What Outdoor Furniture Lasts Longest?
Written by Neighbor Editorial Team | @neighboroutdoor | Opens in a new window. |
From solid wood to Sunbrella cushions, here's how to choose the best materials for your patio furniture.
Think about the last time you spent a weekend at home. If the sun was shining, you probably spent a few hours (or wanted to) in your backyard, patio, or out on the balcony with your family, friends, or on your own. The right outdoor furniture set can make being outside at home, better. Durable outdoor patio furniture can make your space feel like a getaway: comfortable and clean, and makes a great place to host friends and family when you want to.
To create an outdoor space that feels stress-free and also adds warmth, and curb appeal to the exterior of your home, set a budget and get to know your options when it comes to materials and style. Outdoor furniture will be subject to more wear and tear than any other furniture in your home. You’ll need the best materials to be sure your patio set is durable enough to stand up to weather and the elements, and still looks good.
When thinking about durability and outdoor furniture, consider the climate where you live, whether or not your outdoor area is covered, and how long you plan to use and keep the furniture. Investing in high-quality materials like FSC-certified teak means you’ll be able to enjoy the style and comfort of your patio furniture for a long time. You should also think about adding a protective cover to your outdoor furniture purchase if you can’t properly protect it.
What are the most durable & long-lasting outdoor furniture materials?
There are many different materials and types of outdoor furniture that work well and last long. Metal, wicker, and aluminum furniture are all great options. If you're considering adding furniture to your patio, deck, or yard, it's important to know the cost differences and benefits of each material before you make a purchase. Here’s our list of the most durable materials for outdoor furniture:
In the furniture industry, solid wood is known for its resilience and durability. Wood outdoor furniture looks cozy and classic and is available in many colors, styles, and finishes. There is nothing more inviting than a wood patio table for summer BBQ’s and late night dinners under string lights. Wood furniture can be made from a variety of trees, like teak, acacia, black locust, and cypress and is typically more expensive than other materials. Wood may also require extra care, shade, and coverage to keep in good shape.
The best wood types for outdoor furniture are naturally resistant to mold, rot, and bacteria growth and require very little maintenance. Teak, for example, has natural oils that protect it from rain and humidity which can cause discoloration and warping. Teak is expensive, but it’s an investment that will pay off and last for many years with very little maintenance. Make sure you know how to identify real teak wood before you buy. Neighbor outdoor furniture frames, dining tables, and chairs are made of solid Grade A teak from FSC-certified forests. The furniture is suitable for all types of weather and climates and will last a long time. Neighbor teak furniture arrives unfinished and can be sealed or protected from water marks with a teak protectant or tung oil.
If you like the style, sturdiness, and durability of wrought-iron, it’s not a bad choice for outdoor furniture as long as you are willing to maintain it. Rain and snow can cause wrought iron to rust and weaken over time. You’ll need to add cushions on wrought iron patio furniture for comfort and cover it in bad weather or during the winter.
While not unheard of, Stainless steel outdoor furniture is more common for restaurants and cafe tables than home patio furnishings. Stainless steel is sleek and sophisticated, but can vary in quality and durability. It is inexpensive and long-lasting, but isn’t as warm and inviting as other materials like wood.
Aluminum furniture resists rust and other harmful elements better than other materials, is lightweight, and low-maintenance. You can clean aluminum outdoor furniture with soap and water to keep it looking good for years. Aluminum is a popular choice for outdoor furniture because it is available in a variety of styles and finishes and can vary in price.
In most cases, plastic is the cheapest outdoor furniture you can buy. Although inexpensive, plastic furniture is fairly durable and can be cleaned easily. Over time, however, it will crack or stain. Where style is concerned, plastic furniture isn’t our top choice.
If you like the ease of plastic, but want something more durable and stylish, a recycled composite of high-density plastic might be right for your space. High density polyethylene (HDPE) like the genuine POLYWOOD lumber used for Neighbor’s Low Chair and Ottoman is sturdy, good-looking, and highly durable. It is high quality and resists corrosion. In fact, POLYWOOD lumber includes a 20-year warranty. The Low Chair is perfect for around a bonfire or on a front porch where you might value durability and stability over more costly materials like wood.
Natural rattan is like bamboo and comes from the fibers of a plant that is similar to a palm tree and grows like a vine. It is a very trendy and inexpensive material for outdoor furniture, especially for coastal and boho-styled patios. True rattan doesn’t do well outdoors and can crack, lose color, and weaken quickly when exposed to rain and sun. Most wicker furniture uses a synthetic rattan that can withstand UV and water exposure. Wicker is not a furniture material, it is a weaving style that is popular for the outdoors.
Resin is a synthetic material sometimes used for outdoor furniture because it is highly durable. It is completely non-porous, so it keeps out rain and rot, and can be left outside under any conditions. Resin is usually made of HDPE and can take the place of natural materials like wood or rattan because it lasts longer and is cheaper to make.
A glass table for outdoors has some obvious pros and cons. It can break in a storm, and scratch easily depending on the type of glass. Still, glass outdoor furniture is fairly popular because it’s cheap, easy to clean, and looks sophisticated.
A concrete surface is a great choice for outdoors because it is strong, durable, and resists staining. Depending on the style of the furniture, concrete may lack the warmth and comfort of other materials. Concrete is very heavy and hard to move, and can be expensive to purchase and ship.
What are the best fabrics to use on outdoor furniture?
There are many colors, textures, prints, and brands available for outdoor furniture fabric. The top names like Sunbrella and Cushionguard might be familiar, and are a great choice if you want a generous warranty and a brand you can trust that can stand behind its claims. Here is our roundup of what we found to be the best outdoor-friendly fabrics:
If you’re looking for the best fabric for your outdoor furniture, Sunbrella is our top pick. The brand is consistently ranked as one of the most trusted and innovative brands in the industry. All Sunbrella fabric is solution-dyed acrylic and is resistant to stains, mildew and UV light. If you invest in Sunbrella fabric you can leave your furniture outside for a long time without worry.
All Neighbor outdoor furniture uses Sunbrella fabric. Our fabric is fade-proof, stain and water-resistant, and can be machine-washed. They don’t feel like your typical outdoor fabrics. Instead, Neighbor outdoor cushions, rugs, and poufs, are soft to touch and textured — like something you’d find in your living room. Neighbor’s Sunbrella fabrics also contain post-industrial recycled content that gives the fabric character and depth.
Cushionguard fabric is similar to Sunbrella in that it is made entirely out of acrylic fibers. The fabric can repel water, stains, and spills and is mildew resistant. Cushionguard fabric is fade-resistant, dries quickly, and is more affordable than Sunbrella, but it doesn’t have the same warranty and reputation. For Neighbor outdoor furniture, we use Sunbrella vs. Cushionguard because of the brand’s innovation and commitment to sustainability and high-performance.
For a less expensive option than a brand-name manufacturer, Polyester works well for outdoor upholstery because it is easy to clean, resists mold/mildew, and is lightweight. Polyester also resists UV more than other fabrics.
As mentioned in the reasons we love Sunbrella-brand fabrics, solution-dyed acrylic is a highly durable outdoor fabric that will last for a long time and is easy to maintain. Acrylic won’t fade and is resistant to mold, mildew, and sun damage.
Olefin is a synthetic fiber that is great for outdoor furniture because it is bleach-cleanable, resists fading, and can be easily cleaned. Stain resistance and durability are a huge benefit if you have pets or children in your home.
Cheaper outdoor furniture cushions are sometimes made using dyed Cotton fabric. Cotton is not water resistant and can lend itself to issues like mold and mildew. It can also change color when overexposed to harsh sunlight.
What goes into your outdoor furniture cushions is just as important as what they’re covered with. You want the inside of your outdoor cushions to be firm and comfortable, and also dry quickly after a rain storm. Foam comes in a variety of densities, depending on your preference. At Neighbor we use a special quick-drying foam inside all of our cushions that allows water to pass through. Our quick-drying foam keeps your sofa dry, and prevents mold and mildew buildup.
Polyester fill is soft and comfortable, and can work well for outdoor cushions where the fabric is waterproof. Polyester fill can be made using recycled materials and is hypoallergenic. It is not as durable on its own than other fill materials like foam.
Dacron, or batting as it is sometimes called, is a polyester padding that adds comfort and softness to the inside of your outdoor cushions. Dacron usually covers foam so that the foam doesn’t come into contact with the fabric. Dacron will hold it’s shape over time but can take a long time to dry.
The best outdoor furniture materials:
Durability and longevity are key components of great outdoor furniture. When choosing the right outdoor furniture for your space, consider the materials, the cost, and how you will care for the furniture. Wood outdoor furniture is stylish and long-lasting, but more expensive than other less expensive options like Aluminum or Rattan.
You should also consider the environmental impact of the furniture materials you choose. Look for certifications like OEK-TEK, FSC, and materials that are made from recycled content. If you spend a little more money upfront on a great outdoor patio set, it will last longer and won’t need to be replaced as quickly.
At Neighbor, we care deeply about our furniture’s durability and work with the highest-quality materials we can find. Our outdoor loveseat made with FSC-certified teak is topped with cushions made using Sunbrella acrylic fabric. The Neighbor teak Dining Set highlight the beauty and warmth of our honey-colored teak and can elevate your outdoor space in an instant. Teak is well known to last many years outdoors and is low-maintenance compared to other hardwoods. To add a finishing touch to your backyard, porch, or deck, consider adding a Neighbor Braid Rug or Pouf, made using Sunbrella recycled fabric.
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