Patio Furniture: Metal versus Wooden Outdoor Furniture | Cielo
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon. The sun has finally convinced mini humans and furry creatures to take their naps. At last, you can relax with a drink and an indulgent magazine in hand. What could possibly improve on this scene? Aha…transplant it to your idyllic garden-view, seaside, or poolside patio—the ultimate holiday-at-home setting.
If only you could literally transplant the sofa, with your happy posterior still attached. Unfortunately, outdoor furniture has to play by a whole different set of rules to indoor furniture if it’s going to stand up to the elements. And it takes a little more homework to know what’s going to work best for your climate, your lifestyle, and your budget – not really a job for a lazy Sunday afternoon. But that’s why we’re here to do the hard work for you.
Survival of the fittest…
When most people think of patio or outdoor furniture, one of the main choices that likely springs to mind will be metal versus wooden furniture. The truth is, there’s no clear-cut winner here – a lot comes down to preferences and personal priorities. But because it’s much more about practicality, your choice in materials will definitely be easier to narrow down by a process of elimination.
So, while there are certainly a host of options out there you could consider, we figured we’d do some of the ‘natural selection’ for you and focus on what’s most popular for good reason – durability, easy care, good looks, and a couple other quirky things nature always throws in for good measure… Then you can decide which one’s screaming ‘pick me, pick me!’ the loudest.
Metal outdoor furniture
Generally speaking, the main reason people might lean towards metal over wood is that it offers a more versatile range of options in terms of price, practicalities and looks, which can range from ornate baroque to modern chic. The most popular types of metal outdoor furniture today are aluminium and steel, with the classic wrought iron trailing a bit further behind (mainly because it’s so darn heavy to lug around, which is why it’s still sitting in gran’s backyard…)
Not only is aluminium the lightest on ‘lug factor’, it’s also a relative lightweight in maintenance. Unlike most other metals, it’s completely rust proof, and sun exposure won’t pose the threat of cracking and drying out that it does for many types of wood. It’s also super easy to clean, and for a bit of extra protection, a little wax or mineral oil will keep it good as new for decades, making aluminium a great value investment. A word to the wise though – if you have an open deck on one of our lovely windy coastlines, you may find yourself waving goodbye to any aluminium furniture (and unsuspecting tiny dogs sleeping thereupon).
For something a little more ‘heavy metal’ (or shall we say, down to earth?), steel is a solid, shiny, stylish favourite for the modern patio scene, as long as it’s powder-coated, galvanised or stainless steel – otherwise, it’s hello rust! For our seaside dwellers, you’ll need to stick to stainless steel in this department.
And if you’re more of a poolside lounger, you’ll want to be aware that both galvanised and stainless steel are prone to chlorine corrosion, making a strong powder-coat finish your safest bet. While steel is definitely more pricey than aluminium, it’s just as easy to look after, and will stand up to a few more hard knocks – just beware of any hard knocks it may pose to your ageing muscles and fragile ego if you decide to play patio musical chairs.
While it may be the (nearly) immovable old dame of classic outdoor furniture, wrought iron has definitely been losing some ground in popularity over the last few decades. But there’s no denying it’s still got some old world charm going for it, particularly if you’re after something unique and ornate – after all, “wrought” literally means “worked by hand” – which also accounts for it costing a pretty penny.
Rest assured though, with a good powder-coating to prevent rust, your patio set won’t be going anywhere for the next hundred years or so…unless you can eventually convince the grandkids it’s worth the sweat and aching backs.
Wooden outdoor furniture
Choosing wooden over other kinds of outdoor furniture probably comes down to the same qualities that would make you choose it for your indoor furniture, namely, its natural good looks and charming personality. One other non-trivial reason to opt for wood versus metal if it’s going to be left to bake in the sun for hours? I think you catch the drift – think molten metal at the earth’s core connecting with your unsuspecting rear end, versus shady trees and happy wooden swings swaying in the breeze…
When it comes to options in wooden outdoor furniture, it’s a bit of an unfair contest. Teak just seems to have it all – beautiful golden warm tones, impressive strength, and durability second to none as an all-weather material which can last for up to a century. Teak is highly unique in the world of wood for its resin and natural oils which are resistant to dry rot while repelling insects and moisture, meaning it won’t warp, crack or become brittle even in extreme conditions.
Because it’s a hardwood, it can also stand up to those inevitable outdoor dings without showing a dent. It’s no wonder that teak has historically been the wood of choice for building boats – we wouldn’t be surprised if it was the wood Noah used for the ark (‘Gopher wood’ mystery solved!). While it won’t lose any integrity from sun exposure, teak does tend to ‘mature’ to a silvery grey, which is just another kind of beautiful. But if you’re a bit of an ageist, then applying a teak protector once a year is all you need to maintain those youthful brown tones (we won’t judge). No varnish required, and no other maintenance than the occasional wipe-down.
Teak is also the perfect middle-weight champion of outdoor furniture – sturdy enough that it won’t be in danger from those gale-force coastal winds, but still mobile enough to change your patio setup at whim. While it does come with a seasoned price tag, teak is a quality material you won’t regret investing in.
Other types of wood
Eucalyptus is an excellent alternative to teak. A little easier on the wallet, eucalyptus also boasts natural oils which help it resist moisture damage and other causes of rot and decay.
If budget is more of a concern, softwoods like pine, cedar and fir are popular lower cost options for patio furniture. Naturally, these woods are more prone to dents and scratches, will require more ongoing maintenance, and are best covered up in the wetter months to increase their shelf-life.
The long and short of it
If you’re still feeling in a bit of a sunny-day daze with all these options, here’s a cheat-sheet to help you square things up.
We’ve also prepared a wider rundown of all the elements to consider when putting together your ideal patio setup – including designs, fabrics, shading options, protective covers and much more – take a look here.
For an inspired range of high quality metal and wooden outdoor furniture, look no further than Cielo to turn your patio into the holiday-at-home you deserve.
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