Now that summer is finally here, it’s time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.  I hope that you are enjoying the warm weather and beginning to utilize your outdoor living space.  With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to discuss outdoor furniture.  So, let’s take a look at some common materials used in outdoor furniture and I’ll also provide some maintenance tips on how to prolong the life of each material.

Aluminum is lightweight, doesn’t rust or fade and is durable.  Maintenance is pretty easy by regularly washing with mild soapy water and rinsing. Look for powder coated UV resistant finishes and rust proof hardware.  Watch out though, because when aluminum furniture sits in the sun, it can become quite hot to the touch.

Wood is sturdy, solid, heavy, and long-lasting if well cared for.  Teak, cedar, and eucalyptus are popular wood types used in outdoor furniture.  Wood furniture does require more maintenance than other materials.  Most wood furniture will require some type of protective coating that will need to be re-applied periodically.  Look for furniture built with zinc plated or stainless steel hardware.  Recommended cleaning is with some type of commercial wood cleaner to remove mold and mildew.  Always follow manufacturers’ instructions and always test first when using a wood cleaner.

Wrought Iron is sturdy and durable, but can also be heavy and will need to be protected against rust if it isn’t powder coated.  Cleaning is easy with mild soap and water and exterior paint can be used to touch up any marks or chips.  For comfort, you may need some all-weather cushions, as wrought iron tends to be a little uncomfortable.

Poly resin furniture is all the rage these days.  It’s eco-friendly, made from recycled materials and is easy to maintain.  This type of furniture is strong, resists mold, mildew, splitting, cracking and fading.  Cleaning is as simple as using mild soap and warm water.  Available in a variety of colors and styles, it will work well in all types of designs.  You can even find some that resemble wicker.

Plastic is easy to maintain and is very lightweight.  You’ll need to watch out if it gets windy, as plastic furniture has a tendency to blow away during a strong storm.  Designs are limited so you probably don’t want to use plastic furniture in your permanent design but it’s ok if you need to bring out some extra chairs for some temporary seating.

Other things to keep in mind…

• When purchasing outdoor furniture, you’ll want to consider price, storage space, maneuverability, weight, maintenance, and, of course, the look you are trying to achieve.

• It is always best to store all outdoor furniture indoors during our frigid winter months.  If that isn’t feasible, you should at least cover it to protect it from accumulating snow.

• Remember to always use all weather or outdoor fabrics for cushions and pillows.  These types of fabrics are fade and water resistant.

• For best results, experts recommend cleaning your outdoor furniture at least four times per year.  Once when you bring it out of storage, twice during the season, and again before you put it back in storage for the winter.

Proper care and maintenance will help your outdoor furniture last so that you will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.  Enjoy the summer season!