Outdoor Living: Which Patio Furniture to Choose for Your Space
Every year there is more and more to choose from when furnishing your outdoor space. There are plenty of options for every budget but it is important narrow down your options to make choosing easier.
When purchasing outdoor furniture always consider the care required.
Teak - Teak can be a great choice depending on the look you are going for. If it is a piece that does not have a lot of hardware (hinges and bolts etc.) it can stay outdoors year round without a furniture cover. If you like the silver-grey of aged teak maintenance is minimal. It just needs the occasional cleaning with soap and water. Use a soft brush and follow the grain of the wood when cleaning. If you like the new honey colour of teak it is best to either cover it or store it indoors. You want to use a teak cleaner/brightener followed by teak sealer which is a special oil for teak that protects the wood. Make sure that the wood is completely dry and the humidity is low prior to sealing. If you trap moisture in the wood it will mildew underneath the surface of the sealer. It is best to seal the teak at the beginning of the season and/or prior to putting your furniture away. Teak is extremely durable and will last a very long time. It is also heavy which means it will not blow around. Outdoor furniture that is made with other woods does not stand up the same. It weathers and develops a rough surface. It is the high resin content in teak that prevent the wood from splitting and wearing.
Cast Aluminum - It usually involves cushions which are best to bring indoors every evening and when it rains. Depending on the cushion quality they may be able to withstand rain but it is best to bring them in to get the longevity out of the product. Solid cast aluminum furniture can be left outside year round. It is a good idea to use furniture covers in the winter to protect the surface. Cast aluminum is durable and rustproof, however it is a brittle metal. Be sure to buy pieces that are appropriate for the amount of wind that occurs in your space. If cast aluminum is blown over onto a hard surface or into another piece of furniture it may break. It is best to choose heavy pieces. Choose heavy outdoor living furniture such as club chairs, loveseats, and sofas because you will not want to be moving them around anyways. You can choose lighter dining chairs since you may not want to be lifting 50 lbs every time you get out of your chair! If you have light dining chairs put a table and chair cover over your whole dining set to protect it when there are high winds. Simply push in all the chairs and cover your whole set with a cover that attaches to the chair legs and has a drawstring. These are also great for protecting your set over the winter.
Extruded Aluminum - This type of furniture often uses textaline which is a plastic mesh fabric. Textaline replaces the function of cushions. They are very comfortable. They can be left out in the rain and you can clean them easily with soap and water. They are a great choice around the water because they dry quickly. You also do not have to worry about suntan lotions and oils staining cushions. However, this furniture does have a more casual look. This furniture is hollow and sometimes has aluminum rods inside to reinforce it. Since these pieces are hollow water can get into the frames which will freeze, expand, and likely burst the aluminum. These products are best stored indoors over the winter. If you are storing them in a cold indoor storage space make sure that the water inside the frame is able to drain out.
Resin - Woven resin furniture is presently the most popular trend. In these products the price really matters. Some of these products get soft and malleable in the sun which is not good. Some of them can withstand the cold but they really should be stored indoors. If you cannot store them indoors you should tarp them from underneath and cover them over top to keep moisture out. Put your furniture against your house or garage wall where less snow piles up and monitor it to make sure that there is not a huge accumulation of snow on top of it. Clear it off every time you have to shovel your drive way. Clean with liquid soap and water.
Vinyl - Once again not a product you want to purchase cheaply because of how the materials respond to the sun. Vinyl furniture must be stored indoors. Clean with liquid soap and water.
Cushions - Bring your cushions in daily unless your furniture is on a porch or veranda, or under a pavillion. Some rain exposure is ok but you do not want your cushions to get soaked on a regular basis. If you are buying cast aluminum because you don't have a lot of storage space buy a cushion box so that you can put your cushions away outdoors. These also double as a great bench!
Do not put your cushions in the washing machine! If your cushions are made with special outdoor fabrics then the washing machine will strip off the teflon coating that allows them to repel water and resist stains. Wash them outdoors with a hose or in your wash tub. Put them on their side to drain and dry. Use a gentle liquid soap and water. Do not dry clean.
Consider the maintenance requirements before furnishing your outdoor living space!