outdoor patio furniture

6 Material Types to Choose From When Buying Outdoor Furniture

Jim Morris
Updated on
Jim Morris

Jim Morris

Jim Morris loves to travel and visit a lot of architecture sites worldwide. He shares lots of information and is always looking forward to the next article on interior design, architecture and landscaping.
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When summer comes every year, every household owner is reminded of how important it is to invest in outdoor patio furniture. However, the true test of these home furniture's durability is when they're placed in an area where it can be soaked in rain, put under the scorching sun, and can withstand every element that the season brings. To make sure yours does, you need to know more about the most important characteristic of this furniture—the material that it's made out of.

Truth be told, there are a lot of great material choices available to choose from. But if you're looking for the best, you might want to check your lifestyle and where you're putting the furniture to determine which one.

Types of Materials

The most common materials used in making outdoor patio furniture are:

  • Wood (teak, cedar, and eucalyptus)
  • Synthetic (ABS, synthetic resin wicker, and plastic)
  • Metal (steel, wrought iron, and aluminum)
  • Synthetic fabrics

Aside from those mentioned above, concrete is also capturing the hearts of many homeowners—but we'll talk about that later.


With all the wood options available for outdoor types of furniture, teak is among the most popular ones. That's actually unsurprising as this wood type comes with a natural capability to stay strong and durable in any type of weather condition. It can go against the harshest environments and if we’re talking about aesthetics, teak’s is unparalleled. It has a beautiful, warm tone that is perfect for those who want their outdoor furniture warm and cozy in the eyes. Teak has natural resin and high oil content which makes it safe from water damage and resistant to the attacks of various insects. The oils that are present in the said type of wood is also responsible for protecting the material from dry rot, making teak a sturdy and long-lasting material for your outdoor patio furniture.

When teak wood furniture is new, it has a natural golden-honey brown colour. When it’s unmaintained, the ageing makes the colour turn into a classy patina grey. What’s good about this is that although you may not get the look that you’re aiming for, the ageing doesn’t affect the sturdiness of the wood. If you want to keep the original colour from fading, you can apply a teak sealant on the furniture itself. That will last a year before it needs reapplying.

Synthetic Resin & Plastics

Another material that is excellent for modern outdoor furniture is a synthetic resin. It’s lightweight, low maintenance, and definitely durable in any weather conditions. Conventional synthetic resin furniture is normally knit in a wicker style to achieve the classic outdoor aesthetics. This is often mistaken with natural wicker rattan. Unlike the synthetic resin wicker furniture, natural wicker rattan furniture is placed inside the house because the colour fades when it’s constantly placed under the exposure of sunlight.

There are some synthetic materials that are typically used in making synthetic resin wicker. These include polyethylene, PVC, and nylon. If you’re considering the idea of having synthetic resin furniture, make sure you find a High-Density Polyethylene or HDPE wicker. HDPE is a better grade of thermoplastic compared to PVC and it comes with various benefits like higher heat endurance, strength, and durability.

On the other hand, molded plastics such as high-grade polypropylene, polyethylene, and such offer countless color and sculptural options. On top of that, the lightweightness and great durability make all the furniture made of these materials easy to carry and move around. Some molded pieces are hollow in nature that gives room for color-changing LEDs if you’re someone who loves lights at night.


Wrought iron has been one of the most common materials used in custom metal furniture in the past. However, because of the heavyweight of the material, its susceptibility to rust, and the high-maintenance requirements, it is no longer too popular in contemporary outdoor settings. Today, aluminium and steel are some of the most common materials used in contemporary outdoor patio furniture.


Aluminium is best known for its versatility. It can be welded or cast into any design and shape. The material is durable yet lightweight which makes it a great option if you’re eyeing metal pieces of furniture for your patio. Unbelievably low maintenance, aluminum outdoor furniture isn’t prone to rust when exposed to salty or moist outdoor air, unlike steel and iron. It also doesn’t crack and dry out when it’s exposed under the sun for long periods unlike wooden types of furniture. The only place that’s not advisable to put aluminium types of furniture are areas where high winds are common.


Steel is known as the strongest material among metals. The downside of that is it’s heavy and more expensive compared to its counterparts. Since it’s not lightweight, furniture pieces made out of steel are not easy to carry and move around, making it steadier despite experiencing strong winds. Stainless and galvanized steel are among the best options when it comes to outdoor furniture. That is because typical steel corrodes and rusts easily when it comes in contact with harsh outside elements.

Galvanizing includes a coating made out of zinc that is applied to steel sheets to safeguard the metal from corrosion and to aid it to withstand damage from water exposure (provided that it’s not saltwater). On the other hand, stainless steel includes chromium to molten steel which makes the furniture rust-resistant and can even be exposed to saltwater. This is the reason why stainless steel is excellent in marine environments. However, note that whether furniture pieces are made from galvanized or stainless steel, they will corrode when they come in contact with chlorine.


Upholstered types of outdoor furniture are among the most comfortable out of all the options available.  The material boasts an excellent lounging experience and aesthetics that can be imagined indoors. Outdoor fabrics are typically composed of water-resistant fibers like acrylic, vinyl, polyester, and the like. These weaves are breathable and safe from sun fading, moisture, and other types of damage when placed outdoors.

Except when it is utilized by itself as a sling, the furniture’s weather resistance heavily depends on the material that fills it. QuickDry foam and some similar fill materials are designed to accelerate the evaporation and runoff of water and eliminate issues caused by mold and mildew. As a result, it’s crucial to make sure that all your outdoor upholstered pieces of furniture are protected when winter comes.


While concrete is traditionally known as a building material only, it is now a trending key material in modern outdoor furniture. Aside from their strength and durability, concrete furniture pieces are contemporary and aesthetically pleasing. The downside is that concrete is porous, heavy, and prone to stains by nature. Liquids poured in the furniture will soak on the surface. Acidic substances like lemon juice and vinegar will diffuse the cement paste.

Jim Morris

About the author

Jim Morris

Jim Morris loves to travel and visit a lot of architecture sites worldwide. He shares lots of information and is always looking forward to the next article on interior design, architecture and landscaping.
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