Top Tips When Choosing Outdoor Furniture

This is what you need to know when looking for outdoor furniture and how to make the right decision for your home. There can be big differences in the durability of an outdoor piece of furniture based on the materials used and let’s be honest, outdoor furniture is generally a big-ticket item so it is worthwhile to do a little research before you dive in!

Outdoor furniture needs to have the ability to blend beauty and design with functionality and durability. In this article we will discuss:

What are the key elements that make perfect outdoor furniture?

  1. Style

What are your home’s aesthetic? Do you have a Hamptons-style home, a modern designed, Mediterranean inspired, or country-styled home? In choosing the design and style of your outdoor furniture, allow the furniture piece to assert its own unique style without it taking over a space, and choose colours that allow the furniture piece to complement existing decor.

2. Material

Wood: is a popular choice in outdoor furniture, it encapsulates the outdoors natural beauty, however not all wood is created equal, especially when it comes to the outdoors.

Hardwoods in natural timber finishes are very durable in the outdoors. Timber like eucalyptus, Merbau, and Teak.

Softwoods can also be used in outdoor furniture so long as it’s treated pine. This ensures that it has moisture, insect, and decay resistance.

Metal: Often outdoor furniture will use a type of metal in its design and it is by far the strongest and most durable material for outdoor furniture. When metal and timber are combined it can help to ‘soften’ the aesthetic. One of the main things to consider with metal is the fact that it conducts heat and outdoors in summer in Australia, the temperatures can get pretty hot! Another consideration of metal is weight. The furniture may be heavy to move and shift around. Also, each type of metal will have a unique rust and corrosion profile.  – Aluminium is the most durable metal to use in the outdoors, but aesthetically may not be preferred.

Steel is durable outdoors but it is susceptible to rust and will need maintenance and regular upkeep, especially if you are living near the coast.

Wrought Iron, like steel, is durable outdoors but is prone to rust and will need upkeep to prevent oxidation.

Wicker & Rattan: almost all outdoor wicker is made from synthetic polyethylene resin. Rattan is another common product used in furniture, however, it is a natural fiber that may look stylish, but is NOT suitable for the outdoors. Even on covered patio areas, the rattan absorbs moisture and humidity and has very poor outdoor durability.

The synthetic wicker is easy to clean, weather-resistant but it is a synthetic product.

Concrete: can often be seen in collaboration with other materials. Concrete is strong, mouldable, and can withstand the outdoor elements beautifully.

Rope: Rope fabric can be used on chairs and is often weaved to form a part of the seat structure. Often natural fibers will allow for mould or mildew to build up in the fibers, even if the chair is not directly in the elements. The synthetic-based rope is a better option for any outdoor area. It will last longer, have natural mould and mildew resistance, and won’t wear and break down over time.

Fabric: these days there is such a selection of outdoor fabrics that it can be hard to decide. There are a few key elements in working out the quality of the outdoor fabric. Most outdoor fabrics are not made from natural products as natural fires degrade over time.

Most outdoor fabrics are made from synthetic fibers so that the upholstery can withstand, colour changes and fading as well as mould and mildew.  

The main difference between the outdoor fabrics is the fibers used and the manufacturing process.

Olefin: these fabrics generally have a smooth texture and are usually solution-dyed, which means that each thread is dyed and coloured before it is woven creating greater fade-resistant qualities. SunDec fabrics from Warwick are an example of these.

Acrylic Fabric: these fabrics are also solution-dyed.

Polyester Fabric: This type of fabric is top coated with an acrylic solution to help protect the fabric from the outdoor elements. The main difference is that the Olefin and Acrylic fabrics have each fiber strand is dyed before it’s woven into a fabric. When the individual fibers, not just a top coat is dyed then it is generally longer lasting.   

If you can feel the fabric, it should have a heaviness to it. Requesting samples of fabrics is always useful in helping determine the quality of the fabric.

What goes inside the cushion: is a crucial factor in determining the overall quality of the outdoor cushion

Foam: Outdoor furniture gets exposed to rain, dampness, and wet bodies from a pool. Reticulated foam is the highest quality outdoor foam you can get. The reticulated foam not only allows any water to run through the fibers but also dries quicker. This outdoor foam also has anti-microbial agents to help reduce long-term retained moisture and mould/ mildew build-up.

Outdoor foam

Dacron: is a type of PET foam that is often wrapped around other foams to give the cushion some softness and also adds another layer of protection.

Polyester Foam: is of lesser outdoor quality than the reticulated foam, but can be used in semi-outdoors areas. It is a cheaper option and does the job ok. Such as a covered patio or veranda, where it wasn’t going to get directly rained on. This type of foam can lose its shape over time as the fibers compress.

 3. Durability

Consider where you intend to put your outdoor furniture and where you live.

If you’re located coastally, then ocean/ salt air, how does that affect the product?

Do you live in a windy, salty air, high humidity, or wet climate area? These differing elements will all have slightly different material durability. For example, if your outdoor area is in an exposed, high wind space, then lighter aluminum framed furniture may not be your best option. If your outdoor area has no shade, then in summer if you have any metal furniture they might get very hot. If you live near the coast, some metal framed furniture may also have a higher rust rate and may need more upkeep.


4. Ability to Clean

The furniture as well as any soft furnishings ideally would have an easy clean process. Are the cushion covers removable? Can you machine wash them? Is the fabric chlorine resistant?

Can the furniture frame be wiped down easily, do you need to oil the timber, coat any exposed areas of steel to resist corrosion?

The reality is that almost all outdoor furniture will need a little TLC every now and then to keep it looking its best. Deciding on what you are happy to do will help you to decide also what materials to consider for your outdoor furniture.

Is Outdoor furniture Always Expensive?

No, but the price is often a good indication of quality. Outdoor products that will last a long time, will generally be more expensive. However, you can save some money on the accessories. Such as, you may have indoor throw cushions that you only pull out when you have guests and safely put back inside afterward. Just remember; Inexpensive patio furniture may look great for a while but you’ll likely have to replace it every year or so.

At Cartia Collective we aim to create that experience of Barefoot Luxury in your own backyard and to enhance your outdoor lifestyle. Our range of hanging chairs and hanging daybeds use quality outdoor materials to ensure you get the most out of your outdoor furniture.

Malabar hanging daybed
Malabar Hanging Daybed with Kona Cloud Cushions

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