Patio Set Materials Explained

Style is likely the first thing to catch your attention when you’re looking for a patio set. And although that’s an important factor, patio furniture material should also weigh in when you’re making a buying decision. Here’s what you need to know before choosing the best patio material for your situation.

Worth its metal?

Garden Oasis Retro Steel GliderIf you’re looking for a patio set that can hold up to the elements, metal can be the way to go. You have your choice between steel, wrought iron and aluminum.

Steel—Patio furniture sets made with steel frames are durable but heavy to move. Keep your steel set clean and maintain its anti-corrosion finish coating by wiping it down regularly with soapy water, and then dry it with a soft towel or cloth. Year-round exposure to the elements can cause rusting. Lightly sand any trouble spots, and reapply Garden-Oasis-wrought-iron-patio-seta protective finish.
Wrought iron—This classic material is heavy, which may make it hard to schlep or store once the season is over. A patio set made of wrought iron and aluminum isn’t as heavy, however. You also have to maintain it regularly to keep it from corroding, especially if it’s been painted. As with steel, clean it often. If necessary, sand away any rust that develops, and then repaint it.
Country-Living-aluminum-dining-setAluminum—A lightweight and affordable alternative to steel or wrought iron, an aluminum patio set can look solid and attractive. Cast aluminum is sturdy and rust-resistant. Tubular aluminum, however, isn’t as sturdy and is susceptible to rust, dents and scratches.

With any set, always check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning.

Natural selection

Wood and wicker are timeless, but somewhat delicate, depending on how well-protected they are.

Wood-Adirondack-chair-and-side-tableWood—Wood can fade with sun exposure. But certain outdoor wood furniture, such as any type made of eucalyptus, teak, cedar and acacia wood, holds up exceeding well. Over time, natural wood develops a handsome silver tone. You can also refinish wood to keep it looking good and splinter-free. If you apply a wood-treatment product or a marine paint, you can stall the aging process and enjoy your wood furniture for years.
La-Z-Boy-wicker-patio-setWicker—This woven wood is lightweight but sturdy when it’s taken care of properly. Wicker furniture is most commonly made of flexible rattan, but it can also be constructed of cane, bamboo or reed. Before putting it away for the season, clean it with an oil soap and warm water, letting it dry thoroughly before storing it. When needed, repaint wicker to keep it looking like new. However, most people today choose the convenience of outdoor furniture that looks like natural wicker, but is really a look-alike version made of woven resin over an aluminum frame.


Garden-Oasis-resin-wicker-dining-setPlastics and faux looks are generally easiest to maintain and give you a lot of choices in a patio set when it comes to style.

Outdoor furniture made from resin, a recyclable material, is often the most affordable. Check it out; the heavier sets are the best, offering the most wind resistance. In addition, you can find resin furniture that mimics wood, wicker and iron.

Deciding factors

Make sure that the patio set you choose will serve you well over the years. If it’s going to be exposed to the elements year-round, choose a material that can stand up to moisture and wind. On the other hand, if you plan to store your patio furniture, make sure you can move it easily. If you prefer a natural material but have concerns about its upkeep, consider a synthetic faux look. Heavy furniture may have to remain out in the elements, but protected.

-by Kathie Robitz


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