Materials for Outdoor Furniture

Best Materials for Outdoor Furniture in Florida and their Advantages

Written By Kenneth Wilson  |  4 Comments

Florida is a rough place... on anything outdoors.

There's blazing sun. There's lots of rain. Enough wind in an afternoon thunderstorm to make any northerner cower. And salt in the air to degrade materials. So it's safe to say any patio furniture you get will be put to ❝third degree❞.

In my quest to have a patio area that stands the test of time, I've researched materials and put together a short guide. Let's jump into it!

Fabrics, Cushions, and Pillows

Choosing fabrics for outdoor use is where I find the most difficulty. Fabrics are the quickest to fade, wither, and lose quality. There’s limited choices of fabrics that you can use outside and expose.

Here are some that you can rely on throughout all weather conditions.

1. Canvas

Canvas is commonly made with cotton, but traditionally with hemp. The first is what I’d most recommend for outdoor use because of its durability even when exposed to UV light, winds, or rain.

Another kind of canvas is duck cloth, also called duck canvas. It has a tighter weave than the two I’ve mentioned and it feels smoother to touch. Duck canvas has more weight to it than cotton, and it’s harder to paint. Duck cloth is sturdier than cotton canvas but retains the same aesthetic quality.

Make sure you get something that fits your taste right away because it doesn’t give way much for customization.

2. Olefin

Olefin fabric is made of synthetic fibers that’s woven. Most of the time you’ll see this fabric used for place mats and tablecloths. They’re used indoors but they are safe to use outdoors. Since they’re basically a plastic fabric, it’s sturdier and more durable than any other kind of fabric.

The best thing about them is they’re waterproof. You can find these materials used to cover cushions specifically for outdoor use. They may just be rougher and feel harder than your cotton fabric, so take that into consideration for the comfiness factor.

3. Shower Curtain Fabric

Shower curtain fabrics are waterproof. Rainwater can be the biggest cause of wear for fabrics, and waterproof quality is essential for outdoor fabrics. You can have cushions covered with shower curtain fabric made for cheap.

It’s also more flexible with designs and colors. You can be rest assured it won’t lose quality of print despite the many thunderstorms in Florida.

Hard Materials

With the fabrics and cushions out of the way, hard materials become your next big concern. These usually come more expensive than fabrics, so it’s important to get ones that won’t wear down quickly.

Here are every kind of materials outdoor furniture are typically made in, and the best under each category.

1. Wood

Wood makes a recurring appearance in almost every balcony and patio furniture inspiration your can search online. It typically acts as a neutral base to balance out different textures and colors in the place.

Even though it’s one of the most reliable materials for outdoor use, not all have the same capacity for withstanding different kinds of weather. Out of every type of wood, teak reigns supreme above all others.

It’s best known for its ability to withstand all types of weather, and I don’t exaggerate. Teak is equipped with oil and resin content. Water can’t permeate its surface, it’s safe from rot from the inside, and hard enough not to be affected or damaged by bugs.

Teak ages gracefully, but you can preserve its initial beauty for a lifetime with proper care. Applying teak sealant is the best protection for this kind of wood, and you only have to do it once a year.

Other types of wood like pine, acacia, cedar, fir, and shorea can also survive different weather conditions, but not as much as teak. They have a water resistant quality that makes it last a couple years, but also with the right care.

2. Concrete

Like wood, concrete is a good base to consider for larger outdoor furniture like a dining table for your patio. No material can top off concrete because it doesn’t need much maintenance unlike most of the materials listed here. The only possibility for it to be unusable is if it cracked or broke completely.

I personally wonder why we don’t see it much in patio and balcony inspirations, but they’re getting more popular now. Take advantage of this not being a trend yet and make a concrete table or concrete accents like planters and pots a staple in your patio or balcony.

3. Synthetic

Plastic, is by far, the default material of choice whether for fabrics or hard furniture. Synthetic resin is the most popular option for plastic furniture that are also aesthetically pleasing. They’re usually woven like wicker and is held together by an aluminum foundation inside.

Like teak wood, this is considered an all-weather type of material. That’s why you see this often used for outdoor couches and any other seating furniture. Some could last for a really long time and can even be passed down.

Take note that resin can be made of PVC or high density polyethylene (HDPE) wicker. The latter is usually less durable that HDPE and it can’t be recycled. HDPE requires more money investment, but all worth it because it can withstand rain and UV light and won’t crack under these harsh elements.

4. Metal

Metal is as popular as wood when it comes to outdoor furniture. This is best to use for outdoor spaces without a roof or cover against rain or the sun. Metals can easily withstand these elements with only rust to worry about. Even then, that can be easily resolved by constantly applying oil and taking proper care.

These are the 3 most popular types of metals used for outdoor furniture:

  • Aluminum: Powder-coated aluminum, specifically, is what’s most recommended for outdoor use. It has the most durability to resist rust and damage from water exposure. It’s also lighter than other metals.
  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is an almost permanent solution to rust. It’s easy to clean and doesn’t require much maintenance. In terms of aesthetics and design, though, it’s sometimes a hit or miss. It looks best to let the natural shine of metal stand out when opting for steel metal.
  • Wrought Iron: Wrought iron is definitely the choice for the harshest weather. Typical Florida thunderstorms can bring intense winds. No one wants to bring it up, but hurricanes are sometimes inevitable here, and wrought iron would be one of the safest metals to have outdoors. It’s quite heavy so it takes a lot of pressure to blow it off the ground.

Investing in Your Outdoor Furniture

In Florida, you can save up on indoor furniture as much as you can, but when it comes to outdoor furniture, it’s best to invest or don’t bother. These are the best materials you can cop. More often than not, they’re worth the high price tag for their lifetime quality.

About the Author

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

  • We have a heavy old cast iron table -was a cutting table for fabrics. Takes two men to move it. Can it be used in southeast Florida, outdoors if we add a stone top?

    Also, we have a pair of vintage Triconfort chaises from France. They are made of synthetic resin (not a woven look). Can they do well outdoors in southeast Florida?
    Thank you.

    • Cast iron table if kept under roof would probably be fine, the chairs, I don’t know, but it sounds like they should be in climate control.

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