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Choosing Garden Furniture

Garden furniture can add charm to any outdoor area such as the balcony or patio. When choosing garden furniture, it’s best that they are made of any of these materials – metal, plastic, wood, and wicker. These materials can withstand external elements and can provide that much needed comfort.
Choosing Garden Furniture

Modern home design is all about embracing the outdoors. Throughout the country, people are adding decks, patios, terraces, balconies, and poolside bars to their homes, not just for personal relaxation but also to increase their home’s value and curb appeal. Indeed, decorating your outdoors these days takes just as much time and planning as decorating your interior.

It all starts, of course, with a good furniture set—unless you plan to sit in the mud or stand in your garden all day. Whether it’s a few small chairs or a complete dining set, you need stylish, comfortable seating to give life and function to your outdoor area. You have lots of options in terms of style, price and material, and it can be hard to make just one choice. Here’s a quick rundown of your options to help you get started.

Metal

Metal should be your first choice if function and durability are on top of your list. You usually have two choices, aluminum and wrought iron. Aluminum furniture is lightweight and can be constructed in folding style, which makes for great poolside chairs. It also comes in a wide range of colors and finishes, so there’s sure to be something that fits your outdoor theme.

Wrought iron furniture is great for large gardens and patios. The classic colors and intricate designs give it an elegant look, and the sturdy construction allows it to withstand the roughest weather conditions. The only snag is its weight—an iron chair can weigh more than three times as much as an aluminum one. Don’t use metal chairs on soft grass surfaces, as they can easily sink into the soil.

Stainless steel is also extremely durable; in fact, it’s usually the material of choice for park benches and outdoor tables. It’s a little heavier than aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about strong winds, but it’s not as heavy as iron so you can place it on any surface. Maintenance is also extremely easy; often, a quick wipe is all it takes to keep it in form.

Plastic

If you’re working on a budget or want to buy your furniture in bulk, plastic furniture may be your best option. Plastic is lightweight, water-resistant, and nonporous, making it perfect for the poolside and areas that experience heavy rains. However, it’s not a good idea to leave it outdoors all year, as the continuous sun and rain exposure can weaken the material.

Plastic can be molded into practically any shape and comes in all colors and patterns. If you frequently host large parties in your backyard, plastic furniture can work by adding to the festive mood. It’s also convenient since you can rearrange them anytime without much effort. If you’re concerned about preserving the color of your furniture, look for “colorfast” plastic—this keeps the colors from running or fading.

Price is easily the best thing about plastic furniture. While a wrought iron chair can cost you close to a thousand dollars, you can get a plastic furniture set for as little as $200. Of course, you’ll have to replace them sooner, but a good, well-maintained set can last more than five years.

Wood

Wood furniture perfectly fits the look of a traditional American home. Not all woods are suitable for outdoor use, but some are remarkably durable. Teak, oak, and cedar are some of the best choices. Teak is the most low-maintenance wood in the market, a result of the natural oils that make it extremely water-resistant. You can leave untreated teak furniture outdoors and it’ll still look like new year after year.

If you like the smell and feel of natural wood, try cedar furniture. Cedar has a cozy natural scent that perfectly complements the smell of your greenery. The scent also acts as a natural insect repellent, so it won’t get damaged by mosquitoes, termites, and other common pests. And because it absorbs moisture slowly, it won’t crack or splinter as other woods do in extreme temperatures.

Wood furniture can be expensive—a cedar set can cost over $1000, and a teak one can go for well over $3000. If you’re not ready to spend that much, there are also cheaper options such as bamboo (which technically isn’t wood, but has the same feel and construction) and eucalyptus. These give you the same look for about 30% less, although the durability won’t be the same.

Wicker

Wicker furniture is made from natural or synthetic woven fibers. The material lends it a natural “give,” which means it adjusts to match the contours of your body. This makes it extremely warm and comfortable, perfect for sitting back and relaxing after a tiring afternoon. Natural wicker is more comfortable, but plastic fibers are more suitable for garden use.

However, wicker is naturally weak and is not designed for year-long outdoor exposure. You will have to move them indoors during the winter and rainy seasons, and to shaded spots (such as your deck or under a tree) on extremely hot days. For added durability, choose wicker pieces made from vinyl fibers. These are less porous and don’t give in to weather as easily.

Maintenance can be a problem with wicker furniture, as dust and other particles can get in between the weaves. A bit of grain is normal, but the dust can build up and cause hard-to-remove scratches. To prevent buildup, drape some fabric over the furniture or place cushions over the seat and back.