Well-placed garden furniture can combine the comfort of indoors with the beauty of outdoor nature. With a plethora of furniture from which to choose, how do you know which works best? After all, these pieces have to endure all types of weather, aside from general usage. Keep your objective in mind as you look through the various styles and construction materials. Are you aiming for the beauty of enhancing your garden? Do you want a durable set that will last a lifetime? Consider the pros and cons of what's available.
Some of the most classically beautiful sets are made from wrought iron. You can encourage vines to climb these pieces, winding in and out of the ironwork and they generally give the appearance of being part of the plants growing in the garden. These materials were used in pieces in Victorian England as well as ancient Roman cities. Most pieces currently labeled "wrought iron," however, are actually made from mild steel and given a wrought iron look.
Wrought Iron is highly malleable, enabling designers to craft intricate designs. The material is also rather hardy. While not as strong as pure wrought iron, these metal furniture sets withstand most weather conditions and the effects of nature. One downfall to this material is that it does rust if not properly cared for. This rust can be sanded off and painted over, if needed. A fresh coat of paint will keep your furniture set looking fresh and new for many years.
Teak is another type of material common in outdoor furniture. These pieces are made from the ancient Tectona Grandis trees, which are a tropical hardwood variety. The main benefit of this wood type is its resistance to rot and its ability to repel termites. It's also an attractive option, with a yellow-brown hue and visible wood grain. The wood also requires very little maintenance. In fact, maintenance may shorten the material's lifespan. Average household cleaning and wood oiling products actually break down the material, destroying it over time.
This excellent video by eHow shows how you can keep you wooden garden furniture in top condition
A cheaper type of outdoor furniture is plastic furniture. While easy to wipe down and keep clean, plastic furniture will not likely have a long life, unless it is thicker in nature. For outdoor eating and grilling parties, plastic tables work well. They are naturally water and weather resistant and can be easily cleaned before making contact with food items. They are generally not as decorative as teak or wrought iron furniture, but they are functional and tolerant of many seasons of weather.
One of the longer lasting furniture materials is aluminum. These sets can be decorative or plain, thick or thin in design. It endures outdoor conditions better than many materials due to its protective coating. If that coating erodes, however, the underlying material is extremely vulnerable. These pieces should be protected from erosion to give them a long life.
Similar to teak garden furniture, wicker is also made from tropical plants. Wicker is crafted from the stems of various types of palms and is usually a woven texture. Depending on the quality of the workmanship, wicker furniture can be rather fragile under the stress of much weight. Most wicker furniture manufacturers, however, have moved away from the palm material and toward a synthetic resin substance. This material is cheaper and somewhat hardier than real wicker, making the furniture longer lasting. These pieces generally last several years, even in harsh weather conditions.
Wood is a common furniture material, especially for outdoor picnic table sets. While wood sets are natural and beautiful, especially if the wood is finished and stained, they are generally not the longest lasting. They endure a lot of use but the weather affects these sets more than some others. Wood, especially if untreated, is highly susceptible to rot and mold. To avoid damage, these furniture pieces should be regularly scraped and hosed down when mold is present. A coat of paint or varnish can also maintain these pieces, slowing the growth of mold and mildew. Even if the wood is treated, it will need regular maintenance and re-treating to ensure the protective layer remains to protect the wood.
There are also several fabrics used in patio garden furniture. The umbrellas are often a woven plastic or parachute-like material. Cushions should be of a woven plastic material as well or heavily treated for weather resistance. Thinner materials are easily eroded or torn by high winds or flying debris in the yard. Be sure to store fabric parts of outdoor furniture inside during times of rain or high winds to ensure its long life.
The best way to choose the right furniture for your outdoor space is to investigate different sets at a hardware store. Roam the aisles and test the durability of different sets. Sit in a few chairs to determine which is most comfortable to you. When you select a set, make sure to maintain it properly to ensure you keep the pieces for a long time to come.
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