Originally Published on January 27, 2020. Last Updated on July 28, 2020.
There comes a time when everything in your home needs replacing – pipes crack, wallpaper scrapes away, and squeaky floorboards appear. You’ll even have to replace your outdoor deck furniture eventually, but that timeline is greatly affected by several factors.
Your outdoor deck furniture can last for two months or two decades, depending on the material you choose, the quality of the craftsmanship, your climate, and how often you treat and maintain your furniture. Some materials can last for several years if you properly maintain them, some materials degrade quickly, and other materials can last for a long time with minimal upkeep.
Lifespan of Different Outdoor Furniture Materials
Each type of outdoor deck furniture material responds to the elements differently. Consider how each material holds up when exposed to wind, rain, snow, grime, and beating sun.
Natural wicker is a budget-conscious material option with a woven construction for a timeless rustic look. When exposed to sun and rain, natural wicker breaks down quickly. Snow and cold temperatures warp natural wicker and make it brittle.
To maintain its structure and appearance, you must maintain wicker regularly. It is less expensive than other materials and can last much longer if partially protected in a sunroom. Wicker is best in moderate climates under shade or an awning where there’s no exposure to sunlight or dirt.
The longevity of wood depends on the type of wood you buy. Softwoods like pine are much less durable than hardwoods. Wood options like teak are more expensive but last considerably longer.
Teak creates its own oil, making it ultra-sturdy. Teak is weather-resistant, rarely being affected by exposure to sun, rain, moisture, cold temperatures, or dirt. You must treat teak occasionally to avoid a “silvery patina” look, and other wood materials must be sanded down and polished after seasons of harsh weather. With proper upkeep, teak and hardwood outdoor furniture can last for years in a variety of climates.
The unique, handcrafted look of wrought iron makes it a popular material option for deck furniture. Wrought iron is not water-resistant and will rust if exposed to moisture or left out in the snow. However, you can treat wrought iron with powder coating to prevent rusting. Wrought iron will not decay due to sun exposure, but direct sunlight causes wrought iron to be hot to the touch.
Maintaining wrought iron is relatively easy – homeowners must simply wipe it down with a damp cloth when dirt builds up. If you treat wrought iron, clean it regularly, and bring it inside during freezing winters, it can last for several years.
Aluminum is a modern, sleek, and long-lasting material for outdoor furniture. It is resistant to water damage and rust, and it will not warp or degrade in standard winter temperatures. Aluminum frames with slings are a popular option, as aluminum can become hot to the touch in prolonged direct sunlight.
Aluminum is easy to clean and requires minimal maintenance to keep it functional. To prevent corrosion and extend its lifespan, you can powder-coat aluminum furniture. Aluminum is lightweight, so one environmental factor that can damage it is consistent strong winds and storms. If matched with the right climate, aluminum furniture will last for a long time
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) Lumber
A higher-end material constructed with recycled plastic, HDPE lumber is one of the sturdiest material options available for outdoor deck furniture. HDPE lumber will not warp, crack or rot due to freezing temperatures, and is completely water-resistant. The material will not overheat in the sun and is not susceptible to fading or damage due to sun exposure. It is a heavier material that is less susceptible to wind gusts.
HDPE lumber requires minimal cleaning. You can wipe it down as dust or grime builds up, but dirt will not affect its structural integrity. This material will last for decades without much maintenance.
The most affordable outdoor material for deck furniture is simple plastic, which you can find at most outdoor supply and hardware stores. In some situations, plastic furniture is a bargain. Plastic is water-resistant and won’t rust. Plastic has a smooth surface that is easy to clean.
However, simple plastic is not crafted for longevity. Cold temperatures will warp and compromise the furniture’s structure. A light gust of wind can blow over plastic furniture, and constant sun exposure can cause plastic furniture to fade. Plastic can last a year or two in moderate climates but is not built to last.
Outdoor Furniture Materials With the Longest Lifespan
Which materials will last the longest? In terms of overall durability and performance, the top outdoor furniture materials are synthetic materials like HDPE lumber, metal materials like aluminum, and superior hardwoods like teak. These materials can last a decade or longer based on your climate and the quality of the individual furniture pieces.
Wrought iron can last for several years if you maintain it, and if you don’t mind the signs of aging, you can keep it in your back garden or patio for even longer. Softwoods will degrade faster and require special care, but if you commit to the maintenance of softwoods and keep them out of extreme conditions, they will last longer.
Natural wicker will degrade outside in most climates within a couple of years. Cleaning it takes a long time, but if you keep it away from grime and dirt and arrange it under an umbrella or awning, you can increase its lifespan. Plastic furniture is not built to last and should be considered a temporary placeholder while you search for a permanent deck furniture set.
Deciding on an outdoor furniture material is an important choice, and you should supplement this initial overview with more research about the climate where you live to determine what material option fits your budget while meeting your needs. Once you pick a material, you still must determine which style of deck furniture will best match your home design. Take out the guesswork when you read our guide to finding your deck furniture style.