So what do you think of first when you want to categorize furniture into what is the longest lasting? Do you consider materials? Quality of construction? What preventative measures give furniture longevity?
Wrought iron furniture lasts the longest out of all the outdoor furniture available. Then comes steel, teak wood, recycled plastics, and aluminum. These outdoor furniture materials last the longest when they are well-cared for.
|Material Used||Durability in Years|
|Wrought Iron||60+ years|
|Stainless Steel||25+ years|
|Teak Wood||25+ years|
|Composite Plastics||20+ years|
|Resin Wicker||15+ years|
Deciding which furniture lasts the longest isn’t about just the materials. And if you want your patio furniture to last, you need to do more than just buy it. There’s a lot more maintenance involved than you may realize.
Keep in mind that you may love furniture made from these heavy-duty and sturdy materials, but do you need it? Some of these costs a lot to purchase originally, are expensive to maintain, and also take a lot of effort to protect.
Always remember that the standard weather and location of your furniture matter to your choice. For instance, if you have a covered outdoor space, the style and maintenance can differ from the furniture chosen to occupy open outdoor spaces. The intent of this article isn’t to tell you exactly what to purchase, it’s to inform you of the most durable options.
How Long Does Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture Last?
Wrought iron furniture is metal furniture that is carved and molded by heating. This malleable iron is mixed with a slag filament, then worked by a blacksmith into furniture. It literally becomes stronger the more they work on the material.
Wrought iron is durable and corrosion-resistant, which is what makes it a good material for outdoor furniture. This product lends a classic, elegant look to patios and porches, no matter where they are.
I have watched wrought iron furniture passed down from generation to generation in my family. The stuff lasts at least two lifetimes, it just has a larger up-front price tag than most other kinds of outdoor furniture. Also, it needs care and maintenance to keep it looking good.
It’s a very heavy metal, so you don’t have to worry about the wind carrying it away unless we’re talking hurricanes and tornadoes. It comes with the normal metal issues of getting hot to the touch in heat and cold during cold spells. Nothing that good cushions can’t help. Unfortunately, it is susceptible to rusting. Powder coating can add an extra barrier against rust, but it also has its drawbacks. The experts at Dufferin Iron mention that they recommend paint for wrought iron over the powder coating. I’ll let them explain:
“While it’s true that a powder-coated product will look absolutely perfect on the day it arrives, it is not going to remain that way. This means that as a powder-coated metal fence or gate starts to lose its coating, the customer has only an expensive recourse. When your paint starts to show signs of wear and tear, it can be repainted on-site. But if you have a fence or railing that has been powder coated, the entire thing will need to be removed in order to be refinished.”Dufferin Iron
Most pieces come already coated with a strong protectant and paint. If you pay attention to it, keep it cleaned, and handle any suspicious spots as soon as you find them, this should be fine.
How Long Does Stainless Steel Outdoor Furniture Last?
You can take a lesson from most parks and recreation agencies by looking at the material they use most for their projects. What I’ve seen many times over is the use of steel furniture. This goes not only to public areas but also to restaurants, cafes, and schools that want outdoor furniture to last.
Steel furniture can last 25+ years. Public parks and restaurants use it because it is tough to vandalize thanks to its coatings and owners can repaint them. It is also heavy enough to make it a chore to steal. That means it’s also fine for an area with high winds.
It’s not as classic as wrought iron, but it may give the other material a run for its money on durability and strength. Both are susceptible to rust if not coated properly, but both also last for years and years.
Also, remember that, like any other metal surface, it gets hot and cold with the variance of the seasons. So it’ll make your bum chilly when sitting on it in winter and can burn the skin if it’s been in the heat of the sun in summer. So keep in mind that you’ll most likely go to an extra expense on keeping cushions for the furniture of choice.
How Long Does Teak Wood Outdoor Furniture Last?
If you want a natural look at your outdoor space, then opt for wood furniture. Just remember that not all wood furniture will endure the elements. I’ve done the research and have experience with the most durable wood furniture.
The most durable wood product that I’ve found is Teak Wood. Other durable woods include Shora, cypress, cedar, and acacia. I consider teak best because it is waterproof, resistant to sun damage, and according to my research, makes a good choice for any climate.
Some sources claim it can last upward of 75 years, but I’m going to be modest and give it a 25+ year rating. The only reason it may last longer would be the care that you are willing to give it.
I’ve had my teak stool for nearly five years and I used it in the shower for most of that time. While there, I would clean it with a specialized cleaning solution and then oil it every two months. Now that it’s out of the bathroom and away from a lot of moisture, I still oil it, but I’ve not cleaned it.
The cleaning and water still darkened the wood in certain places that had not been there when I first purchased it. So, I’m really not sure why some reviewers claim this furniture to be virtually maintenance-free. It’s not.
It is also prone to fading and cracking if you don’t apply a sealant in accordance with the environment your teak wood furniture is sitting. Also, don’t forget the price tag. It can be steep.
How Durable is Composite Plastic Outdoor Furniture?
When I say that plastic chairs can last as long as 20+ years as patio furniture, I’m not talking about the thin plastic you find at the Dollar General annual summer sale. Plastic has come a long way.
High-density polyethylene or polypropylene plastic convincingly mimics other more expensive or finicky materials, such as wicker and especially wood. To be honest, I’ve sat in chairs made of this stuff before and thought it was wood.
The manufacturing process offers many colors to choose from as well as a variety of furniture types to choose from. It won’t fade in the sunlight and it comes in the color you want, so no need to repaint. It’s mold and mildew resistant and it’s decently heavy, so it works in any kind of weather.
Plastic, as always, is very easy to keep clean. It resists both rotting and cracking and is impervious to salty air and saltwater. Most of the time, manufacturers use recycled plastic to make this material. And if you decide you no longer want it, recycle it or sell it.
One brand that I am currently interested in is POLYWOOD. Made from recycled plastic called HDPE, meaning high-density polyethylene, they also include UV inhibitors that help protect against the sun.
This furniture is nearly maintenance-free and is comfy. It doesn’t take on extreme heat or cold like metal furniture will. But the maintenance-free portion stands out in my mind. It may be pricey, but low maintenance is a boon to me.
How Long Does Aluminum Outdoor Furniture Last?
Aluminum is the most common type of outdoor furniture frame material. It’s also naturally rust-resistant – so perfect where there is a lot of rain. One less thing to worry about over a possible 15+ year life span of furniture made from this material. Aluminum is a lightweight and resilient metal.
There are a few drawbacks to aluminum. It’s so lightweight, I’d have second thoughts if you live where there’s a lot of wind. Also, like any other metal, it heats in direct sunlight and becomes frigid when winter weather hits. It is also affected by oxidation–especially when it’s used close to the ocean.
Because it’s such an abundant metal (and a lot of these products can be made of recycled aluminum as well) it is easier on the wallet and pretty durable as outdoor furniture. However, there are different varieties you need to be aware of:
Standard or Extruded Aluminum
This is the lighter metal that is so often found as the framing of outdoor furniture. It’s pretty weather-resistant, lightweight, and cheap. The material they make your park bleachers from is aluminum. Sometimes it can even have a powder coating.
This type of aluminum is just how it sounds. During manufacturing, instead of a thin or hollow metal standard, the manufacturer pours molten aluminum into a cast mold. This allows for more shapes, designs, and a stronger result.
When aluminum is manipulated into the shape desired by the manufacturer and then reinforced repeatedly, it is called wrought aluminum. It ends up similar in design to wrought iron, but it’s lighter and less expensive.
Of these types of aluminum furniture, Cast Aluminum and Wrought Aluminum are the strongest and longest-lasting.
What is the Durability of All-Weather Resin Wicker Outdoor Furniture?
As an honorable mention, I wanted to include wicker in this article. Now, if you’re from the 70s and 80s, you probably don’t think it should make this list at all. However, I ask you to stay with me, at least until I can explain.
Most people (including myself) thought that wicker referred to a material. No, actually it refers to the weave used to create the design and furniture. That means
I needed to reevaluate the way I looked at “wicker” as only the light wooden material (often rattan, bamboo, or willow). It can be synthetic or resin-based material. Few organic wicker sets are available anymore.
The main ingredient in this furniture is a synthetic polyethylene resin. These resins come from plant matter like seagrass, bamboo, and rattan–interestingly, some of the same materials used to make natural wicker.
Resin wicker can be a pretty stout material to make outdoor furniture from and also be stylish and warm (for those of us who like that style). It’s almost as durable as metal, without the risk of rust. A lot of resin wicker furniture has metal frames protected underneath the woven outer layer.
I chose this kind of furniture for our patio, because of its durability and because it was cheaper than the others. One factor in the decision was that I would place it on a covered patio. So it won’t see direct sunlight or rain.
Yes, even though I am pleased to know this material can last, I’m doing what I can to extend its life. I wouldn’t mind getting a full 15+ years of use from this furniture. Though it has an aluminum undercarriage, some retailers warn that it’s not great for very windy areas. We’re hoping for the best.
The choice and care of the furniture you have in your outdoor space matters. This is the space where you make memories. Family and friends of all shapes and sizes will be there. It’s your little relaxing get-away spot without actually having to travel anywhere.
That being said, choose wisely what materials you put into your outdoor space. Sure, style matters, but not if it fades, cracks, or deteriorates after one season. That’s just a waste of money and time.
Before you buy, consider where you plan to place your furniture. It’s important because if you will have your furniture on the ground, it can be in contact with moisture, insects, and dirt. These things can deteriorate some furniture. Coverage lends protection and opens the door to a larger variety of materials.
It’s also important to know what kind of treatment and cleaning regimen each material takes before choosing. You want something you have time for. Where you’re going to place the furniture, the standard weather in your location all can make or break a decision about the type of material.
This choice determines how much enjoyment versus how much work you will do for a very long time.