Outdoor furniture should be an investment. In addition to weathering the natural elements, the outdoor furniture should complement one’s lifestyle, and serve as a backdrop for memories made with loved ones, friends and even pets. While design can be very subjective, the quality and the build of a piece are simple facts. Below are our tips to keep in mind when shopping for luxury outdoor furniture.
1. Buy aluminum outdoor furniture. Aluminum is an ideal material for outdoor furniture because it resists corrosion and requires minimal maintenance. Aluminum is substantial and durable. It outlasts wood and is lighter and easier to move than other metals traditionally used for the outdoors such as steel and wrought iron.
2. Beware of the fragility of cast aluminum furniture. Although inexpensive and a very fast way to make furniture, cast aluminum is porous which is easy to break and prone to corrosion.
3. When comparing aluminum furniture, check the wall thickness and make sure that it is very heavy. High quality aluminum is an expensive material, so judging a piece by weight is a test akin to test driving a car. A good rule of thumb is the heavier, the better. If you drag an aluminum chair and it rattles and clangs like a tin can, it is poor quality. Heavy gauge aluminum is strong and enduring. It will not bend or break after only a few years of use.
4. Invest in high quality outdoor furniture that will last. Furniture that must be replaced seasonally is a huge waste contributor. The longer that you hold onto and care for your furniture, the less likely it is to eventually end up in a landfill.
5. Moisture is the enemy of all outdoor furniture, so it’s important your furniture does not retain it. Water can infiltrate the frame if the joints are not sealed with full circumferential welds, which take more time and skill. Make sure to find out whether or not the furniture features full circumferential welds.
6. Make sure the finish is impenetrable. True all-weather outdoor furniture should be able to remain outdoors all year round. An architectural grade powder coat will increase the longevity and performance of your furniture, however, it is only as good as the pretreatment process underneath the coating. Aluminum can corrode if the pretreatment process is not effective.
7. Stay away from metal furniture which has been “chromated” as a pretreatment. Remember the movie Erin Brockovich? That’s the same chemical we’re referring to here. Hexavalent chromium (Chromium-6) is one of the greatest carcinogens and environmental dangers out there and is unfortunately used in a surprising amount of metal outdoor furniture manufactured overseas.
8. Polyfill foam holds moisture like a sponge, inviting mildew inside and degrading after only a season of use. Look for quick-draining reticulated foam instead, which holds its shape and enables moisture to fully pass through the fabric. Reticulated foam allows for airflow, keeping mildew out. Don’t be fooled when interior foam is wrapped in a water resistant fabric either. Once water does inevitably get in, it has no way to get out and you’ll find that your custom cushions for outdoor furniture are still wet from last night’s rainstorm only after your guests have already sat down.
9. Buy furniture from the source and not the middle-man. The maker is delivering quality and value instead of marketing a low quality, mass-produced item to look like a handmade, luxury product.
10. Buy outdoor furniture with a lifetime warranty. This ensures you are investing in a superior product that will last for several generations – a purchase equally as sustainable as it is sentimental.