have been treated or coated for outdoor use. It has highly variable prices based on the type of wood and craftsmanship.
Generally, it’s worth spending a little more to get a higher quality set of outdoor furniture that will last. After all, it’s going to be sitting out in the sun, rain, and possibly the snow if you don’t have a place to store it.